Survivor has returned for its TWENTIETH season. It hasn't quite jumped the shark yet, because the first 15 minutes had me laughing maniacally. But as far as the show itself, Survivor is pretty much copying MTV at this point.
The comparisons between Real World/Road Rules Challenge and Survivor are already inherently strong: Both are competition-style reality shows, both vote members off each week, and both involve strategy in forming bonds/alliances to remain on the show. But those similarities are just the tip of the iceberg.
It's Cody! And Boston Rob! And remember that Coach guy? All those faces from seasons past are back, and this time—it's redunant. Reuniting fan favorites vs. fan favorites from different seasons to battle it out instead of digging for new "talent" is the reality show equivalent of a clip-show, and MTV has already been doing it for 18 seasons.
Pitting Good Guys Vs. Bad
This is an obvious choice. They can't quite do women vs. men or young vs. old as the physical challenges wouldn't be even close to fair. So they pit all of the "villains" against the "heroes." This was done by MTV in The Inferno II and III where it was the "The Good Guys" against "The Badasses."
The Contestants Have Become Professional Reality Stars
There is no longer that organic feel of seeing what it's like for everyday people to be plucked out of their daily lives and hurled into an extreme situation with cameras jammed into their faces at all hours of the day. They've all been here before, they know how to act and know what the producers want. For some of the contestants this season, this is already their third time on the show. They already know what it's going to be like, so nothing really catches them off-guard anymore.
With that said, the first 10 minutes of last night's episode had the contestants absolutely tearing each other apart. With boobs flying out of their tops, and separated shoulders flying out of their sockets, it really was reality TV at its finest.
The only difference between Survivor and RW/RR Challenge is that while the contestants on Survivor are constantly hungry and have to build their own shelter, the contestants on RW/RR Challenge are flooded with booze and a sweet pad. One would think this would make the two shows very different, but when a hungry person is competing for a chicken dinner, and a drunken co-ed is competing for an iPod, the results are eerily similar.
Thanks for the suggestion, Topher.