Okay, so I was texting with a friend on Jan. 23 (as one does) when she told me that her current TV obsession is The Traitors, a reality show on Peacock. I had never heard of it, so watched the trailer and was intrigued and then, on Jan. 26, watched the first 20 minutes of the show, and–by Feb. 4–had completely caught up to the show’s current season (S2). I am only pointing out the dates because I am NOT a huge binge watcher–especially of hour-long shows and extra especially not of reality TV shows–but your girl is hooked. So, yes, The Traitors is the best thing I saw on TV this past week.
For those unfamiliar, The Traitors is a mash up of a murder mystery dinner party, the cell phone game Among Us, and every reality TV strategy show you have ever seen–most notably The Mole, Survivor, Big Brother, The Challenge, and The Amazing Race also with a dash of Fear Factor thrown in. The host is Alan Cumming who is an absolute DELIGHT serving immaculate looks and high drama throughout. The way the game works is that they’re all invited to a castle, an undisclosed number of traitors are picked once they get there, and then it’s the job of everyone else (the faithfuls) to weed the traitors out. Every night, the traitors murder someone and then the group tries to use what they know about the person murdered and what they know about each other to vote to banish someone they think is a traitor. The trailer probably explains it better:
At any rate, it is a fascinating character study and such a good look into group think. The most horrifying/fascinating part is how the group decides who to banish because they think the person is a traitor. Often, it comes down to one person saying a person is suspect and then the whole group focusing on that person and then ganging up on them. But the REASONS are the fascinating/horrifying bit. More than once, someone has been chosen as a suspect because, I kid you not, they are too smart or too articulate or too thoughtful. If someone makes sense, they are suspicious and not to be trusted! (These are actual reasons the other contestants give for kicking them off, hence the italics.) Another thing they do is say that they think a person is a traitor because the person treats the whole thing like a game (WHICH IT IS) and then when/if they vote a person out for thinking that way, they all say, “No hard feelings because that’s just how the game is played.” (!!!) Also, at one point, they’re offered immunity during their money-making missions and the people who want immunity are seen as traitors because they’re being selfish and not thinking of the group even though the whole point of the game is to not get murdered so you can make it until the end to win the money! it is insanity! And excellent TV!
My daughter said watching this made her see how the Salem witch trials happened and my friend who told me about the show said it also shows how Nazism and Trumpers came about. It is real life, practically real time evidence of the fear of intellectualism at work as well as people choosing to go along with the group because they can’t make a decision and/or don’t have their own idea and/or don’t want to be suspected themselves.
Plus, you know, it’s always fun to try to guess who will get murdered or banished before the episode is out.
The first season is a mix of reality TV personalities and “regular” people who haven’t appeared on reality shows before. They change this in the second season, which is probably for the best, because I’m here to tell you that the regular people were definitely there to make friends whereas the reality people were very clear about the nature of the show from the beginning. (It will not surprise you to know that the regular people were the ones most often upset about others treating it like a game as well as decrying “It’s nothing personal” when they’re the ones who take everything personally. Anyway.) And while the first season is excellent TV, I do like the changes they’ve made to the second season so far so if you start the first season and aren’t into it, I would say skip to the second season and see if that’s more your taste.
My faves on S1 are Cirie (from Survivor) and Kate (from Below Deck). I wasn’t familiar with either of them before watching this show, and they’re both awesome in different ways. Kate is an entire mood for the series, I swear. My faves on S2 so far are Janelle (from Big Brother) and Peter (from The Bachelor). I feel like I’ve seen Janelle before, but Peter was definitely an unexpected surprise.
I have not yet delved into the UK or Australia versions, but I’m highly tempted. I probably will, honestly, after the current US season is over. At any rate, you should all watch it so we can discuss. Especially since it just got renewed for an extra season. The show is blessed by the TV gods, I tell you.
So, that’s the best thing I saw on TV this week. What about you?