A Shot At Immunity

Why do so many reality shows offer immunity as a reward?

Not to make my guilty pleasures too readily known, but I find it a little off-putting on Top Chef and Project Runway (the only two reality shows I’m willing to admit to watching) when they offer immunity to their competitors.  It’s a talent based competition.  Shouldn’t everyone be held accountable for their ability at every single challenge?  I think it’d be much better if they offered cash, prizes or even some sort of ego-booster, like they do on America’s Next Top Model (ooh, just revealed another guilty pleasure, although my wife has denied me that one for the past few seasons).

The only thing immunity does is give the designer/chef/what-have-you an out for the next leg of the competition.  Of course, the true competitors don’t care if they have immunity; they still give it their all.  But there are some that coast by, relaxing when they should be forced to fire on all cylinders all the time.

Immunity makes sense on non-talent based shows, like Survivor (okay, guilty pleasure #4).  In the context of that show, immunity is your only true ticket for surviving from challenge to challenge.  It’s a pass for the strongest/smartest/most agile person to make it just one more leg.  It seems to me, the concept of immunity was designed for this very purpose, but transposed to these other shows where it just doesn’t fit so well.

I’d be curious to see if anyone agrees with me about immunity and how it actually hurts the competitive nature of the shows, or if you have some insight into immunity’s necessity I just haven’t thought of.

While on the subject, Survivor starts anew tonight.  I remain an avid fan, despite my wife’s best efforts to the contrary.  I’ve seen every episode since I started watching mid-way through season 1 (I refused to watch at first because of the hype).  Even though I still love the show, I must admit, it’s starting to show its age a bit.  Every season is different, of course, because of the competitors, but the show does tend to fall into recurring patterns.  It takes someone willing to make bold moves (ala Russel; love him or hate him, he made some power plays in his first two seasons) to really shake the show up, but the format doesn’t reward those players.

Instead, the producers try to mix things up by forcing change, such as swapping team members, double elimination (although that’s more based on how many people start out thanks to quitters/people being forced to quit in the past), etc.  The most recent change, of course, was Redemption Island, which is due to make a reappearance this season.  I’m not entirely sold on the concept and felt it was poorly executed last season.  I thought it came across a little desperate and I hope they’re able to use it a little differently this time.

I almost wish they’d change it to be like American Ninja Warrior (uh oh…guilty pleasure #5.  This is getting out of hand.).   In this imaginary scenario of mine, the losing team would have to vote out two people and the winner would be automatically brought back into the fold.  It could still create great drama and would incite a need for new strategy (alliances might have to split their votes to make sure they take down their two targets or an alliance might vote out one of their own who’s particularly strong, confident they’ll win and come right back).

I’m not entirely sure how it would work (or if it even would, tbh), but it would give some people a fighting chance (how many times have good competitors been picked off simply because they are, indeed, good?)  It’s basically like Redemption Island, but more immediately gratifying.  And it gets rid of the stigma attached to RI, where someone could spend the whole game away from everyone else (cough*Matt*cough) and still have some influence as a Jury member at the end.

Anyway, that’s my rambling thought on immunity and my even more rambling thought concerning Survivor.  I’m still trying to convince my wife to watch this season with me (scary, considering it starts tonight).  I’m not about to give it up, but I do hope it proves to be better than the last few seasons.  That being said, seeing Coach back does not bode well….



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