film / tv / substack / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / substack / web / celeb

Survive-the-Raft.jpg

'Survive the Raft' Is a Boat of White People Acting Out What's Wrong with America

By Emma Chance | TV | August 22, 2023 |

By Emma Chance | TV | August 22, 2023 |


Survive-the-Raft.jpg

Remember season 20 of Survivor, when the tribes were divided by ethnicity as a social experiment and everyone was like … what? Survive the Raft is like that. Hosted by former NFL player and Green Beret Nate Boyer, the inspiration for the Discovery show was the 1973 Acali Experiment, when anthropologist Santiago Genovés took five men and six women of various socio-economic backgrounds on a boat that drifted between Spain and Mexico for 101 days to see what would happen.

The show purports to be a redo of the experiment. A diverse cast of nine Americans of different races, religions, and political affiliations compete in challenges to earn money that goes into a collective bank that will be split amongst the contestants at the end of the show. During these challenges, “temptations” or secret stashes of money, can be stolen from the group. At the end of every episode, a new person or “swap” is brought onto the boat, and the cast can choose to swap someone out with the new person or keep the team as it was, sending the swap back.

The contestants are told over and over again that they are not just on a game show but part of a social experiment, but they don’t really care. There’s one guy, Russell, who’s from Virginia and claims to be a social activist after spending most of his life being a racist and a homophobe. Russell is the only person who seems to be interested in the supposed mission of the experiment, and several times has been the voice of reason during situations of conflict between other contestants.

What are those conflicts, you ask? Well, naturally, it’s a white guy named CJ who doesn’t want to talk about race and thinks that Lashanna, a Black woman, is being racist by saying that he has privilege. He also doesn’t like it when Summer, a Muslim woman, complains of feeling othered by the rest of the cast. When Lashanna and Summer get into a verbal altercation and Summer quits the show, a white woman, Marissa—a vegan who gets mad at the other contestants for eating meat—throws a fit, saying Lashanna’s words made her fear for her physical safety, and convinces the white blondes of the boat to vote Lashanna off.

So, yeah. It’s not going great. It’s all well and good for a show like this to claim to be a social experiment, but that would be more successful and interesting if the contestants knew what they were signing up for. Clearly, these people are Survivor rejects and just want to win some money. Simply watching as a boat of white people acts out exactly what’s wrong with America on a smaller scale with no repercussions or opportunities for learning from the experience, takes reality tv schadenfreude a step too far.