Note to John:
This post references a couple RTV shows, but it's "focus" is Survivor. I wasn't sure where it belonged, so I put it here (Survivor Forum). Feel free to move it elsewhere if you believe there is a more appropriate place for it.
Something had been gnawing at me since I watched The Bachelorette finale on Wednesday evening. I've watched the finales of all Survivors, Bachelors, Temptation Islands, and Joe Millionaire, yet none so far have provided me the same enjoyment both during and afterwards as the one I saw Wednesday night. It's not that I'm a huge fan of the show -- in truth I watched it along with most of the others (Survivor excluded) more for my S.O. than for myself. The question was, why did this particular finale strike a chord with me like none other could?
Without making this longer than it needs to be (I anticipate it becoming a novella anyhow), I concluded that it was the editing of the show, and in particular the two males that made it so. Bear with me through some analysis for elaboration.
Charlie was, from the first moment we saw him, edited to be the favourite. However, he was also edited to be the "cool guy". I (as a male) saw him as a guy I'd have a beer with, and get along with just fine. My fiancée referred to him as the man (stereotypically) women go for, because of his confidence, charisma, and overall personality of being a "guy".
Ryan, from his first words ("You look ravishing") to all his (admittedly cheesy) poems, was edited as the sensitive guy. As a male I liked him in the same way Charlie related: he could date my sister. My fiancée referred to him as the guy (again stereotypically) women feel they should choose, because he was sweet and gentle and romantic.
The point is, both men were edited completely differently. However, both men's editing was very positive. In the end, had she chosen Charlie, we all would have understood, and felt good about it because Trista was with someone she "belonged" with. When she chose Ryan, her approval rating improved, since she had chosen the "good" one. The editing had set up the finale as a "win-win" for them. The audience was guaranteed to go home happy.
Of course, the heavily favoured editing Charlie got served to provide the viewer with the most shocking rose ceremony ever (and for once it delivered on the host's promise) when Ryan got the rose.
So this brings me to Survivor, and a look at the final two for each of the five we have been shown.
Survivor -- Rich and Kelly
Rich was edited to be the Machiavellian devil incarnate throughout the show, and Kelly ended up being the underdog we all cheered for, until Sue made the snake speech.
Survivor: The Australian Outback -- Tina and Colby
Tina was over-edited to hide much of her personality, so the viewers couldn't really love or hate her; Colby got a hero's editing throughout, until he became "the stooge" for failing to keep Keith.
Survivor: Africa -- Ethan and Kim
Ethan was edited primarily as a sidekick to Lex/Tom, with his only positive trait being that he was a "good guy", while Kim was edited to be saved by the switch, and carried along until the final 4, where she got lucky with some questions and Lex's stomach virus. She also got a very negative turn at the end through Tom's comments.
Survivor: Marquesas -- Vee and Neleh
Vee was so heavily edited that many people didn't even know who she was (except with her religious commentary, which gave her a more hypocritical and thus negative tone), and Neleh started out sweet but by the end was portrayed quite selfishly.
Survivor: Thailand -- Brian and Clay
Brian was edited to be the second coming of Rich Hatch, while Clay was edited as the lazy backwoods hick.
The bottom line is that while we sometimes got a winner we were satisfied with (Rich, while evil, was respectable; Ethan was a good guy) we were usually left without the main characters that were edited into the show (Lex being the one who stands out in my mind) or with two people we disliked as viewers.
Here's where I get to my point ("FINALLY", I'm sure some of you are thinking). Had the editing a) made the F2 into the main characters AND b) made them likeable, then the endings for Survivor could have been more satisfying. Also, editing a favourite (i.e. making someone appear more liked or popular amongst the jury members) and having them come in second, would also help!
Let me make one final comment with an analogy from another genre: pro wrestling (OK, OK, quit with the groaning -- this will make sense). About 20 years ago, the tried and tested formula was always good guy (face) against bad guy (heel). Then, between 10 and 15 years ago, they tried something new: face vs. face, and it was a success. The modern viewer does not need good versus evil to be compelled into a story. They need interesting characters, contrasting characters. It is my belief that if Survivor editors, and Mark Burnett in particular, abandon this whole "there has to be a bad guy to make everyone feel good about the winner" idea, that the stories will excel.
Thank you to all who made it to the end of this. I apologise for being so verbose, but it is something I wanted to share. Please comment and criticise my ideas. I love a good debate!