Survivor (CBS)

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       I realize that I am really behind on the Survivor train. The show has been on air since 2000, but I only began watching it last season, and I am hooked. I love competition shows, especially ones that involve both physical and mental challenges, so it was expected that I would find Survivor eventually. As far as I can tell (from only having seen 1.5 seasons of the show) the people behind the show have been trying to spice things up in the most recent seasons.

        For those of you who do not watch the show the format of survivor begins with two tribes with about eight or more people each. The tribes each have their own camps and they compete in challenges where the prizes are reward (fire, food, pillows and blankets) and immunity, which means that everyone on the tribe is safe for another week. The tribe that loses the immunity challenge must vote someone off that week. When about half of the people who arrived on the island are left, there is a merge and one new tribe is formed. Once the merge happens all challenges are individual challenges, meaning that only one person can win immunity for that week.

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        There are other ways to ensure immunity though. Hidden around the island are immunity idols. If you have the hidden immunity idol when your tribe goes to vote someone off, you can play the idol and any votes for you will not be counted. Once you use the hidden immunity idol you do not get it back.

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This season of survivor started off different from the rest because instead of two tribes there were three, and they were divided into beauty, brains, and brawn.

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The challenges are designed where there is both a physical component and a puzzle, so none of the tribes necessarily had an advantage. However, the brains tribe seemed to struggle a lot more than any of the other tribes, losing almost every challenge, and even struggling with the puzzles. The brains lost half of its original members fairly quickly, and only three remained.

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When this happened, there was a “pre-merge” and everyone drew different colored scarves (or buffs as they call them on the show) from a basket and formed two new tribes. As a viewer you would assume that the competitors who had a majority of their old tribe in their new tribe would form some sort of alliance with those members, but that did not happen. Instead, in the past few episodes, it appears as though people are taking the opportunity to vote off the people from their old tribe whom they consider a threat for the final merge, or whom they simply do not trust. This was made very clear when although the majority of the old brawn tribe found themselves in the same new tribe, they eliminated Cliff, a former NBA player whom they felt would defeat them in individual challenges once the final merge happened. Lindsey, whose only friend on the island was Cliff, felt betrayed and chose to eliminate herself.

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With two people gone this week, we are even closer to the final merge. Two people currently have hidden immunity idols, so anything can happen from this point on. That’s what makes this show so interesting. 

The Real World: Explosion (MTV)

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     The Real World has been on air for almost as long as I have been alive. The show first aired in 1992 with The Real World: New York. It is now in the middle of it’s 29th season with The Real World: Explosion, and it is clear that MTV tried their hardest to make the show more interesting and to spice things up a little bit.

        This season started off the way every season starts out. “Seven strangers picked to live in a house…to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” However, it was clear that this would be like no other season. The twist this season was that their exes would come live with them. Even during the first episode, whenever the show cut to commercial, there would be a timer counting down the moments until the exes arrived.

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       One of the original seven, Ashley, had a poor habit of getting drunk and yelling extremely rude things at her roommates. In one instance, she drunkenly threw hot burger grease at one of the roommates. Ashley also ripped up Jay’s (another roommate) list of phone numbers (reality show contestants can’t have cell phones so they must either memorize numbers or have them written down). He was unable to call home, and a few days later he received a phone call from home and was told that his mother passed away from cancer. As a result of her actions, Ashley was voted out of the house by all the other roommates.

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      Instead of replacing Ashley with one new roommate, the producers decided to bring all of the roommates’ exes into the house. One girl’s ex turned down the opportunity to be on the show. There were now eleven people living in the house. When the exes arrived the show became a little boring. We had been waiting weeks for these people to arrive, but now that they were there, there was nothing to look forward to.

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      A few episodes later the audience found out that Lauren, one of the exes, was pregnant. We all wanted to know if it was Cory’s (one of the original roommates) baby. It wasn’t. Cory was completely unsupportive and mean towards Lauren. She chose to leave the show as a result.

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      There were ten people living in the house when this week’s episode started, but one of the exes (Hailey) left at the end of the episode. She could not stand to see her ex-boyfriend (Thomas) start to date one of his roommates (Jamie) while she lived in the house with the two of them.

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       There is a lot of drama this season, which is clearly what the producers wanted. It will be interesting to see if any more of the exes decide to go home. Perhaps in the end we will be left with only six original roommates.

          

Scandal (ABC)

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    I love the end of February. It’s almost better than Christmas. All of my favorite shows that took a break for the holiday season finally made their return, and I was extremely grateful. One show in particular that I am happy is back on the air is none other than Scandal. This show is the bee’s knees and is another great example of Shonda Rhimes’ incredible imagination and writing talent.

      Scandal stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a crisis manager, or fixer, in Washington D.C. She has built a career managing political campaigns and fixing scandals of politicians and other important people in the city. The big twist, or a major ironic hook, in the series is that Pope herself is having an affair with Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (played by Tony Goldwyn), the president of the United States. 

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President Grant is best described as a combination of Presidents Reagan and Clinton, in my opinion. Before he became president he was governor of California, and is also a Republican, just like Reagan. He is like Clinton in the sense that he cheats on his wife Mellie (no disrespect to President Clinton) and his wife is a former lawyer and former partner at a law firm like Hillary.

     Mellie’s storyline is a great one. For a while it was easy to dismiss Mellie as Fitz’s annoying and meddling wife, but before the winter break we were all given insight into Mellie’s life. She worked so hard to become senior partner at a law firm, only to give all of that up for her husband’s political career. Her career title suddenly became “supportive wife.” She was then sexually assaulted by Fitz’s father and the show alluded to the fact that one of her sons may actually be Fitz’s brother, and not his son.

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The show ended in December with Fitz’s vice president, Sally Langston, murdering her husband, whom she had discovered was gay and was having an affair with another man. The president’s chief of staff, Cyrus Beene, helped Sally cover up the murder by getting a doctor to declare the cause of death due to “natural causes.” The show picked back up this season with Sally announcing that she would not be running with Fitz as his vice president for his reelection campaign. Instead she would be running for the presidency as well, but as an independent.

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That is as much as I can say without completely ruining the show for anyone who is not completely caught up. The show has several characters, each one with their own story lines. I would definitely recommend this show to anyone who is a fan of Shonda Rhimes’ other shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice). I would also recommend it to anyone who is a fan of political dramas like The West Wing.

   For those of you fellow Gladiators, or Scandal fans, here is a buzzfeed quiz. Find out which Scandal character you are! I got Olivia Pope, which I am super happy about because I have identified with her since the first episode!  

  http://www.buzzfeed.com/emilyorley/which-scandal-character-are-you