Tuned In

Survivor, Exporting America's Economy to China

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SPOILER ALERT: This post reveals who was voted off last night’s Survivor: China. Also, the Ken Burns posts reveal who won WWII.

Monty Brinton/CBS

We interrupt Ken Burns Day at Tuned In to prove that we’re not all about lofty matters historical here. Survivor: China debuted last night, and while I can never judge the quality of any given Survivor season until a few episodes in, I was glad to see the show switch things up with an inland adventure for the first time, if I’m not forgetting anything, since Amazon. All those beaches and freaking coconut trees start to look the same after a while.

Otherwise, it was a largely typical first episode: you had the mandatory first episode puke, the standard fights over building the shelter and the usual dilemma over whether to vote off the bossy woman or the cranky old man first. (It was the latter, the aptly named chicken farmer and Robin Williams lookalike Chicken, who had his neck wrung.) And the obligatory nods to the indigenous culture (the survivors received copies of The Art of War, which, Jeff Probst informed them, was “written by the Chinese.”)

What always amazes me about any cast of Survivor, however, is how it testifies to the bizarre breadth of the American economy. I mean, you can make a living doing damn near anything in this country. There was the professional poker player. The Christian radio host. (Who described herself, nonetheless, as “not a religious person,” yet walked out of a Buddhist welcoming ceremony.) The lunch lady. The surfing instructor. The chicken farmer. The gravedigger. The parkour runner (OK, he’s a college student now, but give him some time). And, in a how-could-they-not-have-already-done-this bit of casting, a professional wrestling diva, who has inverted the natural order of the universe by posing for Playboy before appearing on Survivor.

All this, appropriately enough, displayed on the home soil of one of the U.S.’s greatest economic partners and competitors. You can outsource poison toy manufacturing–but you can’t outsource reality-TV humiliation! Made in America, baby!