survivor-season-complete-set-1-21

So yesterday CBS unveiled the latest cast of Survivor – the usual bunch of hunks, babes and token oddballs!

But what most interested me about this year’s announcement was the realization that this was season 22 of the veteran reality show. Which got me to thinking – is there anyone out there who’s watched every single episode of the franchise? And at what point do most people say goodbye to a show like Survivor?

Personally I can’t imagine sticking with a reality show for 22 seasons, since invariably they become somewhat repetitive over time. I used to watch The Amazing Race but could only manage about 4-5 seasons before I got tired of the constant detours, missed flights, local challenges and manipulative editing (team B is clearly 2 hours behind team A – but look they’re suddenly neck and neck!)

Perhaps my longest reality flirtation was with America’s Next Top Model. I sat through 11 cycles of the show, and then came back for cycle 15 – but by the later stages I must admit I was fast forwarding through large chunks of the show (the tedious, heavily sponsored mini challenges, Tyra’s scenery chewing) and going straight to the photo shoots and judging. As I’ve said before here on the site, Top Model’s problem was that it stuck too rigidly to the same old formula for too long. They could have done a lot more with the show’s basic premise but coasted.

For me it’s the formulaic qualities of most reality shows that means they don’t hold up well. I adored Project Runway in its first few seasons on Bravo, but the show’s rigidity allowed little room for innovation. The result – after season 5, Runway became a real chore to sit through.

By contrast, British Big Brother has sustained itself well over the years – with a series of crazy, innovative twists, and by alternating a regular and celebrity editions. Even out here in the US I still follow the Brit show from afar – it’s a very well made reality show.

By the same token the UK show also benefits from the fact that it only airs once a year. I think that’s also the reason American Idol and America’s Got Talent have also stayed at the top of their respective ratings for so long. Both has been able to convert themselves into event TV, something to look forward to each year. And let’s be honest it’s easier to commit to a show that only 4 months a year, than a series that never seems to go away. These days new editions of Surivors and Top Model seem to crop up so regularly it doesn’t feel like they’re ever off the air!

But I’m intrigued by all of you out there…

Are you still watching Survivor – and if not, when did you give up on the show (and why?) How about Top Model, The Amazing Race, or any other veteran reality show.

What makes you stick with a series – or turn off? And do you think any of the newer crop of reality shows stands a chance of lasting as long as these network veterans?

Fire away everyone!