So the first episode of Survivor aired tonight. For those who were fortunate enough to tune in, it was great. Lots of high tension competition, lots of funny conversations, and lots of people thinking about race and culture. It was by far the most diverse show EVER on American TV, so props to CBS, Survivor, and Mark Burnett.
The first "challenge" was to assemble a boat, use the boat to get fire (from a burning torch placed about a fifty yards out in the sea), paddle back to shore, solve a puzzle, and then to climb on top of a platform and light a second torch on fire. The Asian team were in second place due to difficulties in assembling their boat, but they caught up by the time they had to solve the puzzle. They solved the puzzle very quickly, ran up the platform, and won. Woo hoo! (and I hope my non-Asian viewers don't fault me for cheering the ONLY positive representation of Asian Americans on American TV that I've ever seen...)
To be a little critical, there were a few things that I thought the producers could have changed. For example, they showed the Hispanic Tribe, the White Tribe, and the Black Tribe using their survival skills to build shelter, get coconuts out of trees, preserve body warmth, etc., but when they brought the cameras to the Asian island, they just showed the old Asian guy using some sort of holistic healing tactic to help cure a headache. What is the aversion to showing Asian Americans doing physical and mental labor? The producers covered up the Asian team's physical labor in much the same fashion that the history books covered up the Chinese labor in building the railroads...!
That guy Cao Boi is pretty pretty weird. Of course they had to have the "oriental medicine man." None of the other players are that old, and none of the other players talk in weird metaphysical language. American TV just can't portray Asians without inviting Mr. Miyagi!
And WTF about the Asian women never speaking? You see black women speaking to other people, white women speaking to other people, and Latina women speaking to other people, but the Asian women get all silent and demure when it comes to expressing opinions. I don't think I saw a single word spoken by an Asian woman to either the Asian guys or the other Asian woman. Why not? Could it be that it's Madame Butterfly style where the Asian women are incapable of having opinions until the White man liberates them? Maybe they'll have to launch a Maxine Hong Kingston style betrayal to take out the Asian men so that they can merge with the men of the white tribe.
I'm just kidding on all of this. There were--and there will be--tons of opportunities for some pretty funny jokes. It's what makes it all worthwhile. I'm not a big TV fan, but I thought the show was excellent, and I'm looking forward to the next episode.