Netflix’s new reality TV show Surviving Paradise aired this Friday with a seemingly unoriginal concept — a bombshell cast hungry to win a $100,000 prize.
While I started this nine-episode series with extremely low expectations, I ended up incapable of tearing myself from the television. Originally only planning to watch a few episodes, I spent seven hours glued to my couch dedicated to seeing who won the money.
The series does not present impressive, high-quality content by any means, but the comical challenges constantly thrown at the annoying yet entertaining cast make it the perfect show to mindlessly binge-watch.
The show begins with a dozen strangers, each more lively than the next, arriving at a luxurious villa on a stunning island. They are completely clueless about the tasks about to be hurled at them, only aware that they will be competing for $100,000.
The cheers of grandeur are short-lived as the power goes out and the host, Jessimae, appears. The games have begun — explaining that all of the contestants will have to earn their way into the villa, starting as “outsiders” living in the woods. The entirety of the game is based on building trustworthy alliances in hopes of getting voted back into the life of opulence they all so desperately crave.
My love for the cast took a while to form, with the beginning episodes full of constant complaining from the contestants about eating rice rather than lavish avocado toast. But as the show progresses, viewers get a deeper glance into who the contestants really are and why they want the money, and I started to find myself rooting for a few of them. This is not to say there weren’t any irritating “villains” — a staple for reality TV.
The first “selection process” to determine who will return to luxury reveals another interesting aspect of the series. Instead of a written, anonymous vote, the contestants are required to verbally express the name of the person they want to see in the villa. As you can imagine, this creates a slew of issues when contestants try to build relationships.
The verbal voting becomes progressively crueler as the show progresses but also shamelessly addicting.
The stakes increase as voting goes from choosing who gets to head to the villa to deciding who should be eliminated from the show. On top of eliminations, three new contestants are introduced about halfway through, stirring up drama and resentment among the group toward the newbies. While a classic reality show tactic — bringing in new additions to cause problems — I think it helped bring some flair to what was starting to feel repetitive.
One of the new contestants, who had been there for less than a day, is forced to choose someone to eliminate. Unaware of the strong alliances formed, he picks the person he connected with the least right after his arrival, unknowingly alienating several people. It’s one of those harsh moments that really shouldn’t be entertaining but is nonetheless.
Surviving Paradise is far from romance reality TV, but a bunch of attractive men and women thrown together inevitably leads to a fling. What seemingly starts as a minor crush quickly turns into a full-blown love affair between contestants Shea and Taylor. While a cliche, as a big romance lover, this aspect of the show was very enjoyable. The pair’s blossoming love is highly supported by the rest of the group and everyone roots for their success. This makes the contestants feel more real, rather than annoyingly selfish people hoping to win money.
With twists and turns throughout the entire show, the entertainment aspect is certainly not lacking. I found myself screaming at the television multiple times, either out of complete shock or excitement.
When it is revealed in the final episode that the winner will be chosen by all of the eliminated contestants, the show comes full circle, emphasizing the importance of forming strong alliances and making for an interesting way to bring back all the unresolved conflict. After the ending, I was left satisfied but also shocked by the outcome.
If trashy television is your jam, I would recommend this series the next time you need something to binge.