Why ‘Survivor: Island of the Idols’ Is Like ‘LOST’

If you have to blame any show in history for forwarding the reality show craze, it’s Survivor, even if it’s still fascinating to watch as a major social study on what people do to win.

Now one of the longest-running shows in TV history, it’s going in a slightly different direction this year while still keeping the basic premise in place.

The show returned on September 25 under the new name Survivor: Island of the Idols. Its intention this time out is to offer a little more complexity on how the contestants present themselves to the TV cameras.

Yes, it seems like Survivor has dominated every island in the world by now. This time, it’s going to involve multiple locations, along with former winners returning as mentors to new contestants. Some are comparing it to the old TV series Lost for one specific reason.

How will this season feel like an old ‘Lost’ episode?

Jeff Probst on Survivor: Edge of Extinction
Jeff Probst | CBS via Getty Images

Entertainment analysts recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of when Lost first began on ABC. We all know how equally celebrated and derided the series was because of the complex layers and how much time viewers invested in watching.

In many ways, you can already compare Survivor to Lost since it involves a large cast of characters and requires devotion to keep up with the situations that ensue.

At least with Survivor, the outcome is ultimately decided by the fates. Or, is it really? Since we’re also living in a time when situation writers are a big part of all reality shows, we have to wonder if the comparisons to Lost this year are much closer than they appear.

According to host Jeff Probst in a recent Parade Magazine interview, he says Island of the Idols is very much like Lost because the contestants competing this time are going to be more open about their lives.

We’re not sure this is necessarily a good thing. Regardless, there is a bit of a refreshing angle there knowing people can be transparent on TV about who they are as people.

Just how honest will the contestants be?

Other reality shows have become a little uncomfortable at times allowing contestants to open up to the cameras and reveal things about themselves many others wouldn’t. Perhaps you can argue it’s all goading from producers for sake of ratings.

Then again, there’s likely millions of viewer who don’t mind because they can identify with the same problems the contestants have.

Many people still invest their time watching Survivor because it really is a little like Lost without the weird sci-fi elements (so far). One thing keeping audiences glued to Lost was the interesting characterizations, something many fans might admit was more interesting than the story as a whole.

No doubt you’ve noticed competitive reality shows lasting the longest are the ones about a group of people being placed in one location and having to live in this uncomfortable environment to win money and TV fame. Include equally long-running Big Brother into this equation, and you see what audiences are really connecting to here.

Probst says the women have a better chance of dominating this year

Since the days of Lost, women have made better inroads to being the leads on more TV shows, including in the reality format. Let’s all remember the actors getting the top bill on Lost were men, something this year’s Survivor has at least overcome.

Probst says the women joining Island of the Idols have a better shot at grouping together and winning. Having a woman win would be a little overdue since it’s been five years since the last woman winner for the Survivor series.

What we all hope is the transparency these contestants display won’t become a hindrance later since we all know post-reality show life isn’t always filled with happiness.

Above all, at least these contestants know where they are and won’t have to face time shifts or alternate universes like the characters of Lost had to endure.