‘Survival of the Fittest’: Where buffed up gals and bros rut like rats
New show is a reality riddle that becomes more perplexing and infuriating upon each viewing
Instead of being a reality show ratings smash, Survival of the Fittest is a curdled cocktail of confusion and tiresomeness. Photograph: ITV2
You have to admire ITV2’s chutzpah or maybe just marvel at their sheer laziness in managing to create a cheap and unnecessarily convoluted rip-off of their summer soaraway success story Love Island.
Survival of the Fittest was billed as “Winter Love Island”, a reality show to see us through the frosty weeks of the cold snap. You can almost imagine the prematurely congratulatory high-fives doled out at the overheated production meeting when they came up with this mix of island shows – the aforementioned sunny, sexy reality hit and Bear Grylls’s urine-swilling survival effort, I’m A Celebrity (minus the celebs) with a dash of Total Wipeout and a sprinkling of Bromans. Instead of being a reality show ratings smash, it’s a curdled cocktail of confusion and tiresomeness.
Whereas Love Island kept things simple: self-absorbed hotties sunning themselves, peacocking about engaging in showmances, going on cruddy dates, and screaming “I’VE GOT A TEXT!” like a mam on New Year’s Eve, Survival of the Fittest is the very definition of “extra”.
In an attempt to appeal to a social media-scanning viewership they have concocted a show that is an hour-long anxiety attack. One minute the assembled gyrating gym groupies are tackling obstacle courses and physical challenges in a girls against the boys battle of the sexes (with each activity lasting approximately 10 years), the next they’re coupling up, pairing off, switching partners and allegiances like Game of Thrones reenacted by the cast of Hollyoaks.
Unlike Love Island – or Game of Thrones for that matter – it’s not clear whether these couplings are part of some kind of strategy, in fact on Survival of the Fittest nothing is clear; it’s a reality riddle that upon each viewing becomes more perplexing and infuriating than trying to drunkenly explain the plot of the new series of Twin Peaks to a toddler.
Do the contestants vote each other off? Does it actually matter who wins the challenges if the public can vote people off? Can the public vote people off? Is anyone even watching to garner a public vote? Is the whole show in fact a lucid dream that presenter Laura Whitmore is having because she’s dating the voice-over bloke from Love Island? Why is Survival of the Fittest so brain-numbingly tedious?
Lacking any kind of silly irreverence, it’s laden down with endless clichés and the distinct feeling of enforced frolicking for the cameras. Tattooed tank Warren stares straight over the shoulder of Mariam pouting at the lens zooming in on him when giving his best self-effacing speech, it doesn’t really matter as she’s busy practising her patronising platitudes scattering her conversation with the rudimentary consoling coo of “Aw babes!” complete with supportive head-tilts.
Whereas the Love Island crew lolled about in ignorance of their growing stardom and public fascination with the show, cast members of Survival of the Fittest are waiting for the masses (including savvy celebrities) to become enamoured with them. Alas there will be no relationship advice from Stormzy or any fear of Liam Gallagher name-dropping any of these islanders at upcoming gigs as Survival of the Fittest is dead on arrival.
It’s almost depressing to see them desperately mugging for the cameras, pulling what they perceive to be masterful Machiavellian stunts to an ever-dwindling audience waiting to watch repeats of Family Guy. It’s the package holiday id to Channel 4’s eco ego-trip experiment Eden that had to be abandoned due to the fact that viewers didn’t really care if the irritating cast stayed stuck in their Highlands hovel forever unless they were forced into cannibalism.
Maybe Survival of the Fittest will continue on in a parallel universe, a dire display of Darwinian Theory, where the fitness-focused gals and bros rut like rats and run about – human hamsters stuck on a wheel eagerly anticipating their final “best bits” montage.