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I’m not here to make friends

I formed my first alliance with Desiree. She was a 40-ish Piloxing (Pilates plus boxing, she explained) instructor, in much silver butterfly jewelry and a Polartek fleece. I was a recent college graduate feeling antsy about my future. I had all the clichéd ideas about “moving to Austin.” But some days I just wanted to talk into a camera on a beach, and make enough money that I wouldn’t have to work for at least a few months.

Desiree and I didn’t have much in common. I tried to engage her in conversation, but her attention retreated whenever I strayed from her preferred subjects, like Piloxing. But one thing upon which we agreed was that when the game started, we'd be allies. "Because we'll both get on, right?" I joked.

"The energy in this part of the line is very cosmic," she said.

“Survivor” has been around for so long that mentioning it among the reality shows that are, after decades, still degrading our standards for entertainment almost seems redundant. And yet the show, now airing its 26th season in 13 years, still has its core audience – a group of 8 to 10 million people who tune in season after season. Inside that number is a smaller subset who dream of getting cast and starving on a beach somewhere in Southeast Asia or Latin America for seven to eight weeks.

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