Will a Gimmick Be Enough for ‘Survivor’ to Save Itself?

Will a Gimmick Be Enough for 'Survivor' to Save Itself? 1The Asian tribe won the first ”Survivor: Cook Islands” challenge: puzzle solving. The black tribe came in last. Oops.

It was an awkward start for the first racially segregated installment of CBS’s long-running reality show. And last night’s competition certainly could bolster some people’s complaints that the show reinforces crude stereotypes.

But the race card was always more of a racy promotional gimmick than a loaded social experiment. More than the politically incorrect results, what stood out the most last night were the contestants’ looks and the group dynamic within each tribe. Casting for the island endurance contest has always relied on unnatural selection: the competitors are all robust extroverts who don’t mind heat stroke or flimsy beachwear.

It doesn’t matter how you divide them, all ”Survivor” contestants are created equal.