Survivor has been a mainstay on television for twenty years. Originally airing throughout the summer of 2000, Survivor became an immediate pop culture sensation, and while its popularity and influence has undoubtedly waned throughout the years, it remains a cornerstone of reality programming.
Its success can be attributed to numerous factors, including the gorgeous and unique settings, lovable casts, and unique gameplay that blends strategy, socializing, persistence, and physical prowess. There’s nothing else like Survivor on TV, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Survivor is the best reality program. For die-hard Survivor fans, these other shows are well worth checking out.
The Amazing Race (2001-)
Coming on the heels of Survivor, The Amazing Race is another reality show that captured national interest throughout the 2000s. The concept is certainly ambitious – a number of teams race around the world and complete various objectives in certain remote and exotic locations.
The last team to reach the “checkpoint” is eliminated. The show earned instant acclaim and popularity for its stellar production values, which included some amazing editing unlike anything else seen in reality TV.
Big Brother (2000-)
Often considered Survivor’s “rival”, Big Brother also began airing in the summer of 2000. Unlike Survivor, Big Brother only airs one season per year, resulting in half the seasons (22 compared to Survivor’s 40).
The gameplay is much the same as Survivor, and could be accurately described as “Survivor in a house”. Various contestants are locked inside a house (really a TV set) for three months, and they are forced to compete in challenges and eliminate one contestant from the house each week.
World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji (2020)
Also taking place in Fiji and also having been produced by Mark Burnett is Amazon Prime’s World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. A different sort of reality program, this one doesn’t involve any semblance of strategy or elimination (at least not in the “reality TV show” sense).
Rather, it documents the eco-challenge race that took place in Fiji throughout September 2019. The race sees 66 teams of four traversing the fierce landscape of Fiji over a number of sleepless days in the hopes of being the first team to reach the finish line.
The Circle (2020-)
The Circle premiered before the COVID pandemic, but it has proven to be the reality show of our current, troubling times.
The first season of the American version premiered on New Years Day 2020, and it saw fourteen contestants living in isolation and communicating with each other through an instant messaging app. Some chose to catfish, others chose to be themselves. In the end, everyone competed to become the “most popular” player for a $100,000 cash prize.
Alone is the History channel’s answer to Survivor. Primarily filmed in Canada, Alone sees a small group of individuals attempting to survive in the wilderness.
Unlike Survivor, Alone is primarily set in the cold (not the gorgeous beaches of Fiji), and the contestants do not interact with each other. There is also no vote-outs, strategizing, or alliances. Rather, contestants decide to “opt out” should they grow tired or ill, and the last person remaining wins.
Naked And Afraid (2013-)
Like History, the Discovery Channel has their own unique Survivor-style show – this one titled Naked and Afraid. The concept is simple – two strangers and dedicated survivalists meet for the first time and attempt to survive naked for 21 days.
Like Survivor, the contestants must find essentials like water and food, and they must prove adaptable enough to build a functioning shelter. If the team doesn’t “tap out” and quit before the 21st day, they win and are picked up by a rescue helicopter.
Fear Factor (2001-18)
Fear Factor was another huge reality show that aired throughout the 2000s. Primarily hosted by Joe Rogan, Fear Factor saw contestants competing in three extreme “stunts” to win money.
The first stunt was usually of a physical nature, the second was always something gross (like eating insects), and the third involved some type of action movie stunt. Those who couldn’t do it dropped out and were eliminated, and those who succeeded walked away with $50,000.
Kicking & Screaming (2017)
Kicking & Screaming aired for just one season on Fox before it was tragically cancelled. Like Survivor, Kicking & Screaming was shot in Fiji, and it also contains elements of survival.
The concept of this one is that an expert survivalist takes an everyday person with no experience into the wilderness. The team that lasts the longest and avoids elimination takes home a solid $500,000. It was a good little show, but it didn’t prove popular enough to keep on.
The Bachelor (2002-)
The Bachelor shares little in common with Survivor in terms of gameplay, setting, and concept, but it still remains one of the most popular reality programs of the day.
Airing for 25 seasons since 2002, The Bachelor is on ABC and sees a singular bachelor choosing between a select group of romantic interests. The Bachelor eliminates one candidate each week, typically culminating in a marriage proposal with the final romantic interest.
The Challenge (1998-)
Predating Survivor, The Challenge airs on MTV and serves as a spinoff of both The Real World and Road Rules. Alumni from shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race have periodically popped up on The Challenge, furthering the indelible link between the two programs.
The contestants compete against each other in various challenges, and the winner takes home a cash prize. It’s not on the same level as Survivor, but those who love the physical challenges aspect should definitely check it out.