CBS premiered its Survivor: Race Race (OK, that's my name for it) Thursday night to a whopping 6.6 rating/20 share. At its peak, the show drew almost 18.5 million viewers, making it the night's highest-rated show by far, about on par with the audience of the other Big Three nets combined for the 8-9 time period.
Guess CBS was right that the competition between racially segregated (can that be an un-pejorative word, I wonder) teams would draw a crowd.
Leigh Hallisey, a pop culture and TV prof at Boston University's College of Communication wasn't sure it was such a hot idea, big crowd of not.
“It's hard to find an example of people being separated by ethnicity and pitted against each other — Hutu vs. Tutsi, Kurds vs. Iraqis, the list is too long and bloody to mention — that has had a positive outcome," she told B&C.
“On the ‘Survivor’ premiere, the host and contestants kept referring to it as a great social experiment, but with no mention of what they hoped to learn, prove, or disprove," she says.
“Many viewers went in to the premiere with a heightened sensitivity about racial stereotypes, and the contestants told one another "not to act stereotypically." Yet there were more covert moments — when a black woman referred to a knife as ‘too dull to cut cotton’ or when the Asian team won the first challenge involving puzzles and logic — that induced winces."
But it also induced viewership, so the race race is definitely on.
By John Eggerton