Big Brother's Cookout alliance, Survivor 41's opening, Frogger's flop, and much more

Dear newsletter subscribers,

Having rewatched The Golden Girls four or five hundred times these past 18 months, I’ve also been working my way through other 1990s sitcoms. I’ve found they’re great shows to have on in the background as I’m doing less-intense work, or just to soothe my anxiety.

I’m currently watching Frasier, and this week I got to season 7, episode 7, “A Tsar is Born,” which originally aired in 1999 and I was surprised to learn featured PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. It’s not exactly a faithful representation of how Antiques Roadshow works, but fun nonetheless to see reality TV in fiction even in the 1990s.

I share that because I’ve watched more TV than written about it this week, because I traveled last weekend, and because I’m still exhausted from producing this story, which I hope you read if you have not yet:

Among the things you’ll learn is how The Amazing Race season 2 was in the middle of finals casting and location scouting on Sept. 11, 2001.

BB23, GBBO, and Frogger


CBS showed the first few minutes of Survivor 41 to TV critics at the TCA summer press tour yesterday. It opens with Jeff Probst spending several minutes talking to the camera, which is one of many changes that we know are coming.

You can watch part of what we saw here, and see how the cast introductions have been mixed in with what was previously the opening sequence.

I live tweeted a few observations as I was watching, and my big takeaway is that Jeff Probst is breaking the fourth wall like

By the way, Survivor’s game will probably only be 26 days from now on, instead of 39. The change was made to allow for COVID quarantine, but Jeff Probst told EW “I don't think anyone will even notice that it's only 26 days.” I’m not surprised; this is like when Survivor started filming in the same location every year to save money. It never went back to two locations—and eventually just stayed in the same place!

Other news

⭐️ I recommend

  • This show, especially if you’re just sitting around waiting for the next Ted Lasso

  • This list of “62 Films That Shaped the Art of Documentary Filmmaking” from New Yorker critic Richard Brody

  • The Mole season 1 and The Mole season 2 on Netflix, if you need a weekend binge-watch

That’s everything for this four-day work week. See you in your inbox next Friday.


🌄 This is Reality in Focus issue 259, first sent Sept. 10, 2021, and it’s going to go play a game of Frogger now.

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📷 Photo of a bee on flowers in Virginia by Rae Galatas