Survival of the Fittest: Hot or Not? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Survival of the Fittest: Hot or Not?

TV Critic Daisy Andrews reviews the trashy yet addictive Survival of the Fittest, the latest reality TV show to come from the creators of Love Island

ITV2 released its first episode of brand new reality TV series Survival of the Fittest on the 11th of February and the tension was high waiting to see how the public was going to react. Could anything replace the triumph of entertainment that was last series of Love Island? I for one, was not so sure, but feeling optimistic, I decided to embark on this risky reality-junk venture. The concept of the show is slightly different but, all in all, the layout and style of the show is almost an exact replica of Love Island. The contestants are separated into a girls team and a boys team. The teams then have to compete against one another in a series of outdoor, fitness-based challenges. Meanwhile, the contestants have to try to get along living side by side. After every challenge, the losing team face elimination both through the public vote and then through the choice of the winning team. The winning team at the end of the series would have one girl or guy voted as the "Fittest" and that person would be the winner of £40,000, which they could then share with their "mates" being the rest of their team, meaning they would each receive £10,000, or with their "date", leaving 'The Lodge' with £20,000 each. ITV seem to have created a mash-up of Big Brother, Love Island and I’m a Celebrity all rolled into one: what’s not to love?

The changes made to try and achieve a USP for this show as opposed to Love Island seem somewhat unnecessary

That said, the changes made to try and achieve a USP for this show as opposed to Love Island seem somewhat unnecessary for example, having smart watches instead of phones and the contestants shouting 'I’ve got a message' instead of 'I’ve got a text' just for some form of originality. The costume and production designers have clearly got together for a meeting and tried to spark some unique ideas. They’ve given grey metal water bottles - which let’s be honest are by far inferior to Love Island’s  personalised clear water bottles and the craze that they sparked. They’ve changed the name of 'The Villa’ to 'The Lodge' and have a more "jungle-esque" looking set design with outdoor baths and showers. Even the pool is substandard in comparison: it’s miniature. The behaviour of the contestants seemed to mirror their surroundings with their animalistic, tribal chants before and after each challenge and the boys' unrelenting boasting and arrogance on winning.

A disappointing difference was the replacement of Caroline Flack with presenter Laura Whitmore; as amazing as Laura is, I missed my daily dose of Flack. The biggest surprise for me, however, was the decision to have two separate dorms for the boys and girls - perhaps this is just another way of shaking things up but it seems that although this show is not "coupling up" orientated, this is what the contestants seem to be doing and episode by episode, the public are realising that clearly this show would be lacking in entertainment if there was none.

There were 20 contestants overall throughout the short series, beginning with an original 12

The contestants have been chosen, similar to Love Island, on their appearances however, they all seem to be more physically fit, presumably to account for the "fittest" part of the title and the requirement to compete in challenges. This aspect definitely created some problems. The contestants were evidently attracted to one another and immediately began to couple up either as a tactic to stay in through the voting system or "for love". Let’s be honest: only one of those options is true. There were 20 contestants overall throughout the short series, beginning with an original 12. Five of the six original guys, Callum, James, David, Tristan and Warren, all made it to the semi-final with Callum being eliminated by the girls the night before the final. Ryan was the first boy to be kicked off the show, interestingly he was also the only non-heterosexual contestant, after getting tangled in a love triangle between David Lundy and Georgie Clarke. Personally, although I don’t agree that anybody on any of these reality shows can be called genuine, I thought Ryan seemed the most down-to-earth and normal out of all the boys on the show. Mind you, we did only get 7 days of TV time with him, so who knows?

On the other side of the scale was David who appeared to me fake from his muscles to his personality. The man had clearly devoted a lot of time to building up his physical appearance in a synthetic way, proved in his embarrassing attempt at hanging on to the pole over the water in the challenge where he lasted less than five minutes. He seemed to blab and spew a lot of nonsense and really irritated me in every episode. James on the other hand was by far the best looking, in one’s personal opinion, however, he seemed very focused on the winning element of the show and his expressions of care and interest in the girls seemed to be just for their faces. For example, his "relationship" with Sam lasted a very short space of time and he did a lot of meaningless flirting. In testament to him, however, winning was the aim of the show.

The boys seemed to hold a fairly solid relationship with one another from the start to the end contrasting the rocky ups and downs of the girls. Unlike the boys, only two of the original girls made it to the final: Mariam (Maz) and Jenny. These two girls were definitely the favourites with the public right from the start. Jenny was hands down, in my view, the best girl in there the whole way through until Hayley came along. We, my friends and I, were dejected when Hayley didn’t make it to the final; we thought she deserved it, seeing as she seemed a bit more determined and grounded than the others. Jenny, like Ryan, seemed to be the most genuine and like James was evidently there to win. I’ll admit I was slightly devastated when she didn’t win the competition, especially after her tragic rejection by James, succeeding her lack of love interests in 'The Lodge'. Heartbroken.

Callum and Maz appeared to be the strongest couple for a long time, until one day Callum just turned around and changed his mind. Maybe the footage explaining this was cut or edited however, there didn’t seem to be much reasoning behind it?  Georgia and David’s heated fight was one that got my friends and I on the edge of our seats. Lottie and Warren’s break-up and his speedy move on to Maz was also a bit of a shock, except the public didn’t seem to care too much about Lottie, probably due to her weak attempts in the challenges. The first and only couple, unless you count Maz and Warren’s last minute hook-up, to put a label on their situation was Tristan and Mettisse, who "coincidentally" was the winner of the show. I wonder what would have happened with the splitting of the money if there was no "date" to split it with?

I personally was not that big a fan of Mettisse and was confused why the public were voting for her - aside from her impressive hanging skills in the challenge which David completely flopped, Mettisse didn’t do anything that impressive. Her claim to hating game-playing and using other people didn’t match up with her applying to be on the show for me. Why would you sign up for a show where cheating, lying and scheming are basically the motto? Her decision to split her money with the winning girls' team, while respectful was predictable. I don’t believe any of them would have wanted to be the first person ever on Survival of the Fittest to betray their team-mates as it would have been such bad publicity. That said, James and Jenny both seemed to have a more brutal attitude to the game.

Most annoying you ask? I’ve already expressed my dislike for David, but for the short periods Sydney and Shanice were on the show I think I may have disliked them even more. Most pathetic? A toss up once again between David, Lottie and Dani Dyer who left after the first challenge after injuring herself, quite literally after the first hurdle. The other contestants although they did nothing wrong, evidently did nothing right either, mostly being voted off the minute they walked across the bridge. What about Georgia? I don’t think her behaviour really deserves a comment - do you?

Although ITV2 tried their hardest, I don't think this show has filled any Love Island shaped-holes in people's lives
Overall, I am not ashamed to say I was ecstatic when the girls won and although my friends may be embarrassed, they were too! After not having very high hopes for this show my friends were sucked in slowly but surely, as was I. Although ITV2 tried their hardest, I don't think this show has filled any Love Island shaped-holes in people's lives as the public seem just as excited and in anticipation for the next season starting in under three months. There is a lot of pressure on the producers to make the next season even better than the last, to find us a new Chris and Kem.  Survival of the Fittest I would summarise as a bit of light-hearted entertainment (others may call it TV trash) which livened up my evenings for a few weeks. If you didn’t watch it and you have nothing better to be getting on with - and I actually do mean nothing - then it’s available on catch up on ITV Hub. While it might not be worth a watch, it’s certainly addictive.


15th March 2018 at 9:00 am

Images from

ITV, Radio Times and ITV2