Nobody escapes that The panorama of reality shows in Spain is absolutely terrifying. Second-class celebrities (or future second-class celebrities) flirting on an island, surviving on a farm, cooking or yelling at each other in a house: from ‘Secret Story’ to ‘The Island of Temptations’ the genre is so crushed and sunk in our country to raise a project as ambitious as ‘Traitors’ deserved audiovisual re-education work so that the general public would understand that this is not about shouting nor of having parties, but of devising strategies, making alliances and stabbing at the least expected moment.
I have a yellow traitor
‘Traitors’ distrusts the public, and rightly so: accustomed to products that only defy patience, a program of intuitions and betrayals is a dry change that marks intentions from the casting. And so that the audience understands that this is not what they expect, an ominous introduction is made and, during the first episode, the basic rules are repeated over and over again, to the point of ennui.. Like explaining a board game to someone who has never played it, the show repeats the operation of it like a mantra throughout its first episode. In fact, it is in its second installment when it really starts to work, now freed from the yokes of reading comprehension.
However, the mechanics are not that complex to understand: ‘Traitors’ is, basically, a magnified game of ‘Wolves of Castronegro’ (‘Town sleeps’, ‘Wolves’ or whatever you call it). In a large group there are a lot of innocents and three traitors, who hide their identity. At night, the traitors kill one of the innocent, and the next morning everyone votes for the person they think is the traitor to remove them from the game. As he leaves, he reveals whether he was a traitor or innocent. There are a couple of extra perks, but this is basically the game.
The influence is such that the contestants themselves do not stop getting confused and saying that they are “wolves”, using board game terminology (“I’m going to eat someone”). It is normal, in the same way that it is to see some contestants trying to play a different contest and heir to the decades of Telecinqueo, more based on companionship and coexistence than on malice, backstabbing and assumptions. It is Juan Sanguino who makes it clear from the first episode, arguing “This is not that kind of show”. And boy is it not.
Knives Out: The HBO Max Mystery
I think that in his eagerness to make it all very clear to a lethargic audience that is far behind in quality competition reality shows, HBO Max makes a mistake (inherited from international editions) by showing the three traitors who will carry the weight of the game on their backs. As ‘El topo’ (the fantastic Netflix reality show) does, allowing the public to play and wonder is much more excitingbecoming an active part of the game and not simply passive subjects of it.
This little format error It does not prevent us from enjoying a casting that, finally, lives up to the circumstances. Instead of taking celebrities from their father and mother, or Mediaset celebrities, the HBO Max reality show has decided to play with contestants who are the best at what they do: poker players, water polo players, actors, journalists, comedians and (the twist to attract attention) Cristina Cifuentes. They are intelligent people, with the ability to speak, ponder and reason.: a giant advance compared to the reality shows we are used to, of course.
However, there is one thing that is so conspicuously lacking that most people may not be hooked: ‘Traitors’ is, as much as I regret it… boring. The tests, at least in the two episodes that we have been able to see, lack visual or emotional spectacularity, which is not helped by a rather clumsy montage that decides to always tell the story through the testimonials of the contestants instead of letting it unfold organically. It’s as if the production always wants to have the singing voice in the narrative, not allowing the public to get involved… or find out what’s going on.
Et you, Brutus?
I confess that I really wanted to see ‘Traitors’ but the final result, while entertaining and different, is also clumsy. By making the decision not to use graphic elements that explain and support the montage, in the tests we only see a lot of people talking without it being very clear to us what the turns are, who is in front or which contestants have made a blunder. All the stylishness that the photography is and how successful the casting is is diluted because of an edition which lacks the training that they do have in other countries where this type of program is more abundant.
The reality shows the plots between contestants very well, but it gets lost in the most basic. For example, explain how to find a shield in the armory or showing those photos that they don’t stop talking about during the first test, inadvertently starting a discussion between contestants about images that we don’t have access to. Nevertheless, They are forgivable mistakes if we hope to see more reality shows that are a little different on television and that they move away from the disaster that ‘Insiders’ left behind.
The Spanish public has been asking for a different type of reality show for years than the one offered by free-to-air television: although products such as ‘El topo’ or ‘The circle’ reach us, there is still a lot to be done to see them adapted to our country. ‘Traitors’ is a very good first step, which continually reinforces the idea that this is not a reality show to use, but in that audiovisual re-education it ends up being diluted and losing strength. Hopefully they’ll take note for a future season 2, because hopefully the betrayal party is just getting started.