Not-So-Desert Island Is Next Stop For 'Deal Or No Deal'

Which came first? The desert island? Or New Yorker cartoons about them?

Cartoons on desert islands with a single palm tree are as much a staple of New Yorker cartoons as therapist’s offices.

My personal favorite: A shrink with a patient on the couch is speaking on the phone with his wife. The caption: “It’s getting crazy here!”

On TV, however, reality competition shows on islands are no laughing matter. I mean, you can laugh at them if you like, but to the contestants stranded there with nothing but producers, camera crews and craft service tables full of food, their very survival is no laughing matter.

This is especially true when the stakes are high -- specifically, cash prizes in the seven figures.



One million dollars (before taxes) has been the grand prize on “Survivor” since it began in summer 2000.

Incredibly, there have been 45 editions of “Survivor” on CBS since then, with the 46th set to start on Wednesday (February 28). This season’s location: Fiji.

By coincidence, NBC also premiered a high-stakes island-survival game this year, “Deal or No Deal Island,” a spin-off from the long-running “Deal or No Deal.” 

The show has elements familiar to anyone -- meaning everyone -- who has had any experience watching any number of survival-competition-reality shows in the last 20-plus years.

The roster of contestants in the new, first season of “Deal or No Deal Island” even features a “Survivor” veteran -- “Boston” Rob Mariano, who gained fame as a scheming schemer on five editions of “Survivor” and two go-rounds on “The Amazing Race.”

The new, island-based “Deal or No Deal” has the contestants competing to find the aluminum briefcases that have long been the objects of desire on the original “Deal or No Deal,” which has been with us in one way or another since 2005.

They face various physical challenges on the trail of these concealed cases, which contain the dollar amounts they stand to win if they can make the right “deal.”

As always in these island competition shows, the contestants come from diverse backgrounds and represent familiar archetypes such as the plucky senior, the tough-but-lovable Brooklyn guy, the nerd, the gambler, the devious manipulator and others.

Coming from different backgrounds and experiences, they all react differently to the rigors of the various challenges. When knee-deep in muddy waters (photo above), some sing the blues and some don’t.

These kinds of survival-competition shows have been island-hopping since at least the start of “Survivor” way back when.

“Temptation Island” and “Love Island” come immediately to mind, but there have been many others. 

Unlike “Gilligan’s Island,” the castaways on these reality-show islands always get rescued.

2 comments about "Not-So-Desert Island Is Next Stop For 'Deal Or No Deal'".
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  1. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development, February 27, 2024 at 2:07 p.m.

    Adam: Your 4th paragraph is the perfect hit on "reality TV" and why it is the absolute opposite of reality. Thank you.

  2. Ben B from Retired, February 27, 2024 at 8:26 p.m.

    I enjoyed Deal Or Deal Island was pretty good I watched the special about a month ago which was the 9:30PM part was the special before 10PM was where the ploting and the game having to make a good deal or you could be going home and if you make a good deal you send someone else home.

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