REVIEW: ‘The Traitors’ Creates Trust Issues

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The Traitors - But Why Tho

The Traitors is a Peacock original murder mystery reality show, also available on BBC iPlayer, developed by Studio Lambert. The show is presented by Alan Cumming. The premise of the show brings 20 contestants into a Scottish castle where one of them is murdered every night. Three traitors exist among them, selecting which person is eliminated. In each episode, the group has a chance to banish a traitor, but if there is one left in the group by the end of the series, they are the one that takes the money. A UK version is also available on BBC iPlayer, with an entirely different host (Claudia Winkleman) and set of contestants.

As a premise, The Traitors is intriguing. It’s a game of trust and manipulation, with a strong basis for eliminating people from the challenge. It takes the format of games like The Challenge or Survivor and adds a psychological twist beyond. And as excellent reality shows should, it builds in its intensity and increases the nerves of those watching. I personally believe it also adds a substance to the show that others don’t possess. It’s not based on physical challenges but a more tactical style. 

With that being said, there are still missions and challenges within each episode that mimic the scale of what you might find in other American reality shows. The better the team does, the more money goes into a pot to win at the end of the season. The construction of these tasks is entertaining, large in scale, and has something of a connection to the landscape and aesthetics. But some challenges feel disconnected and don’t really fit the show as well because they aren’t methodical. These big, stunt-like challenges are an example of the negative side of absorbing elements from other series. They’ve become a staple of the genre, so much so that they have to be included somewhere where they may be a detriment.

The cast of the show and the selection progress is interesting. The figurehead of the show, leading the challenges and playing the role of host, is Cummings. He is an excellent inclusion because of how much he leans into it. He can ham it up and be overly, purposefully dramatic, with a humorous and mischievous streak. But a nefarious speech straight out of a charming murder mystery is also present. Plus, his fashion sense is fabulous and extravagant.

The selection of the cast is very different from the UK version to reflect the way reality TV works in each country. The US is a spider web, sticking both regular civilians and reality stars alike within the same house. Guests have been taken from Survivor, Below Deck, and other shows. Some of those reality figures can be obnoxious, but the personalities of the outsiders can be just as much a draw as the celebrities. Towards the end, I tended to forget which people were famous before it began. There are those included that do become really irritating, but that is part and parcel of a reality show such as this.

The identity of the traitors is hidden from their fellow contestants but is made clear to the audience in the first episode. This increases the unease as we are able to see when the group makes accusations at “faithfuls” and completely miss the puppet masters. With each failure, the emotions of the group are more frayed. These are easily the most gravitating and powerful moments of the show.

The Traitors creates trust issues but needs to break free from its familiars. The show’s draw is its tension and the characters within it. The alliances that happen in other shows are there, with the added pressure of people being traitors. I also think the location deserves a lot of credit, as does the whole setting. Cumming knows not to take it seriously, and his hosting is a whole load of fun. The castle and the surroundings are stunning.

The only thing that really damages The Traitors is that some of the challenges seemed out of place and felt more like filler before the mind games and confrontation started again. Tropes from other reality shows are present here too, which may lead to it struggling to make a step away from them. But it is an extremely watchable and addicting series to lose yourself in, with delicious tension in the later stages.

The Traitors is available on Peacock and BBC iPlayer. The UK version is available on BBC iPlayer.


The Traitors
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

The only thing that really damages The Traitors is that some of the challenges seemed out of place and felt more like filler before the mind games and confrontation started again. Tropes from other reality shows are present here too, which may lead to it struggling to make a step away from them. But it is an extremely watchable and addicting series to lose yourself in, with delicious tension in the later stages.

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