The Traitors UK – TV Review

Promotional photo: COURTESY OF BBC.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the US edition of The Traitors, a new show on Peacock that I enjoyed quite a bit. There have been several iterations of the show from various countries, and Peacock is now offering the UK and Australian versions as well. This past week, I binged my way through the UK’s take on the show, wonderfully hosted by Claudia Winkleman, and found it just as much fun as the US version was.

The way the show works is that a group of people are brought to a lavish setting where they complete missions to raise money for the prize pot to be awarded at the end of the show. Certain players are chosen by Claudia to be the Traitors, and the rest are known as The Faithful. The Traitors pick one of the Faithful each night to “murder”, eliminating them from the game. Meanwhile, the Faithful try to determine who the Traitors are, and “banish” them from the show during a nightly Round Table meeting. If the surviving Faithful banish all the Traitors by game’s end, the Faithful will split the prize pot. If any Traitors remain, however, they get the money.

The US and UK versions are very similar, being set in the same castle in the Scottish Highlands, and they use essentially the same missions. These challenges can involve anything from trying to blow up a giant wicker rabbit-monster (you read that right), to finding teammates who have been buried alive, escaping from a rather disgusting cabin within a certain amount of time, defeating a laser field or rolling barrels worth varying amounts of money over some difficult ground. The familiarity of these elements, however, didn’t affect my ability to enjoy both shows.

Programs that pit contestants against each other like this one does can easily become trashy, with some players deciding they’re going to be the show villains, sabotaging other players, creating alliances and then screwing their supposed allies over and otherwise playing down-and-dirty to get the upper hand. In general, I can’t stand those shows. Part of what makes The Traitors different is that – for several reasons – there’s very little of that.

Even though the whole conceit of the show is that a small group of players is trying to deceive the rest, there’s not a lot of incentive for anyone to sabotage anyone else during the challenges. If they want to have any money to win, they have to work as a team. Then, during the downtime, when the contestants can sit around and get to know each other and attempt to suss out the Traitors, the Traitor’s job is to blend in as well as they can. If they go overboard in endeavoring to deflect suspicion away from themselves, it often makes them seem even more suspicious. Of course, some will set out to persuade others they know who is or isn’t a Traitor, and the Traitors have to strategize who they want to murder, but the rest of the time, the atmosphere is largely collegial. The only times they truly play as oppositional forces are when it comes to committing their nightly murders and banishments.

Another thing I like about the show, and which I think helps keep the feeling in the castle lighter, is that the Traitors aren’t self-selected. They don’t volunteer for the part. Claudia chooses them the first night. This provides an extra challenge to the Faithful, as it means they can’t just home in on who seems most likely to want to be a troublemaker, and puts the Traitors in a position they may not have expected.

There’s a lot of psychology that goes into the game, and it’s fascinating to watch how the individuals and their relationships to other players can change. Some build very close friendships, to where they simply can’t imagine that their friend would be a Traitor. Others keep their distance, hoping to avoid that trap. I find this to be the most interesting part of the show. The Traitors have to plan their murders to avoid making their overall strategy obvious, and the Faithful have to figure out – based mainly on who has or hasn’t been eliminated – how they think the Traitors would behave.

All-in-all, I think this is one of the best non-skill-based competition shows I’ve seen in a while, and I am excited to check out the Australian take on it in the upcoming weeks.

Murder Or Banish? Decisions Abound On The Traitors (Review)


In my recent review on “Pressure Cooker” I mentioned how I disliked it during the early seasons of skilled competition shows when people made decisions based on “game strategy” rather than on merit. It may surprise you, then, to learn that I absolutely loved Peacock’s “The Traitors.” On “The Traitors” “game strategy” is the whole point.

The show is set in Scotland, ostensibly at the castle of our host, Alan Cumming, who was born to play this role. He has invited 20 people – 10 who have been on other reality shows (most of them from Peacock’s corporate sister, Bravo, but a few others as well) and 10, well, normal people to join him at his castle for a little game. Not being a big watcher of reality shows, I didn’t really know who anyone was, and in all honesty, it didn’t make a difference as far as enjoying the program went. There are some references to their previous stints, but nothing you can’t follow just by the dialog on this show.

Traitors players Michael Davidson, Anjelica Conti, Cirie Fields, Brandi Glanville, Rachel Reilly, Kate Chastain, Robert “Bam” Nieves, Ryan Lochte, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Christian de la Torre, Cody, Calafiore, Kyle Cook, Amanada Clark, Azra Valani, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, Reza Farahan, Geraldine Moreno, and Quentin Jiles (Photo by Euan Cherry/Peacock)

Each day, the contestants engage in a mission of some sort. One day, they may be trying to blow up wood frame Scottish beasts, another, they’re struggling to roll barrels through the castle grounds. The point of the missions is for them to collectively earn money toward the prize pot of up to $250,000.

The contenders have been divided into two groups, but not everyone knows who’s in which group. Some have been selected by Cumming to serve as the titular Traitors, who’s job is to get rid of as many of the other players as possible without getting caught. The rest are known as the Faithful.

The Traitors all learn who’s on which team because each night, they don heavy cloaks, sneak through the castle carrying a lantern and meet in a creepy castle turret to decide who they’re going to murder. Once the victim is picked, their judgement is delivered to the victim, who is now out of the game.

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Anti-Woke Idiocy: Pink Floyd Edition

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album jacket, showing a white triangle representing a prism in the center of the image, with a white beam of light coming up to the triangle at a shallow, upword angle and bars in the colors of the rainbow exiting the other side at a shallow, downword angle

Pink FLoyd has long been known as a fairly progressive band – not just musically, but also in terms of their social and political views. Apparently, not all of their “fans” have noticed this.

Pink Floyd recently announced that they’re issuing a special edition of their classic “Dark Side of the Moon” album to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its release, and as part of the packaging, they’ve created a new logo for it:

Pink Floyd 50th Anniversary of "Dark Side of the Moon" featuring the number 50 superimposed over a triangle, with verticle rainbow colored bars filling the zero.
Pink Floyd’s new album logo for the 50th Anniversary of the “Dark Side of the Moon.”
For anyone who’s seen the original cover, the inspiration for the new logo is obvious, even the inclusion of the rainbow colored bars. But as Prog Magazine reported, not everyone who claims to be a Floyd fan is actually familar with (a) their political views and (b) the cover of their most famous album. How do they know this? Because following the reveal of the special logo, Twitter went a bit nuts for a while with people claiming to be long-time fans outraged that Pink Floyd has “gone woke” and is now championing LGTBQ+ causes. A few examples:

Sampling of Tweets complaining about PInk Floyd going “woke”
While several people responded to point out the idiocy of the anti-woke crowd, one person hit the nail on the head, saying

“Some people here took ‘we don’t need no education’ too seriously.”

David Crosby 1941 – 2023

David Crosby with an extremely large joint

David Crosby, a singer and guitarist who played with The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has passed away at 81. According to Slate:

The Croz, who died Thursday at the age of 81 following a “long illness,” embodied the rebellious, abrasive, creatively innovative spirit of late-’60s California as well as anyone of his time. As the co-founder of two of the greatest American rock bands—the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills & Nash (& sometimes Young)—Crosby played an indelible role in some of the most influential tunes of the folk-rock era: for the Byrds, songs like “Eight Miles High” and their covers of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (both No. 1 hits), and for CSN(Y), tracks like “Guinnevere,” “Wooden Ships,” and “Almost Cut My Hair.” He also played with several other notable artists of the period, adding his jazzy six-string licks and vocal harmonies to recordings by James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Carole King, and onetime girlfriend Joni Mitchell (whose career took off because of Crosby, and who later broke up with his cheating ass by penning a song about it).

One of Rock’s great elder statesmen, Crosby had a long and prolific career. His last studio album, “For Free” was released in 2021, and was followed by a live album in 2022.

“Vikings”, “Vikings Valhalla”, History and Faith

Poster for the Vikings Valhalla series, showing Harald Sigurdsson, Leif Eriksson and Freydis Eriksdottir holding their weapons in a battle-ready stance, standing around and on top of a smoldering pile of bones, ash and ruined weapons.

Netflix has released all 8 episodes for the second season of Vikings Valhalla, something I have very much been looking forward to. Before I start writing reviews of the episodes, however, I thought I would offer some thoughts on the show and its predecessor, Vikings, along with comments on the show’s portrayal of the characters’ faith and the clash between the Heathen Norse and the Christian English. There are no spoilers for the new season of Valhalla in this article, though I will write openly about events from the first season and from the original Vikings series.

A handsome Viking man with his hair in a topknot and with a neatly trimmed beard looks off into the distance.
Leo Suter as Harald Sigurdsson
One thing that’s important to remember when watching shows like this is that they are dramas first and foremost and are not intended to be seen as historically accurate – which is kind of ironic since the first series aired on the History Channel. It’s best to assume that, while some things are based on actual history, most of it is fictional.

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