Fame Brief, Reality TV

Fame Brief: Survivor of the Fittest at Harvard Law School

Hopefully the next edition of What Can You Do With a Law Degree? has not gone to press yet, because there is a thriving new category of jobs a JD gets you these days: reality show contestant. See, Elie? Law school is good for something.

Joining James Weir, Erica Rose, Stephenie Park, and the entire pantheon of lawyer-turned-reality luminaries is John Cochran, a 24-year-old Harvard Law School student who appears as a member of the “Savaii” tribe on this season’s Survivor: South Pacific. Not much is discoverable about red-headed John online because his name is so common, but he lives (somewhat improbably) in DC, drinks Fanta, and loves The Beatles. Pretty standard stuff.

But what’s not standard is the way in which our wan, nerdy hero made it onto the show:

I was in this class in Harvard Law School called American Jury and for the final paper we got to write about whatever we wanted. And being a huge “Survivor” fanatic, I decided to write about “Survivor.” In the paper I compared the current American jury system with the jury system in “Survivor,” especially the final Tribal Council. There are certain lessons we can learn from “Survivor” juries in that the jurors get to ask questions to the defendants…who’d be the final two and final three. And they’re also kind of the witnesses to the “crime.” And my professor, who’s a pretty famous professor, loved it. It turns out he’s a huge “Survivor” fan and he gave me the Dean’s Scholar prize for the best paper in the class out of about 100 students.

So basically while you were busy writing onto Law Review, John Cochran was DVRing a reality show and writing papers about it for a fanboy professor. Perfect….

Styling himself as a prize-winning Survivor anthropologist, John has developed a bullet proof game strategy. This strategy includes announcing that he is a prize-winning Survivor anthropologist, requesting that host Jeff Probst call him “Cochran” because his research had revealed that strong players get called by their last names, making a spectacle of his “translucent” skin, failing to climb over a wall, and wondering aloud whether humor, brains, and charm will be enough to keep him safe from elimination in a game of physical endurance. Needless to say, he was up for elimination during the first episode.

But this is all really beside the point. When was Survivor last relevant? 2000? 2001? Everybody watched the first two seasons because they put reality TV on the map, heralded the elimination show format and introduced the beloved concept of alliances. But, understandably, the people grew tired of watching dirty, emaciated contestants compete for peanut butter. Newer, innovative shows like Bachelor Pad and Teen Mom have edged out dinosaurs like Big Brother, Real World, America’s Next Top Model, and Survivor, and for good reason. If you are still watching a dusty old relic like Survivor, might as well tune in to CBS’s other programming for the blind, like Two and A Half Worthwhile Minutes Men and 60 Minutes. Survivor is in its 23rd season (!!) for crying out loud, and it’s time to hang up the bandanas. The tribe has spoken.

And for those Survivor diehards who say the show’s “changed!” or “better than ever!” I’ll have you know that as part of my investigative reporting for this post, I watched last week’s season premiere. The show is EXACTLY the same as I remember it in 2000 – same imitation Lion King theme music, same Survivor bandanas, same non-specific African/Polynesian tribal motif. In other words, same s***, different tropical s**thole. Sorry folks, but Survivor was last relevant when I owned a Nokia phone.

Regardless, we wish John Cochran the best of luck competing on the show. He probably won’t need to take too much time off from school because last week’s episode hinted that he’s once again on the chopping block this week. Good thing he has a law degree to fall back on.

P.S. My DVR’s set for tonight.

(hidden for your protection)

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