When first we practice to deceive

Published December 31, 2022

The marketing poster for The Traitor featuring Claudia Winkelman

I can be a snob when it comes to reality TV, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Oh, of course I was on the bandwagon when things like Big Brother, The Apprentice and I’m A Celebrity first appeared, but have long since given them up (or they themselves have given up). I love a Bake Off or a Strictly, as you well know, but the jungles and islands and Chelseas and Essexes of this world pass me by.

My excuse is usually ‘they’re on every day, I don’t have time to keep up with that’, which worked fine until a friend called me out on the fact that I once binge watched seven series of Game of Thrones in six weeks. That kinda ruined my argument a bit so I’ve just had to fess up to being a snob.

However, even I couldn’t ignore the hype around the Traitors, and believe me I tried. I ignored it right up until a couple of days ago where the overwhelming number of people telling me it was great meant I had to at least give it a go. And yes, this time I binge-watched a whole series in about two days. Yay for Christmas holidays!

This show is something else, isn’t it? Firstly, it’s not the usual reality TV fare - it’s much more dramatic, more cinematic, formatted in a way that the twists and turns are structured but also kinda natural. It’s really just human nature devolving into paranoia and mistrust, making the game almost impossible to watch… but only almost.

I thought the first episode was great, and then by the second or third, was getting a bit stressed at just the endless loud voices conflicting with each other. Confrontation isn’t really my bag, I like it when everyone gets along! But then I realised the iPlayer introduced a x2 speed button a while back and that made my experience so much nicer. The tension was still there but it was over much quicker, phew!

I won’t spoil anything because somehow I managed to start the show after it had finished without being spoiled, so I wouldn’t want to ruin that for anyone else. But the things that make it great are the cast of characters (just some normal people from a wide variety of walks of life), the missions (somewhere between the tactical Apprentice style stuff and the more hands on I’m A Celebrity stuff), and of course, lovely Claudia. If ever there was a draw to a show, it’s Claudia for me, and I think she does such an incredible job of toeing the line between running the show and guiding what is a brutal competition, whilst also being fully on the participant’s side and being available for hugs where necessary.

People are already clamouring for a second series which is completely understandably, but I hope it doesn’t out-stay its welcome. This is the kind of show where the more people know what’s happening before going in, the more it becomes a heightened and fake experience. But we’ll always have this, the original UK series, which was an absolute rollercoaster from start to finish.

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