“Fear keeps people loyal.”
– Robert Mariano, Survivor: Marquesas.
Rob Mariano is the best reality contestant of all-time. Even if you do not follow reality television, the chances are that you have heard the name before and it is for good reason.
Mariano is larger than life.
Rob initially participated in the fourth instalment of the Survivor franchise, where he was unceremoniously dumped early on. He was voted out after a twist in the game that sent him to the Rotu tribe where was outnumbered. Even though his odds of lasting past the 4-3 vote disadvantage were next-to-impossible, he still managed to cause chaos and strike fear into the hearts of his opponents. While Vecepia Towery went on to claim the $1 million prize, the season was best remembered for the loudmouth in the Red Sox cap who had changed the very meaning of the game. Instead of keeping the strong and eliminating the weak, Rob influenced his Maraamu teammates to take out their strongest member (Hunter Ellis) and quickly positioned himself as the figurehead of the alliance.
Rob was the perfect reality contestant. A smooth ladies man who quickly befriended the hottest girl on the show, quoted lines from The Godfather as he kicked opponents to the curb and smiled like a cheshire cat the whole time.
Although he did not make the jury, he would get a second chance as he was selected by the game’s creator Mark Burnett to participate in an all-stars edition of the show. This time, Rob’s strengths were clearly seen and undeniable. Unlike his first attempt (which was significantly altered after the teams were unfairly switched), Rob managed to outwit and outplay the best Survivor players of all-time. Even adversary Shii-Ann Huang had to admit that she was scared of him. Although Rob made it to the final tribal council, he ultimately lost to the only player who bested him. And he ended up marrying her.
Amber Brkich (Survivor All-Stars champion) and Mariano fell in love and Boston Rob went on to participate in his third consecutive reality show, The Amazing Race 7 where he once again carried Amber as they almost won another million dollars. They completed the race in second place. Another loss, still did not dissuade the Cambridge King as he had not had his fill of the television spotlight and married his wife on a CBS special.
While many have said that Richard Hatch invented the social game of Survivor, Rob Mariano defined it. He single-handedly was the star of both seasons of Survivor that he starred on (without winning once) and even managed to corrupt and manipulate reality TV’s purest game… the Amazing Race by bribing bus drivers, skipping tasks and conning competitors as his ‘whatever it takes’ attitude carried him to the silver medal.
Love him or hate him, Rob Mariano is the face of the reality television boom and highlights why it is as popular as it is. I am proud to say that he is one of my best friends.