BBC/Studio Lambert/Mark Mainz

The Traitors series two: a masterclass in reality television

The Traitors is a fresh, exciting take on reality TV, with viewership surpassing stale formats like I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. A record eightmillion people tuned in to watch Harry be crowned the winner of The Traitors. I was initially apprehensive that The Traitors would fail to live up to the success of the first series, but it has surpassed it. 

The Traitors is the British version of the hit Dutch show De Verraders, sharing similarities with the party games Mafia and Werewolf. The contestants arrive at a castle in the Scottish Highlands, hoping to win up to £120,000. Most of the contestants are “the faithfuls”, who must work together to banish the traitors. The traitors are a small group who must avoid banishment and murder the faithfuls to take all the money for themselves.  

It can be agonizing to watch how close the faithful can get to the truth

What makes The Traitors so entertaining is the cast. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a diverse range of contestants from across the UK, rather than the wannabe Love Island influencers. This series included a disability model, a clairvoyant, and an army engineer. As the series progresses, we learn more about each contestant’s motivations for the money, and their stories. Mollie has raised awareness about wearing a stoma, and Andrew had to re-learn to walk after a horrific car crash. As viewers, we become emotionally invested in each person’s journey. The Traitors is so unique because it features regular people from all walks of life, whom the viewers can relate to.  

This series has given us plenty of iconic moments, from Ross’ wink to the camera, Paul’s takedown by Harry and Jaz’s incredibly accurate theories, with fans calling him “Jazatha Christie”. Sometimes I find myself rooting for the traitors; other times I am desperate for the faithful to figure out who the traitors are. It can be agonizing to watch how close the faithful can get to the truth. We can watch organic friendships grow across the series while also witnessing brutal betrayals. 

If anyone can dethrone Ant and Dec at the National Television Awards this year, it’s Claudia

Claudia Winkleman is fantastic in her role as presenter, and she is really invested in the game. From reprimanding one faithful for banishing fellow faithfuls to accusing the traitors of being misogynistic, Claudia is truly the mouthpiece of the audience. Claudia was initially reluctant to return to the series because season 1 was so incredible, but I am so glad she came back for round two. If anyone can dethrone Ant and Dec at the National Television Awards this year, it’s Claudia.  

Often, the challenges of building the prize pot can be dull and unnecessary, as they break the tension. Though, I do feel that the introduction of the ability to win a shield in each mission this year did raise the stakes. Harry was able to play an absolute blinder when he managed to secure a shield and conceal it from the others, which ultimately secured his overall victory. One challenge in particular, Diane’s funeral, will go down in television history. It was so unsettling to watch Ross stand over his mother’s coffin as she whispered goodbye in their parting exchange. I can’t think of any other show that would be able to pull off such a genius moment.  

The finale did not disappoint and was an incredible way to finish what had been a five-star series. I kept guessing until the last moment who would come out on top. Jaz came agonizingly close to succeeding in his takedown of Harry when Mollie wrote Harry’s name on the board to banish. Tragically, Mollie changed her mind at the last moment, deciding to banish Jaz instead. It was heartbreaking to watch Mollie’s reaction to the fact that her best friend was actually a traitor. Ultimately, The Traitors is a game of deceit and betrayal, which Molly learned the hard way, as you cannot trust anyone. 

The BBC has proven there is still an appetite for engaging reality shows on terrestrial television when produced well. I am gutted that the second series of The Traitors has now concluded. In November, the BBC announced plans for a third series, and I know I’ll definitely be watching. 


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