The Traitors | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

The Traitors

TELEVISION | Reality TV gets a makeover with a high-stakes game of whodunit


<em>The Traitors</em>
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get started for as low as $3.99 per month.

Current WORLD subscribers can log in to access content. Just go to "SIGN IN" at the top right.


Already a member? Sign in.

➤ Rated TV-14
➤ Peacock

Peacock’s new stylish reality series The Traitors has a twist: Not everyone’s playing the same game.

The show is based on the party game Mafia, in which players are divided into two groups, townspeople and the secret Mafiosi. In each round, the Mafiosi kill a townsperson, and the townspeople banish a player from the game, hoping to eliminate a Mafioso. The townspeople win if they can identify the Mafiosi before the Mafiosi eliminate all the townspeople.

The Traitors takes place in a Scottish castle. Twenty contestants play the game: 17 are “faithful” and three are “traitors,” and no one knows who’s who. During the day, they compete as a group, adding money to a prize pot that could grow to $250,000, but at night, the knives come out. Everyone tries to discern who might be a traitor—except the traitors, who put on their best wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing act. The faithful will split the pot at the end of the game unless there’s still a traitor in their midst. In that case, the traitors take it all.

Scottish actor Alan Cumming hams it up as the “laird” of the castle. He’s amusing, if a little flamboyant. Half the contestants are minor celebrities or former reality-TV stars, and the other half are average folks. In keeping with reality TV, not all the contestants are likable—most of the unlikable come from the minor-celebrity group—but one or two unlikable players grew on me as I watched.

It’s too bad that the show included reality-TV veterans alongside the newbies, because the veterans cowed the other contestants some. Despite this fault, I was surprised by how interested I became in seeing the players wrestle with the asymmetrical conditions for winning. It’s not like voting someone off Survivor.

Another fault of the series is that the traitors remove perceptive players from the game too quickly. The contest seems to reward cluelessness. Some players never grasped the game, seeming to forget contestants didn’t choose whether they were “faithful” or “traitors.” Too often some poor faithful would say something to the effect of “I trust them—they wouldn’t betray us.”

The 10-episode series is based on the Dutch show De Verraders, and British and Australian versions also debuted this year. The British and American versions actually used the same sets and challenges for their different groups of contestants. The show, with its twist on the typical reality-TV formula, has proved to be a big hit on both sides of the pond, and Peacock’s ordered its second season.

Perhaps future seasons of The Traitors won’t be so twisty and turny as contestants learn to manipulate the game, but this first season offered real entertainment. The series is funny, and it avoids the raunchiness sometimes associated with reality TV. But, be warned, the contestants often use language that’s not family friendly.

Collin Garbarino

Collin is WORLD’s arts and culture editor. He is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisiana State University and resides with his wife and four children in Sugar Land, Texas.



Please wait while we load the latest comments...