Reality Check: Flirting on 'Survivor' and 'The Real World'

What would reality television be without flirting?

I’m not talking about that hostile banter that goes back and forth between Simon and Ryan Seacrest; the sweet nothings whispered on "The Bachelor" or any of the knock-down drag-out brawls that take place over Flavor Flav.

I mean strategic flirting — otherwise known as the attempt to appear interested in another person solely for the purpose of personal gain in whatever competition is going on.

Over on "Survivor," I give Parvati an A-plus for effort. She turned the charm on so high for the amphibious, challenge-dominating Ozzy that he seemed like putty in her muddy hands, showering him with personal attention, beaming at him so strongly that the rays could be felt through the television screen and even stripping down to nothing to slosh around a hot tub with him (rendering a highly suspicious Yule a sort of awkward odd-man-out and causing Ozzy to have a perma-grin as big as his hair).

But despite Parvati’s performance — and the fact that Ozzy is on the verge of being thoroughly betrayed by his tribemates — the guy went and helped vote the girl out! Either I underestimate men or men who seem to be half-fish are stronger than the rest, because the move shocked the heck out of me.

On "The Real World," meanwhile, the kids don’t so much flirt as they take hostages. This week the focus was on Tyrie, who’s problem du jour was whether he should try harder to bed a flight attendant named Ashley or a local girl named Jazelle.

Both girls ended up being invited back to the house after a night out, where Tyrie informed Ashley that she couldn’t come in because they had restrictions on how many people they could have over — a lie that might have worked had there not been 17 seasons showing "Real World"-ers inviting people back for after-parties by the busload.

And what a guy Jazelle won! “She’s reluctant to have sex with me, but I’m going to push for it as much as I can,” Tyrie informs the camera, predicting that she may break after a week, “maybe two.”

The happy couple then have an unintelligible fight and seem to make up before going and doing a confessional together — a recipe for relationship success if there ever were one.

So is it true love or a girl’s true love for the concept of being on camera at any cost? Well, let me just say that comparatively speaking, Pavarti and Ozzy are an adorable couple indeed.

Anna David has written for The L.A. Times, Vanity Fair, Premiere, Parenting, Cosmo, People, Us Weekly, Redbook, Self, Details, Stuff, TV Guide, Women’s Health, Ocean Drive, Teen Vogue, Variety, The New York Post, LA Confidential and Maxim, among others. She answers sex and relationship questions on G4's Attack of the Show and speaks about pop culture on FOX, CNN, NBC, MTV, VH1 and E! Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from Regan Books/HarperCollins.