Thursday, June 7, 2012


I have a confession. I might be addicted to Costa Rica’s most popular reality show: Combate. Monday through Friday, 7-9, I have been religiously tuning in to watch the ridiculous antics of semi-clad, very fit Ticos. While Combate seems to have a loose structure, every show seems to be different, and it doesn’t follow the American rules of competitive reality shows. Instead, I find myself puzzled and laughing with each new challenge.

Loosely, the show centers on competitions between the Blue Team (Equipo Azul) and the Orange Team (Equipo Naranja). Some of the challenges are physical (hence the very buff nature of the contestants), some require coordination, and some are just plain goofy. Imagine a cross between American Gladiator, Wipeout, and a karaoke performance.

Each night, the show opens with a choreographed performance by the competitors.

The show is hosted by “ex” Miss Costa Rica Teresa Rodríguez (not sure how she lost her crown) and TV and radio personality Federico "Kiko" Robles. While the hosts are fairly secondary in the average American reality show, these two spend plenty of time in front of the camera making jokes and banter. The competitors are the same each night, and while I don’t know all of their names, I think my favorite personality is Bryan.

The hair, the arm band, the dance moves. The fact that his shorts are ridiculously tighter than any of the other contestants.  He’s hilarious. He’s clearly a national personality because I saw trading cards and posters of him in El Mercado Central.

Combate is also shown in Ecuador and Peru, and recently a member of the Costa Rican crew has been competing in Peru. Last night’s episode featured a romance between him and one of the Peru cast (it’s a dating show too?!). Here’s an intro to Coto’s time in Peru:

Now, it is still unclear to me how one “wins” Combate. Each challenge involves winning points, but I still don’t know what happens to the score at the end of the show. The competitors are the same each night, so it’s not like your average American reality show in which contestants are kicked off if they don’t perform well. And having watched the show for a couple weeks now, I still don’t know if there is some longer term grand prize. Nevertheless, I’ll be looking for Combate in the States when I get back. I just don’t think I can give it up.

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