Airing Dirty Dysfunctional Family Laundry on Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Survivor Blood vs. WaterI’m a big fan of the reality TV show Survivor, and I have developed a keen interest in this season’s Blood vs. Water twist pitting family members against each other. Specifically, I’m fascinated with Aras and Vytas Baskauskas, brothers whose thorny relationship practically screams dysfunctional family. These two have spilled enough backstory in the first three episodes to confirm my suspicions.

First, take a look at their Survivor bios:

  • Aras – younger brother, previous Survivor winner, admitted “rocky relationship” with his brother early in their lives
  • Vytas – older brother, former heroin addict, pet peeve: show-offs, learned to manipulate people through drug addiction, admits about his brother: our relationship hasn’t always been the best

Survivor Blood vs. Water Aras and Vytas BaskauskasWhile they say they love each other, these two siblings make it clear they are desperate to outwit/outplay/outlast each other at the game of Survivor. The sibling rivalry from their childhood is openly discussed and remains as strong as ever in these two as adults. The latest episode, “Opening Pandora’s Box”, was revealing about their relationship:

Aras: “My brother has been a bully in my life, to put it simply. When I was a kid, my brother never looked out for me. It’s always been—Mom’s not looking, so if he could get a punch in, he was gonna take it.”

Vytas: “The truth is, he’s always been a little more athletic, a little stronger, a little bigger than me. He was the golden child. He always wins. Finally for once, can I win please?”

The brothers had to compete against each other in a physical challenge right up their alley – fighting to knock each other off a platform. They both really wanted to win this one too, so bad that Vytas resorted to unsportsman-like conduct. Even so, Aras still came out the golden child and won again. Here’s how they both felt about the outcome of the challenge:

Aras to his brother’s face: “It feels bad, you know? I love him more than anybody else. I don’t want to fight against him. We’ve done it enough, but I’m proud I beat him.”

Vytas to his brother’s face: “I mean, he’s a college athlete. I’m the junkie. But he beat me. I’m proud of him.”

Vytas behind his brother’s back: “I feel like I got clobbered by my brother. Not only did he win, but he won even after I gave him a little bit of a cheap shot.”

Wow, dysfunction doesn’t get any better than this, right? We’ve got some classic dysfunctional roles here: the family hero who does everything right and the scapegoat who does everything wrong and takes the blame! We’ve got the typical reasons for dysfunction: addiction, control, fear, abuse, conflict. Based on the complex relationship between Aras and Vytas, I think we’re bound to see some serious fireworks from this dueling duo! Get ready for more drama and backstabbing! They’ve grown up with it, and under ever-increasing pressure to “win” against the other won’t hesitate to step right back into the familiar roles and dysfunctional patterns. I can’t help but wonder about their parents. What was their story and what was going on in that household when Aras and Vytas were kids?

Since I don’t like bullies either, I’m rooting for Aras to come out on top this season of Survivor, or at least make it farther along than his brother Vytas. I’m hoping Aras will keep his cool and his dignity intact while Vytas gets his torch snuffed out by his bullying and underhanded shenanigans.

What about you? When it comes to brothers Aras and Vytas, who would you like to see victorious over the other in Survivor: Blood vs Water?

Photos and video courtesy of

Brought To Our Senses family saga novel by Kathleen H. Wheeler

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