Since the Total Drama Island franchise launched in 2007 it has amassed a loyal fanbase in Canada and beyond.
Cartoons with an adult sense of humour have been increasing in popularity and prevalence since the launch of The Simpsons in 1989. Since then, it has cemented itself as a fully-fledged genre thanks to the likes of Family Guy, Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman, and Big Mouth.
Total Drama Island premiered on Canada’s Teletoon before hitting Cartoon Network for viewers in the US. The franchise takes conventions commonly found in reality TV shows and twists them on their head in a darkly comic fashion.
The first seasons of Total Drama Island have now landed on Netflix, attracting new fans and older viewers on the hunt for nostalgia.
But whether you’re new to Total Drama or a long-standing fan, there are still questions about the show’s origins and inspiration. Let’s revisit the cartoon classic.
Is Total Drama Island based on a true story?
You might be relieved (or disappointed for some) to hear Total Drama Island isn’t based on a true story. It is, however, based on another TV show, the events of which have taken place in real life.
The series is a parody of the iconic reality TV show Survivor. In Survivor, a group of contestants are stranded at a remote location with little more than the clothes they came with.
Every three days, one of the contestants is voted off. The last contestant, or “lone survivor”, takes home the grand prize of $1 million.
In Total Drama Island, they similarly pit 22 campers against each other in an elimination-based competition. They are competing for a grand prize of $100,000 (Canadian), which will be taken by the last contestant, as in Survivor.
So, in essence, Total Drama Island isn’t based on a true story but the show parodies scenarios that have happened in real life on Survivor.
In the initial series, the unsuspecting teens are stranded at Camp Wawanakwa in Muskoka, Ontario. During the series, the campers participate in competitions and challenges that get more dangerous as time goes by.
They compete in the challenges to avoid being voted off by their fellow islanders and teammates.
The competition is hosted by Chris McLean, assisted by the camp’s chef, Chef Hatchet, who is also Chris’s best friend despite being mistreated at times.
Who is Chris McLean?
Chris McLean is the host and main antagonist of Total Drama Island. You might expect the host of a reality TV show to be all fun and games, but Chris goes against this.
The character is voiced by Christian Potenza. Potenza took inspiration for the character of Chris McLean from Survivor host Jeff Probst.
When Christian Potenza asked co-creator Tom McGillis for direction on Chris’s personality and voice, McGillis reportedly told him to imagine Jeff Probst and Ashton Kutcher combined. This again shows how Total Drama has taken inspiration from real life.
What does add to the realness for viewers is there have been social media accounts created for Chris McLean, who often responds to fans.
We want more Total Drama Island
As Total Drama Island lands on Netflix, you might find yourself binge-watching your way through the earlier series.
But fear not, as more are on the way!
In February 2021, WarnerMedia announced it would revive the show for two more seasons.
In the announcement, the company said: “The new animated series will introduce an updated cast of quirky, iconic teen contestants as they face hardcore competition, brutal eliminations, and more drama than ever before.”
The new seasons of Total Drama Island are expected to go to Cartoon Network and HBO Max.