Skip to main content
If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

The Traitors season 2 finale is going to be exciting - could it also be good for you?

Is watching the Alan Cumming-hosted, Peacock-streamed game of deception actually beneficial to your well-being? We'll explain

Image credit: Peacock

Popverse's top stories of the day

March 7 is (or was, depending on when you're reading this), the much-anticipated season 2 finale of Peacock's The Traitors (or The Traitors US, depending on where you're reading this). The Alan Cumming-hosted show has been a massive success for the streamer, with 384 million minutes watched upon season 2's premiere, making it the most watched unscripted show the week of January 15 (via The Wrap). So what's got people so interested?

Well, I can't say I know for sure, but let me pitch this idea to you: could it be because... it's good for you?

What's the deal with The Traitors?

Let's take a step back. In case you're unaware, The Traitors is a reality show in which a group of players contestants compete for a prize pot of cash. Within the assembly are several saboteurs (the titular Traitors), whose job it is to eliminate (or "murder") players along the way. Each episode, the players hold a vote to banish one of their members, attempting to weed out the olves in their flock. At the end of the each season, if the Traitors are voted out, the remaining players (or "faithfuls") win the money. If any Traitors remain, however, the pot is theirs.

It's a show about deception - a cuthroat, high-stakes game in which trusting people is both key... and a deadly mistake. In some cases, players who have known each other for decades must consider their closest friends their potential enemies. It's paranoia as entertainment, and the thing is, it's not the only example.

If you're a reality buff, you're probably familiar with Netflix's The Mole, a game with a very similar concept (the main difference being that, in The Mole, viewers are as in the dark about the saboteur's identity as the players are). Just like the Traitors, The Mole was a whopping hit for its streaming homebase, snatching a spot in the top ten most streamed shows upon its release and a comfy 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (via BGR).

But it's not just reality TV where people are showing a growing interest in games of intrigue and deceit. The "Werewolf" social deduction games are currently experiencing a howling popularity, with a feature film based on the concept having come out in 2021 and the "Ultimate" card-based variant of the game scoring over 27K reviews on BoardGameGeek.

Promotional image for Traitors
Image credit: Peacock

How could The Traitors be good for you?

So let's get back to the question I asked earlier: what's got people so interested entertainment like The Traitors, in lying to their friends for fun, or at least, watching people on TV lie to theirs? For an answer to that question, I fell back on what has become a dependable source of information and wisdom in my life: horror movies.

Around Halloween last year, Salon's Matthew Rozsa came out with an article proposing a not wholly original, but still slightly counterintuitive, idea: that watching horror movies can be good for your mental health. Quoted in the piece is professor of psychology at Knox College, Dr. Frank T. McAndrew.

"We like to learn through the experience of other people," says Dr. McAndrew, "So we gravitate to horror movies [...] because by watching other people deal with scary things, we can mentally practice strategies that will make us better prepared for dealing with that ourselves in the future."

Also quoted in the article is Matthew Strohl, an assistant philosophy professor at University of Montana, who claims that a viewer can "gain a sense of distance from [horror movies]. You can gain a sense of control over them through this sort of exposure therapy, as it were, by repeatedly putting yourself in a position where you have to engage with them."

If Strohl and McAndrews are correct - if experiencing imitation horror mentally prepares people for the real thing, can the same be said of imitated deception? Is The Traitors just juicy entertainment, or does it serve a purpose, giving us the ability to mentally deal with the schemers and ne'erdowells that increasingly become a facet of our everyday lives?

Promotional image for Traitors
Image credit: Peacock

I won't pretend to have the expertise to answer that question definitively. And if you feel strongly that the answer is no, I encourage you to prove my question wrongheaded. It's true - even though I never intend to mislead you, loyal Popverse reader, you should still take all that you read online with a grain of salt.

Maybe Alan Cumming's contest of conspiracy isn't good for you, but a healthy dose of suspicion cetrainly is.

The Traitors, seasons 1 and 2, are streaming now on Peacock.

Want to know what's coming up next in pop culture? Check out our guides to upcoming movies, upcoming TV shows, upcoming comics, and upcoming comic conventions. If you're looking for specific franchises or genres, we have all the upcoming MCU, upcoming Star Wars, upcoming Star Trek, and upcoming DC movies & TV for you. If you're a fan of superheroes and not specific to just Marvel or DC, we have overall guides to all the upcoming superhero movies and upcoming superhero TV shows (and new seasons) as well.