Guys. GUYS. This is so exciting for me. I've been wanting to recap a show as it unfolded in real time for a while now. When I considered my options, there really was only "winner"...which seems only appropriate, considering it's a competitive reality show. (I'm sorrrry) But all jokes aside, the new season of Survivor Season 32 premieres tomorrow night, so it's now or never. Deep Breath.
Now, I know what you're thinking, because it's the question I get every single time I tell someone about my deep, DEEP love for this show. Survivor? That show's still around? I'm here to say first and foremost OBVIOUSLY. Secondly, let's dive in a bit deeper, shall we?
I'm an interesting breed of superfan--what I refer to as a Sleeper Agent Superfan. The seed was planted when I was just ten years old: while remember watching the first season with my parents every week, I don't remember much past that. I can't remember much from watching that first season besides Skupin falling into the fire hands first (STILL freaks me out) and don't think I watched past the first season's finale; however, dating a game designer helped me realize I love not only playing games, but talking all things strategy. Together, James and I rediscovered Survivor back in 2012 and entered halfway through Season 27. We've been watching new seasons avidly ever since.
I'm a firm believer that there is something for everyone in this show and think it's about time that more people rediscovered what I truly believe is still the single best reality show on television. So, without further ado, here is my top 4 reasons why Survivor should be back on your radar.
1. Bow Down. It's Practically Pop Culture Royalty.
If Survivor were a child, they'd be practicing for that driver's license. The first pack of survivors hit the sandy beach in Borneo way back in 2000. Survivor was one of the original US reality shows, paving the way for what's become a fixture of American television. Many shows since have taken this idea (a group of strangers together competing in a weekly elimination series for one grand prize), but none hold a candle--or a rose--to the OG. Since its creation in 2000, it's run two seasons a year and is about to enter its 32nd season. Thirty-two. Fifteen years and going. That's results, people. With each passing season, they've been able to try out countless tweaks, introduce new twists, and carefully honed the craft of preparing a season full of compelling television.
2. It's DEEPLY Real...
Which seems like a given--it is a "reality" show, after all. However, the real thing that sets Survivor apart from others is the way in which it creates a framework which highlights the tension and drama of real human emotions. Tribes of people from all walks of life are thrown together into an unfamiliar situation. They're forced to create bonds and work together to create a place to sleep, figure out how to feed themselves. They form real relationships. They build trust, only to have it stripped away in an instant. They lash out at each other not because they're playing up an archetype for television audiences, but because they're hungry, often running on very little sleep, and stakes are high. Which brings us to my next point.
3. ...But It's Also a Game.
It's ACTUALLY a game. There are so many strategies to play a successful game of survivor, meaning that each season (and its eventual winner) looks different. Sometimes, it's a loveable, self-deprecating nerd rocking some truly horrific sunburns (probably my favorite winner so far). Other times, it's the deeply charismatic, muscle-laden firefighter with a son on the way (how are you going to beat THAT at final tribal?). Heck, we've even seen a Spicoli doppelgänger win (but, like, ACTUALLY. It was unreal). Basically, anything's possible. Everyone's trying to create the strategy that will work best for them, only to have their plans derailed by a chink in the armor of their alliance. One of the most intriguing elements of Survivor as a game is the way in which many contestants struggle with the ethical dilemmas which they constantly find themselves up against--do I do what I think is best for my game, even if it means potentially breaking the trust (and heart) of someone I've come to consider a great friend?
It's quite genius, really--play a cutthroat season full of strategy, and you're likely to get eliminated early for playing too hard...or you could just win it all. Play low key and you might slip under the radar and get to the end. But getting to the end is only the half of it, because in order to win the million dollar prize, you must convince the jury that you played a better game than the two fellow contestants who made it all the way to the end. And who is it that votes in the eventual winner? The people you stepped on along the way to get where you're sitting--your fellow contestants. This means crafting a powerful "game resume" means a mixture of creating big moves you can speak to while forming strong enough social ties that you can convince your fellow competitors that you're deserving of the money. What's NOT to love?
4. It's Ever-Evolving.
While constant evolution may be a terrifying concept in the hands of robots (looking at you, Skynet!), it's a huge part of Survivor's charm. You'll think you'll be able to predict who's next to be voted off...until there's a tribe swap to stir up alliances. A potential winner begins to emerge...until they're blindsided at tribal council, appropriately deemed too big a threat. You cheer along as one person wins immunity challenge after immunity challenge...before they have to be medically evacuated out of the game. [Side note: if surprise injuries are your thing, this season delivers: a whopping three of the eighteen competitors will be removed mid-game due to injuries.] It makes for great television, and means there's always something to discuss from week to week.
So whatdaya think? Are you intrigued? Intrigued enough to follow along with me week to week? I sure hope so, because I have a feeling this season will be one for the books.