Survivor (seasons 1-4, 6-13, 15-20, 25-29, 31-37, 40-present)
NOTE: This page will only focus on the US version of the show.
Survivor is a reality competition show created by Charlie Parsons that first aired on May 31, 2000 on CBS. It is based on the 1997 Swedish television series Expedition Robinson, which was also created by Parsons. It is considered to be one of the most successful shows that aired on CBS.
In 2001, Survivor received the game adaptation titled Survivor: The Interactive Game, an adventure game which was published by Infogrames.
A large group of strangers (sixteen, eighteen, or twenty people depending on the season) are taken to a remote location far from society, where they are split into two or more tribes. Aside from a few supplies, the tribes will have to live off the land for thirty-nine days, where they will need to find food, make fire, and build a shelter. The tribes will compete in challenges for rewards and/or immunity from elimination. If a tribe loses an immunity challenge, they will have to go to a place called "Tribal Council", where they vote out one of their members.
At around halfway through the game, the tribes will merge into one, and the challenges become individual (though some reward challenges have the contestants placed into teams). Contestants voted out of the merged tribe will become a jury member, where they will vote for one of the two or three remaining contestants who made it to day 39 to win. The jury members vote for the finalists at the end of Final Tribal Council, which begins by the finalists making opening statements about their games, followed by the jury critiquing their games. Whoever receives the most jury votes wins.
Throughout the season, the contestants will give "confessionals". During the confessionals they will either narrate what is going on, their perspective or opinion on what's going on, and their plans on how to get further in the game.
Why These Seasons Rock
- Jeff Probst is a fantastic host. He is very enthusiastic during challenges, can read body language very well, is very witty, and overall has a charming personality.
- He also stated that he refuses to make a season with a political theme to it.
- The show has been to many great exotic locations, which range from the beaches of Samoa, to the mountains of China, to the savannas of Kenya.
- Many of the seasons have a theme that worked well. Some examples include:
- Location based themes, such as Pearl Islands having a pirate theme, or Guatemala having a Mayan theme. Many challenges in these seasons are also designed to be based around these themes.
- Tribe based themes, such as splitting the tribes based on intelligence, athleticism, and attractiveness/charisma, as seen in Cagayan and Kaôh Rōng, or having the contestants compete against their loves one, as seen in Blood vs. Water and San Juan del Sur.
- Many likable and/or memorable contestants. Examples include:
- Nice, down to earth contestants such as Ethan Zohn, Cirie Fields, or Yul Kwon.
- Funny contestants such as Rob Cesternino, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Courtney Yates, or Tyson Apostol.
- Contestants who have good survival skills such as Ozzy Lusth, Richard Hatch, or Tom Westman.
- Underdogs who remained determined despite having the odds against them such as Stephanie LaGrossa, Chris Daugherty, Peih-Gee Law, or Denise Stapley.
- Villainous, yet entertaining contestants who you can't help but root against such as Russell Hantz or Jonny "Fairplay" Dalton.
- Alliances that were made up by great contestants such as the Tagi Four, the Black Widow Brigade, or the Jalapao Three.
- Some of these alliances also had some great duos within them, such as Richard Hatch and Rudy Boesch, Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich, or Domenick Abbate and Wendell Holland.
- Almost every contestant has their own unique strategy in some way, which helps in making them stand out more.
- Due to the large amount of contestants, there's many different character arcs in each season, most of which are great. Some arcs span across multiple seasons if the contestant returns for future seasons, which usually makes the arcs better.
- A multitude of entertaining strategic moves, whether they are smart and successful moves, or dumb moves that proved disastrous.
- Plenty of exciting, fun to watch challenges.
- Sometimes instead of a challenge, an event called the "Survivor Auction" will happen instead. This event is one of the most popular parts of the show.
- A lot of unpredictable and suspenseful vote-offs.
- Some good twists to shake up the formula of the show, such as Exile Island or Double Tribal Councils.
- The most popular and game-changing twist is the Hidden Immunity Idol, which makes Tribal Councils much more suspenseful. Scenes where contestants try to find them are also suspenseful.
- The Tribal Council sets are different each season, which range from ancient temples to shipwrecks. They are also very detailed, which makes them feel like actual archaeological structures.
- Excellent soundtrack composed by Russ Landau. Some examples include the original Tribal Council theme, "A Celtic Heart", "Rites Of Passage", and the iconic opening theme, "Ancient Voices".
- Ancient Voices also has a different variation each season, many of which are an improvement over the original theme.
- A bunch of memorable jury speeches during Final Tribal Council, most notably Sue Hawk's "snakes and rats" speech during the first season.
- Many great and satisfying winners.
- After each finale, there's a reunion show. During these shows the viewers can get to see how the contestants are doing after filming, and their thoughts on certain parts of the season. Viewers also get to see a preview of the next season.
- Many comical moments. The Amazon, Gabon, Tocantins, and Cagayan are considered some of the funnier seasons.
- There is also many heartwarming/emotional scenes, many of which come during the family visits.
- Viewers can see what the jury members are up to while the competition is still going through the online series Life At Ponderosa. Here viewers can find out more about the eliminated contestants.
- Viewers can also view videos called "secret scenes" online, which are essentially deleted scenes.
- Quantity over Quality: The show is pretty notable for producing its seasons way, way too fast, since as of May 2020, it has produced 40 seasons within 20 years, while the 41st season premiered on September 22, 2021, and the 42nd season will premiered on March 9, 2022. and as a result, it has had a handful of bad or mediocre seasons.
- A large number of cringy moments. In fact a YouTuber called "Eager Turtle" made a playlist dedicated to these moments.
- Most of the newer seasons, while still enjoyable, aren't as good as the older seasons.
- All of the seasons since Season 33 take place in the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji. While it is a nice location, it is becoming old seeing the same islands and locations season after season.
- Starting from Season 34, there has been too many different twists and advantages. The amount of advantages got so out of hand that it became difficult to keep track of which contestant had which advantage (thankfully, starting from Season 38, they list what advantages a contestant has during confessionals).
- Starting from Season 35, the final four tribal council has a fire-making challenge rather than a traditional vote-off. This gives the contestant with the highest chances of winning out of the four an unfair advantage should they lose the Final Immunity Challenge. This also makes winning said challenge not as significant as it used to be.
Survivor has been met with very positive reception. In 2013, TV Guide listed the show as #39 in their "60 Best Series of All Time" list. In 2014, Time magazine included it in their list of the 100 greatest TV shows of all-time. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series as a whole has a critic approval rating of 72%, and an audience approval rating of 86%. If excluding the seasons with rotten scores, then it has an overall critic approval rating of 84%. Six of the seasons have a critic approval rating of 100%. The show has been nominated sixty-one times by the Emmy Awards in various categories, and also won seven awards. It has also been nominated nine times by other award shows, and won GLAAD Media Awards' "Outstanding Reality Program" award in 2018.
Borneo, Pearl Islands, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Cambodia, and David vs. Goliath all received universal acclaim, and are widely considered to be the best seasons of the show.
Ratings for the show were very high. During the first 23 seasons, the show was one of the twenty most watched shows, furthermore, it was one of the ten most watched shows during the first eleven seasons. The finale of the first season became the second most watched episode of the 2000s decade, being only behind the series finale of Friends.
Survivor is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of the Reality competition genre, with it giving rise to many different shows with a similar or completely different premise. In addition, this version served as the basis of many other versions of Survivor, most notably the Australian version, and is also the main inspiration of the cartoon parody series Total Drama.
- As revealed in an interview, Jeff Probst takes the torch snuffers home with him as a souvenir after each season is done being filmed.
- The fourth season was originally going to take place in Jordan, but due to Jordan being in political turmoil at the time, the season was filmed in the Marquesas Islands instead.
- Survivor: The Amazon contestant Rob Cesternino would later create a well-known podcast called "Rob Has a Podcast" in 2010, that focuses mainly on Survivor and other reality competition shows.
- Sometime after the filming of Survivor: Tocantins, Jeff stepped down as host due to experiencing burnout, he would later return just before filming of the next season, Survivor: Samoa.
Jeff Probst is at #1
Survivor is at #1
Peridiam's review of David vs. Goliath