Sept. 21, 2016
Survivor is an American game show where ~20 people are placed in a remote location with meager supplies and separated into several tribes. As the name of the show suggests, the players in the game have to survive for 39 days in brutal place we programmers call "outside." Every few days they participate in Immunity Challenges where the losing tribe has to go to Tribal Council to vote off one person on their tribe. They also participate in reward challenges, which give an advantage to a team in the form of utilities (e.g. fishing gear, tarp) and comfort (e.g. pillows, fruits). Outwit, outlast, and outplay are the pillars which determine who becomes the Sole Survivor and takes home the one million dollar prize.
Whether it is getting a job, owning property, or finding a mate, we are all competing in a cooperative environment to get the things we want. Survivor is a social sandbox where our competitive drive for a similar psycho-biological reward is experimented on. You see how far people go to just to advance themselves and to put themselves in a position of power. Some competitors have sacrificed their own integrity to get further while others have found that their integrity cost them one million dollars. You also get to see some people do terrible (and absolutely incredible) acts towards one another, which really makes you reflect on what really makes us human.
Survivor is a social sandbox where our competitive drive for a similar psycho-biological reward is experimented on.
Survivor requires you to think about the decisions the players have made and the decisions that they can make. Each decision always has its pros and cons and it's fun trying to figure out the best decision for the players you are rooting for!
Watching the players reflect on their own lives back home makes me reflect on my own. This is especially true when when the contestants' family/friends visit them. That is my favorite part of a Survivor season because it really makes me appreciate family.
The characters are often very animated and memorable.
The drama, humor, romance, and injuries that come with playing the game really makes Survivor a full-fledged television show. The format of the game forces drama to happen because everyone is scrambling to reduce their chances of getting voted out. However, there are times when a single tribe is dominating too much and the show just becomes really painful to watch. To fix this the producers shuffle the teams (that's when you know they screwed up!). One season even had three shuffles!
The characters are often very animated and memorable. My favorite is Coach, who calls himself "The Dragonslayer". That alone says a lot about him as a character.
We often forget how hard the game is because only so much can be shown in a 40 min episode. The players undergo dehydration, malnourishment, sleeplessness, and have to withstand the wrath of mother nature. They not only have to worry about surviving, they also have to worry about winning challenges (which can be very physical) and playing the social game. The amount of physical and mental resilience the players have to stay in the game is pretty crazy.
If you have never seen Survivor before you should start with Season 1. There's more to this game than I mentioned and experiencing those parts in the game for the first time was mind blowing.
Most of the seasons are available on Amazon Video.
Try to watch in order to avoid spoilers for previous seasons, particularly during the reunion show.
Without further ado, here is my ranking of the Survivor Seasons. Thanks to Steven Aoki for his rankings for which I have based my viewing order of Survivor on. You can see his here.
I favor seasons with interesting contestants (the weirder the better!). I also like seasons with a decent amount of strategical and outlandish moves. I will be updating this page as I watch more seasons.
None at the moment.
Survivor: Heroes vs. Villians (Season 20)
Ten of the greatest heroes and ten of the greatest villains. I think I would have appreciated this season better if I watched the seasons all the players were in. Crazy, never before seen strategical moves. All the players were playing their game 100%. Players got super physical, resulting in multiple injuries. Ending really makes you appreciate the purpose of the jury. It helps keeps the players from emotionally slaughtering each other.
Survivor: Cook Islands (Season 13)
Yul and Ozzy are some of the best players in Survivor history. Ozzy is physically gifted and Yul played the social game systematically and cleanly. Jonathan Penner switching sides was massive. Cao Boi was hilarious!
Survivor: Gabon (Season 17)
Was a mess at first with all the team shuffling. Fake idol was hilarious. Lots of feels when family visited and Matty Proposed. A very deserving winner. Great characters like Crystal and Ken the pro-gamer.
Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X (Season 33)
Felt like it was scripted, but it wasn't! Jay is super chill and he relationship with Adam was a love-hate understanding of each other. Dave is one funny dude. The rock draw was crazy!
Survivor: Fiji (Season 14)
Dreamz and Yau Man's deal. The bullying between Anthony and the big guys. This one was a doozy.
Survivor: Tocantins (Season 18)
Great characters such as JT, Tyson, Taj, and of course, Coach. I love Coach and his warrior mentality.
Survivor: Samoa (Season 19)
Russell played the living hell out of the game by finding all those immunity idols by himself. His confidence in himself is astounding. The other Russell played his heart out and it was a shame that he had to leave. Shambo was really interesting as well.
Survivor: Borneo (Season 1)
The one that started it all. Greg and Colleen's relationship was pretty cute. There really was an air of amazement watching season 1 as my first season. I never knew that the tribes would merge as one and neither did the players. The game completely changed because of that aspect. Gervase and Rudy are memorable as well. I can't believe the winner won because he guessed a juror's number correctly.
Survivor: Philippines (Season 25)
The emotional struggles that Lisa went through concerning her stardom had a lot of feels. Malcolm is cool dude and really reminded me of Ozzy. The sex therapist played the game very interestingly and managed to make it work. Jonathan Penner, Russell, and Scupin came back this season. Sucks that Russell had such a bad tribe this time.
Survivor: China (Season 15)
James is a lovable character. Got really pissed when Denise didn't bring Peih-Gee along for rewards. Not a lot of strategy this season. Chicken was one of the most frustrating players since he just stood around and didn't contribute to any discussions. Hilarious reunion show and a deserving winner.
Survivor: Cagayan - Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty (Season 28)
The Brains tribe sucked so badly its ridiculous. I don't recall there being a Rite of Passage for this season which sucks. Highly strategical game with less animated characters. Winner was thinking about the game nonstop, super dedicated to winning the game.