When I mention my love of Survivor to people, I often get told, “Oh, that show is still on?”
I don’t know if they mean it dismissively or they honestly don’t realize Survivor has two new seasons per year, but yes — it’s still on and going strong. Season 33 premieres Sept. 21 — that’s tonight! — and if you haven’t watched since the early days, it’s time to give the show another chance.
Back when Survivor first aired, it was a cultural phenomenon. “Voted off the island” and “the tribe has spoken” became catchphrases used in all sorts of different ways. But that was at the dawn of reality TV, and Survivor in some ways became a victim of the backlash against all things “reality.”
That’s a shame, because Survivor these days is the furthest thing from the Kardashians or Real Housewives. It has evolved into a game of incredible strategy, social skills and smarts; it is essentially Human Chess.
A lot of people already know that. You might not realize it, but Survivor has maintained a strong and loyal audience through the seasons. It has averaged 11.5 million viewers per episode in recent years, so that’s pretty impressive considering how other franchise shows (American Idol, for example) have fallen off.
Honestly, though, it seems like Survivor only keeps getting better. Just when you think there’s a season that can’t be topped, the producers somehow come up with a great group of castaways and enough twists to keep it interesting, fresh and exciting without feeling too gimmicky. Because of all that, there’s no question Survivor is absolutely my favorite show on TV.
But like NASCAR, it’s more fun to be a fan when there’s a community to discuss it with. That’s why I’m urging you to give it a chance if you haven’t seen it in awhile — I want to discuss the season with you all! I don’t know what this season holds, but my bet is you won’t be disappointed if you give it a shot.
Here are three reasons you should watch this season (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS):
- This season’s theme is “Millenials vs. Gen X.” At the start of the game, the tribes are going to be split by generations. We all have our opinions on which generation is superior (though I’m right on the border so I identify with both), but now bragging rights are up for grabs. It’s going to be enjoyable to see the characteristics for each generation and how they apply to the island. Ultimately, though, the tribes always get switched up after a few weeks — the themed seasons are just an icebreaker to get things started — but it will be interesting to see which generation can claim the winner.
- The people chosen for the game are typically longtime fans. This means they’ve studied the recent strategy and how it’s played out — they may even listen to the excellent “Survivor Know It Alls” podcast like I do — and understand that no alliance is likely to hold until the end. That creates a ton of unpredictability and flipping, and it’s fascinating to see the potential moves unfold and debate whether they were the right call.
- Lessons from Survivor apply to real life. Think about it: There are groups of very different, very unique individuals who all want to succeed. But they have to work together — even with people they don’t like or find to be strange — to achieve their goal. The key is even when it’s necessary to step on some toes, they do so gently enough so those they hurt will still respect them. That’s a tough balance, and it’s fascinating to watch people try to figure it out on Survivor.