Sunday, June 7, 2015

Becoming a Survivor Fan (Again)

It's been a long time since I've written a blog post and writing this now even feels a little foreign to me. I've been tied up with work and summer school, but hopefully I'll get back in the swing of things soon!

I wanted to do a post about Survivor because season 31 is currently in production, and the theme is Second Chance. Essentially, Survivor is bringing back past contestants to compete for their "second chance" at the 1 mil. The castaways that were chosen were voted in by Survivor fans.

I remember watching Survivor as early as the fourth grade, when my dad was rooting for Rupert on Pearl Islands and I laughed in his face when he got voted off :). Eventually I stopped watching the show, but a couple years ago I started getting into Big Brother, which, by association, brought me back to Survivor. I started on season 28 because I heard it was great (and it really, really was!) and I've been watching since. Given the new twist for next season (second chances), I wanted to familiarize myself with the players I missed out on so I could hopefully know some of the back stories of next season's players.

I decided to watch season 26 Blood VS. Water first because I was interested in that twist, and both Ciera and Vytas from that season are returning on Second Chance. Apparently, the public consensus on 26 is that it was kind of lame, but personally I really enjoyed it. I loved watching Hayden, whom I was familiar with from Big Brother, because his spat with Tyson over "rustle feathers" and the ensuing tribal council where they had to pick rocks was simply one of the greatest moments in reality TV, in my opinion. Ciera voting out her mom was great. Tyson picking up the win was great. Overall, I thought it was a pretty satisfying season.

Then I decided to watch season 25 Philippines, because working my way backwards, 25 was the next season with a returning contestant on Second Chance: Abi-Maria. While Abi-Maria was kind of frustrating to watch, it's always cool to see a villain in their element. Granted, Abi-Maria's form of "villain" was not strategic, she was just mean. Still, she caused drama which always makes for great TV. I thought 25 was pretty "meh" overall, but it did introduce us to Malcolm Freberg who is now one of my all-time favorites. It's always nice to have a cute, unproblematic white boy on reality TV.

As for the season 25 winner, do I think Denise deserved it? Sure, but I think Lisa deserved it more. The only thing that cost Lisa was her constant squabbles of "good vs. evil" and "finding herself" on Survivor that distracted the jury from her gameplay, which was actually so on-point. Lisa was a constant swing vote which put her in a great position, she discovered Malcolm's idol and made a play out of it by saving her closest ally Michael Skupin, she eventually blindsided Malcolm, and basically, she wasn't at all the sheep that everyone made her out to be. The second best choice was Denise, sure, but I'm sour on Denise because of the insensitive way she berated Abi-Maria at that one tribal council. You'd think a therapist would know better.

My third season to catch up on was 18, Tocantins. I really enjoyed seeing JT, Stephen and Taj as a power trio, and I think JT definitely deserved the win in the end. Yes, he did get a lot of strategic help from Stephen, but he absolutely crushed the final tribal council whereas Stephen pretty much choked. Stephen is going to be on Second Chance and I think he has a fairly good shot at going far if he can get his ducks in a row early on. Tocantins was also the first season we met Coach and Tyson. Coach was absolutely awful, and yeah, so was Tyson, but at least Tyson was strategic.

I then decided to watch what is widely considered the best season of Survivor ever: Heroes VS. Villains. What an awesome season. It was my first time seeing Boston Rob since I used to be a fan back in elementary school. It was my first time ever seeing Russell and Parvati play. Overall, it was super satisfying. Parvati was my favourite player of the season by a long shot. I love how she used Russell to her advantage, and her double immunity idol move was epic. I feel like women often get the short end of the stick in this game, but Parvati is just such a force. I have to say, I even enjoyed watching Russell play. For him not to get one jury vote was kind of sad to me. As for the winner, I thought Sandra was a poor choice. Yes, Survivor is about social game, but in my opinion the jury should reward big, risky moves, and Parvati should've won. Don't get me wrong, I like Sandra, but her game was much safer. I guess that's what happens when we're left with a jury full of big egos.

It's kind of embarrassing how many seasons I've burned through already, but I recently finished Cook Islands too, and I totally loved it. At first I was weary of having the tribes split up by ethnicity (Asian, White, Black, Latino) and I thought it was just going to dredge up racist remarks and cultural insensitivity, but it was actually so nice to see more diverse representation on this show that usually comprises of mostly white people. The final four consisted of two Asians, a black woman, and a Mexican man, which is a great win for cultural representation in media. Saying goodbye to all the butthurt white men along the way (namely Jonathan and Adam) was super satisfying. I thought Yul was a great winner, and Ozzy a great runner-up. And of course, I loved watching my fav gal Parvati on another season.

Right now I'm watching Survivor China to see how Peih-Gee fares, since she's going to be on Second Chance. So far, so good!

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