Survivor: Revolutionizing Television

By Jesus Garcia ’23

For twenty years, the popular reality television show, Survivor, has entertained millions of fans and has created many bonds between both the players and the viewers. Hosted by Jeff Probst, Survivor has become a massive hit throughout CBS and the world of reality television. This show began as a simple social experiment where 16 people would be left on an island to compete for one million dollars, but the thrilling series has since generated its own community.

Survivor has significantly evolved from its humble beginnings and simplistic plot as a basic show where people would compete for one million dollars. Throughout its 20 years and 40 seasons, this unique concept has added strategies, twists, and major characters to the show’s intrigue, but there are parts of the game that will never change. Survivor will always have two (sometimes three) tribes in which players would be divided, the tribes would compete in challenges, losing tribes would vote someone off, and at some point, a merge of the tribes would occur. Finally, when there are two or three people left, a group of eliminated players known as the jury, would return and cast their votes to crown the winner of the season. From this, a whole sub-genre and fan base have sprouted from this idea. These clever ideas from both parties would be a contributing factor to Survivor and how it is called one of the most entertaining and unpredictable shows that has aired.

There have been a few notable contributors to the series’ outsized popularity. One player who revolutionized the game is Richard Hatch, the first winner of Survivor and the leader of the first alliance, the Tagi Four. Alliances would become necessary for victory and a staple in all seasons following it, and not many could get far and win without them. Alliances, simply, are voting blocs by competitors who vote together, and if they have enough people and trust, they can ensure who gets out each elimination until they remain. One other Survivor staple which was introduced by the production team was the notorious Hidden Immunity Idol. The Hidden Immunity Idol, which can be found all around camp, enables the user to give themselves immunity at tribal council (the place people are voted out and leave the game), and all votes cast against them would not count. Since these things can be practically anywhere, most people will need clues to find them, but it’s very possible for them to be found without any assistance, and one person is proof of that: Russell Hantz. Hantz is widely known for the sheer amount of idols he has found in the seasons he has been on, most notably in Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Heroes v.s. Villians, where he found three idols in Samoa, two idols in Heroes v.s. Villians, and an extra one from another player, James Thomas (J.T.). Some other notable players to mention include two-time winners, Tony Vlachos and Sandra Diaz-Twine, along with fan favorites such as Rupert Boneham, challenge beasts like Ozzy, and strategic masterminds like Long Island native, Rob Cerestino. These players are stellar examples on how the average person can show themselves to be great in a unique way.

Today, Survivor is a household name, widely recognized and almost as widely viewed. One Survivor fan, Owen Gibbs ’23, used to watch the show frequently. “Challenges” are the first thing that come to his mind when he thinks about Survivor, and he talked about his favorite player, Boston Rob. “Boston Rob is a legend,” Gibbs explains. “He has won once, gotten close many times, has appeared six times, and is very good at finding immunity idols.” 

Another Chaminade student, Chris Filosa ’23, has barely watched Survivor, but has a basic grasp on the show’s concept: “I don’t really know too much, but I know the point of the show is to survive. I know how people are left on an island and are forced to survive, build shelter, and gather food and water on their own.” Filosa’s testimony evidences that Survivor has become so prominent, even those unfamiliar with the show still comprehend the fundamentals. Survivor’s universal appeal is embedded in the straightforward yet riveting plot that captivates audiences’ attention. 

Despite setbacks, the show still goes on, and applications for Survivor’s 43rd season are surprisingly open for teens as young as sixteen years old. That means any senior, junior, and some sophomores at Chaminade are able to apply for this upcoming season at:!