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How To Fix Survivor


The 44th season of Survivor wrapped up this week and while we had a deserving winner in Yam Yam, it was an overall meh season. It was the fourth season of this new era of Survivor, and the fourth season that has left a lot of Survivor fans a bit disappointed, longing for the Survivor we used to know and love. Now don't get me wrong. Survivor is still the greatest social experiment of all time and the best show on TV. Even bad Survivor is good television. But die hard fans know how great this show can be and we just want it to get back to that. 

Here a few changes I think Survivor can make to become great again. 

Major Overhaul To Casting

This should be the number one priority. Survivor has gotten to a point where it's forgotten it's a reality TV show and is instead trying to be some feel good TV show. Everyone comes in with their own sob story, is usually a big fan of the game, and is basically just a good person. Boring. This show needs villains. It needs people that you are rooting against. Cut throat players who play with no emotions and aren't going to be so happy go lucky after getting voted out. I want bitterness. I want angry jurors. I don't want Final Tribal Council to be just a big group circle jerk like it was on Wednesday. 

Survivor is at its best when you have a diverse cast of characters. And while CBS did literally pass a diversity quota for casting their unscripted shows, the show somehow feels less diverse than ever. Every season feels like it's filled with the same characters. Super fan baristas from Williamsburg who have a sad story to tell. We need more diversity in characters, not just in demographics. And this is not me saying CBS should get rid of the diversity quota. I think that's totally fine to keep and shouldn't be an issue. But they need to also cast different personalities. You need the old guy who's just there for the adventure. You need the hot girls there for a tanning trip. You need the dumb jocks there to flex their abs and dominate challenges. You need the nerdy super fans.  You need the total wild cards and weirdos. You need the great social players. You need it all. These last four seasons have all run together in my brain because it feels like the same cast every season. 

Less Twists

Look, I get that you have to make tweaks to stay on the air for 44 plus seasons. But some of them just feel unnecessary. The hourglass twist was historically bad. The Beware Advantages mostly sucked. Knowledge Is Power was way too powerful. Most advantages that come from that random hill they climb have been total duds. Randomly splitting the merged tribe into two is unfair and unnecessary and almost led to a fan revolt this season. I would love to see a season where they just go back to the basics. You can have a hidden immunity idol and maybe one more wild card thing, but that's it. It wasn't as bad this season. But in past seasons it's felt like the whole show was spent explaining the twists instead of focusing on the players. Survivor is at its best when it is character driven, not advantage driven. 

New Challenges

When you have people building 3D versions of your puzzles at home, that should be a sign it's time to switch things up. I can't take every week being some obstacle course and puzzle. It gets so tiresome and repetitive. I basically zone out during challenges now. I miss the physical tribal challenges where people were tossing each other off poles and knocking each other over with big sticks and all that. You need some of that to keep the challenges fresh and interesting and something people are glued to the TV watching. Challenges have become a check your phone break for the last few seasons. 

There also need to be new rewards. I can't take the sanctuary anymore. I miss the helicopter rides. I miss seeing the cool sites of the region. I miss seeing them go to the local villages and interact with the natives. That was compelling television. Watching people eat chocolate cake in the same little shack every week is not. But I guess when you're on the same islands every single season, your options are limited. Which brings me to my next point....

New Locations???

This one probably isn't feasible. Survivor basically has its own island in Fiji now where they shoot every single season. And I get it's cheap and easy and will probably lead to the show lasting longer than it would otherwise. But god damn do I miss having a new location every year. The location itself almost felt like a character on the season. China, Africa, Australia. Everywhere offered something unique and different. Seeing the wildlife so close to camp. The different aerial shots of the countries. That was all so cool and gave each season its own identity. Now they all just blend into each other. 

Bring Back The Simple Things

-For the love of God, please bring back the theme song. It was such a great way to set the mood for every episode. Hopefully they do it next season with 90 minute episodes. 

-Bring back the auction and take advantages out of it. Just make it food and goods so we don't run into the issue of people saving all their money for the end like in Season 30. (Based on the Season 45 preview, it does seem like it may be back). I'd also like the "how well do you know your tribe mates?" challenge back and things like that. 

-Getting rid of opening/closing statements at Final Tribal Council is unfathomably stupid. You don't need both, but you need one. If you get to the end you should get your own couple minutes to pitch your story in your own words. 

-I'd also love to bring back individual juror questions instead of this open forum nonsense. Individual jury speeches gave us some all time moments through the years. Now it's just people talking over each other and is pretty god damn boring. Wednesday's might have been the worst ever. 

-I'd love to see the live finale and reunion brought back. I don't know if this is another budget cut, but at a certain point Survivor can't just become a penny pinching operation. I always loved seeing the final contestants all dolled up and looking like brand new people. Running to hug their family in the crowd after winning. Seeing everyone from the season at the reunion with months to look back on the game and actually having seen the show. That added a whole new dynamic when you got to see what people said about you. The reunions now are absolutely abysmal. 

So there's my plan on how to make Survivor great again. Hopefully Jeff Probst reads this. If you do, please also consider casting me. Thanks.