Not Even a Little Ashamed

I’m not. Seriously! I’ve proudly watched pretty much every season of Survivor with reckless glee. I have screamed at the television when players made bad moves (and great moves), I’ve thrown my BostonRob crush in my husband’s face, and I’ve worried from time to time about Jeff, who sometimes looks like he’s either lost too much weight or isn’t getting enough sleep. I own several seasons on DVD so I can watch them again.

I don’t think any of that makes me the Biggest Fan Evar or anything, I just want to make it clear that I take it seriously. 

Last night,the new season launched with a twist that I find intriguing. There are three teams of six: Beauty, Brawn, and Brains. When they first reported the concept on last season’s finale I felt a tiny gulp of hesitation. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we ditched the idea of labeling people this way? I know, I know — Realtiy TV does not equal Reality. Still, my usually unflinching love flinched a bit. Not enough to tune out, of course.

It was interesting to look at my own assumptions heading into the broadcast — I felt an immediate need for Brains (the category I would most likely fit into, but really only because I fit in less with the other two) to overwhelmingly dominate. I took an instant dislike to those who felt rightfully placed on the Beauty Squad, and a twinge of envy for the Brawns who would no doubt have fire after the first two minutes and the most amazing shelter since the first Redemption Island (thank you, BostonRob and Sears). I know I’m not actually out there, but I empathize with those who can’t quite pull it together. I also know that Survivor is not really the Epic Social Experiment I always want it to be (it’s all too clear how an edit can assassinate someone, or elevate them to saintly status over the course of a single episode), but it does offer up some awesome conversation fodder.

Spoilers ahead.

So the Brains just botched it from the beginning. They had their asses handed to them repeatedly over the double-episode premiere, went to Tribal twice, failed to build a stable shelter, and really, just could not pull their game together to make good decisions. One nuclear engineer alienated everyone off the bat by directing them to construct her ill-fated shelter while she did nothing but bark orders, then disastrously failed to complete the final puzzle portion of the last immunity challenge despite an INCREDIBLE lead over Beauty and Brawn heading into it, but that’s not all she also tossed 90% of the team’s rice supply into the fire when she thought she was on the chopping block for Tribal — she displayed the only Survivor social game skills by managing to not get voted out in either Council. The pro Poker Player proved he had no game whatsoever by insisting that all strategy discussions take place in the open. I mean? Wha? Yeah, he left his Immunity Idol back at camp for the Council where he was voted out. REALLY. I’ve seen the stupidest things on this show, but wow. Didn’t even bring it. Gotta be kidding me.

So who were the real winners of the premiere? Beauty. They aced both challenges and worked well together, creating fire in the first fifteen minutes or something ridiculous like that. They did so well that they actually didn’t merit a ton of screen time, though you can already see them dividing into alliance-pairs, hopefully a couple of those will band together before the merge should they all hang in there. The Brawns are dominated by an ex-NBA player who is just the tallest person ever, and two cops — one of which repeatedly lied to the other about being a cap, even after she admitted she was. She knew he was lying, and like us, probably didn’t understand why. I’m a fan of the female cop. Not of the liar cop. We’ll see where that goes. The Brawns were the only ones we attempted to see fishing and it looked like all the managed to do was tip their boat.

Anyhoo I really enjoy the fact that nothing went along stereotypical lines, either at camp or in challenges, and I appreciate Survivor’s effort to forge conversation about our preconceived ideas of other people. The smart people weren’t so smart. The pretty people weren’t so dumb. Everyone on the “strong” team could just as easily fit in on either of the other two tribes. If last night was any indication it should be an interesting season! I will say that I miss the days when they spent a lot of time on shelter-building all around. By the time they got to the first Immunity challenge three days had passed but we didn’t even see them in the shelter for one of those nights. 

If I post about Survivor again I may actually have learned some of their names and should be able to write something more coherent about them. 

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