It’s been nearly 20 years since the episode “The Marooning” was seen by some 15 million viewers of what would become the long-running TV series Survivor. Yes, the show that puts contestants on an island where they have to vote one another out until 2 or 3 of them remain before a jury of eliminated contestants, those of whom decide which among the finalists deserves to win a million dollars (or two million as in the case with one special season). You might be asking yourself, wait, that show is still on TV? Yes, yes indeed.
Survivor, when it first aired, was a summer hit on a major network (CBS) and quickly became a cultural phenomenon in the first few years that it had aired. In fact, during its first 11 seasons (or 5 years) the show was in the top 10 most-watched programs (by viewership) in the U.S., drawing somewhere between 18 to 28 million people per season. During those peak years, I had been introduced to the show myself through my mom and to this day, I look back and couldn’t have been any luckier than to have been a fan of the show in its prime, which I will explain more about shortly.
In fact, had that not been the case, my mom wouldn’t have watched the show (given that she was and still is a casual fan viewer, who got hooked in from the national craze that the show first found itself in) and I by extension, wouldn’t have discovered Survivor unless if I was a bit older or stumbled on the show some other way, probably past its prime because who else would show a kid a series, let alone a game about lying and deception than from your parents at home, where they can set guidelines on what kids can or cannot watch?
Now let’s be clear: on paper, Survivor is a show that is built on immoral actions that players may or may not be willing to be involved with to persevere through challenges, avoid elimination and attempt to successfully win a game for a million dollar check. This premise has remained constant in the 40 seasons (yes, 40) that have been produced in these last 20 years. However, in practice, Survivor is more complicated than that.
For one, Survivor is a TV show and a competition. The competition part, besides trying to avoid being voted out [by either a). winning a team or “tribal” challenge (called “immunity”) against another tribe during the first phase of the game or b). building and using social connections on one’s own tribe if that tribe lost an immunity challenge to target, side with a majority or change the target from one’s own self to someone else] is also comprised of physical challenges (which usually are endurance-based, testing willpower), finding advantages at a tribe’s camp (where such advantages can grant safety from elimination), and last but not least, basic survival mechanics such as starting a fire (where one instance of doing so can help or hurt certain players from making the finals at the end of a season) and hunting wildlife while rationing food won in challenges like rice to physically endure 39 days of competition if able to do so without being voted off.
Then there is the TV show, which in the words of longtime Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett has been quoted as describing the show as, “unscripted drama.” Okay, not like totally unscripted – and bear in mind, I am a video editor and know how production works with stuff like this – but unscripted enough where you don’t need some Hollywood writer to put together a detailed synopsis of what 16-20 contestants will be doing on an island in a 13-episode arc. For those of you how haven’t seen Survivor before, it would be hard to visualize what I am talking about here, but here’s the basic breakdown of the “unscripted drama” aspect of Survivor’s core:
A competition is in place. Casting department prior to the season’s start selects who the competitors will be. These competitors (who are cast not necessarily because of who’s a fan and who isn’t, but rather who makes for “good TV”) are usually divided into 2, sometimes 3 tribes to compete with one another, the loser(s) of whom would have to attend an elimination ceremony known as “tribal council” for the host of the show, Jeff Probst to essentially play “therapist” to a team of challenge losers who collectively have to decide who to eliminate based on tribal dynamics after which they openly air their grievances, concerns, and worries: is someone not part of an alliance? (a coalition of players who promise to keep each other safe in return for loyalty). Is someone in an alliance going rouge and trying to side with a counter alliance? Is someone weak in a challenge and causing a tribe to lose in the first phase of the game?
Essentially, the narrative sans the finale, where a winner is declared, is largely driven by the “who goes home” angle (and some also argue that the other narrative is who has the best “winner’s edit” during the course of a season) and within each episode that takes the viewers through the “who will lose” angle, we see a very complex set of events that happen between players based on social interactions. These social interactions, alongside what is said and shown verbally in challenges and through strategic moves are what is unscripted. Here are a few examples:
• Two players meet for the first time on day 1 of the game. They bond over something – it could be shared experiences, or it could be intrigue from a city person talking to a country person – whatever it is, their bond becomes the impetus for a possible alliance. Whatever is said can be just as natural as what can be said in the real world.
• A player sneaks off at night while their fellow tribemates are asleep in a shelter in order to find a hidden immunity idol (an advantage that can allow its holder to void elimination votes at a tribal council). The player will obviously be followed by a camera person so that their escapade can be shot for TV and be edited into an episode. What a person says about their immunity hunt before or after the fact through commentary is very much genuine.
• A tribe gets decimated through successive immunity losses, the effect of which causes their tribe to dwindle to 2 or 3 members from 6-10 after so many vote outs. Again, through commentary, what players express is genuine through emotion.
So, yeah. That’s what Mark Burnett means by Survivor being an “unscripted drama.” It literally is what viewers witness unfolding if total strangers were to ever live together in a remote location far away from civilization playing for money that can make an impact on a life. Guided by the game’s structure, the drama – whether it’s the players or the viewers expressing excitement or frustration with a narrative (i.e. will the underdog become the top dog or will they succumb to elimination?) is very real. Even the producers feed into this. They can divide the cast between men and women for a battle of the sexes (as they’ve done 3 times previously). It creates tension. It explores the psychology of gender dynamics and culture: can women and men alone work well together? Or can mixed gender alliances prove that there is no benefit to that?
They can throw a twist (a game-chasing element) right from the get-go in a season like having eliminated players be sent to an isolated island with limited resources (as in Extinction Island, the main twist of season 38 and included in 40 as well) – how much is someone willing to endure sleeping on a deserted beach by a fire with no shelter, barely eating and amongst fellow eliminated contestants, some of whom may have conspired to eliminate you from the main game in the first place? Imagine the awkward and cold interactions (at first, anyway).
Basically, much of what is shown on TV are discussions about the players and the “game” world around them: namely, players talking about other players concerning social and strategic relationships, players talking about their own journeys concerning social and strategic standings, and players reacting and adapting to social and physical aspects of the game’s lively structure and evolving twists. Considering that Survivor films its show around many players and their interactions, with key interactions driving a narrative, it wouldn’t be quite as much as an engaging viewing experience to digest a narrative without confessionals.
Confessionals which have a player facing the camera alone to discuss about something privately (away from the other players but solely for TV audiences), whether it be an admission of truth of a strategic plan that other players don’t know about or a personal moment, are for the most part “unscripted.” It is essentially commentary but there are exceptions. Because even though casting department does their best to find contestants whose personalities translate to TV, meaning that the actions and things that are said by outspoken and articulate people come naturally to them, there are sometimes a few who are cast despite lacking that skill and some who casting thought they had that skill in auditions but fail to deliver when the show starts (that skill being to give good soundbites and to naturally narrate things).
But still, even with producers justifiably intervening with how some contestants speak about their thoughts and feelings to the camera, giving credence to the idea that Survivor is “scripted,” as someone who is involved in media production, I defend this practice considering that at the end of the day, Survivor is not just a competition, it is a primetime show and a show that is produced well should be reflective of that in how we hear the players speak (entertainingly and / or by giving good insight and context). Ultimately, these confessionals bridge together scenes of players interacting at camp and occasionally right before and right after a challenge.
And in the grand scheme of things, tribal council – which is a culmination of everything we see between player interactions, confessionals and the challenges – is the great payoff for all viewers to see how the narrative being presented unfolds: who gets eliminated? (and in the finale: who wins?). Considering the gameshow and unscripted drama aspects of the show come into full swing here as the airing of grievances amongst players in a losing tribe (or combined tribe during the final phase of the game) play out, aided by Jeff Probst, who is a master at essentially moderating and picking on certain people to say things they should and shouldn’t say out loud amongst their fellow tribemates, tribal council is almost always my favorite part of every episode. Especially the more chaotic and unpredictable ones, where players struggle to find and justify for game reasons why they should consider eliminating anyone (including an ally!), nowadays having such decisions being seemingly made at the last minute. Just getting to observe and absorb the psychology and sociology through the intricacies of Survivor from episode to episode, season to season, and year after year has given me and millions of other fans a very fulfilling experience as a longtime viewer. It’s exciting. However, despite being and remaining a fan, I am disappointed. I am just disappointed. The show is not the same anymore.
The Main Point.
Yeah, yeah, I know. I pulled that card. Name any other long-running show and you’ll find someone who will say those exact words and feel the same way. You even might be asking why am I still bothering with keeping up with a 20-year-old show if I feel disappointed about it? What do I feel disappointed about? To answer the former, I still find value in Survivor, even at its lowest of lows. It is my all time favorite show, so that helps. To answer the latter, I will explain and do so because Survivor is an incredible show and despite its (gradual) declining ratings, I always hear of people becoming instant fans. Whether it’s because the show is great to watch through binge-watching or that people like to rewatch seasons with someone new, there is a plethora of seasons, episodes, moments, characters and entertainment, even eductaional value to get out this show. If I can put in my two cents as to how I have come to see things transpire (for the worst) on the production-side of Survivor as a viewer, maybe it can help inspire you or someone else to watch the show with some context. After all, newer viewers can either start from the very beginning or watch seasons in any order and become a fan. However, in my opinion, considering how much the show has changed, I can see newer older viewers becoming needlessly confused by the recent seasons and newer younger viewers becoming bored from the older seasons. Why would this be the case? Let me explain.
It primarily comes down to this: the show’s pacing (both editing wise, and gameplay-wise) is too fast. The show also has evolved into a product that more so undermines the Mark Burnett feel for the show and promotes the Jeff Probst spirit: mostly unscripted drama vs. mostly game-related drama. Here are the following points of change:
- The casts have gotten bigger. Earlier seasons had 16 contestants. It increased to 18 after season 7 and to 20 a few seasons later. Seasons will often feature 18 to 20 players and some that bring back eliminated players will “add to that total” in terms of keeping up with eliminations and story behind those eliminations. I have no problem with bigger casts, but the show needs to keep up with telling a story, which is a challenge supported by some of the further points below.
- The casts mostly have skewed younger / there is geographic bias in casting. As with most reality shows, including competition based ones, Survivor has favored contestants as young as 18, and casting probably considers the jackpot of people to put on the show between the ages of 23 to 33. People over 40 do get cast, but anyone over 50 is usually considered a token “old person” and will likely have a hard time connecting with their peers, and therefore due to an early exit from the show, will likely cause older people rooting for their fellow old person player to tune out from the show. There has been improvement in certain recent seasons like with season 33 (despite it being a gimmick to cast older people, as seasons 12 and 21 were) but nonetheless, the relatability factor of all age demographics being represented in a show is inconsistent, as is inconsistencies in representing variety in peoples’ work backgrounds, and cultural backgrounds. The only thing that is just about consistent are archetypes of contestants cast. Also there is a preference for contestants that hail from California, namely around Los Angeles (hmm, I wonder why?). Also Boston, New York and New Jersey as well. The South recently has gotten attention due to the success of some of the players that hail from there.
- There are some questionable contestants cast. This was a major issue starting around season 10. Recruits were being cast in place of actual fans of the game. The complaint was that recruits didn’t have the heart or motivation to play well despite it being for a million dollars but were favored by production due to wanting to cast “big” personalities (i.e mactors) that can cause drama. The counterargument was that casting fans led to fans viewing the show to root against some of them due to unlikeability relating to poor gameplay and weak character that translated poorly to TV. Fortunately, casting has improved since the height of the issue around season 27 due to backlash from the season previous and recent seasons have more nuanced personalities who can reasonably play the game and make for decent TV. Also there are such things as competent fans that can play well and have a great personality that we can root for.
- There are too many twists. Twists are essential for the game and story to keep things interesting and to catch players off guard. The first 2 seasons were basic. Season 3 introduced tripe swaps, where players are shuffled between 2 tribes, allowing the creation of new alliances. season 11 introduced the hidden immunity idol, allowing its holder to protect themselves from being voted out. Twists were kept at a minimum until they started to impact the game in big ways, eventually resulting in seasons with multiple “advantages” that would allow many players to gain benefits from vote stealing to challenge handicapping alongside a plethora of idols, to the point where viewers will found it confusing in knowing who has what, more so because players often sit on their advantages for a stretch of episodes (as of season 38, the contestant’s lower thirds now shows viewers what advantage they currently are holding on to). This eventually led to an infamous moment in season 34, where a contestant got eliminated because everyone else who could have been voted for either had an idol or an advantage or was protected by winning immunity via a challenge – there was simply no one to vote for, which is antithetical to what Survivor stands for. Also in that same season, there were 3 tribe changes (an expansion from 2 tribes at the start of the season to 3 tribes, followed itself by an absorption to 2 before they were merged to 1 tribe, that of which is a standard part of the endgame in Survivor). The 3 tribe changes however had mixed up all of the players, to the point where longtime viewers of the show (including myself) dreaded the convoluted mess of figuring out alliances and relationships based on who came from what tribe. It didn’t help that a lot of those players from that season had previously played together and also had preexisting relationships from before the start of the game, something that is only unique to returnee seasons.
- There is an over reliance on twists. Survivor used to focus more on the interactions of players as part of social darwinism, influenced by strengths and weaknesses of how players approached one another and how they were perceived (as an asset or as a detriment). Survivor still embodies this to a large degree but thanks to countless immunity idols being part of the core gameplay, players can neglect on the social parts of their games, which takes away from moments that viewers could have gotten based on social interactions that could have led to funny or serious TV moments. The franticness of players scrambling to name names to potentially vote off in fear of them having an idol or advantage, only has made the storytelling of Survivor more based on game elements than solely social as it used to be in the older seasons. Season 39 in my opinion is one of the faster-paced and cutthroat games ever played by new constants and is a testament to how the structure of the show’s gameplay mechanics significantly changed, prioritizing even new players to create immediate alliances and counter alliances, for safety from a twist.
- The show’s production / post-production values have declined. This is a point I wish more people online are very vocal about: Survivor used to be a show that emphasized more on the story of its contestants as not just players but people plucked from their everyday lives to compete in a Robinsonade-themed environment. The show was literally pitched as Gilligan’s Island meets Lord of the Flies before being picked up and produced by CBS. 20 years later, I would describe Survivor as more like a sport, still in the same vein as the original analogy. I say sport because, the game is what is more emphasized than the value you get from learning (or caring) about any of these people who are cast on the show. Just look at the earlier seasons: the show had an intro. That went away. The show’s premieres had intro packages that gave viewers a glimpse into who the contestants are in their normal, everyday lives prior to being marooned. That went away. There used to be a ceremony that I loved and always looked forward to called Rites of Passage that celebrated the eliminated contestants amongst the final few contestants prior to the final tribal council, often detailing what these former competitors learned about their journey on the show. That went away. The original music (composed by Russ Landau, who did the iconic theme) used to be a fixture – even the tribal councils had the same motif for up to 20 seasons. That went away. Recap episodes – freaking recap episodes – have also went away. I’m not even a fan of recap epsiodes but because they often included never-before-seen moments that the show proper eschews, I miss having the additional context, the additional story about these people playing on a social game show having this unique experience being broadcasted. And speaking of unique experience, the locations themselves used to be unique. It used to be every season, a new location. Borneo. Australia. Africa. Marquesas. Thailand. The Amazon. The Pearl Islands. It then became every 2 seasons, new location. Samoa twice. Followed by Nicaragua twice. Followed again by Samoa twice and the Philippines twice in 2 different areas, equaling 4 times of the same country being used. Now, we’re seemingly unable to get out of Fiji as it now has the record of being used 8 times in a row! I get it though, and this has been well documented: filming a show that involves an international crew is not easy and setting up production as well as meeting a budget and dealing with the dangers and political unrest of the world doesn’t do any favors to a show that needs stability to produce in a remote region for good TV. This is the only issue that I side with the producers with: just making a show and running it is hard as it is but making it as a quality product on the other hand? You’ve heard me say enough so far.
- The editing is unbalanced / the show is just not long enough. This is another point (and arguably a bigger one) that I wish was vocalized by the fanbase, casual and hardcore fans alike alongside production, no less. Why is Survivor still 1 hour long including commercials? Why after 20 years do we not have 90 minute regular episodes? Seeing how there is just 13 episodes nowadays per season, and that the gameplay is too fast and too confusing with all the twists being thrown at the viewers, it is very frustrating to watch a show that I wish there was more to see out of. What’s that? There’s extra content? Yeah, I know about the secret scenes. I know about the Ponderosa videos (where you can watch someone after they got voted out). I know about the pre-show cast assessment. But these are not enough; they are supplementary content and with the exception of the secret scenes, do not add to the main game narrative. It’s unfortunate really. I blame the network, CBS. If Survivor does well in its time slot (especially in its key demographic), even after all these years, why not lengthen the show? Why do we get 2 (if we’re lucky), 90-minute episodes (excluding commericials) in the form of the premiere and finale of a season and sometimes 2 60 minute episodes (including commercials) back to back somewhere in the middle of the season instead of having 13 90 minute episodes? How is it that Australian Survivor (which airs on a network in Australia partially owned by CBS) airs double the amount of episodes than that of the U.S.? Other than the fact that they have up to 24 contestants competing, I can’t see why the U.S. version can’t supply more content, even for home video. It just sucks not to see more. Survivor is already a complex TV product, where viewers see statistically little of the 39 days that are recorded by production. In basic math terms, we see about 8 hours of edited footage out of 936 recorded on location, which means 0.8% of the footage is the freaking show! Less than 1%. Think about that. I would kill to see unedited footage of countless tribal councils on DVD. The editing, on the other hand is a whole other travesty. For a show that features 16-20 contestants, giving camera time to all contestants is always a challenge on part of production. It’s what they see fit in telling a story, probably pressured by CBS. Issues in editing concerning balance of who is shown amongst every player on a tribe, between men and women, and as of more recently, between main and active eliminated players as in seasons 38 and 40 has transformed Survivor from a show that used to give all of its contestants relevance in their journey of personal growth and strategic agency to a show that highlights a few certain contestants who are the most active strategically, most entertaining, or both. The difference between the early and later seasons is startling if you were to attempt to get to know the contestants and their arcs as a viewer during the course of a season; this of course, leads me into discussing the next and final point.
- The lack of respect and blatant favoritism for contestants. Why should this bother me? I’m not a player, I’m a viewer. So what? But here’s the thing: part of what make Survivor enjoyable is rooting for the players. It is a game after all. Yes, I watch for the entertainment and in fact, I love the storytelling and character-building aspect of the show just as the game itself: you just can’t have one without the other, or else, how can you root for someone to win the show? Well, I can think of ways how the show makes it easy for me to root for and against certain contestants. As mentioned above, it’s the editing. But how does it tie into this point here? It’s easy: in modern Survivor, if producers feel that you as a player are not entertaining or adding anything to the main story being presented, your airtime in the edit will be minor (and why not in a 60-minute show?). The worst cases is that an episode will go by and a player doesn’t have any confessionals. They become invisible. Ouch. How could I root for someone who basically doesn’t matter in a story we are being told? For many of these ignored players, it’s a tough pill to swallow, especially as they watch their season play out live on TV. Contrast this with the first ten seasons. It was very rare to have players go through an episode without much airtime. You would have under-the-radar players, but never quite invisible per se. Not til much later. On the flipside there are producer favorites; in season 7, there would be a breakout character – a larger than life contestant who fittingly complemented with that season’s theme. This contestant would be later brought back to play again in the following season, an all-stars season due to immense popularity. Not that I have a problem with that, I love seeing fan favorites being given some more screen time. However, this eventually became a problem. In season 18, I would argue that the show took things up to eleven when a contestant who became quickly known for their eccentricities and quirkiness sucked up substantial airtime due to their unique personality. The things that this contestant did and said were outright outlandish. It was comedic – it was TV gold and it came with a price, a dominant edit for them and a lesser amount of screen time for some of the more “normal” personalities. This method of editing that I jokingly refer to as “single-character” editing alongside the practice of bringing back popular players for seasons featuring all returning contestants or half returning, half-new or mostly new with 1-3 returning contestants has became something of a major nuisance for Survivor fans, especially in the modern era of the show. Once celebrated somewhat, the premise of bringing back players whose merits are usually based on strategic dominance, or buffoonery has led to the reasonable belief that Survivor embodies not only a game but a meta-game, the meta-game being: how can I as a player do something memorable or crowd pleasing so that I can be brought back for another season (if I can’t win)? I myself believe this is done subtlety by some contestants and not so subtlety by very, very few. My belief is that the majority of people cast on Survivor can only portray themselves as themselves considering the elements stripping everyone to their bare essentials. I mean, how can you hide something about yourself for 39 days with no work, no kids, and no technology to bury your head in on an island with other people? If you lie, the chances are, someone will find you the more they speak to you. All in all, I hate that the show has steered into the direction of treating some contestants with little respect, especially those that make in deep into a season but whose presence is minimized due to the hour-long format of the show, lack of good content from a player in favor from another player, etc. It just gives me a bad taste in my mouth even when I watch the cast reunions and some if not a majority of the players are ignored by Jeff only to focus on the favorites of a season. Like, this is literally the last time the cast will be together on live TV, no less with a full studio audience – at least use them all like you used to Survivor / CBS. Why fly these people out and have them be silenced on national TV during the culmination of a unique journey where reflections can be aired out and these people can shine in on the spotlight before they go back to their usual lives?
Anyhow, that was a lot to discuss. And judging by all that I said, it may be reasonable to think that I am a die-hard fan that is biased towards liking the old-school seasons than the new-school ones. Look, I am a fan of the show no matter what but I’m making it clear that Survivor has lost its luster and the fact is, many long running shows suffer from aging and decline in quality. I get it. But Survivor is unique. It is not like most shows that are scripted and even ones that aren’t – like fellow CBS-shows Big Brother or even the Amazing Race, whom Survivor has influenced and even has some similarities with. Survivor is one of those rare shows that can be enjoyed by almost anyone and should be enjoyed by almost anyone despite its premise celebrating and encouraging betrayal and duplicity as means for advancing in the game. But it’s a game. If it was real life, there would be consequences. Some players treat Survivor as a game. Some treat it as real life. The truth is is that it’s both – it’s how you separate the two definitions and experiences that define what’s game and what isn’t that makes Survivor a compelling TV show to watch. I don’t even advocate to people which side to they should take when it comes to watching the show for the game vs. watching it for the story and characters. It’s fine if you like one or the other, or in my case, both. I just think that Survivor is more game these days than show-centric and inversely, Survivor used to be more show and less game-centric. I think the former had charm.
Speaking of charm, I’m glad that I started watching the show in 2003. I’m glad that I started watching the show when Pearl Islands was on the air, which is my favorite season and widely hailed as the series’ best (not universally, but still). Because despite loving the earlier seasons due to the charm that the newer seasons lack and its landmark 40th season even with all winners competing is still unfortunately proving that feeling, Survivor is still a unique show about building a society away from the developed world (influenced loosely by Lord of the Flies) whose story is driven by how stranded castaways talk, feel and act towards one another, sometimes providing comedy, sometimes providing sadness (influenced by Gilligan’s Island) mixed together with a gameshow that forces those same people to turn on and another for money. That’s Survivor for you: part game, part show.
One Last Thing.
As if I haven’t mentioned a lot already, here is a link to a nearly 2000 word “essay” that I wrote on my opinion towards a certain contestant who impacted Survivor greatly. In it, I talk about how this contestant effectively transformed the program from one that was in its prime to one that is taking a newer form to stay on the airwaves (and if that did not spell it for you, all I’ll say is that this essay lays out where and how Survivor went from old school to new school in its production as both a reality gameshow and TV product). I do have to add though that unless you’ve seen many seasons of Survivor, you probably won’t understand the context of the subject I go into regarding the player involved, though a lot of what is said in terms of production has been already said here ad nauseum.
I had no intention of publishing that essay but I did so for 2 reasons: the second of which being that I needed something to greatly complement it, hence this blog post on my favorite TV show.
Primarily, I intended that essay to be picked apart and answered to by some hosts on a podcast discussing Survivor (not saying which one, there are many of them), to which I have been a long-time listener of. For the longest time, I had wanted to submit a listener question and failed to get a single thing read on that podcast. When I finally thought of something very insightful to write about, something that I thought could have had a significant chance to be openly discussed by the hosts (I had received a back and forth reply from the main host saying he’d read it), I was very disappointed that my essay wasn’t dissected or discussed. I was dismayed at how a fan’s contribution to an already relevant discussion needing some more opinions was all but ignored.
Because I took my time to put together that essay and really thought it was an interesting enough opinion to have out there, I considered submitting it to another Survivor podcast, my go-to and overall favorite podcast I listen to but decided against it as I didn’t want to be disappointed again if the essay didn’t get picked up. Therefore, I am publishing it it here on my own website. Who knows? Maybe I can use that essay or perhaps this entire blog post as a conversation starter on one of these podcasts one day should I ever become established. There’s always hope.
In any case, I am glad I wrote that essay and I am even more glad I wrote everything about what this fan thinks about a 20-year-old show. It’s such a milestone. There are not many shows that run for this long and there are not many fans who can say that they have watched a show from its early history, so I feel special when I say what it means to be a devoted fan of Survivor, even through the show’s ups and downs. Maybe my conversation here will inspire you to watch the show if you are new to it. Maybe it can convince you to give it another try if have seen it before. By all means, do it. Happy reading and happy viewing. And Happy Birthday, Survivor. Hope you get to 25 (years) / 50 (seasons).