Survivor Season 34 Theme Discussion

Inside Survivor has released the name and theme of the upcoming all-star season that follows the terribly-themed next season.


Feel free to discuss this or whatever else in the comments below.

Seriously, whatever else. How was your weekend? How about that Game of Thrones finale, eh? That Brexit was something, right?

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Co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast and the Canadian of the group, Andy has been watching Survivor continuously since the very beginning and likes to treat that as some kind of virtue to lord over others.

Favourite seasons: Heroes vs Villains, Cook Islands, Palau, The Amazon, Cagayan
Favourite players: Boston Rob, Kim Spradlin, Tony Vlachos, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Rob Cesternino
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244 thoughts on “Survivor Season 34 Theme Discussion

    1. I’m going to take a bold stance here:

      The theme doesn’t matter. It rarely has impact on whether a season is good or not.

      1. On the one hand, you’re right. They just needed a name because it’s too late to call something “All-Stars 2” (because what does that make HvV or Cambodia). On the other, I’mma get these jokes off.

          1. Instead can we Survivor: Einstein on the Beach? The po-mo season of Survivor that deep down we all know we want?

          2. So basically The Genius, but outside so we can watch the nerds melt?

            Damn, I really should have watched The Genius with you all instead of Gabon.

  1. Let’s try and figure out how the each of the cast will be considered “game changers”:
    -Sandra = won twice, “as long as it’s not me”
    -JT = First unanimous winner. Also, the letter.
    -Tony = self-explanatory
    -Cirie = 3-2-1
    -Troyzan = “THIS IS MY ISLAND”?
    -Ciera = Voted out her mom
    -Malcolm = Hold up bro
    -Aubry = Crossing out a name at TC?
    -Tai = Mark the Chicken
    -Caleb = his evac changed his season?
    -Andrea = ???
    -Brad = His math skills, obvi
    -Varner = pre-gaming (which they’d never bring up).
    -Debbie = changing her profession on the fly?
    -Ozzy = challenge dominance
    -Hali = coining “Merica”
    -Sarah = Her boot changed her season?
    -Sierra = This

    1. Tai changed the game by showing that if you’re nice to animals, famous people will give you money.

          1. Blood vs Water. Heroes vs Villans. All Stars?

            Rupert had one good season, in my opinion.

          2. He’s a pirate, an All-Star, a hero, and gave his life for his blood. He’s a legend and a game changer.

            (Also I’m being sarcastic)

        1. I’ve literally run out of my house because I saw someone walking past with a cool looking dog and needed to pet it. More than once.

          I didn’t give them money, because everyone around here has more money than I do, but it’s happened.

          1. Wait, by ‘more than once’, do you mean this situation has happened multiple times, or you needed to pet that particular cool looking dog a few times? Or is this an “it can be two things” instance?

    2. I guess, for Andrea, you could argue she was a couple firsts – first woman to return from Redemption Island and first woman to go home with an idol in her pocket. I’m not saying it’s a strong argument… or that I stand by it in any way…

    3. How accurate do we think the list is? I know Redmond is usually very accurate, but Varner has been active on Twitter for the last month. Unless he hired a surrogate to throw us off…

          1. Here’s the thing, I believe it’s possible that Redmond could be wrong about a player or two. That’s possible.

            I don’t believe Jeff Varner would be a player he could be wrong about.

          2. I agree with Andy, you can take 20 selfies doing things and get them to be posted every day or so.
            His account only did retweets about Orlando nothing original, which tells me it’s not him.

          3. I read a mystery book recently where someone did this selfie trick as part of kidnapping plot. I won’t say the title bc of spoilers but it was a good one 🙂

          4. There was a Columbo episode where the killer faked an alibi by having someone run a red light through an intersection they knew that would take your picture and mail you the ticket while he was committing the murder. The killer’s accomplice held up a flat picture of the killer in front of their face while going through the intersection so it looked like the killer was driving at the time of the murder.

            So my point is that photography leads to crime.

          5. Yeah that’s what I did, I looked went “well he’s on twitter” then looked again and was like “nothing on Orlando and just selfies or photos of workouts using his hashtag weirdly”

        1. There’s tons of people from Australia who have the time to do that, Kimmi, Alicia, Skupin’s probably not too busy…

          1. We’ve never discussed how the online Survivor community has weirdly come to his defense and taken the whole ‘innocent until proven guilty!’ line.

          2. I think it’s less innocent until proven guilty and more the child porn charge was a smokescreen for the real issue the police are trying to nail Skupin down for, which is the pyramid scheming. I think Yau Man had a good blog or facebook or something post about it.

          3. Serious public defender face: I have to take issue with the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” as a line. It’s not a line. It’s the foundation of our entire justice system. Look, I’m not defending Skupin – I don’t really like him. If he’s guilty, he’s guilty (and while everyone understandably focuses on child pornography, I think ponzi schemes are the work of the devil). But there are a lot of cases that look REALLY bad – unless/until you actually have intimate knowledge of the case, and those details often get held back until trial. Again – I’m not even defending Skupin here. I just don’t like the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” as some sort of line.

            That being said, as someone earlier said, Yau-Man had a probably good and correct take on it, given that he has some actual knowledge of the situation.

            Back to being not serious – You definitely don’t give Michael Skupin access to your internet accounts either way.

          4. Innocent until proven guilty is for court. I can make whatever judgement of him I wish personally because if I declare now he’s guilty I’m not putting him in prison.

            What was Yau-Man’s take?

          5. I think his basic point was that if you’re not absolutely committed to exclusively consuming adult content with a clear §2257 disclaimer, that you might occasionally and unknowingly come across an image on some less than reputable aggregator of ostensibly legal content depicting someone that’s not of legal age in a sexualized manner, and that despite not explicitly seeking out or being interested in underage content you might have been briefly exposed to it nevertheless, and that a prosecutor can use the presence of such an image in your browser cache as leverage to force a plea for other unrelated charges.

            As far as I recall, he didn’t have any specific information on the case, so this is all just speculation. His main point was that “child pron” is a nuclear bomb that once dropped removes any chance of rational discussion. He may in fact be a terrible garbage person of the worst kind who harmed kids, or he may be a regular old garbage person who defrauded people but had sloppy google habits and no desire to see anything but naked adults. We probably won’t know for some time until the details shake out, or we may never know.

    4. Andrea was a game changer as she prepared the way for women to get voted out with an idol in their pocket.

    5. Do we think it’s at all possible that “Game Changers” could be interpreted in multiple ways? For example, it could include people who did things (or were involved in things) that dramatically changed the course of the specific season they were playing in? I feel like you could make a strong argument that Caleb’s medevac ‘changed the game’ in Kaoh Rong, even though he himself was not a strategic game changer. Actually JT’s dear Russell letter could fit this too…
      Likewise, in an even looser interpretation, some of the more WTF inclusions could be on there just because they were on a game changing season (Troyzan as a representative for the One World twist comes to mind).
      This obviously sucks and is stupid, but it could be the rationale CBS is using.

      1. But then there’s Sierra and Hali. Even by loosest interpretation … how did they change the game? Hali was gone when the worst parts happened.

          1. But did she? 🙂 (I personally never found her annoying. Many of the others, sure.)

            She put that advanced education to work and coined “Merica” I suppose.

          2. Her tribemates clearly found her annoying. Hali was the one who said, ‘hey, maybe chill out a little.’

            Also, you’re a JD, too, right? Do you really consider it an advanced education? It did not feel that way to me.

          3. I was being sarcastic because I hate shortening words like that. I don’t know why. I don’t dislike her but she did not change the game in any way, even by convincing Shirin to chill.

            Yes, I am a JD. Yes, I do consider it advanced education, sometimes. Then sometimes I meet others and I wonder.

          4. I’m an MBA, and even while I was taking my classes I remember thinking, “Holy shit, I can’t believe some of these people are going to get the same diploma I am.”

        1. Honestly for those two I’ve got nothing. I actually had to look Sierra up on Survivor Wiki to see if she did anything notable in Worlds Apart, and she genuinely did not.

          1. People who were coming out of the game were saying that Sierra recognized how awful the rest of the Axis of Evil were and her strategy was to do nothing at all and hope to sit next to two of them at the end.

          2. I wonder if people would have voted for her if she was against two awful people or decided against it because she did nothing.

          3. I think there was enough bad blood in that crew by the end that it could have worked.

            Rodney might have been able to beat her, but I don’t know who else.

          4. A Sierra, Dan and Will final three would’ve been a dark timeline. God, the actual Worlds Apart was bad enough.

          5. Rodney winning that season would have been the cruelest fantasy league twist of all.

          6. She’s a lot like Michele, but she didn’t win, so obviously you don’t remember anything about her at all.

        2. Hali changed the game by showing us it was all right to exclude deaf people when you go off to have fun. Woohoo, boogie boarding is for people that can hear only!

          1. Funny. I was going to say she changed the game by going skinny dipping … bu then she wasn’t the first at that either. Technically, wasn’t Hatch?

          2. Did Hatch go skinny dipping? I would say it would be more accurate to say he went nudist.

          3. You are more accurate but I assume he went in the water nude during Borneo (the only season I never watched but I do have a copy that someone gave me) so to me that’s close enough.

          4. (pushes imaginary glasses up on nose) I think “skinny dipping” insists that you take off your clothes when you go into the water. If you’re already naked, you’re not skinny dipping, you’re just going from “naked on land” to “naked in water”.

    6. Because I like to nitpick, I just want to say JT was not the first unanimous winner. Earl was. JT, however, played the first “perfect game”, where no one ever wrote his name down to vote him out and he received all of the jury votes. Had Rita not written down Earl’s name, though…

      I think Sierra “changed the game” by breaking the record for talking about how her vote could change the game. Also, barrel rolling skills are way underrated.

        1. Agreed. If we had our way, the list would be way different, but that’s what the cast discussion page is for.

  2. This theme means we will have to hear the words, “BIG MOVES,” ™ more than any other season. As if it wasn’t already something said in every gddamn episode multiple times.

      1. Player: “I am here to change the game and chew bubble gum … and I’m all out of bubble gum!”
        Jeff: “Actually, the reward challenge is for bubble gum.”
        Player: “Oh. Ok then.”

        1. I wish. He’s actually saying “Can’t Sleep. Clown will eat me.” which I would assume is also something stated regularly during Survivor.

    1. If anything, the idea of “second chance” had a positive impact on Cambodia – it really seemed like people were playing hard partially because they were hit over the head with the idea of (over)correcting past mistakes. My point being, even if the confessionals are irritating, the net impact on the game will range from 0 to a small positive.

    2. You just know that Jeff’s number one choice for a returnee season is “Survivor: Big Moves”.

      Surprised that this season wasn’t called “Survivor: Big Movers”.

    1. Wow, where did you see that?

      They’re dropping tons of shows (Adventure Time, the re-watch of BSG). The original AVC team left because they were focusing too much on TV recaps (among other things) and now we don’t even have those. That place is just going to be one big meme board.

    2. I started my Survivor online commenting life over at AV Club but I honestly haven’t read a single review over there since the beginning of Cambodia. This is my home now 😀

    3. I still liked the AVClub reviews and comments (boy, @Jim really hated Spencer), but within the past few seasons (especially the last one) it was obvious that their number of comments was down a lot. I can’t figure out why …

      1. The funny thing is I never read them until reading about that site from you guys here. I’ve enjoyed the Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and Veep stuff I’ve read.

        1. I love the Game of Thrones reviews (assuming you’re referring to the book reader reviews). Myles does an excellent job with them.

    4. By the end of Kaoh Rong I had reached the point of ‘eh, I guess I’ll see what’s going on over there,’ so I can’t say I’m that upset.

    5. I think your hits will increase. Just think of what you’ll be able to do with all those Amazon pennies!!!

      1. I think we could make more money if we spent our time doing Mechanical Turk tasks instead of podcasting. (For those who don’t know, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a great way to fool people into working for sub-minimum wages doing menial tasks.)

    6. Wow. That’s kind of shocking. The AV Club Survivor coverage is the reason I watch Survivor, and it certainly had a very intense comment section through last year.

    7. I kind of quit going there after a while. I got my fix here, and then keeping up with those comments became too much of a thing. I even quit doing my dumb “same response to Hornacek” thing towards the end of last season.

      1. I noticed when that stopped, and I will admit, it hurt me inside.

        No wait, the doctor said that was because I accidentally swallowed a tack.

        1. It wasn’t because of anything you did. Palsy and AVClub just didn’t want to keep on spending time with each other. We both still love you.

          …But I love you more. Don’t let AVClub tell you otherwise.

    8. I stopped posting there last season because most of the best commenters there also come here and it felt redundant with my limited free-time (after keeping tiny humans alive all day). So, in other words, it’s all your fault 😉

  3. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s kind of weird that it’s called Game Changers and there’s no Russell.

    1. It really is kind of a slap in the face to the actual game changers.

      (Also, obligatory “there’s a flaw in the casting” comment.)

    2. Also no Rob Cesternino, who very well might have been the biggest individual game changer in the show’s history.

        1. If a cast list came out with Rob Cesternino in it, I would believe it.

          Who knows if they’re even contacting him though. Like Richard Hatch isn’t on this cast, and you know he would come back. It feels like they’ve mostly moved past those first 17 seasons or so.

          1. Of the people launching “bring me back” campaigns, Neleh is the one I’m most in favor of. She already showed some basic skills on Marquesas, and she’s 16 years older. So sure, let’s bring back Neleh.

          2. Let me amend that: They’ve moved past seasons 3-11. They’ve been consistently bringing back people from the first two seasons pretty much throughout. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s been no new returnee from 3-11 since Heroes vs Villains (including anyone from All Stars not from 1-2 playing their 3rd time).

          3. I’m wrong. Andrew Savage in Cambodia.

            Just ignore me like everyone should be doing.

          4. Rob’s really adamant about not wanting to play again, and I believe him because the main factor appears to be that he’s accepted he doesn’t like being outside.

            But even if he was interested in doing it, I can’t imagine he’d go out right now, given that he has a tiny baby.

        2. I think he might, considering that in TEOS Rob said that he turned down Blood vs Water with the idea that he would love to do it again but couldn’t due to Nicole’s pregnancy.

      1. True, but I believe Rob when he says he doesn’t want to play again. I don’t believe that about Russell.

    1. Survivor: Change Gamers v. Game Changers v No Collar!

      One side breaks the rules, one rules the breaks, the third is shirtless most of the time.

  4. I attempted to make a ranking of best Survivor themes but quickly realized it was a not fun waste of time. Game Changers is fine I guess. I would’ve preferred Survivor: Let’s make sure Cirie wins the million because she’s the best.

    1. I’m so torn about whether I’d prefer to see Cirie get that first W or see Tony batshit his way to a second win. And even beyond them, there are others I want in contention as well.

      1. Cirie is my all time favorite player so I’m going to be driving that bandwagon pretty hard. But I agree that there are plenty of other enticing possibilities for this season. There is the group of veterans I want to see do well. There are the first time returnees who I’m interested in how their game has evolved and intriguing characters I want on my tv screen again. I’m also looking forward to the inevitable Ozzy boot where I cackle at his sour grapes. A season like this has multiple paths to success. Cirie winning is just the best path.

      2. Cirie – Tony – Sandra final 3 would be so much awesomeness I don’t believe my TV could contain it. My TV would BLOW UP because of all the awesomeness that would be going on.

  5. Fewer Brexit jokes, huge chunks of my life are falling apart. I am selling my flat and the buyer came back and asked for 5% off which is quite a lot because I live in London which is very expensive to buy in. The political party I am a member of and have worked for most of my career is in the midst of a civil war that looks like it will literally spilt a 100 year old party in half. And it feels like it will never ever get better.

    1. It’ll get better, I promise.

      And if it doesn’t you can join me in moving to Montreal after Trump wins. We can use Andy as a reference.

    2. It will get better, KB. I’m not as knowledgable as you, obviously, but I increasingly suspect Brexit won’t actually happen. And FWIW it looks like the other side is arranging a circular firing squad as well.

    3. So what’s the issue with Corbyn? We generally don’t get much news about British party leadership dynamics here, and since you’re active in politics there I’d like your perspective.

      1. Imagine Sanders had Sanders spent his career talking to terrorist groups, surrounded by anti-semites and had never really bothered leaving DC for 30+ years.
        I’m a bit raw to be asking right now as a British Jew who has in the last hour seen a Jewish MP brought to tears by an attack from one of his supporters at the launch of the Labuor Party’s Anti-Semitism report!

        Basically he didn’t do enough to campaign to remain in the EU, this is the biggest single political event since the end of WW2 and he didn’t do enough to stop it. He has shown minimal leadership and little sign that Labour voters and swing voters in our key areas are at all interested in him as a leader of a major party. 172 of his MPs said they have no confidence in him and he hasn’t stood down, you cannot be the leader of a political party in a parliamentary democracy without support of your members of parliament.

        1. I’m a Jewish American watching many people (INCLUDING Jews) in my own country ignore the rising antisemitism in the world. I feel (that part) of your pain.

          Politically, I’m somewhere in the middle (I’m socially liberal, but fiscally more conservative/libertarian-ish), and I’m not sure I completely understand the whole dynamics of Brexit and how I feel about it. But I can definitely sense that there’s a lot of fear-mongering going on in both sides, not unlike American politics.

          1. All the fearmongering on the remain side wasn’t fearmongering, it’s come true. If you look at Britain today we are in a lot of trouble, just like they said we would be.

          2. I’ll trust you, as you are the one going through it, and I’m admittedly not terribly informed on UK politics. I hope it resolves in a good way for you guys. In a few months, hopefully you’ll be back to shaking your head at the lunatics running US politics…

          3. No this is the next 10 years if we actually leave. If we get lucky and somehow stay in the EU then maybe we’ll be ok but if not we will see a recession, the loss of much of our manufacturing as most are Asian/US companies wanting access to European markets. The big banks will leave and that will destroy the tax base and public spending will decrease even more from the austerity levels we are on now. There will likely be some small outbreaks of civil unrest (nothing major just a riot or two with some looting and retail property damage) then our new PM Theresa May who hates civil liberties and Human Rights will use it as an excuse to set some sort of 1984-esque laws into law. The pound will settle at a low level and we will all be worse off.

    4. My heart goes out to you Kemper- watching your country for no good reason other than xenophobia punch itself, its political system, and the entire globe’s security and economic structure really hard in the face has to be truly agonizing (a kind of agonizing I’m afraid many of the rest of us will be experiencing in a slightly modified form all too soon).

      It WILL probably get better, but that doesn’t make the chaos, uncertainty, pain, and abject stupidity of the now any less real.

      I’m so sorry.

  6. I’m fine with this. A whole cast of people who game super hard would inevitably mean every episode featured 15 minutes of 3 different versions of Ciera complaining that nobody was playing the game their way. And this cast already has both actual Ciera and Troyzan for that.

    This is more like the ‘movers vs. floaters’ season Rob and Josh joked about, which sounds like not the most exciting thing but okay.

    My only complaint is that this theme makes the lack of Penner even more puzzling.

      1. I swear to god if I hear Rob C. say “what’s your story” in his Penner impression one more time… I will likely just sigh loudly.

      2. Penner gets a lifetime pass for “Jeff Kent … fuck Jeff Kent!” at the last (?) live KIAs.

  7. Game Changers, fine. Way better than Millennials vs. Generation X, even though I usually don’t care about themes anyway. It’s nice that I’ll be able to call this season “Mamanuca Islands”, though. Wish MvGx had a location in it’s name.

    1. I highly suspect that production has it’s ears to the ground enough to know that people aren’t happy with that name, and that by August or so we’ll have a location title for S33.

      1. I thought they would rename S33 Mamanuca Islands, but now that, Fiji, and South Pacific are all taken.

        1. Wikipedia shows there’s like 30 islands in the Mamanuca chain, so surely there has to be a smaller archipelago they can name it after.

          1. There better be a better name. And don’t call him Shirley.

            Anyway, I think you’ve got to be right about production. They have to know how poorly that reveal was taken by people. At least “Mamanuca Islands” is a legitimately cool name.

        2. Hopefully you have your Disqus notifications on, so you’ll get this:

          A) Do you have any interest in participating in our fantasy Survivor Outcasts league (I assume you know what that is)? B) Are you over or under age 32 (for Survivor Millennial vs. Gen X cutoff purposes)?

          1. All your questions will be answered (hopefully) on the draft page. Still waiting on the last 1-2 people to confirm, so the invitations will probably come tomorrow.

  8. I’m attempting a re-watch of Worlds Apart, and in ep3 Hali just said: “If you want to change this game you’ve got to be a player.”
    Betting is now open on whether this quote will make it into the intro of Survivor: Mamanuca–Game Changers

    1. I like to imagine that the producers were struggling to come up with a theme to the season and they had old episodes on in the background. They reached this moment where Hali has the quote and they have an epiphany. They rewind the moment a couple of times and break out some celebratory beers. “Game Changers” they chant several times as they literally pat each other on the back (team building exercise). Thanks to Hali Ford, Survivor: Game Changers is born…or they threw a dart at a board of random phrases.




    Are you fucking kidding me?

    As much as it’s easy to say that the theme has become irrelevant, it’s still a huge frame that Jeff uses with virtually every interaction he has with the cast, which turns into some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. I really wish they would recognize this and stop with the gimmicks and go back to good old Survivor: Place Name.

    1. i was ok with the themes when it was about the history of where they were – like Pearl or Cook Islands and it was used in the game but not this self-fulfilling prophecy – like last season – brawn was not going to work with brains.

    2. To the extent that that’s true, Survivor: Game Changers is exactly the title you want.

      In that it’s pretty much Survivor: Please Don’t have any Boring Episodes, OK?

      1. The difference is that if this was merely Survivor: The Mamanuka Islands there wouldn’t be this built-in assumption at the heart of every interaction that Jeff has with any player that something extra is expected of them because they’ve been specifically labeled in this way as exceptional. You can have an extremely compelling season with tons of excitement all while remaining in the boundaries of the established playbook of the previous 33 seasons. But players are going to be encouraged at every turn to try to push the boundaries, even if it’s not in the best interest of their game. I want players making the right moves, not the splashiest moves. Cambodia was salvaged by the calm mindfulness of Jeremy, but imagine if it was 20 Stephens all constantly scrambling to produce big moves without that calming influence.

    1. Great finale and one of the best episodes the show has ever done. That entire sequence of with Cersei was beautiful and a hell of a way to start an episode.

    2. Definitely amazing. Been listening to those podcasts since on my long trip to and from work.

    3. I was holding my breath for the entire opening sequence in King’s Landing. It was mind blowing. The fact that the show is still able to one-up itself is incredible. Between that and the last shot of Dany’s fleet… just about speechless.

    4. While Hardhome may still take the cake for me as far as overall best episode goes, this was easily my favorite season finale. They even managed to make Dorne relevant and almost even interesting (entirely due to Varys, but considering that my reaction whenever I see Dorne in the opening credits is almost exactly the same as the reaction Jake Taylor has whenever he has to deal with Roger Dorn in the Major League movies , I’ll take anything that makes it better than last season)! Though, given the Starks’ collective track record thus far, I’m holding off on getting too enthused over this whole New King Of The North business.

  10. So if this cast list is correct, does this mean that Ciera and Sierra, like Kelly and Kelley two seasons ago, will be elevated to the “called by last name” stature by default?

    1. Sierra frequently goes by her first and middle names, so I suspect she’ll be “Sierra Dawn”. You can’t call her Thomas, because that’s JT’s last name.

      1. Too bad, I would love to have another season where Jeff is forced to call two women by their last names, an honor he saves for male contestants (except for Kelly, Kelley and Dawson).

  11. Inside Survivor now has an article up explaining how each changed the way the game is played, changed their season, tried to change the game, etc. There is even a category for those that did not change the game.

  12. Now that we have a theme, if you had your way, who would you pick for this season? “Game changers” is a fickle term, and it means different things for a lot of people, so I wonder what your picks would be now that we know the theme.

    1. Setting aside who would actually be willing/able to play and who would be entertaining to watch, here is my semi-serious list of the survivors I think are responsible for (or associated with) the biggest changes in the game:

      Richard Hatch – changed the course of the game by ~inventing strategy~
      Sue Hawk – her angry jury speech inspired many, many others throughout the years
      Silas – first victim of a tribe swap (or alternately: Ethan, for coming up with the idea to throw the challenge to target Silas)
      The Rotu 4 – changed the strategy up to allow for something other than a Pagonging in the post-merge
      Rob C – first to play the bottom and constantly shift between alliances to keep himself in the game longer
      Osten – first quitter; before this people didn’t even think quitting was allowed, but nowadays it happens every couple seasons
      Sandra – exemplified the ‘anyone but me’ strategy and rode it to 2 wins at FTC
      Amber – first player to win at FTC against someone with a superior strategic game but a much worse social game (this one feels iffy, but it’s a model that has played out so many times since then that I can’t not include it)
      Cao Boi – PLAN VOODOO (invented the concept of vote splitting to circumvent an idol, even though they didn’t actually try it)
      Yau Man – First survivor to successfully play a Hidden Immunity Idol and survive a tribal council where he received the majority of votes (I think? Someone fact check me?)
      Cirie – 3-2-1, generally being able to play an extremely aggressive strategic game while still being beloved by her competitors (particularly rare for a woman/mother). Cirie also notably recognized that she was competing with others in her alliance for the role of FTC goat (setting aside how un-goatlike she actually is) and began targeting other goats
      Russell – first to look for hidden idols without a clue, developed some very creative uses of hidden idols, generally played a super aggressive game that many subsequent players have tried to imitate
      Tony – first to play an extremely aggressive Russell-style game and actually win
      Denise S – attended every single tribal council in her season
      Sophie Clark – this one is hard to put into words exactly, but Sophie is the first non-beauty queen type woman under 30 to win Survivor. No shade meant to Sophie at all, but a young, intelligent, serious woman without model-good-looks to fall back on had never won Survivor before (I would add Natalie Anderson as the only other to pull off this feat. Aubry would have been the third, but alas…)
      Mike Holloway – the only player so far to successfully brute force their way to the end as an underdog by winning challenges and then pull out the win at FTC
      Sierra Dawn Thomas – just kidding

      Okay that will do for the moment. I tried to limit my inclusion of “firsts” on the list to things that actually resulted from the actions or decisions of the person involved, rather than just listing off all of the significant firsts (but that’s always fun too!)

      1. Wasn’t Yau Man the first to make a fake idol? And Sandra wasn’t a beauty queen type.

        1. I could have sworn Sandra was over 30 when she first won, but I just checked and she was 29! So I guess she steals that title too 😉
          But I still think Sophie is the first of her type to win. I just need to figure out exactly what that type is…

          1. I’d say she’s the first female of the type that Cochrane, Spencer, Rob C, Stephen F. and Kenny are (and I know only one of them won) (the type that thinks they are the smartest in the room and most of the time, they are accurate.)

          2. I agree completely. I would also say that she is one of the rare young female winners (like really young – I think she was maybe 22 when she won?) who had an absolutely crap social game but still won. Jenna Morasca is another possibility here, although I think that her social game was apparently still better than Matt’s.

          3. well Matt was going to kill them all. So Jenna didn’t have a high bar to clear

    1. For one, they kept more interesting people from being on the show…

      Actually, I liked Caleb. And for the record I don’t watch BB.

    2. Caleb and Brad proved that large, muscle-bound white males could be cast on Survivor. Game. Changer.

      Sarah changed Survivor by trying to make herself the swing vote and setting up the Kass flip, which led to one of the best seasons of Survivor ever.

      Sierra showed that if you’re available when someone drops out just before the plane is about to board, you can play again. Game. Changed.

      1. Nailed Sierra, sometimes it’s good to have a job which is basically just turning up to competitions you wanna ride a horse in.

        1. Oh god, that would have been a horrifying comment to make if so. Definitely not my intent!

      1. “Fuck you, Brad Culpepper!” That line alone would make me want to see more of Marissa over some of the others returning.

  13. Yes! The theme is meaningless enough that I can keep calling this season Cirie vs. Sandra in my head.

      1. The struggle will be real when Cirie and Sandra end up in opposing alliances of the same tribe.

      2. I don’t think they will be, but I would be really disappointed.

        Actually it would be cool to see them on the same tribe too. I just love them both and also want to see them fight.

    1. Thought experiment: would Redemption Island or South Pacific have been good if they had been Cirie vs. Sandra? Neither of those seasons is particularly fresh in my mind, but I remember the problems with each of them running much deeper than the returnees. Then again, how could a Cirie vs. Sandra season be bad?

      1. I mean neither of those seasons could be worse. Although I love Sophie so had Sophie not won maybe I’d be upset.

      2. Thought experiment: imagine Survivor brought back a woman in anything but a returnee season (Stephanie got it but since then it’s been all men).

      3. I’m actually a South Pacific defender and I’ve only watched a few episodes of Redemption Island, so I can’t really answer that. That said, I think adding Cirie and Sandra would improve pretty much any Survivor season.

  14. I’m still waiting here for my 100% individual Survivor season – Survivor One Tribe.

  15. So I finally got around to watching One World. I’m about 3/4 of the way through. I can see how producers could theoretically believe Troyzan was a game changer, in that he was at least attempting to get the bottom of the majority alliance to flip. But he lacked the delicate, savvy touch of, say, Aubry in his tactics.

    Let’s see, what else is going on in life…my son has been crawling for the last month or so and has his first tooth coming in. Oh, and last year I did a day’s work of being an extra on the new Ghostbusters, so that’s coming out in a few weeks. In the scene I was in, I got to repeatedly run down a city street in 90+ degree weather while wearing a leather jacket and pretending it was fall and not dropping from heat exhaustion. ACTING.

    1. My one-and-a-half-year-old nephew ate corn on the cob for the first time a couple weeks ago. It was rad. Fat little dude went to town on that ear of corn. Congrats on both yours and Ghostbusters.

    2. Plenty of people have tried to flip the bottom to the top and failed. I don’t see how it’s a game changer. Now Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien and Vecepia who actually did it for the first time, they were game changers.

      1. Yeah, I grant you this, and personally would rather see Vecepia back (Kathy left a sour taste in my mouth after All-Stars, I’m really all set with her), but producers/Probst seem to be quite enamored of Troyzan, likely far more than any of us are. I’m just trying to see how they’d see him as a game changer. Either that or they see him as cannon fodder for the real game changers.

        1. Hopefully you have your Disqus notifications on, so you’ll get this:

          A) Do you have any interest in participating in the Outcasts League (I assume you know what that is)? B) Are you over or under age 32 (for Survivor Millennial vs. Gen X cutoff purposes)?

          1. Yes! And, I kind of know about it but never got the full scoop. And also, over 32. A sad old 39.

          2. Ok, I’ll send you a notification in the near future with a link to the draft page. It’ll explain all the rules and such there. Please don’t discuss the league in the pick-4 page.

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