Let’s talk about Survivor season 40 and its now-spoiled cast.
Recently, that British guy that spoils Survivor casts did it again. After previously letting us know that my request for an all-winners season had been approved, Martin (or Redmond, or whatever) gave us the list of players for Survivor season 40.
Naturally, I- a longtime Survivor fan that loves this show- was excitedly waiting for the cast list ever since the theme for season 40 was confirmed. So I can only assume that every other hardcore Survivor fan is similarly geeking out about an all-winners season finally happening, right?
Replacing that one boring male winner with that other boring female winner is certainly something to lobby for, I guess.
“You know that unimpressive guy that stumbled his way to a win in Vanuatu? And that woman that barely existed on the season that she won? And that guy that rubbed his dong on another player during a challenge? More of them, please!”
“My suggestion is: What if we had an all-winners season and didn’t have two of the best winners ever?” Cool take, bro! But whatever, if you look hard enough you can find people with any stupid opinion. I’ve already done it three times in this post!
How about you just TRY TO ENJOY THE FUCKING SHOW?
If you soldiered through our marathon Edge of Extinction finale podcast, you know that one of the problems we have with Survivor fandom is that a vocal minority wants nothing more than to shit all over the show. They all want to be the first to start the backlash, or the person to dunk the hardest on the show that we’ve been able to enjoy for nearly twenty years. As part of that arms race, they start criticizing the show before it ever airs- before the season has even fucking filmed! (And again, one of the complaints is that we’re not gonna get to see the guy that had a televised #MeToo moment. Cool.)
As I write this, Sandra hasn’t even gotten to yell profanities at anyone yet. Ok, she probably has- the flight to Fiji is long. But the actual on-island game hasn’t even started yet! And yet, there are people who have already decided the season is completely worthless. Criticizing the show is a normal and wonderful thing, but when your go-to reaction to everything is some variation of “this sucks, the show sucks, and it hasn’t been good in years”, maybe it’s time to move on to a different show that you will also eventually hate. Do you have Netflix? There’s tons of shit on there for you to dislike!
You know what I’m feeling about season 40? Pure, unbridled fucking optimism. I’ve looked at the cast and determined that there are only a relatively small handful of outcomes that I would cause me to be disappointed. And there are a bunch of potential outcomes that would get me quite excited. So excited, in fact, that I’ve chosen to rank the potential winners in terms of how horny I am for their potential victory. I’ve even clustered them into convenient horniness tiers for you. (Please note: This is not a ranking of how horny I am for them as humans- I am only ranking how excited I would be if they won. Having said that, I am willing to bet large sums of money that one of the comment threads below will end up covering horniness towards the actual humans; you all are thirsty as fuck and I love you for it.) Without further ado, let’s tackle the first tier of horniness:
“Actually, I’m going to become a nun. I am no longer capable of being horny.”
Let’s get these out of the way early so we can move on to the fun outcomes. Even though the odds are incredibly good that we’ll have an enjoyable winner, these are the nightmare scenarios. If any of these four are the winner, I’d like to request that Survivor edit the show to be the story of how more interesting players lost. Doing that would make the majority of Survivor fans happy- those of us that like to be entertained will be glad to see very little of these four, while the people that love edgic will feel really cool that they picked out the winner because they got shown right after a scene of an octopus or some other inane bullshit.
A quick overview of the Four Horseriders of the Meh-pocalypse:
You may remember him from: Screaming his way through confessionals and continuing to exist while all the big threats took each other out in Millennials vs. Gen X.
How he could win again: The jury does a nostalgic callback to season one, and votes with Dr. Sean’s alphabet strategy. Or they just remember that he’s the guy that told them all how cool they were at all those charity events/poker tournaments.
You may remember him from: Winning a season against a cast that was both less talented and less interesting than the Redemption Island cast.
How he could win again: “Instead of a final jury vote, we’ve decided to have the final three go find the million dollar check hidden somewhere on this beach!”
You may remember her from: Survivor Twitter’s love for her after Michele won her season with final tribal votes from fan favorites Debbie, Jason, and Scot. Queen!
How she could win again: Probst really pisses off the jury, and they know the one thing they could do to get back at him.
You may remember him from: Being an incredibly run-of-the-mill player that people hated because there was a rumor that he said things on Facebook one time. But look, I’m on board if we all want to just collectively pretend Angelina won David vs. Goliath.
How he could win again: He’s easily the most talented player in this tier, so he may actually have a legitimate chance. This depresses me. Let’s move on. Fuck the nightmare scenarios. None of these four are winning. Season 40 is going to be great. Or at least good, I guess, because the next tier’s horniness level is:
“Eh, I’m kinda tired. I think I’ll just call it a night.”
It’s the old “I guess you’ll do, because it could be worse”- the level of horniness all my real-life sexual partners have been at. The main reason I’d be excited for one of these three to win is because they aren’t one of the aforementioned Fearsome Foursome of Fuckthisseason. There’s some level of potential with each of these three, but not enough that I see myself rooting for any of them to win. Essentially, this trio is Whoever is Playing Against the Boston Celtics- the team I root for whenever a Celtics win is a possibility; I’m cool with these outcomes if only to prevent “two-time Survivor winner Ben” from being a thing.
You may remember her from: Being the other cop that isn’t Tony on Tony’s seasons. Also for being supportive of Zeke in one of Survivor‘s shittiest moments.
How she could win again: She played a very strong game in Game Changers, building strong social bonds and gaining the respect of the other players. If it happens again, I’m sure we’ll all agree she played a great game and yet have no interest in ever watching the season again.
You may remember her from: The only season that has never had a returnee. Holy shit, it finally happened for Guatemala! It’s been 15 years!
How she could win again: I have no idea. Is she good at the game? Does she still watch the show? Does anyone know anything about her? She’s at least more entertaining than Sarah, but that is a pretty low bar.
You may remember him from: (Hang on, gotta resist some easy jokes…) Being the incredibly likeable guy that won Africa and later got (and beat) cancer.
How he could win again: Remember the part where I said he was likeable? Ethan just seems like someone you forgive pretty quickly if he’s responsible for you getting voted out.
Ok, time to jump up a tier to:
“I’m not currently into it, but I could be into it.”
Look, I know you guys love Sophie. But I watched South Pacific, and honestly she just wasn’t that interesting to me. She was very good at not being Coach, and she impressively won a very crucial challenge against Ozzy. But she was also really young when she won. And in the intervening years, she’s gone on RHAP, and she’s been more interesting there. So maybe a Sophie win would be more fun to watch this time. I just can’t guarantee it.
This tier has potential to be better than they were during their first win, for various reasons. I have them lower in terms of my rooting interests right now, but if they come out and show unexpected flashes of gameplay or personality I could easily jump on the bandwagon.
You may remember him from: Making fun of the legendary Chris Noble’s weak rap game, then having nearly every other post-merge player wave the white flag and let him march nearly unimpeded into a final tribal council that resulted in the first ever tie
How he could win again: He might actually be pretty good at this game, and I admit that I might have him too low just because I disliked his season and all the arguments about how it was edited. Wendell is a pretty charming and likeable guy, and it’s possible he’ll do well against better competition.
You may remember her from: The four or five times they showed her in South Pacific, or the thousands of times our commenters have sung her praises.
How she could win again: Sophie is the type of superfan nerd that definitely figured out during the casting process that this was an all-winners season, and has probably done a ton of research on other players and formed some pregame alliances. She’s smart, and she’s easy to underestimate. Also, there are enough old school players in this cast that they might be down for a Pagonging, which helped Sophie pick up the win last time.
You may remember her from: That time she earned ten times as much as Boston Rob in All-Stars. Or perhaps you’re an Amazing Race fan; she and Rob were on there, I think. And didn’t they show Amber marrying Rob on some kind of TV special? Man, it’s crazy how huge this show used to be.
How she could win again: First of all, I can only assume that she’s on this season because I explicitly gave permission to Jeff Probst to go the Full Romber for an all-winners season. So everyone that wanted to see this, you’re welcome. Secondly, her husband and several of his friends are on the season, so she should have a decent number of jury votes on lock if they make it past the merge. Thirdly, if she’s the one that votes out Rob she’d be an instant legend and Probst would be more conflicted than he’s ever been- his favorite player got voted out but in the biggest of BIG MOVEZ. This is why I think Amber probably has the biggest upside in the entire cast- she’s got a signature move just lined up and waiting for her. I’m excited just thinking about the possibility. See? I told you season 40 is going to be fucking fun.
In fact, it’s time to move on to the next level of horniness:
“Ok, let’s do this.”
Welcome to the Panty Dropper Tier (a tier name that works on multiple levels). It’s at this level that it’s hard to imagine the season being bad; who looks back on an all-winners season and says, “Yeah, but it sucked because Jeremy won?” What fool would say, “I hated watching Natalie and Sandra playfully yelling profanities at other players”? These are all winners that have demonstrated an undeniable level of skill in their wins- a second win only further legitimizes the first (although all of them already beat players that went on to play in other Survivor seasons, so it’s not like their initial wins need much defense).
You may remember him from: Meat shielding, frantically waving at Keith, calling everyone in San Juan del Sur dumb (oh sure, it’s fine when he does it, but I do it and I’m a hater), and oiling himself up before a challenge. In fact, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I will remind you how it looked when Jeremy oiled himself up.
How he could win again: Just as I might be underrating Wendell because I didn’t like his season, maybe I’m overrating Jeremy because I loved his. But Jeremy has the coveted Stephen Fishbach seal of approval, and that carries a lot of weight with me. Regardless, Jeremy is the type of person that has enough going on that other players can almost always see something of themselves in him; Jeremy’s strategic, funny, competitive, a dad (or a DILF, to another subset of players/fans), an athlete, a poker player, and a huge Survivor fan- nearly every other member of this cast can relate to at least one of those things. There are people already predicting Jeremy as the favorite to win, and I can see it.
You may remember her from: Jumping out of the middle of the pack to suddenly annihilate a bunch of dummies in San Juan del Sur in very dramatic fashion. She also used to routinely post a selfie from the exact same angle to her Twitter account every few days- maybe she still does? (I just checked, and it looks like she’s moved on to posting videos of herself working out. Slay those deadlifts, queen!)
How she could win again: This season presents her with a bizarre opportunity to replay the same strategy she used in her last win. There are a ton of big names that will need to be taken out, so Natalie could sit back, vote with the majority, and let others take the lead until late in the game. Then she can make one or two strong plays in the last two episodes and take home a second million. I am very ready to write a blog post after her win entitled, “The Only Way to win Survivor Twice is to be a Loud, Entertaining Woman of Color”.
You may remember him from: That season that we called Survivor: Race Wars that somehow didn’t turn out to be the complete disaster that you would expect from a season that we called Survivor: Race Wars. Also he beat Ozzy and had Parvati call his intelligence sexy. Then he went on to Facebook and made sure that all your private data is provided to anyone that wants to profit from it. Oh, also this:
How he could win again: His first win got a big assist from a super-powered immunity idol, but he played a smart, strategic game. He was also a strong challenge competitor, though he often didn’t have to win individual challenges since challenge beast Ozzy was part of his alliance. He probably doesn’t come into the game with a lot of pregame connections, but he’s someone that could be a strong ally for players in a similar situation that need someone to be the strategic brains behind their alliance (also, as Emma joked on Twitter, he might have those rumored Facebook messages that Nick deleted).
And now it’s time to move on to the next tier. Let me just pause for a minute and take a few deep breaths and try to think some unsexy thoughts, because
“I’m going to need to put a book over this.”
Ok, we’ve (hopefully) had some fun here so far. We’ve talked about various possibilities for this season and dunked on some of the marginal players that hopefully don’t ruin this for us. But seriously, you guys: HOLY FUCKING SHIT. I was on board with Probst saying that they didn’t have enough good winners to pull off an all-winners season. But maybe that was just me talking myself out of it because it seemed so unlikely to happen. Now, though? Look at those faces- look at them! Legends! One of them had a giant wooden statue made of him! I’m fucking giddy right now. I can’t believe this season is going to happen.
You may remember her from: It’s fucking Denise! Do you remember when Survivor sucked for like four straight seasons and even the hardcore fans questioned whether the show could still make an entertaining season, and then Denise rolled in and went to every tribal council and was in a super fun duo with Malcolm and they rolled all the way through to the final four in one of the most entertaining seasons the show has ever had? Because I remember that, and it was fucking great. Coincidentally, Survivor has just had a stretch where four of the past five seasons were bad (and by the time season 40 airs, it could be five out of six), and now Denise is here.
How she could win again: Despite how horribly her tribe performed in pre-merge challenges, she’s not a bad challenge competitor. Denise can bond with all sorts of people, as demonstrated by her ability to be seamlessly absorbed into alliances despite being a fairly easy target if they wanted her gone. She has a way of making you think she’s on your side (the therapist background probably helps with that), and she’s one of the few women to ever overcome the anti-mom bias that we often see in final tribal councils.
You may remember him from: Survivor. Or perhaps Tontine (look it up, kids!). Oh, also this:
How he could win again: He’s Boston Rob. Even the fans that don’t like him will grudgingly admit that he’s very good at it. There have been 600+ people that have played Survivor, and he’s one of the best that has ever played. You can make all the arguments you want about how many times it took him to win, but every time he’s played he’s adapted his strategy. He made it to the final two in All-Stars. He was actually in a strong position in Heroes vs. Villains before Tyson fucked up a vote-split plan. And he fucking dominated Redemption Island so thoroughly that I have no idea if those other players were bad, because Rob had planned for every contingency based on how his previous seasons had played out. Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this cast is loaded with potential allies for Rob- including his poker buddies and HIS FUCKING WIFE.
You may remember her from: Lol, like you could forget Parvati. But just for shits and giggles: She was a ringleader of the most successful women’s alliance ever, she went from early target to a stunning run to the final three in Heroes vs. Villains, and Jeff Probst just thinks she’s flirty.
How she could win again: Honestly, I think she’ll have an incredibly tough time. She’s a massive target; she’s one of the biggest names in a cast that has a lot of them. But if she somehow manages to win, it’s probably because she still has the same skills she’s used in her previous game- absurd levels of charm, impressive challenge prowess, playful mockery (real talk: Parv gets in nearly as many burns as Tyson, but doesn’t get as much credit for it), and some strategic aptitude. Also, she’s a mom now, so she has a new way of relating to some of her fellow players.
Ok everyone, it’s time. Despite my best efforts, I can’t hold back anymore. We’ve finally reached the climax, also known as:
“Welp, my basement is flooded.”
How is this possible? Did Survivor offer excessive payouts to make this happen? More importantly: WHO. FUCKING. CARES. Whatever behind-the-scenes machinations took place to assemble this cast, it was worth it. If any of these people win, it’s immediately a top ten season for me. I don’t even care how we get there. Did a polar bear come out of nowhere and maul 19 other players as Tyson escaped unscathed by tossing slower players towards the polar bear? Great! I will watch 13 episodes of that. Did they give Tony a reusable idol that he could play at every single tribal council? That seems unfair, but I’m on board! Did Sandra sacrifice all the other players to the Giant Sandra Head statue and start her own cult? Inject those 13 episodes into my veins!
Let’s tread down the path toward a dream season of Survivor.
You may remember her from: Getting loud too, what the fuck. Winning twice. Burning Russell’s hat. Clowning the fuck out of JT. Or, you know, this:
How she could win again: Inexplicably, she won’t be the biggest target. Rob and Parvati definitely present larger threats, and Tony and Kim almost definitely do as well. Sandra winning would likely involve keeping some amount of those players around long enough to shield her. I’d prefer to forget Game Changers existed, but what if the pre-merge trip allowed Tony and Sandra to form bonds that make them allies this time? I mean, Game Changers would still suck, but this season wouldn’t!
You may remember him from: Being friends with everyone but Sierra in Tocantins, telling Coach everyone was tired of his shtick in Heroes vs. Villains, and telling Katie where her seat on the jury was after he won a rock draw in Blood vs. Water
How he could win again: He’s playing with Rob and Sandra, two of his allies from Heroes vs. Villains. Kim is here, and she seems like his friend on Twitter. Amber’s non-Mariano rooting interest might be Tyson, right? Also, Tyson just seems like someone that doesn’t give a fuck, and that can be disarming. I could definitely see a Tyson-Rob-Amber-Kim-Sandra-Jeremy alliance happening, and Tyson somehow winning out in the end.
You may remember him from: That time he talked at us after he won Cagayan, while we enjoyed every second. Or that time he continued to talk at us. Or maybe llama noises and spy shacks and a bag of tricks.
How he could win again: I have no idea. Just like Parvati, I don’t see a whole lot of cover for Tony in this season. He’s a huge threat, and everyone knows it. It wouldn’t be remotely surprising- or damage his legacy in any way- to see him be the first boot. But maybe he’s friends with Sandra, and they form an alliance. Or he teams up with Sarah and makes an actual Cops R Us alliance? A Tony win is an insane longshot, which means that if he did manage to win it would probably be a hugely entertaining path to victory.
Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin
You may remember her from: An incredibly crappy season that has inexplicably had a lot of returnees- none of them Kim. Until now. Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin is BACK, y’all!
How she could win again: Easily, like before. She’s Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin! You don’t want to be charmed by her, but you are. Let me show you how she works:
This tweet happened during Edge of Extinction. It happened at a time when it seemed like Rick might win that season. It also happened at a time when Kim very likely knew she was getting cast on an all-winners season. You think Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin was a big Rick fan? I don’t. But you know who probably thinks she is? Rick. Rationally, he probably intuits that she believes he wins and is trying to form a pregame bond for an all-winners season. But he wants to believe that she really likes him. Because that’s the magic of Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin- you want her to like you. And she’s so charming that you can’t tell if she actually likes you or if she’s playing you. It’s probably the latter, but what if- what if!- it’s the former?
Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin is the good angel in cartoons that sits on your shoulder- she’s looking out for your interests! Why would she ever lead you down the wrong path? She’s the counterbalance to Parvati- the cartoon devil on your other shoulder that is definitely leading you down the wrong path (but you’re still gonna hear her the cartoon devil out).
You know what? My own argument just convinced me of something. Let me make a quick change to the top tier.
Before we get to the comments and you give me your own lists, allow me just a few more words. You’ve already been here for 4500+ words, what’s a few more?
The very first episode of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast happened after a months-long running joke between me and Andy: “Save it for the podcast.” We would routinely discuss the players, alliances, and moves after every episode at length (probably way too much length, to be honest- you’ve heard Andy talk, and you see how long this post is). When we’d get way too deep into discussion of the show, the cut-off point was always “Save it for the podcast”. Then we both got microphones, and the running joke became a whole different kind of running joke- like when you ironically say “bro” for long enough and eventually start using it unironically without realizing it.
The first season of the podcast covered Blood vs. Water. I was a big Tyson fan who always assumed he couldn’t win because, frankly, he can be kind of a dick. I found him hilarious, but I recognize that there are people who understandably didn’t like him; he’s an acquired taste. (See what I did there? Dick? Acquired taste? We have fun here.) Anyway, in the very first season I dove into a new level of Survivor fandom, one of my favorite players won. It was a really fun season of both television and fandom, and seasons like that are why I enjoy this show.
And that brings me to a larger point: This site exists because we (and I’m including all of you in that “we”) really like this show. It’s easy to forget that when we’re slogging our way through lackluster seasons- and we’ve had several of late. But we’re all here to discuss, debate, and over-analyze a show we genuinely enjoy. So when I make fun of your Survivor opinions or rooting interests- and I have, and I will- it’s always intended in a good-natured way; this is just a TV show, and we’re here to have fun (even if you’re rooting for Michele for reasons I don’t understand).
There may be a lot of reasons outside of Survivor not to be optimistic. But here- for this specific season of this show- I’m going to encourage you to raise the white flag, like everyone in Redemption Island did as Boston Rob marched all over them. Capitulate to optimism. Don’t assume the worst- believe that this season is going to be amazing. Geek the fuck out. Stan some fucking queens/kings. After twenty years, we’re getting an all-winners season.
It’s going to be fucking awesome.
John is the co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast. He can get loud too, what the fuck!
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia