In hip-hop music, a hype man supports the rappers with exclamations and interjections and attempts to increase the audience’s excitement. In honor of Survivor’s upcoming Worlds Apart season, I’ll be picking out a few members of the cast and serving as hype man to get you excited about both the player and the game. And now, I present to you the final candidate: Max.
The lights just went down in the club. The lasers are flashing from somewhere, but the exact location is obscured because the smoke machine is going full blast. You can feel the excitement in the crowd. The beat drops. Max Dawson takes the stage, and the club goes wild.
Wait, that sounded too much like I was describing a strip club scene. I must have accidentally inserted Max’s name into the intro I’d written for Jenna Marbles. Let’s try again:
Are you ready, Survivor fans? It’s. About. To go. Down. We’re going to add a hefty dose of beard to this Survivor mix. Max Motherfucking Dawson is about to take the stage, change the game, and drop the fucking mic.
Remember that time I was selling you on Jenn? Jenn took some bullshit college classes, and I loved that about her. But Max ain’t about that life. Max, like my girl Shirin, is Ivy. He’s a Brown man. Max doesn’t take bullshit college classes, he teaches bullshit college classes. Max is a professor, and I’m not making some old man reference to Gilligan’s Island that none of us are old enough to get. Max is (technically was, but don’t get caught up in the details here) a legit circle-your-shitty-grammar-with-a-red-pen professor.
Look at Max in that picture. You’re seeing the beard, you’re looking at that professorial jacket and collared shirt that he definitely owned and frequently wore and Survivor producers definitely didn’t just tell him to wear for the photo shoot. You’re picturing him shopping for his lunch at Whole Foods, making sure all his food was ethically sourced. He grabs a quick soy latte, then he drives his Prius or takes public transportation back to the ivory tower, because he’s all about that professor life. (Side note: The man is a huge kale advocate, so that bit about Whole Foods probably isn’t far off.)
“Ok, I see it now,” you’re thinking, “Max is the new Yau Man? MIT grad, scrawling physics equations on a white board? That’s cool, I liked Yau Man.” But no, you’re not thinking big enough. Max didn’t study some useless formulas that have never gotten mankind anywhere. Max studied- and taught classes on- Survivor. A major university gave him cash money to talk about Survivor. Here’s the entire list of people who have gotten paid to talk about Survivor: Jeff Probst, Parvati, some possibly homophobic guy from Big Brother, and Max. (What about Rob Cesternino, you ask? He gets paid in Nature Boxes.)
If you didn’t take his class, do you realize the opportunity you missed? You could have earned three credit hours and spent thousands of dollars more in tuition for watching a show you already love! Twenty years later you’re warming yourself in your hovel, finally free of your crippling student loan debt, and you’re saying, “Worth it.”
But back to the lecture at hand: Max knows Survivor. Then again, a lot of people think they’re experts on Survivor and have wildly differing opinions of what makes a great season. And a lot of them are wrong. Let’s put Max’s opinions to the test:
To translate, here are Max’s top 5 in order: Philippines, Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Micronesia, Cook Islands. Let’s see how that compares with the rankings of the pre-eminent Survivor authorities. Oh, look at that. He names four of our top five, and also #9 (and Micronesia is only that low because Andy sucks). Let me grade that tweet, professor-style:
Are you hyped for Max yet? Are you buying what I’m selling? If not, go check out the CBS bio for him. You see which former Survivor he’s most like? Jonathan Penner. Name one bad season that had Penner on it. If you just named a season, you’re wrong. There are no bad Penner seasons. Is Penner a winner? No, Penner is Lil Jon. Even when he’s not the cause, good shit happens when Penner is around.
And you don’t think he’ll be a Penner-level narrator? Look at this excerpt from his interview with Gordon Holmes:
Holmes: What are your thoughts on this cast?
Dawson: There are some interesting characters. There’s one guy who I think medical should take a look at. I think he was attacked by a seagull, there are feathers everywhere. It was quite tragic.
Holmes: I see what you did there.
Dawson: There are your requisite mom types, and it’s so funny to think an older woman on “Survivor” is 32. There is a guy who looks like he has a picture of Malcolm in his mirror and he looks at that picture every morning and he says, “You and me, bro. You and me.” He’s copied Malcolm down to the scrunchie.
You’re not signing up for confessionals like that? Shit, that was even better than Jenn calling Vince Dances with Wolves. If you don’t want more of that, why the fuck do you even watch Survivor? For the challenges and the sexy alpha males? If so, you and fellow man’s man Jeff Probst can throw back a beer together and lament how the alpha nerds have taken over your game. How’s that sound, bro?
In his interview, Max notes that one the Survivor moments he talks about most is Bob Dawg getting hammered in the outhouse in Survivor: Panama. The same outhouse, by the way, that Bob had broken in with a massive deuce. I feel like there must be some time I’ve professed a fondness for Bob Dawg in the past. Oh, how about when I cast Bob Dawg for a returnee version of this Worlds Apart concept? If you made Survivor fun to watch, like Bob Dawg did, Max has love for you. And that’s what Max is about to do: make Survivor fun to watch. If you hate Max, what you really hate is fun.
But fuck it, I’ve done enough soft sell. It’s time to take this hype post to the gym and bulk this motherfucker up. Let’s grab some workout clothes. Max has his ready:
That’s right, Max hits the gym in a shirt that only Survivor nerds would understand. Even Zane doesn’t understand that shirt. If he saw that shit in the gym- a gym he clearly wandered into accidentally- he’d say “Hey, that’s my name on your shirt! Got a cigarette I can bum?” Zane forged an alliance with every member of his tribe. Zane also proposed voting himself out. Zane is weird.
Speaking of which, now that he’s been on the show Max will have to deal with the weirdos of the Survivor community- a group that I am definitely not a part of. But wait- or, to put it another way- hold up, bro. You don’t have to worry about Max. Max has already had a run-in with one of the weirdos, and he punked that little troll at his own game. (Full disclosure: He references me in that link. In case you haven’t noticed, I enjoy self-promotion.)
And if you’re not sold on Max yet, I’m beginning to worry that nothing’s going to do it for you. But fuck it, I’ll give it one last tweet-filled onslaught:
Love you, Bay! (Again, I am definitely not one of the weirdos of the Survivor community.)
So now you’re all in, right? I finally broke you down? You want to get on the Max bandwagon now? Too. Fucking. Bad. You’re too late. It’s full. It’s a compact Prius, I’m driving it, Max is riding shotgun looking for the nearest Trader Joe’s, and there’s really no room for an actual human to sit in the back. So just get your ass behind us and follow along for the ride. We’ll be in the HOV lane, speeding at a fuel-efficient pace towards final tribal council.
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