The 40 Most Influential Survivors: Amber Brkich Mariano

Amber Brkich Mariano

Australian Outback, All-Stars, Winners at War

To celebrate the 40th season of Survivor, we’re counting down the 40 Most Influential Survivors to ever play the game. Because Survivor is a game, a tv show, and a rabid fandom, we’re taking all forms of influence into consideration for this list. Go here to view the criteria we are using to determine what qualifies for the list. Note: this list is presented in chronological order and there will be spoilers for various Survivor seasons.

Amber Brkich Mariano is the 6th entry in this series.

Due to the way this list will be ordered, Amber Mariano (née Brkich) may be among the fellow season two folk, but make no mistake, she’s here for season eight. If Elisabeth Hasselbeck chooses Survivor: All Stars over her burgeoning career of being a blonde Republican, Amber Brkich is a footnote in Survivor history, remembered merely for being on the most-watched season of the series.

Though no showmance on Survivor has come close to Rob and Amber, either lacking in staying power outside the game (Ozzy and Amanda), never going beyond flirting inside the game (Jaime Dugan and Erik Huffman), or simply not making it all the way to the end (every other couple after Rob and Amber). In fact, when the ill-fated FigTayls was targeted in MvGX, we wrote an incredibly detailed article as to why the couple was viewed as such a threat.

the cast of Survivor: All-Stars with the "cying jordan" meme photoshopped onto all of their faces except Rob and Amber
Slayed. Your. Faves

One power couple dominated, and now any vaguely flirtatious pair must suffer. But when we really examine the trend, there’s a reason this piece is truly about Amber, and not Rob. Well, she won. (Editor’s note: Fact check… true).

With how the game has evolved, it’s hard to say if Amber would have won All-Stars in 2020, because even all the hurt feelings of the first returnee season only resulted in her beating her future husband by one vote. But she did, and combined with alleged challenge strength and garden-variety sexism, it is almost exclusively the women in these pairs that get voted out first. (A notable exception is Ozzy, but we’re not blessed with a Cirie and Parvati every season. An even more notable exception is Matt Elrod, perhaps because Rob is more likely to be worried about another him than another Amber.)

We saw it with Figgy, we saw it with Chelsea just this past season, and by the looks of it, she barely even interacted with Dean. Heck, Amber basically suffered this fate in season 40 and she wasn’t even on the same tribe as her husband!

That isn’t to say that Amber has only had a negative influence on our expectations for female players. By winning All-Stars, she set a precedent that was solidified by Parvati winning Micronesia. That young girl you’re surprised to see on a returnee season? Watch out, because she might win. The fact that it hasn’t really happened for a third time (yet?) is immaterial. Did you see predictions for Kelley Wentworth to win Cambodia? Andrea to win Caramoan? Even after wins by Jeremy and Sarah in the last all-returnee seasons, you know there are still people (and you may be one of them!) who felt Michele had the best chance to win Winners at War. And that’s because of Amber.

Oh. My. Gaaaawd.

Who else made the list?

You can see each entry on the list by clicking this link.