The 40 Most Influential Survivors: Parvati Shallow

Parvati Shallow

Cook Islands, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains, 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.

Parvati Shallow is the 16th entry in this series.

To write about the influence of Parvati Shallow seems almost unnecessary. Anyone who reads preseason cast bios understands her influence, as just about every young woman (and some outside the demographic) cast on the show in the past 10-15 years has listed her as the player they are most like. It would be in the spirit of the site to just leave it at that.

But I guess I’ll go on. It seems like we all could use something to read these days. In Cook Islands, Parvati was not particularly influential. She was the 23-year-old pretty recruit who was there for the adventure and to flirt (and who originally was meant for The Amazing Race). Yet even then, players like Yul saw she had potential when she tried to sway Ozzy to her side during a hot tub reward – a scene that likely got her cast on Micronesia. That, and Candice choosing medical school over Survivor. She was almost voted out early that season as Jonathan Penner also understood how she could be a threat, despite her position as a more surprising cast member on the Fans vs. Favorites season.


Oddly enough, it’s that initial, less impressive season that gave her the reputation of being a flirt. Though she certainly had a light showmance with James in Micronesia, it was her bonds with women that brought her to the end. And yet, any attractive young woman with charisma will be deemed a Parvati 2.0 (seems like we should have moved beyond 2.0 at this point, no?) because she’ll have the men wrapped around her little finger.

Of course, the flawed focus on her flirting doesn’t mean her girl power energy is forgotten. As we have discussed before, the Black Widow Brigade struck fear in the hearts of male Survivor players, and Parvati is often seen as the face of that. She was the one who really betrayed Ozzy, and that infectious laugh (STAY HOME, EVERYONE) is a lot scarier when it’s directed at you making a bad move. Any time more than two women talk to each other on Survivor, a man worries about a women’s alliance. And that’s largely due to Parvati and Cirie et al making fools of their competition.

Her win in Micronesia also helped solidify the precedent set by Amber in All-Stars: when making your winner pick in a returnee season, choose the young woman you’re surprised to see cast. While Amber was more of the under-the-radar type, Parvati showed that people could genuinely improve upon their first seasons. Rob Cesternino has cited this many times on RHAP. Someone who doesn’t know the game very well for their first season can learn strategy and become great, as long as they have the charisma to win over people. Something Parvati has in spades.

By Heroes vs. Villains, Parvati was no longer a surprise to see on a returnee season. Her third appearance only further grew her legend status and provided more opportunities for her to cast her influence over fans and future players. While her loss indicated that tying yourself to an odious player won’t guarantee victory if there is a more palatable option available. In her most famous move, the double idol play at the Heroes vs. Villains merge, Parvati demonstrated the value of protecting your alliance, not just yourself. In fact, that influence was seen in the very episode where she got voted out in Winners at Wars, as Denise idoled out Queen Sandra.

Ironically, her double idol play would not have been possible if it weren’t for her Black Widow perception. Would the Heroes have been so sure the female Villains had a women’s alliance if Parvati wasn’t there?

What might have been,

Even though she lost in the end, Heroes vs. Villains put Parvati on the Mount Rushmore of Survivor players. The kind of winner you knew couldn’t last on an all-winners season simply because she’s such a big threat. It’s a short list of people who’ve played with the same people they influenced.

And yet people still can’t pronounce her damn name.

Who else made the list?

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