Survive This

The CBS show Survivor is currently in its 21st season, and I continue to be an avid viewer. I think I’ve only missed one or two seasons, and the producers continue to surprise and delight me every year.

One of the things the show does to mix things up is create special parameters by which to divide contestants into two tribes. Sometimes this is social–they pick teams playground-style, or captains pick teams.

Other times, though, the producers use guidelines such as race, gender, or, this season, age. That’s when the dynamics get really interesting.

So for future Survivors, here are my ideas for ways to divide the tribes:

  • Smokers versus Nonsmokers or Smokers versus Overweights: Survivor is better than the Biggest Loser at getting people to lose weight (whether they want to or not). It’s also very hard on people who smoked cigarettes before leaving for the island. Not only would this season make for a healthy experience for those groups, but it would also make for some good dramatic tension.
  • Optimists versus Pessimists: Does outlook affect competitive performance and survival?
  • Introverts versus Extroverts: Extroverts may get more attention in the business world, but would they maintain that advantage while stranded on an island?
  • Rich versus Poor: One issue that slightly plagues Survivor is that contestants are less likely to give a million dollars to someone who already has a million dollars. What if you pitted an entire tribe of millionaires against a tribe of people with very little means?
  • Gay versus Straight: I don’t know if the show could do this without a ton of backlash, but it sure would be interesting.

I’d also love to see a Survivor where they just drop people on an island and see how long they survive before tapping out. I can just imagine the contestants waiting for Jeff Probst to show up…and he never does.

Also, my friend Bryce suggested a season where no one speaks the same language. It would be logistically difficult, but fascinating to watch.

Would Celebrity Survivor work, or would that be the downfall of the show?