Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.
This is it, ladies and gentlemen! The final post in my Survivor series review. My wild opinions will probably make more sense (although I’m not guaranteeing you’ll agree), if you’ve read my previous posts.
As previously stated, I recently (or more like 6 months ago because 30 seasons is a LOT of television) started watching Survivor. I followed along week by week with Season 30. And I got excited. So I set off with my CBS All-Access membership to catch up on the seasons I missed. Which was basically every season EVER. Don’t let my enthusiast approach to TV fool you; watching 30 seasons was quite the feat.
During my reviews, I kept a running list of my rankings of the seasons as I watched them. Obviously, this list changed and evolved to what I believe is the perfect order.
*Note, this is my personal rankings. There are people who consider Tocantins, Amazon, and Africa as some of the best seasons. I, however, am not one of those people.*
The seasons in the following section are the crème de la crème of Survivor. I’d recommend them to fellow viewers. Mostly, I defined these as “seasons I’d watch again”.
- Season 16: Micronesia
- You can’t convince me that this wasn’t the greatest season of all time. It had A LOT of my favorite contestants (before they started to lose their shine), some of the dumbest Survivor “fans” of all time, a Black Widow brigade, and my favorite winner of all time. So here it shall sit, in the highest throne, probably for a very very long time.
- Season 20: Heroes vs. Villains
- The second all returnee season was even better than the first. In fact, a lot of people think this is the greatest season of all time. It had a pre-merge that was just as entertaining as the post-merge, which is quite the feat. It truly is one of the greats.
- Season 28: Cagayan
- This has to be the golden child of the new seasons of Survivor. It embodied everything you want from a season of this show: a fresh cast full of characters, a spy shack, llama talk, a true underdog to cheer for, and one of the greatest winners of all time!
- Season 15: China
- I watched this season in order. And I adored it. I actually had it number one on my list for a long long time. And then I re-watched China after I finished every season to make sure that it deserved the ranking. It’s still amazing. I moved it down a few spots, but I’d definitely still watch it again! The second best all original cast in the history of the show, if you ask me.
- Season 13: Cook Islands
- Remembered more for it’s racial twist, this season is the birth of some of the most beloved Survivor castaways ever. Also, watching the underdogs go all the way to end and see my favorite win was so satisfying. I have nothing but good things to say about this season.
- Season 27: Blood vs. Water
- I really love this season. I love the new faces even better than the returning ones. For that alone, it was success; not to mention the gameplay and entertainment factor.
- Season 7: Pearl Islands
- I think this is still the most successful of the Survivor themes. The pirate theme fit great with the season. In fact, without the Outcasts Twist, this season would be higher up on the list. If for nothing more than seeing Andrew Savage and Burton Roberts with their shirts off, Osten being the first person to ever quit, and Ms. “I can get loud too” win the million.
- Season 1: Borneo
- The original. The season that started it all. It’s different and wacky and production needed help editing. But I really appreciate this season. Being the first naturally puts in in a category all its own, making it very hard to rank. But the winner is still one of my favorites ever and nobody has made a speech quite like Sue Hawk in the following 29 seasons.
- Season 2: Australian Outback
- I’m sure trying to compete with Season 1 was intimidating, but this season really was a success. The only 42 day season. The most watched of the older seasons. And one of the best original casts of all time! (HELLO JEFF VARNER <3)
- Season 8: All-Stars
- The first all returnee season. It was filled with bitter haters and unneeded drama, but I loved it anyway. How could I not adore the season that really showed the game player that is Rob Mariano and gave me more of Jenna Lewis, Jerri Manthey, and big Tom Buchanan? And as an added bonus, we got to watch the greatest reality TV love story of all time.
- Season 10: Palau
- While is was more of a slower season, I truly looked forward to each and every episode. And it had a great cast and winner. Together, those two things make this a worthy season. Watching one tribe be decimated to only one member, that was just icing on the cake.
- Season 25: Philippines
- I’d recommend this season. It has good returning players, strong new players, and a three tribe format. That’s a recipe for success. And the winner attends EVERY SINGLE tribal council. That’s impressive.
Here is what I consider the humdrum of Survivor. These seasons range from good (#13 – #18) to mediocre (#19 – #22) to almost bad (#23 – #25). They are certainly worth watching, (#23 – #25 not so much). But I wouldn’t watch them more than once. I defined these as the “middle of the road” seasons.
- Season 19: Samoa
- Russel Hantz. I feel like there’s nothing else to be said about this season. The winner is disappointing. But it’s worth it to watch the original Russell Hantz in action.
- Season 11: Guatemala
- It’s not that this season is bad. In fact, the winner has a good game and it’s the first time returning players were mixed with new players. The unfortunate fall of Stephanie La Grossa was just sad to watch. But I enjoyed every episode!
- Season 29: San del Sur
- The fact is that some bad players were in this season for the long haul. And that’s really disappointing. But overall it’s worth watching to see the winner FINALLY get hers. And to laugh at Keith. Because that’s certainly one of the best parts.
- Season 12: Panama
- Terry Dietz. Cirie Fields. That’s two reasons to watch this season. Just trust me on this. Overall, one of the most dysfunctional alliances EVER and an idol with TOO much power, could have lead to a bland season. But watching Cirie go from afraid of leaves to catching fish was great. And seeing the “old guy” win 5 individual immunity challenges was heartwarming.
- Season 6: Amazon
- Despite the season of Rob Cesternino becoming the “greatest player to never win”, the season was never one of my favorites. Yes, there was a guy would was probably an actual sociopath. And yes, two chicks got naked for peanut butter. But I was never really passionate about it. Sorry guys…other people will totally tell you to watch this season.
- Season 18: Tocantins
- And here lies my other conundrum. Casual viewers and hardcore fans alike will tell you that this is a good season. To me, it was just a slightly better Survivor: Africa. A disappointment with a cast that I knew I was supposed to like…and I really didn’t. Even Stephen Fishbach couldn’t help this season, in my opinion.
- Season 30: Worlds Apart
- In this case, it was the people that made this season so bad. Not that they were boring, just that they were genuinely horrible people that it was hard to watch them at all. And really, some of the early boots could have made this season great. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
- Season 3: Africa
- It’s not that the people were that bad (except for Lex Van Den Berghe), even though they weren’t really good either. But the season itself was pretty boring, even with the first ever tribe swap. I think a large part of that was the location, the only time the castaways have ever been landlocked. Still, it’s pretty far at the bottom of my list.
- Season 24: One-World
- I did like this season. But it was really really predictable. And that’s not a good thing when it comes to Survivor. Although, it did have the second ever all-women’s alliance. And a very deserving winner. You could just that coming about 2 episodes in…
- Season 17: Gabon
- The forgettable season. It’s not actually bad. But just try remembering it a few weeks after watching it. I bet you can’t. And that, I think, is it’s big downfall.
- Season 26: Caramoan
- I just didn’t really like the “favorites”. Which is a bad way to go into the season. It really did have potential! (After all, Micronesia is my favorite season). Too bad this was such a dud.
- Season 23: South Pacific
- This was actually just a repeat of Season 22, except that Ozzy didn’t win (you know that’s what the producers were hoping for). Again a less than stellar cast and a season that was just hard to watch.
- Season 22: Redemption Island
- Boston Rob finally won. And that is the only thing that keeps this season out of the very very bad portion of my list.
The seasons below are inferior to anything in Survivor history. I wouldn’t recommend them. I mostly pretend they don’t exist. I defined these seasons as “the worst of the worst”. I’m not even going to talk about them…just leave them here at the bottom.
- Season 4: Marquesas
- Season 14: Fiji
- Season 9: Vanuatu
- Season 5: Thailand
- Season 21: Nicaragua
And last, but not least, my overall Survivor series superlative winners! And oh boy, this was TOUGH. 30 seasons has given me a lot of great contestants and reality TV moments…but I’ve finally selected the winners! (And yes I cheated and divided the categories up into male/female so that I could have two winners per category.) I narrowed it down to the top 3 finalists and then selected the winner!
- Favorite Male Contestant: Rob Mariano, Season 8: All-Stars
- Finalists: James Clement, Rob Mariano, Spencer Bledsoe
- Favorite Female Contestant: Amanda Kimmel, Season 15: China
- Finalists: Cirie Fields, Amanda Kimmel, Ciera Eatin
- Favorite Female Winner: Parvati Shallow, Season 16: Micronesia
- Finalists: Sandra Diaz-Twine, Parvati Shallow, & Kim Spradlin
- Favorite Male Winner: Tony Vlachos, Season 28: Cagayan
- Finalists: Richard Hatch, Yul Kwon, & Tony Valchos
- Cutest Male Contestant: Ozzy Lusth, Season 13: Cook Islands
- Finalists: Malcolm Freberg, Hayden Moss, Ozzy Lusth
- Cutest Female Contestant: Brenda Lowe, Season 26: Caramoan
- Finalists: Parvati Shallow, Amanda Kimmel, Brenda Lowe
- Greatest Villain: Russell Hantz. Season 19: Samoa
- Finalists: Johnny Fairplay, Russel Hantz, Kass McQuillen
- Most OMG Moment: Mike Skupin falls into the fire. Season 2: Australian Outback.
- Best Quote: “It’s a fucking stick!” – Eliza Orlins, Season 16: Micronesia
And that is my farewell to Survivor. (Ha, no, we all know I’m already watching and reviewing Season 31: Cambodia). So let’s call this my hasta luego or see ya later to my favorite reality TV show!
– Do you agree or disagree with my rankings?
– Have I committed any Survivor faux pas?
– Should I stick to reviewing movies? (LOL)