No television show changed the landscape of network TV last decade than Survivor. Before premiering on CBS, reality programming was relegated to cable and PBS, after, ever channel scrambled to jump on the bandwagon with every network grabbing their own flagship reality program, The Biggest Loser on NBC, ABC nabbed The Bachelor, and dudes still continue to sign bad karaoke on Fox. And VH1 might as well chance its name to RealityTV1. (And let us not forget all the colossal failures like Kid Nation, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, Date My Dad and Farmer Takes a Wife.) But none can match the entertainment level of Survivor.
The concept is simple, drop a bunch of strangers in the middle of nowhere and have them vote out each other one by one. And that unfamiliarity of the contestants is the key because the two previous times they brought back familiar faces, All Stars and Fans vs. Favorites (as well as the upcoming Heroes vs. Villains) remain the weakest seasons to date. These contestants are stuck in exotic locations with the sole instructions to Outwit, Outplay, Outlast. And the one person that does that is named the Sole Survivor.
Even as the contestants change every season, there are two constants, host Jeff Probst and a beautiful local. Probst add brevity that other reality hosts fail to obtain (and to my knowledge is still the only host to go on to date one of his contestants). As for the locations, except for the lone hiccup of the dry and drab African National Reserve, the show keeps finding lush and exotic places to set up camp and thanks to the elements have as much effect on the games as the people playing it with torrential downpours and fluctuating temperatures (but not too much fluctuating as there still need enough sun for gratuitous bikini shots).
But it is the casting that has kept Survivor appointment television for an entire decade giving us such characters like the naked gay Richard Hatch, the curmudgeon Rudy Boesch, the country bumpkin Big Tom Buchanan, the overgrown hippy Rupert Boneham, the squirrelly Yau-Man Chan, the bow-tied Bob Crowley, the grave digging James Clement, and the recent biggest Survivor villain ever, Russell Hantz. And let us not forget all the token hot chick the show has given us like Danielle DiLorenzo (who recently lost the award for smallest bikini ever to Samoa winner Natalie White), Amanda Kimmel, Parvati Shallow, Jenna Moracsa, and Elizabeth Filarski who people best know today as The View blow-hard Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
After nineteen seasons, Survivor is a worthy induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame and even landed at number 10 of The 100 Greatest Television Shows of the 00’s. And be on the lookout for the latest season coming February 11 and look out for more post commemorating the twentieth season of the landmark show.