Two years ago on a lazy Saturday, I started watching Survivor: Caramoan. It was the latest season added to Hulu, and I hadnít watched the show since Tina Wesson dominated in the Australian Outback. I remembered enjoying it. I had a full day to do whatever I wanted. It made sense to waste it by watching what I later found to be one of the lowest-rated seasons of Survivor.
Once I finished that season, I started on the earliest season available on Hulu. Gideon casually watched several seasons of the show with me, usually while scrolling through Reddit on his phone or playing one of his nerdy strategy games. We got caught up on the show much faster than we should have, right in time for Survivor: Koah Rong.
That was the first new season either of us had watched live. We quickly realized itís how the show is meant to be seen. When you binge-watch a show like Survivor, you can finish it in two to three days if youíre crazy like me. That means 16 hours of character development is boiled down to a very small timeframe, making it difficult to strongly support or identify with the contestants.
Itís much different when you watch it as it airs. Youíre waiting a week between episodes, speculating on which contestant will be voted off next and which ones will make it to the end. A certain attachment develops this way. The story really unfolds, so when your favorite contestant goes home, it feels like a punch to the gut.
Gideon, who hadnít paid much attention at all to the seasons we binge-watched on Hulu, stopped looking at his phone during episodes of Koah Rong. We began to build our Thursday nights around Survivor. Even though the show airs on Wednesday nights, weíd catch up on Thursday when we were both off work and had time to devote to it. Each Thursday, Iíd count the minutes until I could get home to watch the show with Gideon. I think the cat even got into it a little bit.
That season ended, and we waited patiently for the new season to start. Millennials vs. Gen X was even better than Koah Rong, mostly because any season where they go to rocks is exciting. Thatís the thing we love most about the show. Itís truly exciting. You never really know whatís going to happen. Somebody could use a hidden immunity idol and completely change the game. Your favorite contestant could be medically evacuated, or make a strategic mistake that gets them voted off.
At its heart, Survivor is a social experiment. Itís all about what you do and say and how these things can make or break your game. If you play too hard, youíre gone. If you donít play at all, youíre gone. If you eat too much rice or pick the wrong person to go on a reward, youíre gone. Thereís a certain balance you have to strike to stick around, especially if you arenít any good at physical challenges.
Itís fascinating to see characters develop over the course of a season, knowing these are real people with real lives outside of the game. The story you see is theirs, and it will continue after the season ends. Sometimes they return to the game after their original season. This season, every contestant is a previous contestant.
Gideon and I have started a Thursday night watch party of sorts with our friend Kelby. Iíve even gotten our managing editor Scott Loftis to start watching the show. Weíre all rooting for different people, making one of my favorite TV shows even more fun to watch. Iím 100 percent behind Michaela. Kelby is hoping Sandra pulls off a third win, Gideon wants Cirie to get her first win and Scott likes Andrea.
What about you? Are you watching this season? Do you think Michaela is the best, as you should? If youíre the type who emails newspaper columnists, send me your thoughts. There are few things I enjoy more than discussing Survivor.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.