As the dust settles on another season of Survivor, and Sandra Diaz-Twine, the 34-year-old military wife cashes her second million dollar cheque as sole survivor, the question everyone is asking is why? Or is it how? Or maybe it should be what? As in ‘’what’s next for TV’s most successful reality TV franchise.
Sure, Jeff Probst previewed Survivor 21 taking place in Nicaragua and hinted at a new twist in the game, but after Sunday night’s finale I have to question the overall integrity of the game.
Regardless of what you think of Russell Hantz, there is no denying that he has played back-to-back games as well as anyone but has nothing to show for it. Russell’s frustration with getting not one jury vote was clearly evident during the results/reunion show and despite his immature antics (bringing JTs note and rubbing it in his face) Russell has clearly exposed a flaw in the game.
Here’s the problem: Nice guys finish last (Tom, Rupert, Colby, Mick (season 19)) and bad guys finish, well, third or close to last, but they don’t win either – not since Richard Hatch did it.
Sure there are exceptions to every rule as some good guys have won (Ethan, Tom, Bob, JT) and some dirty players have persevered (Parvati, Todd, Jenna). But what has become clear is that the “fly under the radar” strategy pays off more often than not (Sandra x2, Yul, Earl, Aras Nathalie…) – you get my point.
Don’t get me wrong, being the ‘wing-man’ to a bad guy is great strategy. Let them make all the tough decisions while protecting you in the game (like Nathalie did last year) and then expose them at the end. Not a bad move. But that tactic didn’t help Parvati win and it should have. Somehow, Sandra got all the votes that I was sure Russell would get and that cost Parvati the game.
In a game which so often reflects life in the real world – judging people by appearance, alliances based on selfish objectives and friendships dissolved over petty differences and money – Survivor needs to shake things up a bit otherwise guys like Russell who play a strong strategic game, Ozzie who may have been the most dominant player in challenges, and Parvati who is the best social player of all time, don’t stand a chance.
So, while I don’t believe we should put the voting power in the hands of the viewing audience, I do believe the voting structure needs to change.
Here’s my idea: Play the game the same way as it is played now. Two tribes, vote out your own, merge, individual game play etc…until you get down to the Top-5. Then, introduce Survivor’s version of a supreme court of judges. Let’s say five past players who have either won the title or changed the way the game is played. For one thing, this would be a great way to keep the legacy of the franchise going – we all love seeing the past participants and would tune in to see Russell debate Richard Hatch on the merits of the game.
The Supreme Court (or in Survivor terms ‘elders’) would be in place to make sure the jury was doing their job of rewarding the right players. They would be given one veto vote where they could “save” or in Survivor terms “rescue” a player from elimination, with the next highest vote getter going home. Think about the strategic elements involved with that set-up.
Then, at the final jury, the ‘elders’ would be given a combined vote. This would be one vote, not worth any more or less than the votes from the jury, however, they would explain their choice prior to the actual jury voting in an attempt to help guide the jury’s decision.
This would not only make for some great TV, but it could actually result in the right player(s) getting some votes.
Here are my suggestions for Survivor Supreme Court members: Richard Hatch, Russell Hantz, Tom Westman, Sandra Diaz-Twine (she won twice) and Ozzy Lusth.
We’ll see what Survivor 21 brings in terms of changes to the game, but one thing is for sure, I know I’ll be watching.
The Scribe Has Spoken…