Hello fellow Survivor fans. I hope your offseason turned out uneventful in all the right ways or, maybe, eventful in even better ways. Just not bad. That would stink.
Here we are again, less than a week away from a premiere, this time for season 32. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
Forgetting The Simpsons for a second, it’s basically amazing that a show, a reality television program at that, remains on the air after 16 years. There aren’t many things, beyond friends and family, that have remained in my life during, basically, my entire adulthood. Survivor is an exception.
The show premiered just after my junior year of college and, that summer, my great friend Ryan Dixon and I would get together each week, with pizza and beer, and watch Richard Hatch’s journey to changing television history. I doubt any of these Kaoh Rong folks will have even one percent of the influence of Hatch on television history, but you never know.
So last season, penning a preview turned out to be pretty darn easy. I mean, I saw each player compete before, closely followed the pregame buildup and voting campaigns. Basically, all of us knew what to expect of the castaways, even if we knew each would try to tweak their games accordingly. This time? I got nothing.
Why am I writing this, then? Well, it’s fun, right? And really this could be an exercise in the power of the written word.
Basically, I wrote this preview based only on CBS’ “Meet the cast of Kaoh Rong”feature. That’s it. I didn’t watch any video. I haven’t read any other previews (yet). I haven’t listened to anything. Nothing. I’m basing everything on how the castaways answered some innocuous questions and their pictures. That’s it.
Because this can’t be an exact science (or a science at all), I’m basically going to go tribe by tribe, ranking each member compared to just their fellow tribemates. At the end, I’ll give you my thoughts on those final three, which I’m not predicting to be the actual final three, just the people from each tribe to make it the furthest. Make sense? Well, OK, let’s go. And, oh yeah, keep in mind that I’m making jokes here and since I have no idea about anything concerning these people, it’s all in good humor.
Enough. Let’s do this:
Brains – Chan Loh (from worst to first)
- Peter B. – I’m sorry, man, but can your “claim to fame” be you’re multinational? Aren’t a ton of people multinational? I feel like even I know a bunch. Your pet peeve is bros, but you say you’re most like Pete from Philippines. Can you really be a brain and not understand the irony here? Sorry. Nope. He also thinks he’ll win because, to paraphrase, he’s an ass. This dude will just try too hard to play fast and loose too early. He will suck. No chance of winning.
- Debbie W. – I have to admit, I’ve never seen Pitbulls and Parolees and I have no interest in actually looking it up, but can that person be someone’s inspiration in life? Debbie says that the Survivor she’s most like is, “Coach, Period.” What does that mean exactly? I feel if you’re really like Coach, you’re not self aware enough to know you’re like Coach. Right? Also, can a brain want to be on Survivor to avoid poverty? I mean, if you’re a brain, you figure out how to not be impoverished without going on reality TV, right? Am I being too simple? Debbie’s not winning.
- Joseph D. – He’s a retired FBI agent who loves St. Jude’s and now works as a volunteer journalist of sorts? I like this guy. He seems ready to be on Survivor. He can do a whole lot of stuff and thinks he’s like Tom Westman. He looks like Westman a bit, but I think he’s a bit too old (72) to actually survive for too long. This is the kind of person I tend to end up rooting for, but I just think he’s a bit too old to endure what we’re being told is one of the hardest seasons ever. I hope I’m wrong, but this is a candidate for one of the castaways pulled from the game.
- Aubry B. – She went to Brown. I like Brown. Ok, good. I also want to meet her grandmother. She says her grandma is afraid of chickens because their legs are too close to their butt. Huh? OK. Good stuff. Aubry’s pet peeve is scented things covering bad smells, but if something is really good at being scented, do you know it’s covering a bad smell? She says she’s like Shambo (or sort of said that). That’s an interesting take. I didn’t know what to think of Aubry, but then I read she’s a journalist at heart and she thinks those tools will help. I agree.
- Neal G. – I’m not exactly sure what an ice cream entrepreneur is, but I like it. I mean, are we talking Ben or Jerry? You know what would make me like Neal even better? If he was a frozen custard entrepreneur. You see, the Midwest made an impression on me after five years. But, I have to say, I wish his Uncle Larry was a contestant. You see, his uncle found 55 pounds of cocaine once. What’s that kind of thing stored in? And Uncle Larry has a Popeye muscle that turned out to be a tumor. Get that guy on the show. Now, Neal dislikes hypocritical Bible thumpers, so I like him already. I think Neal seems like the kind of guy who do really well by flying under the radar but always being on people’s good sides.
- Elisabeth M. – What’s not to love about Elisabeth? She seems like an actual brain, likes gambling and basically calls herself a quant-head. I might be in love. A lot of the folks on this tribe look to be labeled a “brain” only because producers wanted to use this theme again. Elisabeth might be a real genius, but not like the great Val Kilmer. Check. She hates people who discriminate and aren’t rational. Check. She cares more about the game than the money. Check. Good at challenges but not too good. She’s probably a perfect person. We’ll see. She might be too attractive to actually win because that might threaten some folks if recent seasons are any indication, but the fact that’s not on the Beauty tribe is going to help. If she can not seem like a threat early on, she could win this thing.
Beauty – Gondol
- Nick M. – So this bro’s claim to fame, according to him, is he’s quite possibly the most egotistical ass we may ever encounter. OK, so his claim to fame doesn’t explicitly say that, but it does say that implicitly. This personal trainer seems like a person everyone will immediately dislike. And we also know what happens on Survivor to folks who look like they ingest more whey protein powder than I do water: They can’t handle the elements. So I think this guy will bother his tribemates as much as the elements will bother him. Can I just end this summary with this guy’s quote about who his hero is: “I didn’t have a hero last time I applied and still don’t. No human is a hero. I’m my own hero because I love the person I am.” Really? Either the person who writes that is an ass or they’re not at all self-aware concerning how anybody would interpret that quote. Either way, you’re not winning Survivor.
- Caleb R. – He’s ex-military so he presumably knows how to survive, work hard and fall in line. Normally, I might put him higher on this list and he also has a ready-made ally in Nick, but while I’ve never seen him on Big Brother, I’ve heard things. It ain’t happening. Sorry.
- Julia S. – Julia hails from Boston, like me, so that immediately makes me want to root for her. But… I just don’t think it’s happening. This 19-year-old student just doesn’t have the life experience to win this game. I’m guessing she might be one of the contestants pulled from the game also. I just don’t see it. Julia, prove me wrong.
- Michele F. – Does every woman who goes on Survivor think she’s most like Parvati? I don’t read the bios usually, but I’m sensing a pattern on this season. And most of these folks, like Michele, were probably like 15 when Parvati won her season. There’s nobody else? I mean, I’d like to be like Parvati too, but I don’t think I’m that good. Anyway, I like Michele because she lists “overpriced alcohol” as a pet peeve. That warms my heart. But I’m not sure how far she can go. There’s just something about her answers that make me think she won’t be able to play the social game well. But that’s just a feeling. She’s a bartender so might surprise me quite a bit since bartenders need to play a good social game every night.
- Tai T. – To me, it looks like Tai survived things a whole lot worse than a month in a jungle. Heck, his bio tells us he ate solely white rice for longer than he’ll be on Survivor. This guy just seems like a Survivor. And he’s the kind of person that will be overlooked until it’s too late. The one issue Tai is going to run into, sadly, is he’s the oldest person on a tribe full of younger folks. And I wonder if Tai can not rock the boat, as a lot of older people put into his situation end up doing. We’ll see. I’m rooting for a guy who started drinking coffee at the age of three. I’m also jealous of that.
- Anna K. – OK, so she’s studied Survivor for a long time, is a pro poker player so she can presumably read people and understand basic game theory, played professional handball (seriously!) and says she can catch fish. This is a good contestant. The only red flag? She calls herself a perfectionist. That’s not a good thing when you’re dealing with folks on an island, especially with some of the folks on this tribe, I bet.
Brawn – To Tang
- Scot P. – Nobody is giving a former NBA star a million. I just don’t see it. As a big basketball fan, I also know Scot Pollard is one of those players who whined about everything that went against him on the court. Can he survive what this game is going to throw at him? I’m not sure. We’ve seen a lot of professional athletes and very few (minus Jeff Kent?) ever looked like they could win this game. I don’t think there is any way Scot changes that.
- Kyle J. – So I might not have any tattoos, but I have nothing against them. Kyle here, well he has many tattoos. If I can decipher his photo well, he’s got the words “blue label” across his chest and a boombox across his abdomen. Um, OK? On one hand, Kyle was in the military and that’s a seemingly good experience for this game. On the other hand, he willingly says he’s like Hantz and also calls himself “loud” and “blunt” and says he loves energy drinks. Sorry. Not happening. People are going to dislike this dude.
- Jennifer L. – Oh my gosh, a woman who doesn’t say she’s like Parvati! Jennifer says she’s like Kim. If she’s right, she’s a walkaway winner. I just don’t think she’s right. She even says she’s like Kim because Kim told it like it was. I’m not sure what season or what Kim Jennifer watched. The subtext in a lot of what she writes makes me think Jennifer isn’t going to be the easiest to get along with, in that she’s going to think she’s always right. I’m just not feeling Jennifer.
- Alecia H. – Alecia had me for almost all of her bio. I liked how she talked about always being positive, about all her life experiences for someone so young (24), about her grandparents and about her love for the greatest thing on earth (pizza). But then she goes and says she’s most like Kass. I mean, she did say she’s always positive right? So odd. I still like Alecia, though. She could do some real damage in this game.
- Darnell H. – Darnell likes to fish and doesn’t like people who talk too much. He talks a lot about going through quite bit and not having the greatest upbringing. Everything he writes makes me think this guy can do really well in this game. I even like how he talks about balancing Boston Rob’s ability to lead and J.T.’s ability to make folks like him. The only potential problem? He wishes he could bring cigarettes. That’s the kind of addiction that’s hard to overcome. I’m rooting for Darnell, but I’m not so sure.
- Cydney G. – So here we have a bodybuilder who went to Penn. That, to me, sounds like quite a great package. She’s either already attended medical school or is currently there. I mean, Cydney is brains and brawn and good looking. As I mentioned before, bodybuilders scare me in this game, but I have a very good feeling about Cydney. I’m probably dead wrong.
So there we go. That’s everyone. I’m liking Elisabeth, Anna and Cydney. Until just now, I didn’t realize I picked three women, but I have to say, looking at this season’s crop, the women just look far better than the men. On the male side, we have a lot of stereotypical Survivor players who just don’t fit the bill of a Boston Rob or Earl or J.T. or Spencer or Jeremy… basically, any of the type of guy who usually wins this game. On the other hand, a handful of women look like really strong competitors. Now, of course, I’m going to be incredibly wrong about some of these players. We’ll see which ones.
Before we go, though, you’re looking for a winner pick. I’m going to choose two, though. I’m taking Elisabeth or Neal. I see the Brains tribe doing the best this season and those two are my favorites from that tribe, so…
OK, enjoy the premiere and I’ll be back next week with my first column applying some mass communication theory to Kaoh Rong. Talk to you then.