Hello TDT readers. Are we ready for another season of our favorite show? This offseason, to me, feels like it took forever. But we’re finally almost there and that means I’m going to do some predicting.
As always, I need to preface this here column with an important, world-shattering statement: I suck at predictions.
Now, that’s easy to say, but the proof’s in the proverbial pudding. I have no idea what that saying means (why is anything in pudding?), but I do have some proof.
Last season, well, it could have been my best. I had Devens and Aurora as likely winners and they both did pretty well. And, of course, last year’s winner doesn’t even count since I refuse to even consider EofE a real season. If we go by the season’s Wikipedia page, apparently some dude named Chris won, and I had him as an unlikely winner. But, if I remember correctly, some dude named Chris was actually voted out third, so my prediction was … really good? Again, though, if that’s my best season in terms of predictions, you know I’m bad.
So to continue refreshing your memory, here’s what I’ve written in past previews:
Let’s be clear, last year, on the surface, it looks like I did well. Heck, I ranked Davie first. Go me. But, you know what else I did? I had Bi third. Yep. And, um, Angelina second. Christian 17th. Seventeenth! Oh, at least I had Nick fifth.
Now, I know, that sounds like I did pretty badly. But, guys, let’s just take a second to remember how badly I usually do.
In Second Chance, I chose Monica, who was voted out fifth and turned mute for a season. For Kaoh Rong, I chose Liz, who annoyed Debbie and lasted nine days. In Millennials vs. Gen X, I chose Mari, who lasted six days and who I honestly don’t remember. And in Game Changers, I tried to hedge my bets and pick a few “likely” winners. Who did I go with? Andrea (voted out 13th), Michaela (voted out 14th) and Hali (voted out 8th). And my main winner pick? That would be poor Malcolm, who lasted a whopping 11 days and was (controversially) voted out fourth.
And, remember, once I also chose JP to win. Such is life.
So, yeah, the proof is the proverbial pudding. Or whatever.
Before I get into some Island of Idols predictions, I’d like to remind you all of a few caveats. First, for this season, we’re told Rob and Sandra can’t win. I still think Probst will find a way for Rob to win, so that’s my main prediction.
However, if prior reports are true and the Rob and Sandra statues aren’t full of idols that they can use when they get back in the game, I have to make predictions that don’t include them. I will say, before I go any further, kudos to CBS and Probst for putting together a cast that feels as diverse as any over the last few years. That always leads to good seasons (except in Survivor: Fiji where it led to a poopshow of a season).
So my main caveat: I make predictions based 100% on the bios released by CBS. I don’t read or watch anything else. At some point after this column is finished, I’ll listen to some RHAP season previews, but I haven’t done that yet. I like to judge people completely on how they answer innocuously dumb questions about their pet peeves. Or simple demographic questions. Both of those tell me all I need to know, obviously.
Without further ado, here are my predictably dumb and wrong predictions for Survivor: Island of Idols. I’ve grouped the castaways into my normal four categories: Likely winners, Possible winners, Unlikely winners, and Impossible winners. I then rank them within each category. Make sense? OK, here we go:
- Molly Byman: Why do I love Molly? Let me count the ways. First, my critical thinking skills tell me she’s a law student at Duke, so while her choice in schools isn’t good, she’s clearly smart. She’s from Boston, which is where everyone good comes from originally. She doesn’t like to be touched unwantedly. She hates slow walkers and talkers. She references Freaks and Geeks (even though she’s only 27). She’s the perfect woman. (Molly's CBS bio | Molly's contestant page)
- Elizabeth Beisel: An Olympic medalist as a swimmer would seemingly be the perfect athlete for Survivor. Hear me out: She’s going to help all her tribes kick ass in many early challenges, but, as we all know, when the game to its individual portion, swimming won’t help since only balancing challenges happen. Oh, and Elizabeth is from Little Rhodey, a place I fondly went to college (although I have no idea where Saunderstown is). Here’s the only thing keeping me from choosing Elizabeth as a winner, though: Something is clearly weird with her. Nobody likes wakeboarding and classical music. Wakeboarders like crap nü metal like Papa Roach. (Elizabeth's CBS bio | Elizabeth's contestant page)
- Tom Laidlaw: Professional athletes tend to get booted too early on Survivor. But I can’t remember any former NHL players competing, and I think the NHL is just obscure enough that folks won’t hold it against Tom. The perseverance and effort it takes to be a professional athlete can only serve Tom well. The only question is whether he gets too annoyed with the youngsters. (Tom's CBS bio | Tom's contestant page)
- Jamal Shipman: I have a soft spot for people living in Providence, so I’ll be rooting for Jamal. I like how he lists as a hobby “losing in fantasy football leagues.” That, to me, shows a good sense of humor. This guy seems well-rounded: athlete, musician, thespian and singer … all in high school. I’m thinking Jamal can get along with most folks. (Jamal's CBS bio | Jamal's contestant page)
- Chelsea Walker: So Chelsea says she’s a “digital content creator.” Maybe I’m old, but that always makes me think she’s using a fancy title when she makes money posting native ads to Instagram. Basically, she’s an influencer? I don’t know. I’d put her lower, but she gushes about Curb Your Enthusiasm several times, and that’s a sure way to my heart. (Chelsea's CBS bio | Chelsea's contestant page)
- Lauren Beck: I really liked Lauren’s bio. While you might sleep on her because she’s downing Hot Cheetos bags while Netflix and Chilling, you should realize that living through that experience is true perseverance. Oh, and she also goes to music festivals. Take it from someone who was a music critic for a decade: Surviving those things without a press pass seems ridiculous daunting to me. Anyway, seriously, I like that Lauren sees connecting with people as the path to winning. I agree. (Lauren's CBS bio | Lauren's contestant page)
- Ronnie Bardah: What’s to say about Ronnie? Well, there’s some good and bad here. I have to root for my fellow Massachusetts native, but poker players bore me at this point; they almost always think they’re too smart and overplay early. Also, beatboxing, dude? Please do that on the island. But if Ronnie can avoid trying too hard – and beatboxing on the island – he seems like he could win. (Ronnie's CBS bio | Ronnie's contestant page)
- Noura Salman: She says “she creates healthy foods.” Does this mean she spends her days in a lab trying to engineer new types of fruits and vegetables? Because, you know, when you make a salad, I don’t think you’re “creating” a healthy food. You’re just making dinner or something. When I cook a grilled chicken breast and make spinach to go with it, am I creating a healthy food? I could go on, but maybe Noura will leverage her ability to create food in the jungle and win Survivor? (Noura's CBS bio | Noura's contestant page)
- Tommy Sheehan: Here’s another person who directly references making connections as the key to win. I like that. He also, based on his bio, might come across as annoyingly upbeat. People are hungry, dude; they might not want to turn that frown upside down. (Tommy's CBS bio | Tommy's contestant page)
- Missy Byrd: Why is Missy this low? It’s simple: I always put everyone who claim to hate annoying people low on my list for two reasons. First, it usually means they’re annoying. But, second and more importantly, Survivor casts annoying people on purpose! You can’t win, Missy. (Missy's CBS bio | Missy's contestant page)
- Karishma Patel: Another personal injury lawyer? You’ll see a different one lower on this list. Karishma seems fine, but nothing about her bio, at all, sticks out to me. I can’t put her higher on the list because of that. (Karishma's CBS bio | Karishma's contestant page)
- Dan Spilo: A really basic bio with nothing of interest to me. That’s why I have him just below Karishma, the other boring bio. (Dan's CBS bio | Dan's contestant page)
- Aaron Meredith: The first word Aaron uses to describe himself? Attractive. OK, here we go. He knows he has to be social because he’s a huge physical threat, according to him. Yep. Seriously, though, I’ve never met anyone from Uncasville, Connecticut, and I lived outside of Uncasville for a year and in Connecticut for eight years. I thought Uncasville was a ridiculously large casino and nothing else. You learn something new every day. (Aaron's CBS bio | Aaron's contestant page)
- Elaine Stott: OK, she says she’s most like Rupert. ’Nuff said. (Elaine's CBS bio | Elaine's contestant page)
- Jack Nichting: Please listen to me, Jack. CrossFit is a cult. Now, because we know Jack is a cult member, we can deduce he’s a follower … they typically don’t do well in Survivor. (Jack's CBS bio | Jack's contestant page)
- Janet Carbin: I don’t want to be ageist, but older women tend not to do well on modern-day Survivor. That’s just how it is. Even if they make it to the end, it doesn’t end well for a variety of typically unfair seasons. Also, though, Janet’s hobby is rowing lifeguard boats but she’s also a lifeguard. Can your job be your hobby? I guess. Joking aside, though, if you’ve read my columns over the years, you know people stereotype on this show and an older woman who admits she’s “aggressive” will not play well to younger folks looking for a mom. (Janet's CBS bio | Janet's contestant page)
- Kellee Kim: Let’s get my biases out of the way. First, I typically choose smart folks as winner picks … and Kellee went to Harvard. But, my bigger bias is one against folks with MBAs. As someone who works at a university, the personality traits of MBA students don’t mesh with what I consider good Survivor skills. That’s it. (Kellee's CBS bio | Kellee's contestant page)
- Dean Kowalski: Where do we start with Dean? So his pet peeve is about roommates leaving dishes in the sink, so we know he lives with folks at 28. Now, that can be excused since he lives in New York. But his entire bio references teaching algebra in weirdly specific ways (His biggest accomplishment? Achieving the highest success rate of all Miami Algebra 1 teachers for students passing the end of year exam), yet he’s now in tech sales? This ain’t happening man. It’s not. (Dean's CBS bio | Dean's contestant page)
- Jason Linden: Initially, my thoughts revolved around personal injury lawyers. Deep down, for some reason, I wanted to put him low for that. But then I kept reading Jason’s bio and, well, I realized this dude can’t win. First, he loves Phish. Strike one. Second, he goes all CAPS on a couple words in his bio. Strike two. He says he has “a deep understanding of human communication.” Strike three. This is an overconfident guy who will not be well liked. (Jason's CBS bio | Jason's contestant page)
- Vince Moua: Let me provide two quotes from Vince’s bio. Now, obviously, these are out of context but they tell you why I think Vince has the worst chance of winning this season of Survivor. OK, first, about who he’s most like: “Vince is Vince. Survivor ain't never had anyone like me before, haha.” And, second, about what we can’t tell from his photo: “In 2015, after years of experiencing erratic and frightening out-of-body panic-attack-like episodes, my grandmother's Shaman Master declared that I was, and am, the next shaman to rise in our family!” That’s all, folks. (Vince's CBS bio | Vince's contestant page)
And with that, we end this season’s preview. As you can tell, I’m going Molly for the win. So … let’s talk some theory after the premiere about why Molly got voted out.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @PatFerrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.