(TEN YEARS OUT. Has it really been that long? Probst, you haven't aged a day!)
So here's the thing. I really like Survivor, but I don't know anyone else who watches it. People DO watch it, because it's still the #1 rated show on Thursdays, but it's like Two and Half Men for me. That show is the top rated comedy on televisions, but I don't know anybody who contributes to that ranking. I don't have friends who I can run to afterward a particularly exciting episode of Survivor to discuss what happened like I readily do with Lost, or American Idol or Amazing Race or the late great Battlestar Galactica. When suggesting to my GF and my BFF separately that I would be watching Survivor, when they came over to my apartment, they both kind of responded "oh..." not in an eye-roll of disgust sort of way, but just in a "it never occurred to me to watch that" sort of way. And I understand that response. The show's been on for 10 years and they've had 20 seasons, and I certainly haven't watched all of them. I didn't follow early seasons like Australia, Africa and The Amazon. There were also seasons I checked out of along the way like Vanuatu, Fiji and Marquesas. There's also one or two that I'm sure I watched, but honestly can't remember like Panama and Gabon.
But I really enjoyed this past season of Heroes vs. Villains. I am surprised that I liked it so much because the first time they tried All-Stars I found that season painful to watch. This season, however, had a lot of great moments from ballsy strategic moves, horrible mistakes (mostly by the heroes) and some amazing blindsiding during tribal council votes. In honor of this satisfying season, I've listed my top 10 favorite seasons I've watched over the last 10 years.
1. Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites (Winner: Parvati Shallow) This one had an AMAZING run of episodes heading into the finals in which the women somehow came up with the most ludicrous schemes to vote out the boys (Ozzy, Jason, and Erik all got blindsided, but Erik's was the most amazing when he GAVE UP the immunity necklace. Amanda also did a great job of using a hidden immunity idol - before collapsing for the second time at Final Tribal. It was a good mix of new players and old players and very fun.
2. Survivor: Heroes vs Villains (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine) Three Finalists - All Villains, all who had made it to the end before, two who were previous winners. All should've been taken out early, but somehow it didn't happen that way, because they're just too good at playing the game. Russell still doesn't seem to realize people aren't going to vote for you if you act like a hateful ass to them, and even though he's entertaining to watch, it's comforting to know the people playing with him aren't going to reward his awful treatment of them with a million dollar vote. This season also featured the early Russell vs. Boston Rob feud, the dumb-founding moment of Tyson basically voting himself off and in the process altering the whole course of the game, J.T. giving insanely giving his immunity idol to Russell, a villain he knew nothing about, and Parvati successfully handing out two immunity idols to her alliance mates at one Tribal Council and avoiding being voted out herself. I'm glad Sandra won again, because I think she's awesome. She couldn't vote Russell out like she wanted, but she beat him in the end which has to feel even better.
3. Survivor: Borneo (Winner: Richard Hatch) The original had contestants with no preconceived notions about how to play and it was well-cast and fun. They set the tone for how the game would be played for the next 10 years, so tip of the hat to the original players for that. Richard Hatch was the biggest villain ever until Russell came along last year. I never wanted him to win though. It might be the only time that the jury actually respected villainous at a Final Tribal Council vote.
4. Survivor: Palau (Winner: Tom Westman) Stephenie's tribe sucked so hard, she became a tribe of one. It made me laugh so hard that they couldn't win ANYTHING and then she was wandering around in the jungle by herself before finally being allowed to join the others. Also Tom was kind of an awesome overall winner.
5. Survivor: Cook Islands (Winner: Yul Kwon) Tribes were separated by race and then the minorities came together and overthrew the white people. That's essentially what happened. It wouldn't have been possible if Penner didn't realize that his fellow white folks were worthless people, thus switching his voted back to save the minority players when they really needed him. There also a final Tribal Council fire-making tiebreaker that went on forever when Sundra and Becky were exposed as totally inept fire builders. Heeheehee!
6. Survivor: Tocantins (Winner: J.T.) I really enjoyed J.T. in his first season and his friendship with Stephen was fun. The exile alliance never materialized which was too bad, but I did really like this season. J.T. should've stopped at one season, because he made some BAD moves in Heroes vs. Villains.
7. Survivor: Pearl Islands (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine) Rupert annoyed me, but he didn't win, so I can forgive that. Fairplay was horrible, but he too did not win, so I can forget that. The Outcasts twist, didn't bother me so much because they couldn't have gotten back in the game if the two tribes still in play had between the outcasts when it mattered most.
8. Survivor: China (Winner: Todd Herzog) I really liked this season's cast. Courtney was hilarious. Amanda had good ideas and probably should've one but this was our first example of how she chokes at Final Tribal. It would be higher on the list, except I have a hard time remembering a lot about the challenges and the locale.
9. Survivor: Guatemala (Winner: Danni Boatwright) Guatemala was a tough slog. The conditions were more horrendous than the producers anticipated and it made for some unhappy cast members, but I liked that Stephenie made it to the end, even if Underdog Danni was able to win the final vote.
10. Survivor: Thailand (Winner: Brian Heidik) Okay, honestly this season wasn't very good at all, but it DOES have the distinction of a winner who was a soft core porn "star" who performed in "The Virgins of Sherwood Forest." I think it just goes to show that anyone can win Survivor under the right circumstances. Even a male soft core porn star.
Next season they will be going to Nicaragua and I will most likely be watching again. I maintain that they should do one season of Survivor: Frozen Tundra, but then people couldn't be filmed wearing next to nothing. But maybe with global warming, if this show is still around in another 10 years that will no longer be an issue!