The 40th Season of Survivor

Debby Armstrong

During the global pandemic and subsequent quarantining, many are left with unforeseen downtime and a desire for entertainment. While one could bake, do arts & crafts, complete household chores, or an array of other tasks, one popular activity is binge-watching television shows. One show that continues to satisfy audiences and is an excellent time investment is CBS’s world-renowned “Survivor.”

Since 2000, “Survivor” has stranded 16-20 castaways per season on an island. Viewers watch them battle the elements and each other for 39 days. They typically divide into two, three or four tribes to begin. After competing in reward and immunity challenges, the losers of the latter are sent to the Tribal Council where they vote out a member of their tribe. The castaways usually endure one or more tribe swaps before merging into one tribe, vying for individual immunity at challenges to protect them during Tribal Council. The last few eliminated castaways then serve as the jury and vote for the winner, who is crowned “Sole Survivor” and awarded a million dollar check.

“Survivor” is a dynamic game that has evolved drastically over the past two decades. The show has introduced ways to return to the game including the outcast twist, redemption island, and the edge of extinction. Utilizing hidden immunity idols, legacy advantages, idol nullifiers, “steal a vote,” extra votes, rock drawing, and fire-making (among dozens of others), tribal councils have become unpredictable and fans watch chaos ensue. New seasons introduce new challenges including the island of the idols, ghost island, and exile island, and new themes cause competition between ages, sexes, loved ones, and new vs returning players. Despite being two decades old, the show constantly reinvents itself to create an electric, family-friendly, and overall excellent show.

To celebrate twenty years, “Survivor” released their 40th season entitled “Winners at War.” Filmed before COVID, this season features twenty castaways, who all have won the show in seasons past. For the first time in “Survivor” history, the prize money has been doubled to two million dollars, the largest cash prize in reality television. This season sees the return of the Edge of Extinction, a way for eliminated players to return to the game. Additionally, the game has introduced a new twist, fire tokens, which act as a currency and force players to bequeath their tokens after elimination and sell advantages to gain wealth. Due to the skilled nature of the players, this season has reached a caliber like no other. Challenges, camp life, and tribal councils are stirring, chaotic, unpredictable, amusing, and enjoyable. This season keeps viewers on edge and is unmatched by any other. With quarantine continuing and winter in full steam, the surplus of free time could be allotted to watching this marvelous show.