Just a quick add to the pre-season commentary – Jeff Probst gave an interview to EW.com this week regarding the new season. With three more returning players – Russell Swan, Jonathan Penner and Michael Skupin – we have now had nine returnees (not in FvF, All-Stars or HvV) in show history, with only Steph in Guatemala lacking a Y chromosome. When asked about it, Probst basically implied – and watch the interview for yourselves – that they have used up all of the memorable Survivor women. He did say that Parvati, Cirie, Amanda, etc. have been on the show multiple times already, and they would welcome them back again. His concern is that the women are not able to carry the show’s narrative (paraphrasing here) as well as the men.
Now, I just disagree with that. First of all, in my preview I talked a bit about the options they would have using this season’s premise. Not a lot of women were evacuated or quit for any good reason. The only one was Jenna Morasca – and she would have been perfect for this season, with the only strike against her being her previous win. In addition, there have been scores of women who have either been odd characters, polarizing figures or flat out great players and who would carry a season quite well.
Probst’s comments led me to think about the inevitable answer – an All-Stars men vs. women season. Let’s go to the map and start casting – Season 25 is not eligible as we have no idea who is going to be good or bad here.
Men – Point to Probst – the bench is a bit deeper here. For the list, we add anyone and everyone who fits the categories – odd character, polarizing figure, great players – without concern of multiple appearances or anything else:
Hatch, Rudy, Gervase, Colby, Keith, Rodger, Skupin, Ethan, Lex, Big Tom, Frank, Silas, Paschal, Sean, John, Boston Rob, Brian, Robb, Matthew, Rob C, Roger, Fairplay, Burton, Rupert, Savage, Chris, Chad, Rory, Tom, Ian, Coby, Bobby Jon, Palau James, Rafe, Judd, Gary, Jamie, Aras, Terry, Shane, Yul, Ozzy, Jonathan, Cao Boi, Earl, Yau-Man, Todd, James, Jean Robert, FvF Erik, Bob, Matty, Randy, Marcus, JT, Stephen, Coach, Tyson, Russell, Jaison, Samoa Erik, Swan, Danger Dave, Fabio, Sash, Chase, Marty, Jimmy Johnson, Philip, Mike, Matt, Ralph, Albert, Brandon Hantz, Cochran, Jim, Tarzan, Troyzan, Colton.
If we go with the true Top 10 men – Boston Rob, Fairplay, Hatch, Colby, Rupert, James, Yau, JT, Ozzy, Coach. They all had good finishes – either via physicality or strategy. All have charisma and all are interesting either in likability or in outrageousness. All could carry a season. That would be ideal – however, Rob has already gone four times. Rupert, James, Coach and Ozzy three times each. Colby three times – plus he has his own show. Fairplay is persona non grata now. That leaves Hatch, Yau and JT as potential realistic choices for a gender war all-star, if we don’t want to add more four timers, or a five timer. All three have gone twice already – but Hatch and Yau departed rather early their second time around. Frankly, Hatch could use the cash. JT has a big Russell Hantz love letter to live down too.
The rest all hit at least one of the criteria – and as much as a big fan would love to see some obscure returnees like Danger Dave, Burton, Silas, etc. come back, let’s assume that they wouldn’t go there. I’ll also eliminate anyone else who has gone three times. And some others have issues that would leave them out – Rudy is friggin old now. Heck, he was old 12 years ago. Ethan has been rather ill. Brian had that porno controversy and isn’t all that popular (although he played one of the best games in show history), and Jimmy Johnson wasn’t all that interesting his first time around. And others have issues as well. I see this likely group of 16 to fill the last seven male slots – Matthew, Rob C, Savage, Chris, Ian, Coby, Terry, Shane, Yul, Earl, Todd, Jean Robert, Stephen, Matt, Cochran, Colton.
Only Rob has come back for a second go-around from this group, and he ran head first into another Rob’s mastery. I would like to see excellence rewarded – physical and mental – so filling some of those seven slots are Rob, Terry, Yul, Chris, Stephen, Todd. That leaves one slot for one of the characters – I cut it down to Coby, Shane, Cochran or Colton. I would probably pick Cochran from that group, but I can see the show going with Colton.
Women – same rules apply.
Kelly, Sue, Colleen, Jenna L, Gretchen, Tina, Elisabeth, Amber, Jerri, Alicia, Kim J, Lindsey, Vecepia, Neleh, Kathy, Tammy, Helen, Erin, Shii Ann, Ghandia, Jenna M, Heidi, Christy, Deena, Sandra, Lill, Christa, Twila, Scout, Ami, Julie, Eliza, Katie, Steph, Angie, Danni, Danielle, Cirie, Exile Courtney, Sally, Becky, Parvati, Candice, Cassandra, Stacey, Michelle, China Courtney, Amanda, Peih-Gee, FvF Natalie, Tracy, Susie, Sugar, Corinne, Erinn, Taj, Sierra, Sydney, Samoa Natalie, Shambo, Monica, Holly, Jane, Brenda, Kelly B, RI Natalie, Ashley, Andrea, Sophie, Whitney, Dawn, Kim, Sabrina, Chelsea, Cha, Alicia, Kat.
If we went for the Top 10 best female players – Sandra, Kim, Parvati, Amanda, Steph, Jenna M, Cirie, Kelly, Jerri, Kathy. Again, the bench is deeper with the men, but the top of the ticket women are rather impressive. It is difficult to fill out a top 10 of no-brainers – but there are plenty who either dominated the game, were amusing to watch or were fascinating to watch. Of this group – Parvati, Amanda, Steph, Jerri and Cirie have all gone three times. And I will say this – I don’t think we have used up the interest in Cirie and Parvati on Survivor. Parvati has become fascinating to watch. I thought she was nothing the first time around. Then she was brilliant when she won. What impressed me was that shortly after that season, she came back and almost won again. With Cirie – she arguably dominated two seasons (co-dominated with Parvati in S16) and failed to win. Her win in FvF was denied because of the sudden change to a Final Two that season, presumably due to all of the injury evacs. I would be ok with them returning for a fourth time. But for these purposes – they are out.
Sandra, Kathy and Jenna have all gone twice. I can be certain that Sandra has retired with the record of the only one to go two for two in Survivor wins. Kathy was compelling on a forgotten season (Marquesas), and was a victim of Lex getting played by Rob in All-Stars. Jenna had to leave too soon in All-Stars – her second time barely counts. So, I add to the gender wars – Jenna and Kathy. Kim has to be there. She was perfect last season. And I don’t know what’s up with Kelly – but the last few episodes of the first season was all about Kelly’s betrayal of her alliance, and her clutch immunity streak. The rat deserves another shot – especially if the snake is in the mix.
So, who to join Jenna, Kathy, Kim and Kelly? Elisabeth is clearly out – she’s got a pretty good View gig. The rest of the ladies have an interesting mix of great finishes (and wins), outrageous behavior, incredible good looks (let’s be honest – that matters on Survivor), and few have gone multiple times. For argument sake, and to show Probst there are some good women out there – we’ll go a step further than the men and take out all of whom have played twice, which takes out some of my favorites like Courtney, Eliza and Sugar.
To fill the last six slots, I’ll narrow it down to this group of 18 – Colleen, Vecepia, Christy, Katie, Danni, Peih-Gee, FvF Natalie, Corinne, Samoa Natalie, Shambo, Holly, Brenda, Ashley, Andrea, Sophie, Dawn, Alicia, Kat. Let’s agree to take only two winners – and I take Sophie and Danni. So, that leaves four more slots. Colleen will never come back. So, let’s not hold our breath. I think we go with a nice mix. We have some real villains in here – FvF Natalie, Corinne, Alicia. We have some clowns – Kat, Katie. We have some underrated Survivors who get beaten by the numbers game – Dawn, Peih-Gee. Some gorgeous women – Andrea, Ashley, Brenda, Natalie. We have some characters – Holly, Shambo. And a feel good story – Christy. I can’t take one from each group – so I’ll take Corinne, Kat, Peih-Gee, and Brenda. Brenda over Holly in a squeaker – Brenda had some strategy game, she just got arrogant. Holly finished well, but would have been a quitter if not for Coach Johnson.
So, that gives us this Battle of the Sexes – and I predict right now, this premise is coming soon.
Hatch, Yau-Man, JT, Rob C, Terry, Yul, Chris, Stephen, Todd, Colton
Jenna M, Kathy, Kim, Kelly, Sophie, Danni, Corinne, Kat, Peih-Gee, Brenda
Tell me this is not a compelling season of Survivor? And tell me that this group of women cannot hold their own with that group of men? I know that I’d watch it, no matter which one of the 20 of them winds up the top of the heap.
And for the record- my All-Star All-Star season would rock –
Boston Rob, Fairplay, Hatch, Colby, Rupert, James, Yau, JT, Ozzy, Coach
Sandra, Kim, Parvati, Amanda, Steph, Jenna M, Cirie, Kelly, Jerri, Kathy