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  • Writer's pictureBeth

5 Less Obvious Reasons To Watch Survivor

This Wednesday, Survivor returns after a lengthy hiatus. Yes, Survivor is still on.

Sidebar: Did fans of Gunsmoke get this hilarious joke all the time? We’ll never know. Because they’re all dead.

Meanwhile, Guiding Light enters its 103rd year of daytime TV totally unchecked.

Survivor is back, baby! And there’s never been a better time to jump into the jungle, whether you start fresh with Survivor 41 or start at the very beginning in Borneo. The first pop culture greeting cards I designed featured Survivor players, and my love for this CBS stalwart goes deep. I’m in it for more than just the social experiment at its heart or its irresistible competition, though. Here are five under-the-radar reasons to start watching Survivor.

1. Disgusting Food Challenges

While it’s no longer the seasonal staple that it was in the show’s early days, Survivor’s gross food challenge does not disappoint. Contestants have been forced to wolf down everything from balut (which are half-formed bird embryos) to blood smoothies (which are self-explanatory).

Don't worry. This one's just strawberries. OR IS IT??!!

All that grimacing and gagging while castaways try to gulp down live grubs may make you want to look away. Your kids, of course, will love it.

2. Jeff Probst’s Love of Transportation

In almost every season of Survivor, there’s a significant delay between when the castaways cast their votes for a winner, and when those votes are read. It’s up to host Jeff Probst to take that urn full of names from the final tribal council set and bring it to the live season finale, where he will crown the latest Sole Survivor.

Recent years have seen Probst saunter off one set and onto another, no big deal. In Survivor’s old-school seasons, however, Probst liked to mix things up. He’s delivered the final votes via:

· Motorcycle

· Jetski

· The New York City subway

· Skydiving

This is an incomplete list. What’s more, Probst often combines various modes of transport to get from, say, faraway Fiji to midtown Manhattan.

Zeppelin image courtesy Jeff Probst's Survivor Season 41 vision board.

As the show returns from its historic hiatus due to COVID-19, fans have high hopes that Probst will once again return to his road warrior ways, or at least strap on some Rollerblades. Because you know the former host of Rock & Roll Jeopardy has some sick skills on the ‘blades.

3. The Car Curse

While Probst may love wheels, wings and seemingly every other way to get from here to there, the Survivor season 41 cast would do well to stay away from the free cars the show sometimes puts on the line during a late-in-the-season competition. In the history of the show, no one who won the car has ever gone on to win the game.

Even worse, one of those poor bastards won a Pontiac Aztek.

4. Purple Rocks

Votes on Survivor can’t end in ties because duh. The show has tempted contestants to change their votes and break deadlocks in a variety of ways, but none are more diabolical than the purple rock.

Here’s how it works: Your tribe is evenly split between two players to send out of the game. If neither side will budge, you all pick rocks — except for the two players at the center of the vote-out. In other words, if your tribe can’t decide whether to kick out Dan or Dave, Dan and Dave both then become safe, and the rest of y’all each pick a rock. Whoever gets the purple rock is out of the game.

Things don’t often “go to rocks,” and I certainly won’t tell you when they do, but it’s one of the most savage — and savagely entertaining — ways for someone to lose their shot at a million bucks.

5. No Two Seasons Are the Same

Much like Madonna and IHOP, Survivor is constantly reinventing itself. Producers have hidden immunity idols in the jungle, at camp and even at challenges; had all-star players return years later to helm tribes; exiled players to their own island; forced tribes to swap players; introduced an in-game currency... and that’s just the tip of the torch, er, iceberg.

Not all these twists and turns are winners. Some pan out terribly. (We’re looking at you Medallion of Power and final-four fire-making showdown.) For better or for worse, though, Survivor keeps things fresh — no small feat given that we’re on the dawn of Survivor season 41.

I’ve taken some guff over the years for being a huge Survivor fan (almost as much as I’ve taken for using the phrase “taken some guff”). The thing is, everybody to whom I’ve introduced this lion of reality TV competition has become completely obsessed. They binge it straightaway, and I’m delighted but not surprised. Survivor is a complex game with simple rules. To win, you need to outwit, outplay and outlast your competition. That’s it.

Oh, and beware the purple rock.

Are you a recent Survivor convert? Share how you got sucked into the island madness in the comments below!

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