For this season, regular contributor Jacob Derwin is bringing you a brand new weekly (-ish) feature called Alternative Reality. Each week, Jacob will be interviewing stars of non-Survivor reality-tv shows and getting their thoughts on the season. From Big Brother to King of the Nerds to The Amazing Race and more!
This week Jacob talks to Justin Scheman and Diana Bishop from The Amazing Race.
Justin and Diana were runners-up on the 27th season of The Amazing Race which aired fall 2015. I called them the night after the season premiere of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X to talk about the first episode and what they foresee for the future of the season.
Jacob Derwin: Alright, what’s up? How’s life, guys?
Justin Scheman: Wedding planning, wedding planning, and uh, wedding planning. That’s pretty much what we’re doing right now.
JD: Awesome! Is that coming up in the next few months or what?
JS: 36 days.
Diana Bishop: Thank you. October 28th, we’re getting married in the Dominican Republic.
JD: That’s gonna be so cool.
JD: Just to start it off – how long have you guys been watching Survivor? I know you’re huge Race fans.
JS: For me, I’ve been watching Survivor live since season two. I didn’t get on at season one, but after that I watched it live, and that’s when Amazing Race was there, so I watched Amazing Race live from season one. Haven’t missed an episode.
DB: I remember the first season because I think it premiered after the Super Bowl, did it?
JD: Yeah it did. (Note: it was actually season two, The Australian Outback, that premiered after the Super Bowl.)
DB: I remember watching it because it was like, the craziest new thing, but I didn’t start really getting into it until I met Justin. He likes to watch TV so…
JS: We binge-watched a few seasons. I gotta introduce her to Boston Rob y’know?
JD: Of course!
JD: So, let’s start it off at the top for this season: season 33, Millennials vs. Gen X. Do you like the theme? Think it’s a little kitschy?
DB: I like the theme! I actually fall right between the generations, and I really find myself to be a little bit of both. So, I like to see the differences in the generations and see how I fit in the middle.
JS: Yeah I like the theme. I think it’s a good theme. I mean, you don’t have to have a theme for Survivor to be good, but having a theme adds a little something to it rather than takes away from it. So, there’s obviously people who are gonna be stereotypes, and then there are gonna be people who break the stereotypes, but once you merge, it’s Survivor. It doesn’t matter. Whatever theme they throw in, it’s never gonna ruin a season because once you get to the merge, there is no theme. It’s Survivor.
JD: To the top of the episode, we saw the first dash to get supplies, a few choices to be made… what do you guys think the correct choices were in that first challenge? The choices were live chickens or fishing gear, and pots or a hammer.
DB: Definitely the fishing gear. And the pots and pans.
JS: Fishing gear and pots and pans, you can eat for the rest of the season.
JD: Yeah, I don’t exactly know why they put a hammer up as a choice?
DB: I feel like they should have put a toolkit, not just a hammer. At least a hammer and some nails.
JS: Or a hammer on one side with a hatchet on the other, so like a multi-tool.
DB: But the chickens… his [Taylor’s] reason for the chickens was “because chickens lay eggs.” I mean, chickens may lay one egg a day or one egg every two days.
JS: Even if you get two eggs a day, eventually it’s like half an egg per person? I would have a fish. Fishing gear is the way to go 100%. And anybody who was grabbing fruit is stupid.
JD: Why’s that?
JS: Well because fruit is not protein. If you’re gonna grab something, grab protein, that’s the hardest thing to get on the island. The easiest thing to find in the wild is fruit. Know what you’re gonna get sick of before anything else? Fruit! Don’t grab fruit! And it’s heavy!
JD: (Laughs) Fair enough.
JS: I don’t know who it was, but somebody picked up the clue and almost threw it aside to get, like, fruit that was under it. And somebody came over and grabbed the clue. I’m like: did you really push aside the clue for fruit? (Laughs)
JD: I think it was Michelle? (Note: I was wrong. It was Lucy.) I’m not sure. I know Jessica grabbed the clue afterward.
DB: I liked how they weren’t, like, jumping off a boat and putting it on a raft and taking it to shore. I like how they had to run into the woods and make decisions. I like that it’s a choose-your-own-path almost.
JS: Yeah it’s a little different than it’s been. It was getting kind of dry for a little while.
JD: Not just dropping stuff into the water, yeah?
JS: Yeah, there was some strategy. There’s things high there’s things low-
DB: There’s choices!
JS: And I like the twist with the secret – the legacy idol. It’s pretty cool.
JD: Since we’re talking about it: what do you guys think the legacy advantage is? Jessica opened the clue, and it said that if you have it on Day 36, you’ll have an advantage in the game. It kind of points to having something to do with final tribal, right?
JS: Yeah, I’m sure it’s gonna guarantee you a spot [at final tribal], and it’s gonna be a final three, probably, and the other two are gonna have to be able to work it out.
DB: It’s interesting how it has to be given to someone, somebody’s going to have it.
JS: Too many people have left with the idol, now you can’t leave with the idol. The idol’s gonna get played; they want people to play this idol. There’s no more, “I’m comfortable, I’m not playing it all season.” I like it. It’s intriguing; it’s different.
DB: You have to play smarter.
JS: Any time you can add new strategy to Survivor, you’re doing something right.
JD: My big question is about passing it on. How do you think that’s gonna work? Is Jeff going to snuff out their torch and say, “all right, you have this, who are you giving it to?”
DB: Yeah I was thinking about that. How could you do it privately after somebody gets eliminated and you have to pass it on?
JS: What I’m thinking is you somehow give it to Jeff and tell Jeff who to give it to and maybe he gives it to the person. Yeah, it kind of sucks if you have to do it out in the open. Kind of ruins it (Note: since this interview, Jeff Probst revealed that the Legacy Advantage is willed to someone in private after the holder has been voted out.)
JD: It could have that same effect as these new, unknown advantages that have been popping up these past few seasons: extra votes and vote stealers. They’re these scary hidden things that no one really understands, except this time it’s also hidden from the person who has it.
JS: Nobody knows!
DB: I like “legacy.” That’s such a good word!
JS: It’s a great name.
JD: Let’s talk about the cyclone that came to the island. How do you think production handled the situation?
JS: I would have loved to just watch them suffer, but, coming back and seeing the tree that splattered their shelter; obviously they made the right decision otherwise somebody would have gotten hit by that tree.
DB: And you could tell when Jeff evacuated the one boat, they really waited as long as they could.
JS: Yeah, it was already getting bad.
DB: And you know they didn’t have access to showers. They didn’t have access to good sleeping arrangements.
JD: According to EW, they pretty much put them in separate rooms back at base camp with nothing in them and told them not to talk to each other.
JS: I mean, for an episode one, it was off to a great start. And there’s some interesting characters; you can tell they definitely cast characters this season for sure.
JD: Let’s go through which characters stood out to us on each tribe. Let’s start with Vanua, the Millennials. Who stood out to you?
JS: Yeah, I think it’s hard for Zeke not to stand out between his shirt and his mustache, his flamboyancy, he’s just out there. I love it. He’s like Tom Selleck, like throwback.
DB: Yeah! He’s like a wannabe 80s baby, like real 80s baby.
JS: Like, he just walked out of the set of Super Troopers or something. (Laughs) Yeah, I like him. I think he adds a flavor to the show, which has been fun. The first Justin to ever play the game is there, so the only reason that stands out to me is because I wanted to be the first Justin ever to play Survivor.
JD: Okay… oh yeah, Jay! Completely forgot Justin was his real name until now.
JS: Yeah yeah, Jay is Justin. There are a couple people who stuck out for being annoying. Figgy was annoying to me; Mari was annoying to me.
DB: I was indifferent to them.
JS: I enjoyed Michelle, I thought she was cute.
DB: Oh yeah, Will. Will is such a baby! Oh my goodness, I can’t believe he left high school!
JS: He’s gonna go back to high school and he’s gonna be the man! “You were on Survivor in high school?!” I’d like to see how that dynamic plays out.
JD: How do you guys feel about the Triforce alliance?
DB: I kinda feel like they’re making themselves outcasts.
JS: Yeah and there’s not enough of them to be doing that just yet.
DB: And they’re so unaware that they’re doing it, which is worse.
JS: It’s typical Survivor, the pretty people usually hang out with each other, but it’s usually like, six of them. This group is a small group, and the outcasts are already, like…outcasts always dislike pretty people. So when they have an excuse to get rid of them, now you have numbers and an excuse, I think they’re doomed.
DB: I just think they’re oblivious to how they’re coming across as well.
JS: Figgy’s out because they’ll save the other ones for muscle. If I had to guess. If they want to break them up but they don’t wanna ruin their tribe, they’ll get rid of Figgy and say “all right pretty people, come talk to us freaks and geeks.”
JD: Admittedly, those guys are the bane of my existence, but that’s just me talking as an outcast.
JD: Let’s look at Gen X or Takali. Who stood out to you guys on the Gen X tribe?
DB: I like Ken! I think Ken has a lot of outdoorsy experience because he lived off the grid. I feel like he definitely has the knowledge and it what it takes to survive it.
JS: She likes his smile and his abs too, don’t let her fool you.
JD: I do too, and I’m totally straight! He’s a good-looking dude!
JS & DB: (Laughs)
JD: Who else stood out?
DB: I thought Paul did. I like having, like, big teddy bear-looking men.
JS: I don’t think he’s gonna stick around long, but yeah, he’s likable. I don’t think there was anyone else who I really liked.
DB: He has potential.
JS: He has the potential to be good. CeCe, I’m indifferent really. I mean, David, oh my god. Oh, David. I can’t… I can’t take David. He’s paranoid from day one.
DB: But he might be like an Aubry from last season. Like, Aubry was crying day two/day three that she wanted to go home and then ended up making it to the end. And I really admired that about Aubry and liked last season because of that; I feel like that’s how I would be if I were ever on Survivor. Maybe they’re just trying to show us how nervous and anxious he is because that’s not gonna be him at the end. So, who knows?
JS: Jessica was kind of like… she’s just got this kind of annoying thing going on.
DB: She’s got the bacterial infection in both of her eyes!
JS: It’s so weird. I can’t look at her; I can’t listen to her. Something about her just annoys me.
DB: What, like her eyes gross you out?
JS: I don’t know!
JD: I don’t blame you there! When they first showed her with the eye problem, and they hadn’t explained it yet, I was genuinely taken aback. When they explained it I felt a little more empathetic, but at first, I was like, “what happened?!”
DB: I felt bad because she found the Legacy clue and I’m like, “well, you’re not gonna be sticking around very long with those eyes, girlfriend!”
JS: But yeah. Lucy, Sunday, Rachel, like all three of them already annoy me. I don’t want to listen to them; I don’t want to watch them. But I mean, everybody has potential, it’s one episode. Maybe you don’t like them at first… but unfortunately, there’s not a lot of people that I gravitated to in a positive manner from that tribe.
DB: Besides Ken.
JS: But we’ll see! I mean there’s been a lot of people who have changed our minds over the years. We’ll see how people twist their games.
JD: Like you said, it’s the first episode. We’ll see where we go from here! Do we want to talk about Rachel real quick? To toot my own horn quickly, she was my pick for first boot when we did cast assessments for the site. But it seemed like all the focus was on David the entire episode and then there was a little moment of “and Rachel’s annoying!” Then Rachel went home. What do you guys think happened there?
JS: I think his plea to stay, like “listen, I got off on the wrong foot but I’m gonna be loyal,” and everybody likes that loyal vote especially when they know, like, if he’s the fifth or sixth person, let’s keep him around. Let’s keep him around until fifth or sixth and then we can get rid of him. It’s always good to have that one person in your alliance.
DB: He was trying to gain favor, and I guess, buy back a spot.
JS: I think that’s what ultimately did it. And it was like, you know what? Rachel’s weak anyway. She said she was gonna be strong in certain aspects, and she wasn’t. So, let’s get rid of her and keep the loyal vote.
JD: What about all those votes for CeCe?
DB: I have no idea where that came from.
JS: I didn’t see anything towards CeCe. She was confused as hell too!
DB: I asked Justin if I missed something in the episode. I didn’t remember her having anything with anybody!
JS: Obviously they were worried about the idol. But I don’t know why they picked CeCe. I think she was just like a pawn almost. I think there’s gonna be some fun repercussions.
JD: Let’s talk about the immunity challenge a little bit. What did you think of the shortcut mechanic?
DB: I loved it. I loved the idea of having options that cater to your strength. Like, I’d kind of pictured this in other seasons like Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty.
JS: And the first one obviously paid off because the tribe that took fewer shortcuts won. I like it!
JD: And you gotta love the tinge of irony in the “no participation trophies, no shortcuts” tribe taking all of the shortcuts.
DB: And they were given tarps!
JS: It did play out perfectly.
JD: Overall, are we happy with the premiere? Feeling good about this season?
JS: This is what’s great about Survivor. Right now, I can’t say I love the cast at all, but obviously, you grow to love a cast over the season. But, I love everything else that happened. I love the drama; I love the, not one, but two new twists in the first episodes.
DB: The cyclone and unprecedented evacuation kind of sets you up for something different. It feels different!
JS: And me and Diana: I’m 40, and she’s 30, so we’re kind of separate. I’m on one end and she’s at the other end, pretty much. It’s kind of a good dynamic for us. It’s relatable for the audience.
JD: One more question! I know it’s really early but who’s gonna win the season?
DB: I’m gonna stick with Ken.
JS: I think this season is set up for a woman to win. I am going with Michaela. I think there’s gonna be so much drama around her, she’s gonna stay under the radar long enough to make a solid alliance. And she’s cute enough that she can fit in with the cute boys at the merge, and get some guys on her side, and she’s smart enough to where she can maintain the alliance. Off first impressions, that’s where I’m going.
JD: All right, so Michaela and Ken. And think of it this way: it’s really early, kind of a long shot, but if you’re right – total bragging rights. More than anyone else we talk to!
JS & DB: (Laughs)
JD: Thanks for chatting with me guys! I really do appreciate it.
DB: No problem!
JS: Thank you very much!
Stay tuned for more Alternative Reality posts throughout the season.
Header Photo Credit: CBS.