Happy Holidays, Inside Survivor readers!
YEAR IN REVIEW
It’s been another tough year for many as the world continues to deal with the effects of the pandemic, but one positive to take away from 2021 is that Survivor finally got back up and running. After a year of forced production shutdowns, Survivor found a way to return, bringing some much-needed distraction in hard times.
Survivor South Africa was the first English-speaking Survivor franchise to return to our screens, premiering in June. Filmed domestically in the Wild Coast region of the Eastern Cape, Survivor SA created a bubble for cast and crew to allow for a safe production process. The season, titled Immunity Island, introduced a colorful cast of characters and hardcore gameplayers, making for a highly entertaining edition of Survivor.
Australian Survivor followed in July, the show also choosing to film domestically in Cloncurry, Queensland. Adapting the Brains vs. Brawn format previously seen in Survivor US, the sixth season of Aussie Survivor provided shocking moments, controversial twists, big characters, and some electric gameplay.
Finally, Survivor US re-emerged in September, having returned to Fiji earlier in the year to film two new seasons. The time away and the COVID-19 restrictions brought about many changes for the long-running reality show. The titles were dropped, with seasons now known by number only, and the custom 39 days were reduced to 26. Survivor 41 was also the first season to film since CBS introduced its new diversity goals, leading to one of Survivor‘s most diverse casts ever.
All provided entertainment in their own way, but if there was one common thread across the three seasons, it was the overload of advantages and twists. Survivor SA had its Immunity Island concept, offering safety in exchange for votes, with idols and other powers also up for grabs. Australian Survivor, meanwhile, kicked off with the divisive “save six” twist on top of secret idols, Redemption challenges, and magic urns.
Survivor 41 had the most twists of the three, bringing aboard Beware advantages, the Shot in the Dark, the three-way-phrase idols, the Knowledge is Power, the fake merge/turn-back-time hourglass, the Do or Die, and more. What’s interesting, however, is how little most of these twists had an effect on the season. In fact, only one idol was played across the season, and even then, it was misplayed.
Instead, these seasons shined because of the personalities. The chaos from George contrasted with Hayley’s cerebral gameplay made for an exciting Brains vs. Brawn post-merge. Immunity Island was marked by the conflicted heart versus head strategies of Santoni and Chappies. And the relationship between Shan and Deshawn in 41 highlighted how real-world issues can become emotionally entwined in the game.
It was also a year that saw women dominate, with all three seasons crowning a female champion—the first in six seasons for Survivor US. It was Santoni’s well-timed flip-flopping in Survivor SA, combined with an underestimated Nicole emerging in the endgame. Aussie Survivor began with the Brawn women taking charge, while Hayley displayed a Kim Spradlin-level ability to charm and control. While Shan dominated a large portion of Survivor 41 before Erika used her smarts to navigate the endgame to a near landslide victory.
No season was without its flaws, but after a year of no Survivor at all, it felt great to have the show we all love so much back in our lives. There were moments of levity, surprise, and high emotion, admirable gameplay and terrible gameplay, characters we loved and others we loved to hate. Survivor was back, and for that, we can at least be thankful.
It’s now time to honor Survivor in 2021. As usual, most of the categories are Survivor US-focused, as that’s the edition the majority of our readership is interested in. However, there are categories for Best International character and Best Season.
Over the past week, the Inside Survivor contributors and Patrons nominated their favorite episodes, characters, moments from Survivor 41, plus their favorite International characters from Survivor SA and Australian Survivor.
Now, you, the Inside Survivor readers, can vote on the overall winners from each category below.
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BEST INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER
The polls will close on December 31st and the results will be revealed on January 1, 2022.