Happy Holidays, Inside Survivor readers!
Another year of Survivor is in the record books, and, on the whole, it was one of the franchise’s best years in recent memory. From a New York Times lauded edition of Australian Survivor to the long-awaited return of Survivor UK to the US giving us 90-minute episodes, Survivor was on top form throughout 2023.
Now, it’s time for you to decide the biggest moments and best characters of the year in the annual Inside Survivor End of Year Awards.
YEAR IN REVIEW
Australian Survivor set the benchmark high when it premiered on January 30, taking on the iconic Heroes vs. Villains theme and delivering arguably the best Aussie edition to date. With a mix of new and returning players, Heroes vs. Villains took things back to Samoa for one of the most intense, rewarding, and highly entertaining seasons in franchise history.
While there were still the usual issues of the lopsided Australian Survivor editing and frustrating non-elimination twists, the characters and gameplay were strong enough to overcome those flaws. George Mladenov drove the season with his ruthless gameplay, rivalry with Simon Mee, and his Spice Girls alliance with Shonee Bowtell and fan-favorite newcomer Liz Parnoz, who ultimately walked away the winner.
Survivor 44 was up next, premiering on March 1, and it had a heavy load to bear coming off the back of Survivor 43, which didn’t exactly set the world alight. The “new era” was still going through growing pains, and Survivor 44 fell victim to some of those modern-day problems: the excessive twists and advantages and idols. This was taken to the extreme with the introduction of the birdcage and fake idols.
However, Survivor 44 succeeded on the strength of its cast, namely the Tika Trio of Yam Yam Arocho, Carolyn Wiger, and Carson Garrett. This underdog and frequently dysfunctional threesome making it all the way to the final four gave viewers a strong narrative hook. While some of the cast fell into background fodder, Yam Yam and Carolyn were two of the most colorful and entertaining characters in years, and the fact both made it to the end, with Yam Yam winning, made for a feel-good ending.
Survivor 45 followed on September 27 and was considered by many to be the finest season of the new era so far. The 90-minute runtime gave the show breathing room, letting the audience get to know each cast member while showing off more camp life and personal moments. The season also put on the brakes in regards to twists/advantages; they were still there but not an overabundance like Survivor 44.
The season perhaps took a bit of a dip early in the merge, especially coming off a particularly captivating pre-merge. The Reba 4’s dominance led to a Pagonging, but the edit did well to make these predictable vote-outs not so obvious. With compelling characters like Emily Flippen, Jake O’Kane, Katurah Topps, and Bruce Perreault, the show was never without its funny and surprising moments. And its season finale, where Dee Valladares scored the win, gave us one of the best winners and endgames of the new era.
Survivor UK returned after 22 years on October 28, and it got off to a rocky start. Let down by a cast mostly unfamiliar with the show, the pre-merge suffered from safe, predictable gameplay, making for a tediously repetitive television. However, once the merge hit, the season found a new lease on life.
It felt like the longer the season went on, the more those playing got into the game, with the post-merge providing big blindsides, surprise flips, and some hilarious moments (the unlocked padlock episode instantly became a comedy classic). If the show had a more dynamic cast, it could have been a classic, but it was mostly carried by Christopher Haul and Tinuke Oyediran. Still, it showed promise for a potential second season.
It’s now time to honor Survivor in 2023. 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, Best Season, and Best International Move.
Over the past couple of days, the Inside Survivor contributors and Patrons nominated their favorite episodes, characters, and moments from Survivor 44 and 45, plus their favorite International characters and moves from Survivor UK and Australian Survivor. There are four nominations in each category, except for Best Character, which includes eight.
Now, you, the Inside Survivor readers, can vote on the overall winners from each category below.
BEST INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER
BEST INTERNATIONAL MOVE