Survivor Mexico came to an end eight weeks after it started off. As noted in previous articles, the original format was adapted to resemble other hit Mexican reality shows. However, despite that, Survivor Mexico never conquered regular network viewers and especially not fans of the US version. Since the beginning, the show struggled to hook the audience, having fewer rating points on both Sundays and weekdays primetime than its principal competitor.
As far as I’m concerned, the low ratings led to the moving of the finale forward to August. The show speeded up with two elimination days per week on Fridays and Sundays, starting the same week that Survivor Mexico’s replacement, Exatlon: Heroes vs. Titans, was announced for a September 1 premiere.
Multiple controversies surrounded Survivor Mexico during its two months on the air. This ranged from the supposed production help for the viewer’s favorite player, an evacuation owing to Hurricane Isaias, the poisoning of two contestants, and multiple leaks about eliminated players, reaching the point that the order of the final five contestants was known weeks before the finale.
In general, the show’s format did not change from what was stated in the previous articles. The episode duration, the challenges, Tribal Council, and the elimination process stayed the same throughout the season.
Tribe division never really worked out, even though contestants were non-randomly switched by production after the first Tribal, tribes continued to be unbalanced. Until the fourth week, both tribes won one Tribal immunity challenge each, and a kind of joint Tribal Council was set where each tribe nominated two contestants to compete in a four-player elimination challenge. After that, the merge was declared.
This version of Survivor was entirely centered around challenges, where social interaction didn’t matter in order to stay in the game. Camp life was secondary, acting more as filler than important to the narrative. To new Survivor viewers, the camp life segments were considered a boring element of the show.
While the concept of immunity totems could have given a new dynamic to Tribal councils and camp life, these new powers were totally wasted, mainly for their weird rules. For instance, there were only two totems in the game, of which only one was used. The second was carried to the end by the winner, who was never nominated.
In the first article, I assumed that rules were not given to contestants in advance; this was partially confirmed during the season. To explain this, let me bring back two rules described in the past article. On the one hand, the winner of the Immunity necklace had to nominate one player; on the other hand, another player could gift a totem to the nominated one. When these two conditions were met, both the gifter and receiver players thought they were safe. However, it turned out that the winner of the Immunity necklace could then nominate the totem gifter, which is what happened.
True to form, the jury was not a part of this version, thereby removing the main premise of Survivor, which is, voted-out players must vote for a winner. Instead, Survivor Mexico decided the winner through elimination challenges. This turned out to be the season’s best challenge player, Lalo Urbina, a professional climber who was already known for taking part in other network shows. Surprisingly, for a TV show that extended every single scene of the season, the finale just abruptly ended after the final challenge, leaving no time for an award ceremony nor a winning speech.
In summary, Survivor Mexico made so many changes to the original format that it ended up being an utterly different reality show. The overall quality didn’t compare with Survivor US, partly due to the hurried production, scrambled together amidst a pandemic. This made me aware of the importance of quality content for the Survivor US producers, and if that means we have to wait a little longer for Survivor to be filmed to the usual high quality, I am fine with it.