As is typical now, during the Survivor: Game Changers
finale the show revealed its theme and title for the next season. Survivor
, thankfully, will be going back to a cast of complete strangers for season 35. This doesn't mean there isn't a twist involved in the casting. Survivor
season 35 has been subtitled Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
and it is exactly as convoluted and silly it sounds.
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It's not ideal that Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
is moving back to a three tribe format. Game Changers
made it work for a bit but that was with all returning players and less reason to get to know them. Survivor
just doesn't work as well when there are more than two tribes. It might make it easier for the castaways to avoid Tribal Council but that just makes it harder to get know them. It also makes the game far busier than necessary. Keeping track of two tribe dynamics is enough; three is overkill.
This problem with season 35 could be overlooked if there were a clear reason for three tribes. Sadly the tribe separations are about as arbitrary as they ever been for Survivor. In the season preview trailer, embedded below, Jeff Probst explains that the tribes have been divided "based on the positive traits most often associated with them by others." This is moronic and way too vague to make sense.
Survivor has been known to play it pretty loose to casting and tribe separation. Tai was placed on the Beauty tribe in his initial season because of his "inner beauty." In Millennials vs. Gen X, 31-year-old Mari was placed on the Millennial tribe whilst 33-year-old Ken was placed on the Gen X tribe. So it is par for the course for a personal assistant and a bellhop to land on the Hustler tribe.
There is just no clear conflict between all of these hobbled-together groups. The age conflict in Millennials vs. Gen X wasn't exactly original and Probst was entirely too thirsty to make a big deal of generation differences but the reason for the separation was obvious. The same goes for the distasteful season where tribes were separated by race or the boring season where they were separated by blue collar, white collar and no collar workers. The hook for each of these casting gimmicks was obvious. Even if no one really cared which group had the "better" Survivor player it was understandable why the question was being asked. Nothing about season 35's gimmick makes sense. What reason does a lifeguard, a "hero," have for conflict with a surgeon, a "healer?" The answer is none.
Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers is not destined to be a bad season. It's a shame, though, that Survivor keeps feeling the need to try to constantly one-up itself with interesting casting decisions. It hasn't taken away from the gameplay, at least not yet, but it is getting dangerously close. If anything, the ridiculousness of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers should be a sign it is time to reevaluate. Survivor needs to go back to having the seasons renamed by their specific location rather than the weirdest casting decisions the show can dream up.
So what do you think of the new Survivor theme? Do you disagree and actually think it is a great idea for a new season? Can a hero have an inherent problem with a healer or a hustler? Should Survivor pull back on the casting gimmicks?
(Image and video courtesy of CBS)