Lead up to Survivor Australia 2016, pt 1

Well, here we are, only a few weeks away from the return of Australian Survivor (edit, in the time between writing and publishing this post it was announced that it will air 7:30pm 21 August), or is it Survivor Australia? SurvivOZ? OZvivor? Whatever we’re calling it, the one thing we’re all hoping for, and I’m sure that I speak for everyone on earth, even the Amish, when I say this, is that they


To be honest I can barely recall just what it was that was produced and inflicted upon this world when Australian TV had a go at the world’s greatest game. I think I have repressed most of the memories associated with that particular travesty. What I do remember is that it was very different in four ways.

The Prize-Money

As a fan, I may not be able to relate to or care about some individual contestant motivations, morals or story, but man, who knows what I would do for a million dollars.

I can’t remember exactly how much prize-money was offered back in 2002. $200K, $250K? By all means stop reading and google that shit if you absolutely must know, I’m not. I do remember that it was paltry compared to the traditional $1M that we were familiar with from American Survivor. Of all the things they could have, and did, get so wrong this may seem like a triviality, I tend to think that it did have a significant impact on the success (or in this case failure) of an Australian Survivor series.

Firstly, to my mind, the contestants don’t push themselves as hard. While pure fiscal greed is never something that I would consider as a vital characteristic of an entertaining and memorable Survivor contestant, time and time again, we’ve seen contestants running on empty use that motivation to ‘dig deep’ and pull out some amazing turnarounds, creating memorable events that lead to more interesting individual and group stories. In other words, the prize-money doesn’t make a difference until it does, and when it does, it’s an opportunity missed.

I would argue that a decent prize also gains more fan buy in. As a fan, I may not be able to relate to or care about some individual contestant motivations, morals or story, but man, who knows what I would do for a million dollars.

Will the $500K prize-money do its job and engender in both contestants and fans that dissonance that creates that feeling we all feel when we are about to stab our friends and colleagues in the back for significant financial gain (we’ve all been there right)? We will have to wait and see.

The Contestants


One thing that I believe American Survivor has always done well, is put together a disparate cast of people of different ages, backgrounds and philosophies, and the joy for the fan is in watching these people both learn to get along, whilst being in competition with one another. We all know what happens when you put together a group of hot 20-30 year olds, what you end up with is Big Brother. I for one don’t watch Big Brother, or Survivor for that matter, for the trashy, self-important bitchiness that we seem to get when our reality contestants/competitors/housemates/apprentices are straight out of Mean Girls and Clueless but whiter and somehow less relatable and more loathsome.

Again, I’m not going to google the contestants from the 2002 season, but the overall impression that I have is that they were what both Marilyn Manson and Who magazine (is that still a thing?) might call ‘The Beautiful People’. For the most part I remember them being skinny, fit, models in their twenties and early thirties. I may be wrong, but that’s my recollection. I also seem to recall them being predominately caucasian.

…when I saw this I was just bitter that I did not get picked to compete, and was looking for any superficial reason on which I could project the blame for my bruised ego #thick #ranga #bear…

When the teaser trailers for the upcoming season first aired, it appeared we were in for more of the same. A bunch of too hottie too hunky models being hot and hunky. Their tanned, seawater spray abs and biceps glistening in the Samoan sun. Perhaps when I saw this I was just bitter that I did not get picked to compete, and was looking for any superficial reason on which I could project the blame for my bruised ego #thick #ranga #bear…

Now that I’ve seen a full cast breakdown and we’re getting a better idea of our contestants, this season doesn’t seem (quite) so bad. Still predominantly and misrepresentatively caucasian, nineteen  of the twenty-four contestants are 38 or younger. Other than one 40 year old we only have one person in their early 40s, two 59 year olds and a 62 year old. This is compounded by the fact that it looks like all bar one of the contestants in their 20s and 30s appear to be fit and slim hotties or hunks. Admittedly contestants need to have some level of fitness to be able pass any necessary health check to get a guernsey, but it appears there’s a different standard of physique that applies to contestants younger than 41 and those older. Already we’ve seen the producers play up the potential romance and flirtatious assassin arcs, yawn.

Wodonga is colder than Samoa #significantshrinkage #parody #parodeeznutz

The other thing about the contestants that strikes me is that many of them seem to have extraordinary lives and backgrounds. Models (literally), intelligence experts, ex-professional rugby and cricket players, radio personalities, private investigators, magicians. And while I admit that their stories are interesting to viewers, my wish is that there’s enough of a mix of ordinary boring people like myself for ordinary boring people like myself to relate to.

Let’s hope the contestants give us what we want, a healthy mix of relate-ability and entertainment.


Tune in next week for pt 2 where I’ll discuss the other two ways Australian Survivor can screw up a good thing; the Probst, I mean the host, and the location and gameplay.

I’ll also add my two cents on Michele’s season 32 win to the scrooge silo of coins that already exists on the internet. I may even have figured out how to make this look less a year 7 blogging assignment. 

Until then, I got nothing else for you, head back to camp.

– Russell Feathers

6 thoughts on “Lead up to Survivor Australia 2016, pt 1

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