Survivor premiere

Survivors ready? It’s about that time folks, as the world’s greatest Reality TV competition show is back for its 33rd go-around. Wednesday night, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X begins (gee thanks CBS, for the short title this season…that will be fun typing out over and over!), with a 90-minute Premiere Episode.

I’m here to get you primed and ready for tonight’s episode and for this season as a whole. So whether you are an oldie-but-goodie Gen-Xer (like me!), an entitled Millennial brat (I kid…sorta), or a Baby Boomer still trying to figure out how to work your DVR, there’s truly something for everybody this season on Survivor… so let’s dive right in as to what you can expect not only from Jeff Probst and company, but from this column.


First off, I’m new to RealityTea and damn happy and honored to be on-board covering Survivor exclusively for the site. I thought it appropriate to introduce myself and give you a little background, just so you know who the heck it is you’re reading. I’ve been a mega-fan of Survivor from the very first episode of Season 1 back in 2000 (yes, it’s been that long), and have covered Survivor professionally since Season 20, Heroes vs. Villains. I’ve seen every single episode of every single season. Ever.

I’ve appeared as a guest on Rob Cesternino‘s Rob Has a Podcast and I landed an exclusive interview with Richard Hatch during his tax evasion battle years back. I’ve since interviewed every “who’s who” of Survivor, from Hatch to Sandra Diaz-Twine, to Russell Hantz, to Cochran to Coach.  

Proudest of all, I’m one of the few members of the press included in the Executive Voting Committee for the Survivor Hall of Fame. Yes, for a nerdy little Italian dude who used to wear a Survivor: Marquesas buff around a college campus, I now have an official vote alongside the likes of Jeff Probst, Dalton Ross, Gordon Holmes and other Survivor producers and press members, in naming those that should be considered the best to over play the game.  

I love the game of Survivor, I love everything about it. I’m fanatic about it. To show my dedication, I am writing this article now as my wife prepares to give birth to our very first child, a child that I have jokingly called “Jeff Probst Santilli” throughout the pregnancy. How cool is it that he/she (we haven’t found out the sex) will most likely be a Survivor baby…born on the day of the Premiere Episode of Season 33 of Survivor.

Speaking of that Premiere, there’s a lot to look at ahead of tonight’s big ep. I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know.

So Season 33 is “Millennials vs. Gen-X,” shot in Fiji this past Summer, and much will be made about the generational gap dividing up the initial 20 castaways. 10 Millennials will make up the “Vanua” Tribe (wearing blue buffs) and 10 Gen-Xers will make up the “Takali” Tribe (wearing orange).  


But before we get any further, let’s discuss just what these tribes seem to represent. Millennials are the “me” generation, a group of individuals to the fullest extent of the word “individuals.” They don’t like to be categorized, they like to be thought of as independents. Older generations call them “entitled,” “spoiled,” or “lazy.” Gen Xers were also called the “me” generation in fact, but their individualistic upbringing was a bit different…they are more practical-minded (as opposed to the optimism inherent in the Millennials) and they flat-out rejected the establishment (wherein the Millennials often seek to re-write the rules). Similar, as seen from the point-of-view of earlier generations, but unique in the worlds in which they were raised. Or as Jeff Probst says, Gen-Xers built this current world, and the Millennials just have some different ideas as to how it should be ran.

All of this, of course, was just an excuse to skew younger. This season, in fact, is rare in that the concept was developed before it was cast…usually with Survivor, a cast is built and then a concept is derived based on the make-up of those involved. But even though this season was built backwards, Probst has gone on record in saying that it is in fact one of the better seasons of strategic gameplay, and that everybody this season “came here to play the game.”

Speaking of “playing the game,” Season 33 will shake things up with a new twist involving hidden immunity idols. Jeff Probst told “One of my favorite twists is what we do with the idols,” says Probst. “Somebody had an idea on how to hide idols in nature and it’s brilliant. And it’s really fun because you’re going to get a clue and it’s gonna say, yes, there’s an idol somewhere down here amongst these shells. Good luck. And you’re gonna look out on a beach full of shells and you will not be able to figure out which one has it. How could a shell possibly have an idol? You just gotta work. You gotta think.”

As always, weather and conditions will play a factor in the outcome, and fans will see inclement weather impact the game in the very first episode, when a typhoon leads to a full evacuation of the island only two days into the game. It’s the first time the game was stopped due to weather, or that a tribe (or in this case, both tribes) was evacuated for safety reasons. According to Probst, the reaction from both tribes to the evacuation speaks volumes about the generational gap that headlines this season.

Does anyone dare to predict a winner? I definitely will take part in this fruitless task, but never before a season starts…let’s all take in the Premiere Episode – Wednesday night at 8 pm on CBS – and check back in next week on those.

Then be sure to check back here following the episode, and follow me on Twitter, @tomsantilli, as I will return to post my first official recap/analysis article for RealityTea. Most of the time, you can expect my recap to be posted by midnight EST following each broadcast, but with a baby due any minute here, forgive me if this first one gets up a little later than what will eventually be the norm.

I look forward to a great season and can’t wait to chat about Survivor with you all through the Fall! And if you’re looking for even more Survivor news, check out SurvivorFever, too, one of my favorite Survivor sites.


Photo Credit: CBS