Nothing infuriates me more than, when posting an aritcle about Survivor or talking about it on Twitter, someone inevitably says, "This show is still on?" "People still watch this?" "What year is it anyway? 2003?" Yes, this show is still on and and yes, millions of people still watch it every season, as we are now. Tons of us still enjoy the weekly cast-off, the hidden immunity idols, and all the drama that goes along with it.
But here is the thing about Survivor and it is something I have to acknowledge that the haters get right: some seasons of the show are boring. It's true. All long-time fans know that sometimes, no matter what the producers do, the season ends up being a big old dud. As exciting as last season was – with one tribe being decimated by the other two, the flip-flopping of allegiances, and Blair from The Facts of Life having her way with the game – there are plenty of seasons that don't connect. Remember Survivor: South Pacific, the original season of this season's returning contestants Cochran and Dawn? Other than Cochran's defection in the middle of the game, there was nothing at all memorable about the rest of the season. Usually, the lack of interest has something to do with a combination of characters who don't turn out to be too exciting, alliances that are too strong to buckle and shift, and maybe even something about the predictability of the game itself.
Sadly, this seems like one of those seasons, one of those boring years. Yes, all true Survivor fans wait it out in the hopes that there will be a tribe switch or a merge, or that something totally insane will happen to upset the steady balance of power allowing the game to go from one easy vote out to the next. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the game behaves exactly the way you expect it to. Just look at what happened last night: Malcolm found the hidden immunity idol, just as he did the season before; the Fans lost the immunity challenge and sent home another member of the minority "pretty four" allegiance; and Shamar yelled at everyone for slights, both real and perceived. I could have figured that all out before even tuning in.
Yes, it was a very predictable episode (another problem with Survivor is that in the early rounds a lesser minority or the infirm are voted out of the tribes first, which make it not nearly as much fun to watch as later rounds) and it doesn't bode well for the rest of the season. Things aren't really gelling at the "Favorites" camp, where Philip is walking around spouting insane non-sequetors and Brandon is talking about peeing in the tribe's stock of beans, but no one is actually doing anything. Maybe it's because they haven't had to vote someone out in a few weeks, but the personalities over there don't seem to be clicking in a real way.
The only thing the Fans keep talking about is Shamar and, while his unpredictable behavior makes for great television, creates tension and drama, it annoys the heck out of me. The problem with Shamar is that he's not arguing any valid points. He's just bitching and screaming at everyone around him. He's not someone interestingly annoying like Philip or someone you love to hate like Philip, or an underdog who gets to a point where you might actually root for him like (once again) Philip.
Shamar is just awful. He's mad at everyone, then he wants to quit, then he talks people into letting him stay, and then, even after all the quitting talk, he doesn't leave the game. At tribal council he tells Jeff he doesn't understand why everyone doesn't like him. Well, maybe because he admits to not doing anything at camp and not caring to make contributions and blames everything that's wrong on everyone else, but does nothing to try to fix things and make it better. He is so completely oblivious that he doesn't realize this. (And Sharon isn't any better, comparing him to one of her 22-year-old McDonald's employees which, well, she should realize how that comment is going to play in certain sectors.) This doesn't make you want to tune in, it just makes you want them to vote Shamar out so you can go back to enjoying the show without his bitching.
So, yes, Hope went home after the most boring three-way tie in Survivor history and we're well on our way to one of the show's dreaded lackluster seasons. Let's hope that, somehow, this thing can change course. It sometimes does and that, after all, is why this show is still on and, yes, haters: people do still watch it.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Monty Briton/CBS]