Few TV shows make it to Season 43. For every “60 Minutes” (54 seasons) and “Saturday Night Live” (47 seasons), there are hundreds, if not thousands, of television programs that are canceled or ended before they even make it to double digits. But “Survivor” just keeps going. Now the granddaddy of all reality TV shows is gearing up for its 43rd season (and 22nd year), due out in Fall 2022, with Jeff Probst back as host and executive producer. The most recent season, “Survivor 42,” was so captivating, it proves why the series deserves to reclaim its time in the Emmy spotlight.
In a “Survivor” first, a contestant was medically evacuated from the Season 42 premiere when he failed to disclose certain medical information until the day before shooting began. The castaway in question, Jackson Fox, admitted in a candid Q&A with host Probst that he didn’t mention his lithium usage because he was “trying to just quit it completely because I didn’t need it anymore.” He had been taking the drug for sleep and anxiety, and not because of his recent gender transition.
Jackson’s unceremonious ouster was ripe with emotion and had viewers (as well as ultimate winner Maryanne Oketch) reaching for the tissues. “I get it,” Jackson told Probst through tears. “And I appreciate you talking to me about it. It’s weird that I’m getting emotional about it after 48 hours, [but] it is such an adventure. And I take this with love. I know that I’ll be friends with these people.” He concluded, “It was the best 48 hours I’ve had ever … It was a gift.”
The show then saw not one but two unanimous votes at the next pair of tribal councils, an historic first (and second) for the series. Since the players in question, Zach Wurtenberger and Marya Sherron, both used their shot-in-the-dark dice, they lost their ability to vote at tribal council. And it just so happened the other players all wrote down their names, so no one else received any votes. For a program in its 42nd season to still be making history, it’s no surprise the fans keep coming back year after year.
Speaking of history, did y’all see Episode 3? Due to the extremely rough swells of the ocean, Probst had to stop the immunity challenge at the halfway point and allow the castaways to catch their breaths. He then instructed “Survivor” staffers to aid in the challenge by retrieving the keys so that the players could continue on with the game. For anyone who thinks “Survivor” is rigged or fake, just watch the horror on these folks’ faces as they gasped for air in the angry South Pacific Ocean.
The tribal council in the third episode was yet another first for the series when Probst was forced to reveal the identities of the two players who could not vote, Mike Turner and Chanelle Howell. Mike lost his vote thanks to the “beware advantage” not being activated, while Chanelle lost hers because of the “risk/reward” summit. Thus, only four people in this tribe of six voted. It was a two-to-two tie between Jenny Kim and Lydia Meredith, which resulted in a revote. The votes tied again, but this time by one-to-one. “Where are the votes?!” asked a perplexed Hai.
Probst then asked the two people who couldn’t vote to reveal themselves, and Mike and Chanelle raised their hands. The host explained that since this specific deadlock meant only two people — Hai Giang and Daniel Strunk — could vote after the open discussion, they would still be allowed to consult with Mike and Chanelle. But Hai and Daniel would need to come to a joint decision, or else all four of the non-voted-for players would have to draw rocks. After a long discussion, Daniel agreed to join Hai in voting off Jenny. Whew!
Later in the season, one of the most buzzed-about moments came when Maryanne and Drea Wheeler both used their hidden immunity idols in order to prevent a third Black person from being voted off in a row (following Rocksroy Bailey and Chanelle). At one point, strongman Jonathan Young called Drea “aggressive” and she defended herself by declaring, “Just because I’m saying how I feel at this moment does not mean that you can make that your problem. This is my situation, my issue. I’m addressing it the way I wanted to address it, and the reason I wanted to play was representation, because people like me weren’t represented. It just is a fact. A lot of times minorities get picked off first in this game. And I was hoping that it wouldn’t be the cycle, and it is unfortunately.”
In the Season 42 finale, Maryanne beat runners-up Mike and Romeo Escobar by 7-1-0. She became the second Black woman to prevail after Vecepia Towery in Season 4. The jury was most impressed with Maryanne’s social game and her ability to keep secret a hidden immunity idol, which she never needed to play.
2022 Emmys voting for phase one began June 16 and ends June 27. To date, “Survivor” has won seven Emmy Awards from 63 nominations: four for Probst as Best Reality Host (2008-11), one for Best Cinematography (2010), one for Best Sound Mixing (2001) and one for Special Class Program (2001). It was also nominated four times for Best Competition Program (2003-06). It’s been over a decade since the show last took home an Emmy, so don’t you agree it’s high time for voters to relight the torch on “Survivor”?