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In Survivor: Winners at War, it doesn't feel like Jeff Probst is shoving a theme down our throat

  • Last week, Survivor showed a 20-year anniversary retrospective highlighting "great" moments that, in retrospect, reveal the fault lines in the show’s format, says Myles McNutt. "Individually, these moments were frustrating, but brought together they are a damning case against how Survivor has muddied its gameplay and sacrificed something in the process; and yet, to the producers, they’re 'great moments.'" The retrospective coming on the heels of the very problematic Season 39 didn't offer much hope for Season 40. Yet the Survivor: Winners at War premiere made you forget Survivor's past problems, says McNutt. "Every one of the show’s All-Stars seasons has a certain thrill attached to it, but the components here are operating on a different level immediately," he says. "I think the central reason is that unlike most seasons, it doesn’t feel like Jeff Probst is shoving a theme down our throat: the winners theme speaks for itself, and there is less of an effort to try to force returning players into either a tribal theme (like Heroes vs. Villains) or an individual theme (the wonky Game Changers). Each person won a different game, for different reasons, and comes into Winners at War with a different set of goals. Not everyone’s built-in narrative is equally interesting (see: Ben, although we’ll get to that later), but there is enough variety that there’s a degree of sensory overload. But because the game mostly eschews traditional introductions, the premiere felt like it had the space to give us the stories we needed, and to reinvest us in a fairly wide variety of players in just a two-hour window."


    TOPICS: Survivor, CBS, Kellee Kim, Richard Hatch, Reality TV