Survivor may have upped its episode length from an hour to 90 minutes in Season 45, but that doesn’t mean we want to spend extra time with this batch of new contestants. Too many of them have been whining about missing home after just a few days in Fiji, resulting in quitting, bad attitudes, and a dull start to the season.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead for the first five episodes of Survivor Season 45.)
This season has already seen two players participate in “engineered quits”—meaning they asked their tribe to vote them out instead of actually dropping out of the game, as a way to leave peacefully—which has really soured the Survivor punch.
The yellow Lulu tribe settled down on their camp on the season’s very first day, and without taking more than 30 seconds to look at their set up, two cast members began whining about wanting to go home. Brandon, a 26-year-old content producer, told Entertainment Weekly Survivor is “his favorite thing in the world” and cried about how happy he was to be on the show. But he started groaning about missing home after the first challenge left him breathless.
This seemed to inspire Hannah, a 33-year-old therapist who also claims Survivor as her favorite show, to think about quitting on only the first day. When Lulu lost the immunity challenge, all eyes were instead on Emily, an immediate villain who had been snarky with everyone, an easy target. And yet Hannah, bemoaning being away from home, announced she had gotten what she wanted out of the excursion and asked her Lulu tribemates to write her name down. They did. She was voted off. Good riddance.
Brandon was axed in Episode 2. Although his elimination was a strategic play by the rest of the dwindling Lulu tribe, I imagine that Brandon’s constant cries about missing home—he and Hannah did this all day on the first day; it seems as though they skipped out on building their camp together and made the rest of their tribe pick up their slack—didn’t help his case. Brandon didn’t seem all that upset as he hugged his tribe members farewell. This was not an engineered exit; still, Brandon’s time in the game felt a bit half-assed.
Listen: This makes sense. There aren’t many of us who would enjoy being stranded on an island without ample amounts of food and water. The bugs alone would be enough to send me running. But that’s why there are a select number of folks who should actually compete on Survivor, and these mega-fan newbies don’t seem to make the cut.
To make matters worse, on this week’s episode, another engineered quit rocked the game. The new Reba tribe—which is now made up of all old Reba folks, minus Drew, and adding Sean from Lulu—planned to blindside Sifu. They decided that Sean, the outsider, would still be safe.
But at the last minute, Sean got nervous that he’d be going home and decided that, if that were the case, he wanted a more graceful exit. Through tears, Sean said he had received what he wanted out of Survivor and was ready to go home and see his husband. Oh, how he missed his husband! (Doesn’t he know that all players have to remain isolated in Ponderosa, even after being voted out?) Sean requested that his new tribemates vote him off instead of Sifu. They did.
This is not the typical “outwit, outplay, and outlast” mentality Survivor viewers have come to expect out of contestants. Players should be going on the show to win a million bucks and win the coveted title of Sole Survivor, not to simply say, “I’ve been on Survivor.” Fans of the series chimed in on social media after last night’s episode, all equally upset by Sean’s lackluster departure.
Even host Jeff Probst weighed in on the matter in an interview with EW: “The reason Sean frustrated me is that I don't think he owned it. Hannah, equally frustrating, but she owned it. She said, ‘Look, I hate everything about Survivor.’ Sean romanticized it. And I am happy that Sean’s in love. Everybody knows I love love. I think it's awesome… I'm just saying that romanticizing it felt to me like maybe a way to soften the idea of being voted out fourth in a game you imagined winning.”
And if Probst is pissed, well, you’ve tarnished your entire Survivor legacy.
This isn’t to say superfans can’t be a good addition to Survivor. Season 26-winner John Cochran, a Harvard geek who had written his thesis on the reality show before joining the ranks of Survivor greats, fought tooth and nail to win after two seasons. Last season, known Survivor lover Carson Garrett came so close to the final three, battling a terrible illness to remain on the show until the final hour.
Garrett, who often shares his opinions on Survivor gameplay online, even chimed in with a more optimistic take on the events of this current season. There was still a bit of excitement that came out of the episode, Garrett argued: While most of the Reba tribe had voted for Sean, with Sean voting for Dee, there was still one vote for Sifu. As the episode rolled to a close, Sifu realized he would have been blindsided and sent home, if not for Sean’s exit—meaning we’re in for a treat next episode when Sifu confronts his tribe.
“Say what you will. But let’s be real, this Survivor episode would have been so much more boring without Sean quitting,” Garrett shared in a post. “The post tribal dynamics are going to be so much more messy now that Sifu realizes they were planning on blindsiding him.”
See, this is why Garrett is the type of Survivor superfan that leaves a lasting legacy. These other ones, however, are starting to weigh the show down. Let’s hope this is the last time we ever hear the foolish phrase “engineered quit.”