Revisiting Survivor Themes: What worked and what didn’t for Survivor Micronesia

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Survivor 41 is reportedly set to be the dawn of a new era. Not only is the show seemingly running with a shorter game on the island, but production is also doing away with season themes.

Since the show’s sixth season, several seasons have used a central theme to help set the stage for the game. With that about to go away, we wanted to take a look back at the many themes that Survivor has used over the years and see what worked, what didn’t, and how it helped shape the franchise.

What worked for Survivor Micronesia and Caramoan?

We’ve previously looked at seasons like All-Stars and Guatemala where previous contestants were brought back into the game. However, Micronesia (and Caramoan after it), took things to the next level with its Fans vs. Favorites theme. For the first time ever, a tribe of ten new “superfan” players would be going up against some of their idols from past seasons.

This was a real murder’s row of top-tier Survivor legends. From Johnny Fairplay to Ozzy Lutsh to Cirie Fields to Parvati Shallow, there really isn’t anyone that doesn’t deserve that “favorite” title. Caramoan‘s returning cast was a little weaker in comparison, but production really went all out with this first season.

And, you can see that almost immediately when Micronesia kicks off. Just pay attention to the adoration in Erik’s eyes when he first sees Ozzy step out onto the beach. That’s a guy meeting one of his heroes. Now, as much Jeff and production would like you to believe, not everyone on the fan’s tribe is as into Survivor as Erik. In fact, we’d be surprised if some of those people had ever watched the show before. However, Erik was the ultimate audience stand-in who got to see what it was like to play the game against some of the legends of Survivor.

As fans, that’s incredible to watch. Being able to place yourself into Erik’s shoes and imagine what that must’ve been like was a ton of fun. We also saw how much that love of the game and it’s players impactd both Micronesia and Caramoan. Obviously, people are going to remember Erik being hoodwinked by Cirie and the Black Widow Brigade, but he’s far from the only player to get snowed by the favorites.

Just look at how dominant both the Black Widow Brigade and Cochran were on their respective seasons. That doesn’t happen without the almost blind devotion of some of the fans. It’s also interesting because it has to make production consider how to build a season with both returners and newbies. If they have too many returners, they can partner up and run the game. Too few, and everyone’s favorites will be picked off immediately. Truly, it doesn’t seem like Survivor has found that sweet spot just yet.

That aside, it’s hard to argue that Micronesia and Caramoan are touchstone seasons for many fans. Micronesia is an all-time season with incredible gameplay and Cochran’s run through Caramoan is something Survivor production clung to for years. While it might not be the best season to ever air, it’s hard to argue that it didn’t affect how Jeff and his crew viewed Survivor for years to come. Other seasons have had a bigger impact, but both Fans vs. Favorites seasons are some of the most impactful seasons we’ve seen since the early days of the show.

Next. Revisiting Survivor Themes: What worked and what didn’t for Survivor: Guatemala. dark