A disclaimer before I go on, though. I understand ratings, and how the producers feel they've got the right combination of reality show ingredients to keep fans interested. I get that there must always be 'bad guys' and 'drama' to keep people interested. I know they pick type 'A' personalities to a fault, because they're more outgoing and have more volatile tendencies (both good and bad). Type 'B' people are rarely chosen, and I think they don't chose them on purpose.
But lately, especially the last two seasons, but even before, I think they go way to far in picking weirdly bad people. People that get satisfaction out of hurting others, have no remorse, have mental deficiencies, and are just plain rotten people.
**SPOILERS POSSIBLE BELOW FOR THOSE WHO DON'T WANT TO KNOW WINNERS ETC**
Take NaOnka from season 21. A school teacher for elementary children who had one of the worst attitudes I've ever seen. She acted like a spoiled child through the entire show, had no courtesy, constantly cursed, and behaved in a way that would make even the nicest parents want to spank her butt raw, then put her up for adoption. Her crowning moment was aggressively pushing a tribemate who had a prosthetic leg to the ground and fight her for an immunity clue.
Don't get me wrong; I cuss like a sailor myself, and immunity clues can save your life in that game. But two things really bothered me about that situation. One, I know Survivor has rules about fighting (punching etc.) and I was surprised that not only was nothing done, but nothing was even mentioned. Jeff Probst didn't even joke about it at the reunion. Two, it was still several votes later (I think) before NaOnka was voted out. She is a horrible person, and it blows me away that she's a teacher.
Season 21 overall was awful. The few people who really deserved a shot at winning were voted out too soon, and the remaining cast was so full of morons that, for the first time ever, I almost stop watching. It was disgusting to watch the few people Survivor producers chose out of tens of thousands of applicants play, because it honestly felt that they'd had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get these contestants.
Season 22 was a bit better. A new 'twist', Redemption Island was introduced. Unfortunately, they brought back two people, Boston Rob (his fourth try) and *shudder* Russel Hanz (his third try). Thankfully, they voted out Russel early. I was glad because he was one of the least deserving players. Ever. Unfortunately, everyone on Rob's side seemed to have the social skills of gnat, because he was able to use them to win.
Russel and Rob, in my opinion, are two of the worst people they could have brought back. I will admit that they both are good at using strategy. But both are awful characters. Rob is a hypocritical ass that badmouths people behind their backs and lacks the nuts to own up to it. Russel... well, Russel suffers from what I call 'short man syndrome'. Both are continually rewarded for the way they treat people.
Again, I get the 'villain' aspect of the game. But continuing to bring back these jerks? Really? And now, Russel still may return? And again, I cry out for the thousands upon thousands of people who apply who lose potential spots to re-re-re-returning jerks...stop it!
Two other aspects of the game that I feel are important have been all but omitted. The hunger issue and competition for prizes and immunity. In season 22, once the tribes merged, I think there were only two challenges where prizes were awarded, and one of those involved people dressed up was waiters serving food to the winners in camp. No real trips, no fun toys, and so forth. As far as the hunger went, some players complained of hunger, and once there was an altercation about rice. But they showed no one going out looking for food (well, I don't count Phillip trying to spear tiny crabs). I remember in season 2 when they killed a wild pig! That was really crazy.
The car award has been gone for several seasons. In the latest season, they didn't even do the 'honor past survivors' thing (honestly, I don't miss that one bit).
I miss the hunger issue and people finding food by fishing, discovering fruit, and all that. It was really cool to see people get excited over finding baby pineapples or figs, or catching their first fish, ever. There aren't as many challenges or prizes. The contestants are mysteriously lacking in likable qualities... what's going on?
Anyway, this is a long-overdue rant. I would rather watch reruns of Survivor than some of the newer seasons. I miss seasons like the one shot in Australia. I miss players like Yao-Man, Rupert, and that chemistry teacher who one once, the guy who made the really awesome 'fake' idol.
Sigh... in season 23, they're bringing back yet two more previous players. I can only hope one of them isn't Russel.