Hello! We are only a couple weeks away from the premiere of Survivor: Island of the Idols, the 39th season of the powerhouse reality show that has cornered the market on people on an island kicking other people off the island. (Also, if you are hankering for more Survivor content and missed our ode to the Queen of Survivor, then head over and check that out!)
So today, Mary and Todd are bringing you our professional opinions about who will outwit, outlast, and outplay all others when Survivor returns on Wednesday, September 25.
Let’s start with the Lairo Tribe!
Mary: OK, well, my first thought upon seeing he’s a “professional poker player” is that I don’t like him. Professional poker players don’t have a good history with me in terms of Survivor. Also, he’s humble bragging in his bio about traveling. You’re on Survivor, Ronnie, not The Bachelor. You don’t have to impress us with your travel here, or how much time you spend in the gym.
Todd: Ronnie is from Massachusetts, so I am predicting a highly specific regional accent, and the fact that he is a poker player means he could be ripe to be voted out early for “playing too hard.” And yeah, he’s not helped by the legacy of one Jean-Robert Bellande. If he can downplay how much he is thinking ahead and just seem like a normal person who isn’t constantly talking about all 30 countries he’s visited, he could do well.
Todd: I’m wondering if Elizabeth will be a challenge beast and possibly suffer the same fate as “Joey Amazing” or Ozzy in seasons past. She seems nice and is clearly a strong athlete, but if she doesn’t develop a strong social game, none of her athletic prowess will matter. Also, she’s from Rhode Island, so I am predicting another highly specific regional accent. (Survivor casting loves an accent!)
Mary: First of all, you know that I support a practical bathing suit choice. I’m worried that her tribe is going to rely on her for physical challenges too much. Yes, she’s an Olympic medalist, but in a very specific sport. Physical challenges don’t always line up with the most physical players’ skill sets. But if there’s a swimming challenge, she’s gonna rock it.
Mary: Here’s the thing--in her bio Missy has already broken one of my cardinal rules. She didn’t follow directions for the three words to describe herself. She used four. If you can’t follow directions, how are you going to take mentorship from Rob or Sandra?! These are the big questions we need to be asking. Missy seems like she’s trying to be tough in her bio and in her pictures, but I wonder how she’s actually going to act on the island.
Todd: Missy’s answers are all kind of offbeat and clever in ways that could point to someone who is able to think strategically, or someone who is an easy early boot. However, she also cites Kim Spradlin (!) as the survivor she is most like, so hopefully she learned a thing or two from one of the most dominant Survivor winners not named Rob or Sandra. Also, she’s from Georgia but lived in Washington, so I’ll go out on a limb and say she has, at best, a slight accent.
Mary: As someone from Georgia, rude!
Todd: Dean is from Jersey, so he definitely has an accent.
Mary: He was Algebra teacher with a high success rate, so that’s fun. Teaching the youths! He seems to be framing himself as a clear leader, talking about all his leadership experience, which is cool and all, but...people don’t really like leaders on Survivor, do they?
Todd: They do not! Seems like Dean is going to lead himself to Ponderosa by episode 2 or 3. But at least he will be in cool shorts when he goes out early!
Todd: Tom lists Ben as the Survivor player he is most like, which is already giving me PTSD, but he is also a former NHL player, which is fun, and he’s a Canuck which almost certainly means a fun accent. I mean, you don’t cast a Canadian that doesn’t have an accent, right? Still, if the past is any indication, this former puck-pusher is going down early or being taken to the end as a goat.
Mary: I’m getting REAL WEIRD vibes off of his grandmother comment (probably because I study disability to some extent). He says that he admires his grandfather because he “took care” of his grandmother while she was in a wheelchair for most of her life. I mean...they were married? You kind of sign up for helping each other! Also, is it so bad to be in a wheelchair? I’m watching you, Tom.
Mary: That sure is a tribal tattoo, Aaron. Aaron is going to be full of himself, no doubt. I think it’s cool that he had a kettle corn business, and there’s probably more to him than what his bio tells us, but for right now all I see is a huge tacky tribal tattoo and an arrogant dude. I’m already irritated by him.
Todd: One of the 3 words he uses to describe himself is “attractive,” so look for this guy to irritate basically every woman on the tribe, try to start an all-male alliance that flames out, and then blame everyone else in his post-vote confessional. As a fun sidenote: he is also from Rhode Island, but I am guessing he does not have an accent.
Mary: He’s my favorite, just based on his bio. He did follow the instructions, but he found a loophole by using hyphenated words. That’s just smart! His smile is cracking me up, he helps his mom, and he seems aware of his place as one of the few POC on Survivor--and seems to want to change people’s perceptions. His pet peeves are also BOMB. He is the woke bae of the tribe.
Todd: I want good things for Vince. I also want him to have to smile a lot more, preferably while holding a large check with $1 million on it. I also want him to have a stereotypical surfer dude accent. Sometimes, it’s the little things. (But seriously, Vince seems great!)
Todd: Karishma seems great! Maybe she can share the check with Vince? Look, the season hasn’t even started yet I can tell that this tribe is going to be a lot of fun. If she can get past the first few votes where women of color are traditionally booted, I think she could go far, especially if she is able to use her lawyer skills to sway the jury. Also, she’s from Philly but has moved around a lot, so I am putting her down as having no discernible accent.
Mary: Karishma is serving us some big looks in her cast photos and I’m here for it. Like Vince, she’s giving props to former POC Survivor contestants, and I find myself having some hope that the show isn’t going to be sooooo white this season. Karishma also seems really smart. Honestly, I’d love to see her as the Bachelorette if we want a cross network promo opportunity.
Todd: Look, Elaine definitely has an accent. She’s from Kentucky, a state that is somehow more Southern than Tennessee despite being technically above it, and she wore a trucker hat for her cast photo. (Although seriously, that hat is giving me strong Boston Rob vibes.) I predict Elaine is a workhorse around camp who might get on everyone’s nerves if she isn’t able to hide her disdain for those who don’t help out.
Mary: While I’m technically on board with a lot of what Elaine is saying, I’m suspicious at the same time. I’m sure she is kind, but I feel weird about someone who proclaims that a lot. She seems like she doesn’t take any crap, though, which I’m into. I’m curious to see what her dynamic will be with everyone, because really, women do use their bodies a lot to get ahead on Survivor. Some contestants have stayed around way longer than they should have just because they were perceived as weak or cute.
Mary: I guess I’m not going to understand anything about her because I haven’t seen Curb Your Enthusiasm. Next.
Todd: Is she auditioning for SNL? This is a weird bio. However, she is clearly a superfan, which all seasons of Survivor are now required to be filled with, and she is from New Jersey as well, which surely means another highly specific regional accent!
Mary: Lauren seems like a person I’d want to be friends with (I too like hot Cheetos and true crime), but I’m not sure how it’s going to play out on the island. I do seriously love that one of her qualifiers for why her stepdad is so great is that he gets her Starbucks. That sounds bratty, but I think it’s cute.
Todd: She quotes Sandra “The Queen Stays Queen” Diaz-Twine in her bio and overall seems pretty confident in her ability to win. That is a necessary ingredient for any Survivor contestant, but I feel weirdly like she might be able to pull it off? Surely, this “Oprah in a gangsta suit” can go all the way right? Who doesn’t love Oprah? (Accent Watch: Probably no accent to speak of.)
Mary: I can tell you who doesn’t like Oprah. Emily!
Mary: Really into her reading tarot cards--that’s a fun personal detail. She seems really nice, and I’m excited to see more of her! Don’t really have much other to say than that.
Todd: Give me A Strong Boston Accent for $400, Alex! I, too, hate it when people are unprepared at airport security, so I understand Molly on this count. Honestly, though, based on this bio, I am not sure how far she will get in the game. Still, she seems like she could do well if she is able to get into a strong alliance.
Mary: You know me. I STAN AN OLDER SURVIVOR QUEEN! Janet’s answers are short and to the point, and the first word she uses to describe herself is “aggressive.” She’s great. Maybe the next Reem?
Todd: And a practical bathing suit! Janet is 2-2. She cites OG Survivor Stephenie as her Survivor contestant she is most like. I don’t have any thoughts about that, it’s just fun! I am very much afraid that she will not be long for this game unless this tribe goes on a winning streak. She is also from New Jersey though, which could be useful if the other Jersey-ans are still there at the merge. (Also, that means she definitely has an accent.)
Mary: One of her hobbies is Settlers of Cataan, so that’s cool! She seems like someone I’d want to be friends with, but this isn’t best friends club, is it? Not liking mayonnaise is a weird detail to include in your bio, but hey, that’s okay.
Todd: In general, her answers are pretty short and to the point, which makes sense for someone who is getting their MBA. Still, not a lot to go on here, but she seems nice and the love of Catan does immediately endear her to me as well. (Born in California, living in Philadelphia, I am guessing no accent.)
Mary: Everyone hates bullies, Jason. You don’t get to say you hate something everyone hates! What’s next, one of your other pet peeves is genocide? Like…? I don’t get it. He’s a huge Phish fan, and admits that in his bio, so I’m expecting a lot of foolishness from him.
Todd: I’m also not sure you can call yourself “charismatic”? That feels like something only cult leaders can do. Generally, Jason seems like a guy who thinks he is a great leader but mostly will just yell at people and then get mad when no one does what he says. (He’s from NYC, so there is definitely an accent here.)
Mary: I’m very, very confused about the pose Jack is doing here. Is he making cleavage? Hugging himself? Is he cold over in Fiji? He seems like maybe this is his break from grad school, just like, he got a wild hare in him that wanted to go on Survivor and became obsessed with it. I mean, I’ve fallen down many a rabbit hole of obsessions during grad school. I get it.
Todd: As a former graduate student, I am not sure I can totally approve of Jack. He is one of the youngest contestants of the season, and I could easily see him being led by other contestants into a dumb alliance that blows up in everyone’s face. He also reminds me a lot of Adam Klein (winner of Millennials vs. Gen X) with long hair. (He’s from Virginia, but this feels like a red herring. I am guessing he doesn’t have a strong accent.)
Mary: Anytime someone says their occupation is “entrepreneur,” I wonder what it is that they can’t say it. She seems pretty...standard? I must be getting worn out, because when I read that she thinks she’s “multidimensional” I got excited. I thought maybe she was existing on another plane or something.
Todd: She quotes an earlier Survivor theme in her answers and seems to think that Jud “Fabio” Birza is two people. Not an auspicious start. BUT she is from London AND Maryland, so she definitely has an accent!
Mary: One of his hobbies is asking questions of his magic eight ball. I want to know what that’s about. I think there might come a time this season when Tommy has to treat his tribe like he treats his 4th graders, and I want to be there when that happens.
Todd: I relate with Tommy, because I also hate being told to smile in photos. He seems like the kind of person who might think LOL stands for Live Out Loud. (A quandary: he’s from New York, but not NYC, so probably no accent.)
Mary: I have some really bad news for Jamal. There are a LOT of bugs in Fiji, and they’re all going to want to bite him. I think Jamal sounds interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him. I really hope he gets a chance to bust out his acapella skills on the island. I sincerely mean that!
Todd: Jamal feels the need to explain to the Survivor audience that Brown University is an Ivy League school. This does not bode well for his chances on Survivor. The fact that he’s from New Jersey does, however, bode well for him having a highly specific regional accent. Also, Jamal seems like a nice guy, and if he is good in challenges and doesn’t annoy everyone with his a capella singing, he could make it pretty far.
Mary: While I stan an older contestant, I specifically do not stan older men contestants. They usually end up bossing people around and I don’t like that! He’s not quite old enough to be sweet like the greatest contestant ever, Bob (even though he compares himself to Bob. You are not worthy! Todd: I knew Bob, Bob was a friend of mine, and you sir, are no Bob!), and he seems like he’s going to think very highly of himself and his capabilities early on. The way he talks about his kids, while it may be true, but it feels weird to say one of your finest accomplishments is keeping your marriage fun. I mean, I get it! You gotta keep things fun. But like...it seems weird.
Todd: Dan uses both the phrases EQ and IQ in his bio, which I also do not stan. He is from NYC, and works as a talent manager, so he definitely has an accent of some kind, and while I appreciate that all of the former contestants he compares himself to are winners (in an almost aggressively notable way), I am not sure I buy it. Also, don’t call Cochran weird! That’s just mean, and as we have learned, many of these contestants do not like bullies!
Who are our tribes?
Like last season, we are each going to pick a tribe to root for at the beginning of the season, but the problem is that we both want the Lairo tribe, so we have decided a tiebreaker: because Mary picked Manu, and someone from Manu (who shall not be named) won, Mary gets to pick. And so this season...Mary will rep the Lairo tribe and Todd will rep Vokai.
May the best tribe win! And we will be back before you know it on...