Survivor 24 ideas: tribes based on religion, sexuality, jobs; Big Brother vs. Amazing Race vs. Top Model

With the announcement of Survivor South Pacific‘s dull concept and repeat location, we have little to look forward to until the production (hopefully) surprises us this fall. But we do have season 24′s potential. Since seasons are now filmed in the same location, the spring season typically features a twist, and it’s time to brainstorm and give the production some ideas. (When I was in Samoa, they were still locking down the format, theme, and cast members for Heroes vs. Villains, so it’s not too late.)

Earlier this year, a clever person mashed up old opening sequences to present two different formats: Survivor Ultimate Catastrophe Edition and Survivor: Super Strategists. (Watch the trailers by hovering over the video icon.) They’re hilarious, especially “ultimate catastrophe”‘s modified theme song, and I think they’re actually viable formats, too, though we may disagree on some of the individuals who’ve been selected here.

Inevitably, fans love the idea of a second chance series, one that brings back those who left due to something like medical evacuations. With 22 seasons now, there’s also the opportunity to do an entire show of those who were kicked off first. From Sonja to Francesca, that could work very well.

Of course, these are all all-star formats. I think Survivor should return to Survivor: Race War’s format in two ways: One, cast tribes of ordinary people who are similar because of some arbitrary characteristic (age, race, sexual orientation) and illustrate diversity and similarity within those subgroups, and two, start with four tribes.

The most obvious format is something that was floated this season in the comments here and elsewhere: God warriors versus atheists, or more broadly, religious people versus non-religious people. A better version might be could be Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Atheists. Seriously, CBS, want some attention and a potentially explosive season? Stop the bringing back Russell shit and do that instead.

Or what about a season with tribes of gay, straight, bisexual, and transgendered people? Little people versus those of average height? Left-handed versus right-handed?

You could also do four tribes of people based on their occupations: lawyers, teachers, politicians, salespeople, scientists, laborers, CEOs, chefs, pharmaceutical sales reps. Scratch the last one: That’s every season.

Chefs makes me think of something super-gimmicky but also fascinating: Why not cast tribes of people from other reality shows? Top Chef contestants, Deadliest Catch deckhands, Real World drunks. Since CBS is unlikely to use cast members from shows on competing networks that are not in its corporate umbrella, let’s just go with Big Brother versus Amazing Race cast members. (CBS also has its sibling network The CW’s Top Model and could use the models, though if they lost more weight they’d all need to be medevaced out on day five.) Pick the right people and it could be awesome.

I’m sure there are better ideas.

Would all of these be a little gimmicky? Sure. But they’re much more creative than just duplicating the most recent season’s format.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.