Survivor returns to some very familiar islands tonight when Survivor Panama debuts on CBS at 8 p.m. ET.
Although we’ve seen the exact same locations in two previous editions of the show, the game has changed for this season. Besides the initial tribal split, which for the first time divides the castaways into four groups of four, there’s also Exile Island, where one person will be banished each week. But on that island, they’ll be able to hunt for an immunity idol, which will give the idol holder crazy amounts of power. Together, those two twists have the potential to really change the game for the first time in its 12-season history.
Although the show has aired 11 seasons in less than six years, its still the most popular reality show besides American Idol. The Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan asks a bunch of people, “Why do we still watch ‘Survivor’?” Executive producer Tom Shelly says its because producers “are really letting people tell their own stories. They’re in charge of their own fate. … Watching real people under pressure, I believe, is fascinating to us. We can all identify with that.”