Survivor: Worlds Apart tries to answer the age old question of…um…something something class? Nah, it’s all about social game vs. overplaying strategy.
For its 30th(!) edition, Survivor has gone to a three-tribe format with 18 contestants, divided along the lines of worker class. Although it would have been awesome if this were based on Thief/Wizard/Fighter, I’m sure there was the fear that mixed attributes would cause too much confusion.1 Instead, Jeff Probst and company have created the distinctions of White Collar (business execs who may or may not be fans of Matthew Bomer), Blue Collar for those who might burn calories in the course of their workday, and No Collar is Totally a Thing You Guys.
These distinctions are beyond arbitrary, but it gives the teams a flag to rally around, I guess. Although it is annoying that Probst is trying to make this season a grand social experiment2 about whether your socio-economic status makes a difference in this social game, it doesn’t seem to be confirming or denying any preconceived notions. It should be noted that the “No Collar” tribe is mostly younger (as baristas and models/actors tend to be) and the “White Collar” tribe is older (most likely from working their way up from barista and modeling/acting gigs), so this is really more of a rehash of the older vs. younger season from Nicaragua.
Thankfully, this season is less of a disaster than Nicaragua. No team has been overly dominant, other than Blue Collar having avoided tribal council in the first three outings. No Collar is at a numbers disadvantage, but they do have more fodder on their team. What has made Survivor: Worlds Apart compelling is that the editing has been focusing more on the social game within each of the tribes. Spoiler: most of the players have terrible social games. I have to wonder how much of this can be attributed to the last several seasons having editing that focused on strategy and hidden immunity idols. Many of the players have indicated they are fans of the show, so if they are basing their gameplay on the last three or four years of successful narratives—which have involved a lot of overplaying—it’s no wonder those tactics are failing now.
We’re still in the winnowing down phase, but so far this season of Survivor has been more enjoyable than the last few seasons. We’ll check in again once we get closer to the merge to see if the arbitrary classifications have made much of a difference to overall gameplay.