The Challenge Scouting Reports: Survivor 41
Big Brother may have been the first of the CBS reality shows to have its competitors come in to The Challenge world but since then Survivor has followed suit with Jay debuting on Total Madness, Natalie Anderson on Double Agents and Michaela, Michelle & Tommy (as well as numerous international players) on Spies, Lies and Allies. I have therefore been writing “Scouting Reports” for these shows The Challenge draws from to determine who I think would be good additions and who should stay home.
I am breaking down the cast members from each show in to one of four categories “Not Right for The Challenge”, “I’m not excited but they could surprise me”, “Good Casting Choice” and “Absolutely! Why aren’t they already cast?”
“Not Right for The Challenge”
Some of the attributes needed to be successful on Survivor and on The Challenge are the similar, like athletic ability, social skills, strategy and luck. However, Survivor is usually way more weighted towards the social game and strategy and less intensely on the extreme physical competitions of The Challenge. Therefore some of the people they cast on Survivor just aren’t right for The Challenge.
There are several strikes against Eric for me in terms of why he is wrong for The Challenge. First of all, he was the first boot on Survivor 41 after a pretty unremarkable episode. He is not in the right age demographic as a 50 year old married man. I would not see him relating to the other contestants and physically he is not in the shape to do the competitions we see on The Challenge.
David gives me a very similar vibe that I have gotten from a lot of people who are successful doctors, lawyers or businesspeople who then go on reality tv in their thirties. They are smart, but they think they are a genius. They are in okay shape but think they are nearly a professional athlete and they think they are really personable but actually are just really arrogant. There is part of me that thinks seeing someone like that get obliterated on The Challenge would be fun but I don’t think it is worth it. David also must have a busy life as a doctor and I don’t see him having the time to commit to The Challenge.
Brad is another person that is simply too old for The Challenge. If he were 20 years younger he would be an interesting choice (similar to a Cohutta in the “country strong” archetype). He is significantly stronger and a better character than Eric, but there is no need to bring a 50 year old rancher and father of four in to The Challenge.
Genie is also not the right age for The Challenge. She was a relatively okay character but she was certainly not very good at the game socially or strategically, and was falling behind significantly on competitions in Survivor. Genie simply isn’t the kind of person that is right to make the transition to The Challenge.
Tiffany falls in to the same category as the majority of people in this tier: she is too old for The Challenge and was not overwhelmingly strong at the physical portion of the show. She is also busy with a career & family. However Tiffany was a fantastic character so I would be happy to see her back on reality tv. The Challenge just isn’t the place.
Naseer was a fish out of water on Survivor as someone who was so excited to play the game aided him in learning english. He was a good physical competitor and was entertaining for tv. He is not at the age of somebody like Brad where I would not even realistically consider him for The Challenge, but he is older and very much doesn’t strike me as the guy who wants to party at the club with 23 year olds.
Heather made it impressively far this season of Survivor, getting voted out right before the final three. However she was really forgettable for the majority of he season and also a major physical liability. She seems like a nice lady but it’s a firm ‘not right’ for The Challenge.
“I’m not excited but they could surprise me”
These people have at least one major reason making me hesitant to say that they would be thought of fit The Challenge or successful if they were but they are not as crazy of choices as the previous group
Sara was the second boot this season and was not a particularly big character. She is a very archetypical person for Survivor as a young, attractive, recent college grad from a big name school, in this case MIT. I feel like this archetype is not one that translates as well over on The Challenge, where I could see her struggle to create social bonds. She did poorly in her one challenge on Survivor in a puzzle but I do not think she would lag behind physically due to her acrobatics background.
Evvie was a player who had a lot of promise as a strategist and social player but she ended up down in the numbers and was out mid-game. She is definitely not your typical person to see on The Challenge from a personality standpoint, but she did get along well with a number people that I would also like to see. However, Evvie is also a research scientist so she seems a bit busy for more reality tv.
Ricard is someone who I think would be really interesting on The Challenge, but I seriously doubt that he would be interested. Ricard was a really good social player and one of the better challenge competitors this season of Survivor. What puts him so low is that he and his husband have two young kids and it seems his plans are to focus on raising his family.
“Pretty Good Casting Choice”
These people are all people that I would be happy to see on a future season on The Challenge, even though I am not entirely convinced that they would be successful.
Sydney is the person who got the most screwed over by luck this past Survivor season. She is relatively athletic as a former college runner. She is pretty with a flirty personality and she’s only 26, so she could be someone The Challenge could invest in. My biggest hesitations with her is that she was not a particularly big character in Survivor, so she could end up being dull and is not going to be someone who will necessarily bring more audience to The Challenge
Shantel “Shan” Francis
Shan played a truly incredible game and had set up herself well until it became clear to some her closest allies that they could not win the game with her in it. She has a ton of personality and gave great confessionals on Survivor. She had a strong social game, used wild but mostly effective strategies, and was a strong physical player. Shan is only not higher because she is a little bit older and more importantly because I expect her career as a pastor to be a bigger priority than more Reality TV. However if she was on a season of The Challenge I would be really excited to see how that played out.
I think Deshawn is certainly not an ideal choice to come over to The Challenge, but he has potential. He is an entertaining guy as a television personality which is a big plus. He was not particularly successful strategically, but his willingness to try to make big moves is why he is someone I would be interested in seeing on The Challenge. He would probably need to put in some work to keep up and compete in the more physically difficult show of The Challenge, but if someone like Josh can get there he could too.
Erika was the winner of this season and she played a strong social and strategic game; recognizing the people she could not beat and systematically working to take them out and gave her a chance to win. If she were able to bring that kind of self awareness to The Challenge I would be thrilled, since a lot of people keep letting competitors like CT get to the end where they stand no chance against him. She is on the small side and did not overly impress physically on Survivor, so if she came on The Challenge that would be an area to work at. But she has personality and decent strategy so I think she could have potential.
“Absolutely! Why aren’t they already cast?”
Seriously, Bunim/Murray2 pick up the phone offer them a spot on season 38. All of them tick all my boxes for what I want to see in a Challenge Rookie and I actively think most of them could bring more fans over to The Challenge with them.
Jairus “JD” Robinson
JD was a major character for the first few episodes of this season due partially to his great personality but also as a result of him being really gullible and playing a messy game. He was an endearing guy and is one of the people that I see most able to keep up physically in the Challenge world. I think JD has a lot of potential and at his best has the kind of personality to fit in well becoming a future good guy, but also a strong competitor.
Liana was one of the bigger characters across the first 3/4’s of this season, initially on a relatively dysfunctional tribe where she was in a strong alliance. She also had a really entertaining rivalry with one of her tribe-mates Xander. I paired them up for my hypothetical “Repaired” mock cast in my article about themes I want to see in the future. Liana is everything you want for The Challenge. She is a really good athlete, a beautiful girl, an entertaining tv character and a strategic player. I would be really disappointed if she is not at the very least contacted for a future Challenge season.
Danny is probably the biggest question mark in terms of wondering if he will be interested. He is a former professional football player who spent a few seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and one with the Chicago Bears. He did quite well on Survivor 41, obviously being one of the top physical competitors. He also played a really strong social game and he was a fairly good tv personality. With people like Lolo Jones and Lio Rush coming on The Challenge recently I think there is a legitimate chance Danny would consider it since it seems his professional football prospects have dried up. Having him on would continue to bring more legitimacy to the America’s 5th sport narrative, and I could see producers liking that. If Danny wants a spot then I hope they give it to him and let him have the opportunity to show someone like Fessy what the difference between “almost made the NFL” and actually played in the NFL is.
I really liked Xander a lot this past Survivor season and I think he would be absolutely perfect for The Challenge. He was able to play a subtle but somewhat strategic game, staying safe from being voted off as one of the top physical players with a known hidden immunity idol for several votes. He had some really strong bonds with other players, including people that you would not necessarily expect of him, (like Evvie and Ricard.) He is an underrated game player, a good athlete, a likable guy and a really attractive guy (and apparently single). I also included him on several of my mock casts in my article about themes I want to see in the future. To me, he seems like the kind of person that The Challenge could have potential in as a future star.