Over its 16-year run, Survivor has presented audiences with a slew of socially motivated “tribe” divisions: by gender, by industry “collar,” even (and most controversially) by race. From the beginning, the reality program’s M.O. has been to situate 18 or so strangers on an island for 39 days, divide them up, and let the drama rain down as contestants vote each other out, one by one. And the show operates on the assumption that a healthy infusion of identity politics can only spice up the competition, even if it usually doesn’t.
But oh, could this year be different. For Season 33, Survivor is taking its desire to stay relevant to the next level, inserting itself into the most heated of contemporary debates with a new theme: Millennials vs. Gen X. Ten members of each generational group will band together and battle the elements in Fiji, all while the millennials (presumably) freak out over face-to-face contact, a lack of hotspot Wi-Fi, and a very literal exposure to local ingredients that are not gluten-free—and to which Gen-Xers will surely collectively sigh in response.
Judging by our first glimpse at the show’s generational representatives, this season sure will be something. Each millennial was asked “What does it mean to be a millennial?” for his or her cast bio. A sampling:
Come on, man! We are open-minded, liberal, self-expressive, upbeat, connected, tech savvy, and we invented the words “sicky sicky, gnar gnar, rachet, clutch, bae, and LOL.” I love my generation. We are all-around epic.
Millennials believe that, in this moment, anything is possible. If you have dreams, go after them. If you want to change the world, change it. I don’t believe you have to “pay your dues” making copies and fetching coffee before you can be successful—or before you can make a difference.
Being a Millennial means being hip, cool, nifty and totally rad. Go young people! No, I’m not secretly an 80-year-old neurotic Jewish lady. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Millennial means “freedom” to me. I say this because we are born in a time when anything is truly possible; social media and all these different outlets help you to not only learn information quickly, but gives you the capability to become or create anything.
Being a Millennial means I can think outside the box. It means I won’t settle for mediocrity but, rather, strive for the best outcome. It also means I know what a hashtag is and how to fix just about anything using YouTube or Google.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never thought of myself as a Millennial. Ask one of the other children.
But wait, there’s more. Another “out-of-the-box” millennial, Mari Takahashi, was asked what items she’d most want to bring on Survivor, and she responded with her “iPhone with wi-fi” in order to “Instagram the crap out of the beautiful location.” (How very millennial!) And as for the Gen-Xers, the pre-millennial group—which still features a few adults in their early 30s, it should be noted—includes a no-nonsense police sergeant, a dietician who hates “whiners,” and a youth pastor who has a real problem with “catty girls.”
New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum recently commented on Twitter that, after first learning of the season’s theme, she was concerned that she was “hallucinating.” Thankfully, it appears that she was not.
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X premieres Sept. 21 on CBS.