7:02pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
'Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X' Has a Showmance, a Bromance and a Health Scare in 'Love Goggles'
So do we figure that there's a Survivor producer whose job it is to make sure that this season's Millennials vs. Gen X contestants are constantly saying stupid things about how whatever just happened to them is connected with the 20-year period in which they happened to be born?
Like is there a guy off to the side of the confessional area going, "How do you think your inability to make fire relates to being born in 1972? Would you say that because Gen Xers love the song 'We Didn't Start The Fire' you have personal difficulties with kindling and flint?" Or, "You were kissing. In your experience, do Millennials use more or less tongue than older kissers?"
Because that person, whoever they are, has more than earned their money in the season's first two Survivor episodes and also should be fired.
On Wednesday (September 28) episode, fittingly titled "Love Goggles," we learned these things about the generations:
*** Generation X has the ideology that you don't give up, even though much of the tribe couldn't even make fire with flint, a plight so dire that it allowed David to very briefly prove his worth in the game. I desperately beg you not to remember that once upon a time, Richard Linklater could make a movie about a segment of this generation called Slackers about how the generation was perceived as limitedly motivated and adrift, compared to the Baby Boomers, who had the ideology that you don't give up. Because now, Gen X is the "don't give up" generation. Don't quit now, Millennials, because someday you won't give up, too!
*** "Millennials are dreamers," so says Taylor and while it's remarkable that Generation X made it this far without any dreams or aspirations, who am I to doubt that Millennials invented dreams?
*** "I think the Millennial generation takes hook-ups a lot less seriously than maybe the Gen-Xers do," Zeke noted. Credit to Zeke for including the "than maybe," because surely once upon a time Gen-Xers took hook-ups a lot less seriously than Baby Boomers and that's before I start getting into Fear of Flying and the concept of the zipless f---, which may have predated Millennials.
*** Millennials grew up in front of screens. Definitely Gen-Xers didn't do that. Definitely. Nope.
In conclusion, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X remains sociological nonsense, but it already appears that a twist is coming to either erase or at least undermine the premise, which wouldn't be bad, since I don't hate this season's players, just that they're being force to do shoddy cultural research that literally none of them are qualified to do.
It's time to start playing Survivor and stop playing Let's Generalize About Ourselves.
Wednesday's episode was a weird one and whether one enjoyed it or didn't enjoy it probably hinges on whether you found the unique disorder of that tribal council to be an asset or a deficiency.
We've had years of Survivor superfans on the show and a rather high percentage of recent winners have self-identified as such, but I don't know if there has ever been the collective stuttering, incoherent awe at being at tribal council that the Millenials experienced this week. This resulted in a lengthy tribal council fueled by lots of reflections on how things are different in three dimensions from the 2D way Millennials [allegedly] view the world.
You also had two different conversations going on. You had the group, led by Michaela, discussing Taylor and Figgy's instant showmance and Jeff Probst's giddy and square, "So you guys are full-on making out?" Traditionally showmances have been viewed as threats, but that's such a pre-Millennial way of thinking, or so I hear. That group was mostly filling time because a majority of them felt confident in their plan to vote out Figgy, regardless of her protestations.
But off to the side you had Michelle trying to tell Hannah that the new plan was to vote Mari out, a deviation that flustered and confused Hannah so badly I thought she was going to have a panic attack in the voting station. Hannah kept asking for a reason to swap her vote from Figgy to Mari and Michelle kept promising to give her one later. I'll be interested in seeing how that "later" plays out for two reasons: First, Michelle was just mobilizing Hannah as a redundancy in case unpredictable Michaela proved to be unpredictable. She didn't need Hannah's vote. And second, Michelle has no reason to give regarding why Hannah should have voted Mari out. Mari was Hannah's ally and turning on her and protecting Figgy was completely against Hannah's best interests. Going back to the first point there, though, Michaela voted Mari despite whatever was happening at tribal and whatever acrimony they had back at camp, so all of the drama with Hannah and her vote was beside the point. Even if Hannah sticks to her guns and votes Figgy, it's still 5-4 against Mari, rather than 6-3. [EDIT: Or 6-4 and 7-3? Numbers are hard.] So that was a lot of time spent on something that didn't matter, just because it was a thing that doesn't happen all that often at tribal.
Mari went home because she was plotting against the new power couple, which is exactly what anybody with sense would have been doing and I'm giving a lot of credit to Michelle for how she carefully told Figgy and Michaela that Zeke wanted to take them both out, a message she relayed with enough truth around the embellishment — Zeke never said he wanted Michaela out, but he did say that if Michaela didn't become more a part of the tribe after getting Figgy out that she could be targeted next, which isn't the same thing — to make Michaela vote against her best interests.
Let's get to the Bottom Lines...
Bottom Line, I. Mari's realization that voting somebody out or being voted out in Survivor was different from beating somebody in a video game was sad, but I guess it felt authentic and by the end, she sounded like she'd transitioned from "I know now why you cry but it is something I can never do" to real human emotions. Mari did a good job initially rounding up support against Taylor and Figgy last week and she was an asset to the aforementioned "Generational Divide Producer" and for that she'll be missed.
Bottom Line, II. At least we still have Michaela, who went from mostly quiet last week to a confessional champ tonight. Michaela spoke for us all when she responded to Figgy and Taylor's nighttime canoodling with, "Y'all can't be for real. You stink. Your mouth is nasty. You got sand in your drawers and you kissing somebody? That's disgusting." And she smartly analyzed the difference between a winning flirtation strategy of somebody like a Parvati and what Figgy's doing with, "You're supposed to blend in a little at the beginning and work your magic behind the scenes, but her magic's trying to be all over the place, so it's not magic. You need to pull the bunny out of the hat. You just can't walk in with the bunny." Sorry, but "You just can't walk in with the bunny" is great advice in Survivor and in life. And Jay and Michelle were both so truly unhappy when they realized their alliance was potentially being split up. I thought Michelle was going to cry. But instead, she maneuvered. Michelle may end up being your stealth champ this season. A second straight winner with the same name and this one potentially deserving? Crazy. [Also, it's only been two episodes. There's no reason for me to be predicting winners.
Bottom Line, III. David used "zenith," "nadir" and "serendipity" in one segment and also found a hidden immunity idol, so he had a much better episode than last week. But man, he's already skeletal and we're only five days in. As he stood on the platform during the immunity challenge, I thought he might teeter into the sea. Instead, it was Paul who passed out during the episode. After experiencing numbness in his extremities and taking a heart scan and getting a visit from Dr. Joe, he was diagnosed with heat exhaustion and allowed to continue, but this was the first time he hasn't felt in control, which we know because he'd just said in a confessional that he needs to be in control. It's a Generation X thing, I guess. Millennials are post-control.
Bottom Line, IV. I have little interest in the showmance between Taylor and Figgy, with their bad breath kissing, but I love the unexpected bromance between Ken and David. You look at Ken and he's a model and he's aces at challenges and he knows how to do all sorts of things around camp and he catches octopi and you think, "Dude's a confident stud," but part of why he's lived off-the-grid for the past decade is that he's got some sort of social anxiety disorder and seeing the oddball alliance form between David and Ken was truly gratifying. I'm not sure how they're going to turn the tide on Paul and take control of the game, but I'm encouraged by the effort. Mostly I just appreciate that Ken treats David like a person, while everybody else treats him like a puppy. Ken's my other stealth winner.
Bottom Line, V. There's somebody in this game named "Lucy." Two episodes now and I don't think this "Lucy" has said or done anything. The heavy focus on David in both episodes and David and Ken and also on Paul's health in this episode means that this week's Generation X segments were also basically Jessica-free and included Sunday and CeCe only fleetingly. And even though they're nothing alike, Paul, Bret and Chris have blended into one slightly-older alpha blur for me.
Bottom Line, VI. I always want there to be a hyphen in "Generation X" and I always want the number of l's and n's in "Millennial" to be different. This will cause long-term problems.
Catch y'all next week!