Survivor Old School vs. Middle School vs. New School – Would It Work?


Feature Monday is here again as Ozlet Kristan Knarr looks at the possibility of an all returnee season that uses the periods the castaways competed in as the basis of the tribe divisions. While such a twist would pay homage to the long and varied history of Survivor, it could throw up a whole range of issues that would hinder its success. In today's article Kristan identifies some of the barriers an Old School vs. Middle School vs. New School season would face and how they could be overcome. Click below to read on!

I’m a massive fan of MTV’s long-running reality show, The Challenge. It’s just finishing up its 26th season and has had a variety of different formats, many of which are similar to Survivor twists. They’ve had a Battle of the Sexes, a three team format, and even a couple of seasons featuring ‘Good Guys’ vs. ‘Bad Asses,’ which is essentially Heroes vs. Villains before Heroes vs. Villains ever existed. And no, Drew Christy was unfortunately not on the ‘Bad Asses’ team. Additionally, they have had Rivals seasons and Battle of the Exes, which are concepts that Ozlet Bridget has written about in terms of possible Survivor twists (and can be seen here and here). One other format used by The Challenge that I think could be interesting on Survivor is their Rookies vs. Veterans season, or in Survivor terms, Old School vs. New School. However, since there are so many seasons and so much has changed over the years, I feel that it makes more sense to separate them into three tribes: Old School (seasons 1-10), Middle School (seasons 11-20), and New School (seasons 21-30). Today I will be discussing the concerns that would need to be addressed when casting a season like this, as well as casting my own season in this format.

The Age Factor

We can’t ignore the fact that Survivor is fifteen years old. Anyone that played in the first third of the series has aged considerably since they first played. Because of this, it would be important to not only cast some younger people on the Old School tribe, but to cast some older people on the Middle and New School tribes. This way, the average age of one tribe would not be so drastically different from the other two; that could potentially be unfair depending on everyone’s physical capabilities. Thirty-two years old is the absolute youngest that anyone on the Old School tribe could be, which is still young, however unusual to be the youngest on a Survivor tribe.

Young-OldThe youngest and oldest player from each ‘school’ based on current age. Jeff (Palau) 32, Rudy (Borneo) 87, Spencer (Tocantins) 25, Jim (Guatemala) 73, Baylor (SJDS) 21, Jimmy J (Nicaragua) 71

Staying Within Their Time Period

For the sake of this twist, it would be essential to only cast people that have played in one single time period. People like Colby, Jerri, Tina, Sandra, and Gervase have played in such a wide variety of formats that it would defeat the purpose of separating them into these categories. They’ve seen the game in its simplest form, as well as a more complex game, in both strategic and social terms.

Vary Challenges and Rewards

Survivor would have to dig deep back into its archives for information on each season: what was each tribe given at the beginning of the game? What types of challenges were done? What kinds of rewards were given out? Were there idols in play? Then this information could somehow be implemented into the structure of the game. Maybe at the start of the season, each tribe is given what castaways were given back in the early seasons. Sometimes the rewards could be grandiose feasts, and sometimes they could be some Mountain Dew and a can of Pringles. Maybe they should only include hidden immunity idols post-merge. Taking concepts from each era of the game could make for interesting viewing and drama among tribe mates.

RewardChallengeTwistChallenges, rewards and twists could incorporate memorable factors from different eras.

We so frequently hear from the old school players about how easy the new players have it on the island. Would new school players struggle when given old school tasks and living conditions? Would old school players struggle with how much more strategic Survivor has become over time? Which era would struggle or thrive the most in any and all conditions, challenges, and other obstacles thrown at them? I know that we’ve seen players from all eras of the game play together before, but I still think this would be an interesting concept. This format would allow players to have the comfort of being with people who played in a similar time as them to begin, and then be mixed up with players of all calibers later.

Now for casting my own season of Old School vs. Middle School vs. New School…

Old SchoolOldSchoolTribeLex van den Berghe, John Carroll, Chris Daugherty, Vecepia Towery, Kelly Goldsmith, Neleh Dennis

Middle SchoolMiddleSchoolTribeEarl Cole, Terry Dietz, Rafe Judkins, Peih-Gee Law, Natalie Bolton, Courtney Yates

 New SchoolNewSchoolTribeSpencer Bledsoe, Troyzan Robertson, Marty Piombo, Abi-Maria Gomes, Kass McQuillen, Sabrina Thompson

What do you think of the potential of an ‘old school vs. middle school vs. new school season’? Would it work? Who would you like to see return from each period? Let us know your thoughts below!


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22 Comments on Survivor Old School vs. Middle School vs. New School – Would It Work?

  1. You broke your own rule format, both Courtney and Lex have competed in more than one season. JK
    I think the concept has always been in the back of everyone’s mind, but never fully explored. The tribes should be made up of one one-time player from each season, such as Kenny from Gabon or Judd from Guatemala.

    • He didn’t say he would only take people who competed in only one season, he said he would only take people who compited in only one era, which is the case of Lex and Courtney (S3 and S8 are both “old school seasons”, S15 and S20 are both “middle school seasons”)

  2. Old school: Colleen, Vecepia, Brian, Heidi, Keith, Lex
    Middle school: Lydia, Peih-Gee, Bob, Erinn, Jean Robert, Shane
    New school: Trish, Marty, Kim, Ciera, Tony, and WA person

  3. id like to see at least 5 seasons represented in each tribe… in the old school tribe only 3 are…

    • Agreed. I don’t think both Marquesas was good enough to warrant 3 people. John would be good, but replace the girls

  4. My picks:
    Old School: Rory, Jeff V, John C. Kelly w, Kelly G, (Erin or penny)
    Middle: Kenny, Shane, Boo, Natalie B, Erinn, Danni B
    New: Marty, Spencer, Reed, Ciera, Shphie, Chelsea

    I made it one contestant per season. some were people i didnt like during the season but love now

  5. Cast: Old School: Kelly Goldsmith, Tom Buchanan (Africa/AS), Clay (Thailand, , Chris (Vanuatu), Twila (Vanuatu), Ian (Palau)

    Middle School: Rafe (Guatemala), Lydia (Guatemala), Terry, Shane (Panama), Natalie (Micronesia), Ken (Gabon)

    New School: Marty (Nicaragua), Sabrina (OW), RC (Phillippines), Ciera (BvW), Spencer (Cagayan), Jon (SJDS, could be replaced with someone from WA)

    Others: John (Marquesas), Helen (Thailand), Danni (Guatemala), Alex (Fiji), Denise (China, Erinn, Taj, (Tocantins), Jonas (OW), Abi-Maria (Phillippines), Sherri (Caramoan), Hayden (BvW), Kass (Cagayan), Tony (Cagayan),

  6. Keep your own tribe ideas coming! I picked my favorites but there’s a ton of combinations that I think would be really great. A lot of the players mentioned in the comments that I didn’t include were on my short list of ideas.

  7. Awesome idea, Kristan! I think it needs to happen! Here are my tribes:

    Old School: Andrew Savage (Pearl Islands), Rob Cesternino, Chris, Colleen (Borneo), Tijuana (Pearl Islands), Kelly Goldsmith

    Middle School: Stephen Fishbach (Tocantins), Kenny (Gabon), Yul Kwon (Cook Islands), Parvati (she’s only been a middle school player-CI, Micronesia, HvV), Natalie Bolton, Danni Boatwright

    New School: Spencer, Troyzan, Keith (SJDS), Ciera, Tasha (Cagayan), WA woman (too early to tell but Jenn/Sierra/Kelly/Lindsey/Carolyn all seem possible)

  8. Old School: Jenna Morasca, Rob Cesternino, Chris Daugherty, Kelly (Borneo), Twila, Ian.
    Middle School: Natalie Bolton, Todd, Peih-Gee, Yul, Crystal, Kenny.
    New School: Spencer B. Kass, Ciera, Marty, Kim Spradlin, Troyzan.

  9. CatherineK // March 17, 2015 at 8:57 pm // Reply

    Good list! There are some names I would definitely like to see back (Terry, Chris, Courtney – yes please!).

  10. Old School: Kelly (Borneo), Elisabeth (Australia), Darrah (Pearl Islands), Brian (Thailand), Ian (Palau) and Chris (Vanuatu)

    Middle School: Danni (Guatemela), Pieh-Gee (China), Natalie (Micronesia), Terry (Exile Island), Stephen (Tocantins) and Yul (Cook Islands)

    New School: Kim (One World), Denise (Philippines), Ciera (Blood vs. Water), Keith (San Juan del Sur), Spencer (Cagayan) and another male from (Worlds Apart)

  11. You need Kenny for middle and Jim for 23 for new school

  12. Old School = Borneo, Australia, Africa, Marquesas, Thailand, Amazon, Pearl Islands, All Stars

    Middle School = Vanuatu, Palau, Guatemala, Panama, Cook Islands, Fiji, China, Micronesia, Gabon, Tocantins, Samoa, Heroes vs Villains

    New School = Nicaragua, Redemption Island, South Pacific, One World, Philippines, Caramoan, Blood vs Water, Cagayan, San Juan Del Sur, Worlds Apart

  13. and i would call it… Survivor: Evolution (Old School vs Middle School vs New School)

  14. I wanted to pick one-time players, and as many seasons as possible, and Peih-Gee is def Old School, not Next Generation or Middle School or whatever we’re calling it.

    Old School: Tereas “TBird” Cooper (Africa), Gina Crews (Marquesas), Darrah Sparacino (nee Johnson) (Pearl Islands), Greg Buis (Borneo), Ian Rosenberg (Palau), Jeff Varner (Australia)

    Next Generation: Cindy Hall (Guatemala), Michelle Yi (Fiji), Shannon “Shambo” Waters (Samoa), Spencer Duhm (Tocantins), Terry Dietz (Panama), Todd Herzog (China)

    New School: Holly Hoffman (Nicaragua), RC Saint-Amor (Philippines), Kelly Wentworth (SJDS), Spencer Bledsoe (Cagayan), Troyzan Robertson (One World), Mike Chiesl (Redemption Island)

    Gonna run this through brantsteele now!

  15. Classifying the eras of survivor according to idols:
    Early: no idol play (S1-11)
    Mid: idols as reward for being on exile (S12-18)
    Current: crazy idol searches, including even without clues (S19- )

    according to alliances:
    Before: making alliances with people that you can connect with, or when a tribal council approaches
    After: making alliances once you step foot onto the island

    Maybe a pick your style of idol play season:
    Choose early- you can’t be idoled out, and you also can’t get an idol
    Choose mid- only idols on exile island are effective for you/on you
    Choose late- anything goes- all idols can be found, and all idols can work on you.

  16. For old school, there’s a bit too much Marquesas, surely this would be a good excuse to get Cesternino back out there! Or pretty much anyone from The Amazon tbh.
    I guess Terry and Peih Gee wouldn’t be eligible anymore, could be replaced with Kenny and Sierra.
    Dunno if we really need Sabrina in there, because surely there have been too many One World returnees already. Maybe some season 30 contestant could fill that spot.

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