Survivor – Where to Start?

Where-do-we-start copy

One of the many questions debated by Survivor lovers is what season to suggest as a starting point to get a new viewer hooked on the show? There's no doubting it's an important question, get it right and you could convert a new fan, get it wrong and whoever you're trying to convince may be lost to the show forever. In today's feature article, Ozlet Anthony Rossi takes a look at some of the seasons that could play a part in a successful introduction to the show. Read on for some ideas on what seasons to suggest.

The show Survivor has been running for approximately 15 years now, but not everyone has watched every season and some have not seen it at all. Many wonder what season would be the most appropriate to suggest so that they become interested. Is it a good idea to start right at the beginning even though it may not contain a lot of drama or should someone pick the most dramatic season and work from there? Some argue that the best season should be the starting point so that someone could easily get hooked. Or is the beginning the best place to start? I will debate several of the seasons and why they could be a good starting point and in the end I will state what I believe should be the starting point for new viewers.


The very first season may be a good starting point, because it is what started this revolutionary show. If the first was not up to par then the entire show could have been a flop and not have lasted as long as it has. Some may argue that this season is quite boring and doesn’t really captivate a fresh audience. Others claim that this season is brilliant and its historic nature is what truly makes it truly shine. This would be a good place to start, because this very season revolutionized television. Plus, this season has one of the greatest casts in the show’s history.

Pearl Islands


Probably one of the greatest seasons for it offers great entertainment, but good strategy as well. This season is a great mix of character development with interesting storylines and entertaining strategic gameplay. It has the feel of an action packed new school style season while maintaining the best qualities of the old school seasons.

 Heroes vs. Villains


The landmark 20th season was highly anticipated and had a lot to live up to and it certainly delivered. Heroes vs. Villains was action packed with a lot of drama. There were entertaining challenges, interesting gameplay and plenty of characters to root for. This season is very much strategically driven and doesn’t have many character moments, but is an overall an entertaining season. This season would be a good place to start, because it is so entertaining.



Some say that Cagayan is the best season of all time; I don’t agree with that, but I can’t ignore the impact that this season has had. This season was intense as it was filled with great and abysmal strategic decisions, and character moments as well. All of this combined together made the season compelling to watch.

Winner – Pearl Islands


This season is a real standout, because it is a great mix of entertainment and strategy. Pearl Islands has a lot of drama which coupled with character development makes it very fun to watch. It has the right amount of game twists without detracting from the fundamental theme of Survivor, which involves having people from different walks of life working together and showing their struggles of interacting with one another within the confines of the game.

Do you agree with Rossi? What season would you select to introduce somebody to the show?  Let us know your thoughts below!


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12 Comments on Survivor – Where to Start?

  1. I personally think that Survivor: China would be a good first season to watch because it was probably the last original season of Survivor. It also blended the original format of 16 people with a non tropical location and two tribes with no twists. But also had superb strategy from Todd, Amanda, Peih-Gee and others, and brought many great new players. I am biased because this was the first season I watched, but I truly think if I watched Survivor: Fiji for example first, I would not have fallen ain love with Survivor as much as I did because of the impression China left on me. But, all in all I think China would be a great first season to watch.

    • Totally agree. I always recommend Borneo if they think they could be in for the long haul, Pearl Islands if they want to see the best of “classic” Survivor, Cagayan if they just want to watch one season before the current one and China if they feel like starting somewhere in the middle.

    • Totally agree too. I recommend China to all my friends and it’s seems to be good. Cagayan isn’t a bad choice too but I think it’s better in second, after a more “classic” season.

      However, I totally don’t understand why HvsV is in this list. Too much spoilers.

    • Gabriel Snuffles // April 6, 2015 at 11:20 am // Reply

      I agree. China is my favorite season, and the one that got me hooked on Survivor. The first season I watched was Gabon (on the internet, not while it aired as my first live season was San Juan Del Sur) and I thought it was good. Not great, but good. I watched a second, Cook Islands, which was terrible. I couldn’t stand it. I almost gave up on Survivor, but I decided to try one more, and chose China. It really pulled me in to Survivor, had a great cast, and just enough twists and strategy (like the kidnapping for the idol and the idol being in plain sight). I really enjoyed China, and think that if you are going to watch Survivor, you should start there.

  2. Nice list.

    I agree, Pearl Islands is one of my favorite seasons and could definitely get newbies hooked for the reasons you stated.

    I disagree regarding Borneo. I am a “new” Survivor fan but completely hooked, my first season was Blood vs Water and I have watched most of the back seasons. As a fan of “new school” (four of my five favorite seasons are Micronesia, HvV, BvW, Cagayan) and “middle school” (one of my top five seasons is Pearl Islands) seasons, Borneo was a drag. I think I got through it just because I am a massive Survivor fan and it was the first season, so I had to watch it, but it is my opinion that had it not been the first season, it would have been the worst season ever, so for someone that doesn’t “care” about Survivor enough to watch just because it was the first season, no, don’t start with Borneo.

    In addition to those you listed I think that Vanuatu, Cook Islands, China, Micronesia, and Blood vs Water need mentioning.

    As I mentioned, BvW was my first, so perhaps I’m biased. But I truly think it deserves mentioning, as it totally hooked me. The character moments (“!&^! you Brad Culpepper!” among many other), unique strategy (Ciera voting her mom out, rock draw), and awesome people to root for/against (Ciera, Tyson, Monica) really converted me from “sure mom I’ll watch Survivor with you because you love it, but the Amazing Race is a much better show” to “The Amazing Race is a bit of a drag because of how amazing Survivor is!”

    Vanuatu was the second season I watched, my first back season, because it was the earliest season my mom had purchased with Amazon Prime. I really liked it also and can confidently say it’s a Top 10 season for me. The culture was really evident and the female alliance was awesome, with amazing strategy from Chris to hinder it. Also great characters in Chris, Twila, and Eliza.

    Cook Islands was really interesting, and again, possible bias here, because it is my mom’s favorite season, but it wasn’t one of my very first, and I think it could hook people. Great challenges and characters and the Aitu 4 comeback is epic.

    China is really great for the reasons Jeff listed and also how evident the culture was.

    Micronesia is self-explitory, isn’t it? The strategy was so epic with it still having some old-school vibes. Awesome season that could probably hook just about anyone.

  3. Pretty good list, though I’m hesitant on HvV because it’s all returnees so it might be a bit off-putting to a new viewer who be familiar with any of the contestants. Still, that’s not that big a factor, all things considered.

    Cagayan is a great choice of a recent season that displays what the show is like now and is also a really good season itself.

    And I love Pearl Islands being your top pick as it’s my favorite season and I fully agree with the points you brought up about it.

    Great article, Anthony! (good enough to make me comment here for the first time 😀 )

    • Also, this was a really good idea for an article topic.

    • I agree with the whole “returning player” season thing. HvV was the second season I ever watched (after Samoa) and I had to go back and watch previous seasons to understand why some people were “Villains” and some were “Heroes.” Inevitably, it IS what truly got me hooked, but that was only because I didn’t really understand some of the dynamics between some players like Jerri and Colby and Parvati and Amanda.

  4. I love the fact that Pearl Islands is the first choice! Great pre-merge game, great post-merge game, and it even has its faults, though they were, in large, minor (Outcasts).This is usually the order I now recommend to people to start with:

    Pearl Islands
    Samoa (Purely so they understand how the idol is now used)
    Cook Islands
    Gabon (I personally like this season because it shows that ANYONE can play Survivor)

    I feel like these five show a wide range of how the game is portrayed while not being too caught up in the twists of the game. They see Exile Island, two versions of the Idol, Russell (people must know who he was in the game, which is unfortunate, but necessary), three tribes, four tribes, 16, 18 and 20 players, and a change of the “island” location.

  5. I started watching Survivor back in Survivor Philippines and was hooked straight away. I found watching Micronesia and Heroes vs Villains first when going back really good as when I watched other seasons I actually knew some of the contestants which gives you some more motivation to watch them, as at first, 30 seasons seems like too much to do.

  6. Yes, pearl islands was amazing.
    The epic start, and the pirate culture in general was a nice addition to the generic show. This type of themed survivor has not quite reappeared successfully in subsequent seasons.

  7. ad jackson // April 3, 2015 at 12:40 am // Reply

    I think palau is a good season to start, or redemption island for a master class on how to win! Survivor never made it to the wales, I happened to accidentally catch an episode of Vanuatu in ireland and was hooked from then on!

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