(From L to R) 'Survivor 46' contestants Bhanu Gopal, Liz Wilcox, and Tevin Davis
Survivor has been on the air for almost 25 years. With 45 seasons, almost 700 contestants, and countless twists and turns, millions of fans have watched along and gleaned their own opinions on what they do and don't like about the Emmy-winning reality juggernaut.
It only makes sense, then, that I ask the cast of Survivor 46 for their hottest take on the franchise. While visiting the set in the islands of Fiji before the game began, I got to sit down with the 18 new castaways to chat about their most controversial Survivor opinion. And, suffice it to say, they certainly run the gamut.
Some choose to address the most controversial endings in the show's history and whether they agree or disagree with the jury's decision. Particularly on the minds of the contestants was the final outcome of season 44, as the Survivor 46 castaways had left to play only a couple of days after Yam Yam Arocho got the million-dollar prize. A few voice their approval for some of the more controversial elements of the show's modern era. And a couple boldly claim you should never tell another person about your idol, let alone play one on them. Though we shall see how much they follow those hard and fast rules once their feet hit the beach.
Take a look at the video and transcription below to hear the Survivor 46 castaways give their hottest takes. Unfortunately, we were not able to get answers from musician Ben Katzman, parent coach Maria Shrime Gonzalez, and data analyst Venus Vafa, but you can check out their upcoming individual interviews to find out more about them. Survivor 46 premieres on February 28 with a two-hour premiere on CBS.
Related: Meet the Full Cast of Survivor 46
Bhanu Gopal: So I'm listening to "On Fire with Jeff Probst." And I just love it. I can't tell you how much I love Jeff. Jeff, if you're listening! [Laughs.] But Jeff kind of answers all the questions so well. And there's a segment in the in the show called "This is Why You Suck." And Jeff answers all of this. I had a lot of questions of why certain things are happening. But I think at this moment, I would rest my questions because Jeff answered most of them. [Laughs.]
Charlie Davis: Maybe I'm jaded, because [after] I became a fan, my first couple of live seasons were basically the new era. But I really have no qualms with the advantages or twists thrown my way. I'll see what I can do with them. I just love thinking about, "Oh, what would I have done in that situation?" And now people will tell me I'm an idiot with my idol! [Laughs.] Xander and Erik, both of you pile it on, please. I mean, I deserve it at this point. So that's probably my hottest Survivor take. I feel like that's of the moment as well that's in the discourse.
David Jelinsky: Off the top of my head, it might not be as hot. But Domenick should have won Ghost Island. You gotta love the flashy game. That kind of speaks to why Wendell won. He was a part of Domenick's moves, more or less. But he was more of a people person. And people gravitate towards that the most. If the jury did not win themselves, they want to vote for someone that "if I couldn't win, I'd want them to win." So I would say that.
Hunter McKnight: I believe that Natalie deserved to be Russell. I know there's a lot of controversy there. But she played the game to win. I don't know how hot of a take that is. But when I went back and recently rewatched it. When I first watched, I was like, 'Oh, Russell did a lot of it." Looking back at how Natalie handled relationships and really played the game. That first vote against Erik was all her. That was the vote that had to happen to open up the rest of it. And then he goes to final Tribal Council and talks for her! Hypes her up. So, after rewatching it, I was like, "Oh yeah, Natalie's legit."
Jemila "Jem" Hussain-Adams: I don't know. I'm big on the idol thing. And people play their idol for other people, or if they have their idol in their pocket. I think that's a big one. And they're kind of on the edge of their seat, like, "Should I play my idol? Should I not?" And they don't play their idol, and they go home. I think one thing that's overlooked is, Heidi, last season, she played her idol. And everybody–even I–thought at first, "Why did she play her idol? She didn't have to play her idol." But when you think back to it, she wasn't in on a lot of the votes. And that was a pivotal moment in time. And she was like, "You know what, [expletive] it. I'm gonna play my idol, or I'm probably gonna go home with it in my pocket." So I think just go with your gut. And, if you have an idol, play it if you think you're in jeopardy.
Jessica "Jess" Chong: I liked the Medallion of Power! [Laughs.] I think I liked that season because the challenges looked easier because they were geriatric people on it. I think the Medallion of Power is cool, because it gives you some agency and you have to really think about. It's another vector to see how the tribe sees itself and how they make decisions together.
Kenzie Petty: I don't know if it's that hot. But this is one that I have argued about on the internet. I like the "wokeness"! I think it's here to stay. And I'm sorry if there are people at home on the couch that won't watch anymore because Jeff doesn't say, "Guys." They can kiss my ass, as far as I'm concerned. Because the world is changing. The nation is changing in a way that I am stoked to represent, stoked to be a part of. And I want it to catch faster, like wildfire. I'm here for the wokeness. I love the diversity. I love the representation. I want it to stick around.
Survivor is a microcosm of life. We've been saying that for 20 years. I've been saying it for three, but the collective I'm a part of now. It's a microcosm of life. So why not reflect that on such a big platform? Give some people who haven't always had a voice, a voice and a platform to get their stories out there. That's beautiful! It's been a white man's club for way too long. But I'm here for the wokeness. I love it. I'm here for the girls, the gays, the theys. I'm here for everything in between.
Liz Wilcox: I love the Final Four firemaking. I agree with Jeff. I think it gives that person who probably is the best player that one final shot at making it to the end. Because if the other players are smart, they are going to band together, and they're going to vote your ass out. So this gives you one final shot at that immunity, at placing yourself in the final Tribal. So I really love it.
I remember watching Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers. And I loved Ben. That's another hot take. I think he's one of the best winners to ever win. I love everything he does. That was the most exciting season for me because he started at the top, "King Ben." And then it was like, "Actually, you suck, and we don't like you." And then for him to win it at the end. I was almost in tears. I was like, "Oh no, he needs this for his family. He's a veteran." And, of course, I'm on the couch like, "Ben, no!" And then, that Final Four came with the firemaking. It blew my mind. So I don't care who you are, what you say. That's great television. And it's a great opportunity for the player who is a great player to have one final shot. And who doesn't like that?
Moriah Gaynor: I'll say it loud for the people in the back. Last Gasp is not a good challenge! It's a Survivor classic; a lot of people love it. I don't think it teaches you a ton about players that you couldn't do inland. I don't think it makes for good television. As a viewer, I'm sitting there being like, "Ooh, that sounds interesting. Wow." But ultimately, when you see this so many times, you know what's gonna happen. The tide is gonna come, and people are gonna go out. So, to me, not a good challenge.
Q Burdette: I'll say Yam Yam winning. I guess I didn't see it. I thought Yam Yam had a better final Tribal Council than the two ladies. But gameplay-wise, I thought Carolyn played the best game. I get why the jury did what they did. Carolyn choked at the final. Heidi choked at the final. She was kind of weird with her, "Thank you for the question." That was kind of quirky. And I think she made a ballsy move to put herself in position to make fire. But she had to do that. If we date back to that time Natalie did not do that. I thought she did enough in that game to beat Tony. But the jury decided she did not. But if she would have done that, she would have won. In Heidi's situation, she had to do it. I think she got one vote, maybe because of it, which is nice. But I just didn't see the Yam Yam deal.
I just thought Carolyn was so wacky. Carolyn had idols. She didn't share information when she could have. I think she was in control of her emotions. Although it might seem like she wasn't, she knew exactly what she was doing. And her game was just, to me, just overall better than Yam Yam's game and Heidi's combined, if you had to combine those two. She was a core part of the alliance. She just wasn't someone they was coattailing alone. She was making real decisions. But she can keep her mouth shut. She can dip into the other side and make them think that she's about to flip and switch, and then she doesn't.
Related: Everything to Know About Survivor 46
Randen Montalvo: This is a hot topic in my family. Because we watched 44. Like I said, it was really hot-seated. So my daughter was going for Carson. My wife was going for Yam Yam. And I was going for Carolyn. I wanted Carolyn to win. I thought she won. She was getting directions and Air Force guidelines from Carson. And he didn't even put a vote in for her! I was like, "What is this?" But to his respect, I do work near NASA. And he probably quantified that Yam Yam, through his game, maybe earned it. But I really thought Carolyn had that in the bag. And I didn't understand it. She didn't get one vote. It just tells you how dynamic the game has become. The beginning first take to the end first take, to me, was like art. It was a lot of nights of arguing nicely in a family setting. It was astonishing.
Soda Thompson: I'd bring back the auction! [It's] gone. I really, really want it to come back. And I saw a gavel in the preview of season 45. So maybe that means something, I don't know.
Tevin Davis: Maryanne actually just talked about this on a podcast. And I was so glad that she brought it up because it's something that's been digging at me for so long. I'm not gonna call them idiots. Remind yourself, Tevin. But when you win final immunity. You're in the Final Four, you just won Simmotion. And you decide, like Heidi did, I'm gonna give this immunity necklace up, because I want a chance to go at fire. "I don't want to win second or third. I want first," is what she said, and you gave up your immunity necklace to try to prove a point to the jury that you belong.
And I think that because fire happens in that moment, we have devalued the final Immunity Challenge. You just won the final Immunity Challenge. You don't need to give that up to prove that you can beat this person playing fire and risk your million dollars possibly losing in a fire competition. This game is very much what have you done for me lately. And I think people feel like, "Oh, all of the work that you've done, the 25 days leading up to this moment is null and void. So you need to make fire in front of us now." No! I won the final Immunity Challenge. I earned this. Y'all go to fire. I'll see y'all in Final Three.
Tiffany Nicole Ervin: I don't think this is a hot take, because I doubt I'm the only person that feels this way. But I don't know why people just don't know how to shut the [expletive] up. Why do you feel that when you get an advantage or an idol that you have to tell somebody? Time and time again, Survivor history has proven to us that revealing your advantages is a poor decision for gaining trust. All they're gonna do is use that as a bargaining chip to gain trust with somebody else. Shut your ass up!
Tim Spicer: Man, Survivor's not a game. And I mean, it is a game, except it's nothing that I've seen on TV. But the past five days being out here, it's mind-blowing. It's nothing like watching it. And then for all the people that [have tried to be] like, "Oh, you got to do this. You got to do that." You don't know until you're out here. And if I do the numbers right, Mike, only 1000 People have been on Survivor. And so the ratio of the people that are doing it and the people actually talking about it is slim to none.
Next, check out our interview with Survivor 45 winner Dee Valladares.