Romance, Ring Toss, and #RealLife: Survivor, Week 2

We BridgeWorksians are always wearing our generational goggles. Sometimes we feel like Doc Brown from Back to the Future, but our GenLens certainly comes in handy when TV shows like Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X so fittingly grab our attention. So, of course, we took the bait and will be here weekly to discuss, comment, and speculate on the show’s latest episode. We hope it’ll be a cool way to showcase the generations, maybe debunk some generational stereotypes, and if nothing else, give you a good laugh. While most of the season will undoubtedly play out as usual—idols, challenges, a lot of sweating… backstabbing, blindsides, general paranoia—we will focus on the areas where generational collisions occur, because that’s where the real fun is.

Sidebar: A quick (and generationally-impartial) recap of Week 1, “May the Best Generation Win Out,” can be found here. (We may eat, sleep, and breathe generations, but come on now, sometimes even we need a break!)

This past week’s episode begins with the Xer team heading back to camp after voting off one of their members. Saddened, one of them states that the Xer attitude is to “never give up.” This is apt; when you come from a teeny generation stuck between 80 million Boomers and 82+ million Millennials, things can get a little tense. So losing one of your fellow tribesman will definitely test your resilience.

In the other camp, the Millennial tribe is relaxing, with some of them making googly eyes at each other. Enter the proverbial Millennial “hook-up.” Relationships build, social bonds form, and a power couple emerges—as quickly as a power couple can emerge within the time restraints of cable TV. One Millennial comments that their lives are run by texts; even breakups take place with a few key taps and emojis, so the Survivor experience is perhaps a challenge in many more ways than just the physical.

Of course, the next scene shows an Xer spearfishing alone, making a successful catch, and attributing it to the power of doing it themselves. The communication between the fisherman and his tribe mates is awkward at best—they each do their own thing, as independent Xers are known to do. It’ll be interesting to see how the “do it yourself” vs. “there is no ‘I’ in team” natures of the generations either help or hinder this season’s participants. The producers are nothing if not keen to generational traits.

During the show's final challenge, the Millennials lose at a giant game of ring toss in the blue waters of Fiji, so they head to tribal council to vote off one of their own. Plenty of side conversations occurred as host Jeff Probst tried to maintain order; young, energetic, and a bit too paranoid, even for this skeptical Xer! Unfortunately, Mari, the video game tester and model Millennial, was voted out.

The competition is fierce, but Survivor wouldn't be what it is without a little smack talk. Participants expressed some generational opinions that were, of course, stereotypical and generation-bashing. While the nature of competition definitely adds fuel to an already-burning fire, it’s interesting to see where the first gen-bashing blows landed. As you can probably guess, the Xers complained about the work ethic of the Millennials and accused them of being too tech-dependent, growing up in front of the TV screen, never having real experiences. Interestingly enough, if you go back to the first few seasons of Survivor you’ll see Boomers making the same work ethic comments about Xers. And didn’t Xers watch 23,000 hours of TV by the age of 20?

The moral of the story: each generation has its strengths and weaknesses! Can’t we just be friends and sing “Kumbaya” over a dinner of freshly-caught fish? No, this is a competition, you say? Valid point. We’ll see what generational collisions (or collusions!) occur next week.

Stay tuned for thoughts on Week 3 of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.