(Author’s note: this was written before CBS announced that Bobby Jon and Stephenie would be competing. That’s why they’re not included in this list.)
Summer’s over and it’s Survivor time again! This season is set in Guatemala, affording contestants the opportunity to deface and mock the relics of ancient civilizations. The ugly American strikes again.
This cast is interesting because there are no African-American Survivors. I can only assume that the camp sites are nowhere near bodies of water, because what’s a season of Survivor without the stereotype-fulfilling black person who can’t swim? It may actually be a refreshing change of pace to eliminate at least one of the stereotypes, although it’s too soon to tell if Lydia will renew the role of loud, angry Latina, originated by Sandra in Pearl Islands (“I can get loud, too, what the f—!”).
In anticipation of Thursday’s Survivor: Guatemala premiere, I’ve used the bios at CBS.com to give a rough ranking of the contestants. I’ll qualify this, since I know there’s no chance that this will be the real order of elimination, by saying that these are general placements – basically who’s likely to go quickly and who might be around for a while. Or, in an idealized version of the game, who’d win if nobody else noticed how well they were playing:
16) Lydia – She’s 42 and petite, attributes the typical early-20s Survivor will interpret as old and frail. She’s a fishmonger, which is totally awesome, but the Survivor she most admires is Rupert, so I can’t like her. Unless she starts roaring as well.
15) Brian – He’s 22 and a recent graduate of Columbia University. He’s trying to justify having majored in Psychology by thinking it’ll help him play mind games with the other contestants. That’s not the way it works, nerd. You’re out!
14) Rafe – Another Ivy Leaguer, Rafe’s 22 and a recent Brown graduate. He’s a Mormon who’s in love with his mom. The jocks are going to love that.
13) Jim – At 63, Jim is actually the obvious one to vote out first. But he’s a retired fire captain who now travels the world and climbs mountains, so he’s got a high novelty factor. He may be able to pull a Rudy and stick around till the end if he’s cool and smart enough.
12) Jamie – At 24, this water ski instructor/aspiring actor has an identical twin named Ramie and really mean parents. If he’s strong enough, his tribe may keep him around till the merge, at which point they’ll cut him loose. *When my college friends Rick and Jamie started dating, we nicknamed them “Ramie.” See, it’s not a real name.
11) Margaret – This nurse practicioner is 43 and sports a mullet.
10) Morgan – She’s a magician’s assistant, which is both neat and sad, so this 21-year-old may not last long. If she’s cute enough, she could stick around, but unless she can saw herself in half, she’s gone.
9) Blake – He’s 24 and a really creepy looking model. He likes skydiving and kissing, meaning he’s probably got an online personal ad at Match.com (seriously, everyone there likes skydiving. I mean, come on…). Like Jamie, being young and fit means he won’t win.
8) Brianna – At 21, this make up artist looks like she tried out for The Real World and was miscast. Young women who succeed in the game generally get by on sweetness (Elizabeth, Neleh), but Brianna describes herself as “deceitful.” She’ll have to play an even luckier, er, better game than Jenna Morasca to last to the end.
7) Amy – This 39-year-old police sergeant from Massachusetts is apparently the female version of Tom Westman, last season’s Survivor winner. She even played pro-football (where and when, her bio doesn’t say). There’s no way anyone’s letting her near the final four.
6) Brandon – He’s 22 and a farmer. I’m guessing he’s strong but quiet enough to go unnoticed.
5) Brooke – She’s a 26-year-old law student who grew up on a farm – the thinking woman’s Stephenie. If she can hold back a bit, but still be worth keeping around, she could win it all. But something tells me the others will figure her out and not take their chances.
4) Gary – As a former NFL quarterback, everyone is going to want to hang out with Gary. That is until they remember that he was an NFL quarterback and they punt him off the island.
3) Judd – Why rank a 34-year-old hotel doorman third? He could be another Chris Daugherty, likeable and non-threatening enough that people don’t realize he’s pulling one over on them. Also, he has parents kind enough to name his twin brother Timmy, so that might bode well.
2) Cindy – Another contestant with mean parents! Cindy is a 31-year-old zookeeper with a twin sister named Mindy. Come on people, rhyming twins aren’t cool. Cindy seems pretty buff and a little bossy, so she’d be worth teaming up with if you knew you could beat her in the final vote.
1) Danni – Right now, Danni’s my girl. She’s 30 and hosts a sports radio show in Kansas City. She was a competitor in beauty pageants as well as athletics. The guys will keep her around as long as they can since she’s pretty and knows sports, but by the time they realize she’s a real threat, it’ll be too late. Game over. Hand her the million.