On the day of the Survivor: Islands of the Idols cast reveal, Jeff Probst said that season 39 contains the most powerful group of women in the show's history. It's a significant statement to make, considering Survivor is entering it's 39th(!!!) season of television, but one that potentially foretells a shift of control in a game that has been won by men as of late.
Before each season, Probst offers his thoughts on the cast and the season at large, predicting which players will shock viewers and which he thinks stand no chance. Sometimes he is correct in his assessment, other times he is dead wrong. This season contains 20 new players and two recognizable returning faces, Sandra Diaz-Twine and "Boston" Rob Mariano. The returnees will be there only as mentors, to provide advice as the season goes along and will not be eligible for the million dollar prize. When the cast was officially announced, it was noted that this was one of the most diverse casts the show had assembled. Moreover, the women, upon first impressions, don't appear to be of the mold of the young, pretty faces who look nice on television, but have a lack of game awareness. These women seem to be not only accomplished in real life, but also ready to become potential power players in the game. This is something Probst took note of as the game was about to commence.
Probst's initial thoughts from being out on the beach right before the season was set to film (via: Survivor's official Instagram) was, “I think [it's] the most powerful group of women we’ve ever had." That's saying a lot, considering there have been several strong women alliances that have conspired to run the entire game, most notably in Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: One World. One contestant, Elizabeth Beisel, an Olympic medalist, said:
“How awesome would it be to see women go to the end, you know and kick butt and go toe-to-toe with these men who think that they’re tough."
The desire for both the show's front-facing man in Probst and the female contestants to see women succeed is likely rooted in the run of male winners Survivor has experienced. From seasons 35-38, all four Sole Survivors have been men, the first time in the history of the franchise that any gender has claimed four consecutive victories.
Probst hyping up the women pre-show is not likely an accident. Survivor probably noticed the recent success men have experienced and wanted to cast a group of women who could not only contend with the men, but out-strategize and out-manipulate them with ease. While Survivor has wisely sidestepped issues of politics, it speaks volumes that given the current political climate, the series appears to have made a strong effort to cast not only a well-represented diverse cast, but also one with strong women.
Survivor premieres Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. on CBS.