Survivor has not been on the air for 43 years (though it has been on for 22, which is a heck of a long time!). I remember well that summer it premiered, back in 2000, not because I was swept up in it or watched it all, but because everyone else was when I wasn’t paying attention.
I spent that summer on Mackinac Island, which is a place with no cars, and I also watched no TV at all, instead enjoying a kind of beatific escape from modernity, wandering through the woods, playing chess, reading, and, well, working quite a number of hours at a restaurant.
When I returned to civilization, as it were, everyone was talking about Survivor. It was on magazine covers. I had no idea what was going on. But I always think about this when the show comes up—like it’s a symbol for the jolt that being thrust back into the world at large gave me. You have no reason to really care about any of this at all.
But Survivor‘s still going strong, 43 seasons in, and Joel’s here to recommend you check out the current run. Meanwhile, Paul dips back into the 1990s to recommend Angus, but I’ll spare you further reflections on my youth.
We’re here each week providing staff recommendations, and sometimes you’ll be treated to whatever random thoughts they inspire in me as I put the thing together. Be sure to check back next week, and let us know what you’ve been into lately in the comments. – Caemeron
TV Recommendation: Survivor Season 43
Joel Kananen: Now in its 43rd season, the classic reality series Survivor is as good as ever. If you are a previous fan that has fallen off, or someone who never experienced the phenomenon, try Survivor out on a Wednesday night. Exciting, revealing, and easy to follow, Survivor has appeal for nearly anyone. Host Jeff Probst, looking as good as he did in the first season back in 2000, is an energetic guide, and not afraid to ask the tough questions. Beautiful scenery is expertly shot by the camera crew that also lives in the same tough conditions as the cast.
18 castaways in tribes of six must endure the literal and metaphorical heat of island living. The current season features a record-setting Paralympian, a strongman carpenter who was born with Cerebral Palsy, and a sneaky elevator salesman. Over 20 years in, the current cast of survivors have studied previous winners, and losers, molding their game and strategy. While the castaways express their love for one another and the game, they are quick to turn ruthless when their back is against the wall. They have dreamed about playing the game of survival for most of their lives, and are willing to do almost anything to outplay, outwit, and outlast their fellow competitors. There are a million dollars to win or lose. Villainous or heroic, liar or leader, there are many roles to play, and is anyone ever only one thing? Some strategic players are snuffed out immediately, while the skilled ones hide their intentions and can manipulate others with ease. There are many ways to win the game, and many more to lose it. The life-giving fire of Survivor has not been put out, and thus the show endures and entertains.
Film Recommendation: Angus
Paul Keelan: I usually write a ton of words about nostalgic flicks, but this underrated classic only needs a few. Angus was a transformative movie-going experience for me as a kid. It delivered all the feels and was probably the first film to teach me self-love trumps all. Sure, all the played-out school-age archetypes are present—the bullied heavyset kid, the geeky red-headed shrimp, the super-hot and unattainable popular girl, the smarmy gang of sadistic jocks. But Angus goes further than most ‘revenge of the nerds’ parables. It unveils a fundamental human truth—that we’re inherently messy, flawed, insecure, and collectively crave to belong.
When we love ourselves, we become indestructible—incapable of being belittled, disparaged, or ridiculed. The ass-holes of the world can run their mouths, but they are just wasting their breath. The true battleground in Angus (and in life) is internal—a fight for self-esteem. In one way or another, it’s a lesson for all—we’re all losers who at some point need to learn to appreciate and value our intrinsic awesomeness. Angus understands how universal and existential this issue is, and thus, its triumphant finale feels universally empowering. Maybe it is cliché? Whatever. I don’t care. Angus hits a nerve. I love this little coming-of-age movie so freaking much.
Angus is currently available for rent on Prime, Apple TV, Vudu, YouTube, and many other platforms.