There are several approaches to the game of Survivor. You can be unabashedly yourself like Richard "Naked Guy" Hatch. You can lie and scheme and cheat until the very end like Russell Hantz. (Not to mention the dozens of variations between those polar opposites.) Well, one Survivor alum regrets the latter of not being honest and “authentic” about their background while playing.
It is very possible that you don't remember the name Julia Landauer. But she was definitely present in Survivor: Caramoan, the season famously won by John Cochran. She didn't leave much of an impression because she hardly talked or made any big game moves. But having had nine years to think about it, Landauer realizes now that being more authentic could have helped her get further than a vote out on day 19. She reflected on these regrets to Entertainment Weekly, saying:
My biggest regret is not being authentic about who I was and concealing that I went to Stanford. I thought it would help me long-term in the game, to not be known as the future Stanford grad… but what I found was that it was essentially a lie I had to keep up, and I didn't want to blow my cover once I started that narrative, so I ended up playing it safe and not saying as much, and coming off as a lot more quiet that I am in real life. But having done that, I learned the incredible lesson of being intentional with who you are. Which is a great lesson to learn at age 20.
We can't fault Julia Landauer for her initial strategy on Survivor: Caramoan. Though she didn't make a huge impression, the season's theme was “Fans vs Favorites” after all, so it was probably a pretty good move to lay low in the beginning stages of the game while so many big names we're making big plays. Unfortunately, that can only get you so far in a game that demands you outwit the others.
Julia Landauer isn't the only one with regrets after playing Survivor. (And she likely won't be the last.) Zeke Smith regretted talking to host Jeff Probst too much on Survivor: Game Changers. Even fan-favorite Cirie Fields regrets not putting “a thousand percent” into being a “physical competitor.”
There's just one too many ways that a Survivor contestant’s game can become disastrous or a disappointment. Much like Julia Landauer, alum Cat Edorsson wished that she had more age-old wisdom while playing. Ironically, Edorsson was loud and proud in her social strategy, which is in direct contrast with Landauer’s approach. Yet now, they both have similar regrets when looking back on their respective seasons.
Speculation has it that the new season will be a lot different than what alums experienced in the past. Supposedly, there won’t be any theme this year, and it could possibly be shorter than the standard 39 days. But if you don't believe me, check out what host Jeff Probst said about Survivor Season 41 on Twitter recently:
Survivor was tough for the players because, think about it, we had an entire year where we weren't shooting, so all we had was time to think and that's a dangerous thing. It led us to creating a new game that is much more dangerous. You can refer to it as Survivor 2.0. You can call it ‘dawn of a new era,’ which it is... Survivor 41 is like the monster in a horror movie and if you're a player, it's coming for you. So either you devour the monster or the monster will devour you.
Season 41 is set for a two-hour premiere on Wednesday, September 22 on CBS. And after such a long hiatus, regardless of monsters real or imagined, my body and spirit is ready for Survivor’s return.