Three “Survivor” legends – Lauren Ashley Beck (Season 39), Brice Johnston (Season 28) and Ozzy Lusth (Seasons 13, 16, 23 & 34) – attended a season 42 finale watch party at Busby’s West on May 25 to see who would become the newest member of the show’s legendary list of winners. They were joined by many ex-castaways (including the champion of the 33rd class). Adam Klein and Season 36 winners Wendell Holland), other reality TV show stars, as well as dozens of fans who all watched the three-hour episode live on CBS. Gold Derby was on hand to chat with the trio of former players about how the reality TV show has evolved over the past few years.

“I feel like ‘Survivor’ fell short of the mark for a long time, and I think it’s great to see the diversity,” Brice told me. He’s the first openly gay black man to act, and now he’s “honoured to see the trans representation, the POC representation, the women’s representation.” Brice added: “I love it and I’m cheering for everyone. I think 41 and 42 really raised the bar that high and I can’t wait to see what 43 brings.”

Lauren interjected that it was “amazing” that the show included more diverse players, including for the first time “three black women playing ‘Survivor,'” viz Maryanne Oketch, Dream Wheeler and Chanelle Howell. “I just hope they continue to do what they said,” Lauren explained of the network’s 50% diversity mandate initiated in 2020.

“I don’t like that it’s 26 days,” proclaimed challenge animal Ozzy of the new “Survivor” timeline, which used to be 39 days (as all fans know by heart). “I think it should go back to 39 and just stick with it. But other than that, the last two seasons have been incredible. Just getting to what these guys are saying it just reflects the amazing diversity that we have in this country and the fact that we’ve only been seeing this for a short time I think we’re seeing some of the best seasons of ‘ Survivors’ .’”

On whether Survivor has too many benefits these days, Brice revealed, “I think it’s a lot to see season 41, but when I saw 41 and then 42 I was able to process and absorb it a lot better. So I was excited, and I got it.” New twists included the caution advantage, the knowledge advantage, and the risk-reward summit advantage.

Lauren said: “I just wonder as a player how confused they are on the beach. That’s my thing Because there are so many things at play. So many perks and extra votes and this and that. I feel like my head is spinning… We also want to get to know the people.”

Ozzy noted that “maybe if the season lasted 39 days, maybe it would make sense to have that many perks, but with a short, truncated season, sometimes it just feels a little too much.” He agreed with Brice on that it was “actually pretty cool” to see all the same benefits in Season 41 and Season 42.

Brice would “love to see more” of the pre-merge portion of the season as that has always been his favorite part of Survivor. “I don’t want to date my age, but I’ve been a fan of the show for over a decade… I think sometimes we don’t see enough of the first shoe. Like this season Zach Würtenberger was great!” Then he laughed, “And sometimes the third boots are the best,” a not-so-subtle nod to his own experience in Season 28.

The three ‘Survivor’ legends then shouted in unison the name of the player they hoped would win later that night: “Maryanne!”

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