May 31, 2012 06:15 PM by Ryan Haidet
Reality television changed forever 12 years ago today on May 31, 2000. That’s when CBS unleashed a brand-new show that forced 16 strangers to live together on an island “while battling the elements and each other.” Those strangers were put on the shores of Borneo with the same goal — to outwit, outplay and outlast all the others to win the $1 million grand prize. That show was Survivor.
It all opened up with the castaways already divided into two tribes — Pagong and Tagi — scrambling to gather supplies on a boat before paddling to their new home. Host Jeff Probst walked around the small ship explaining the basic concept of the game to help give viewers a grasp on how everything was going to work.
By the end of the premiere episode, ukelele-toting Sonja Christopher became the first castaway to ever have her torch snuffed when the Tagi tribe sent her packing.
That first episode known as “The Marooning,” had 15.5 million viewers. The ratings consistently climbed throughout the entire summer up until the finale on Aug. 23, 2000, when more than 51 million people watched Richard Hatch claim the first $1 million prize.
The colossal hit ignited a reality television boom that truly changed the landscape of television by taking everyday people and making them stars.
If you haven’t seen the premiere episode in a while, go back and refresh yourself with it. It really is amazing to see how far the show has come along — especially when it comes to Probst. In that very first Immunity challenge he didn’t offer any commentary. Today, he gives a play-by-play on all of the challenges. That first Tribal Council is also amusing to look back on. It’s the only season in which all of the castaways banged a gong as they entered the Tribal Council area. You’ll also notice that Probst really didn’t have control of that first Tribal Council’s discussions because everybody was talking over each other.
The show marks its 25th season this fall with Survivor: Philippines. It features 15 new castaways with three returning players who were each evacuated in a previous season.
Happy birthday, Survivor! Here’s to 12 more!
What do you think of Survivor’s long-running success? Have you been a fan of the show since it started or did you come on board in future seasons? Do you still watch the show? What is your favorite memory from that first season? Sound off and leave a comment below!
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Images courtesy of CBS.