|If I could say Jeff, I would!|
10. Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains)
I love Rupert! It's hard to believe he's been shoved back to 10th place when he was straight off the bat one of my favorites from episode 1 of Pearl Islands when he got into the pirate theme and looted the other tribe's sandals. Though I don't think he's played the best Survivor game in general (especially when he just wouldn't heed Sandra's warnings about Russell in Heroes vs. Villains), he's always made the show fun to watch, and he clearly knew how to seduce the audience, which granted him a million dollars for fan favorite!
9. Andrew Savage (Pearl Islands)
I know, a bit random, but I really loved him! He was the only good thing about the Morgan tribe that season, and he got eliminated way too prematurely. I think he could have definitely been All-Star material had he stayed just a bit longer.
8. James Clement (China, Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites, Heroes vs. Villains)
The first time I saw James was in Fans vs. Favorites, and I was completely crazy about him as a player. I think the Parvati-Amanda-James-Ozzy (PAJO) quartet had me at hello, and James totally impressed me in his physical game and his loyalty. I loved that he stood up to Parvati when she blindsided Ozzy. Then I watched China, and though enjoyed him there as well, I didn't appreciate his cockiness when he found the two immunity idols, and was actually quite glad he got kicked off with both of them. When I saw him in Heroes vs. Villains after that, he definitely lost some respect from me, which is why he's only 8th on my list. Not only was his all-around game still not that smart, but he had lost his charm as well. That said, his participation in the PAJO alliance keeps him in my Top 10 without regrets.
7. Amber Brkich (Australian Outback, All-Stars)
I was not a huge fan of Amber in Australia, which is why I love that she's made it to my Top 10 (cuz let's face it, my Top 10 is like, totally legit'). I thought she was bland, and not particularly strategic. I also could not understand why she was so close to Jerri. But in All-Stars... Wow! She really came out of her shell, and despite Boston Rob's awesomeness almost overshadowing her, I think she played a great game and stood out in all the ways necessary to win, which she definitely deserved to do. Plus, I totally adored seeing Boston Rob and Amber's romance blossom before my eyes... [sigh]
6. Courtney Yates (China, Heroes vs. Villains)
Courtney is ALWAYS fun to watch. I was shocked but so glad when she made it to the final three in China, and really appreciated that someone who plays this game so differently also got recognition. I think my favorite Courtney moments were when she was on the Jury in Heroes vs. Villains. Her facial expressions were priceless.
5. Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains)
The first double-winner of the show, Sandra is a surprise at #5. The first time I saw her was in Heroes vs. Villains and I was in utter disbelief when she won. I thought Parvati and Russell had definitely outdone her in every way, and felt that the Jury had been too begrudging of the other two. However, after watching Pearl Islands and Heroes vs. Villains for a second time, I really began to appreciate her game. Sandra manages to stay under the radar, while riding on nobody's coattails and constantly trying to change the game to her advantage. I think that by campaigning so hard against Russell to the Heroes, who naively and stupidly decided to ignore her warnings, while still managing to stay in the game when she realized they weren't going to listen to her represents perfectly why Sandra is such a great Survivor. Like Cirie, she caters to her strength: her strategy. Unlike Cirie, she actually pulls it off.
Plus, Sandra has my absolute favorite Survivor quote:
Russell "You're either with me or you're against me."
Sandra "I'm against you Russell."
(it only works if you actually hear the exchange in your head)
4. Ozzy Lusth (Cook Islands, Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites, South Pacific)
Notwithstanding that I've had a major crush on Ozzy since the first episode of Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites (which I saw before Cook Islands), I think Ozzy is one of the best players of Survivor ever. His social game may be "lacking" according to Jeff (I would argue that it's just been underused), but his physical and survival game is flawless. While Colby technically holds the title for most individual challenges won, Ozzy is without a doubt #1 in my mind. The folks on Cook Islands did not know what hit them, and while Jason put up a good fight in Fans vs. Favorites, Ozzy incontestably remains master. Furthermore, he is Survivor's best provider. Some might argue Rupert is up there, but while Rupert kept talking about how he provided for his tribe, Ozzy just went ahead and did it, time and time again. Close observers will have noticed that Ozzy has a social game too. Before Parvati totally outplayed him and shook things up, I'd say he was right up at the top of his strategic game and had the PAJO alliance stuck together, he would have probably won that season. There are many other examples, but I'd rather just sit and watch how he gets his redemption this season.
3. Russell Hantz (Samoa, Heroes vs. Villains, Redemption Island)
Oh Russell... Just like Rupert, he knows how to capture the audience's respect, but unlike his fan favorite counterpart, he rubs everyone else the wrong way. However you feel about Russell, there is no doubt that he MADE Samoa, period. No one else on that season is worth even mentioning, and yet it's still one of my favorites, purely thanks to moments Russell created. And then he got a second round, free of any barriers, in Heroes vs. Villains, because no one knew what to expect of him. Unfortunately, he wasn't as lucky in Redemption Island, and I wish that he'd gotten further, but I also enjoyed seeing a more emotional side to him - all-the-while remaining true to himself and leaving with a splash.
2. Boston Rob Mariano (Marquesas, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains, Redemption Island)
I really struggled with Boston Rob on this one... He's only a smidgeon away from the top spot. While I (shamefully) haven't seen him in Marquesas (yet!), he has progressively seduced me and won not only my heart, but also my respect. I never really got why he was pegged a "Villain" in Heroes vs. Villains. I understand that what he did to Lex in All-Stars is perhaps villainesque at best, but he didn't totally blindside him. He played the game, and was upfront about it. I have definitely seen worse villains in this game. Unfortunately, we only saw a glimmer of the great Boston Rob in Heroes vs. Villains, but that's totally Tyson's fault for falling into Russell's claws - and well, also Russell's genius scheming skills. But thankfully, we saw Boston Rob at his very best in Redemption Island. This is one of the times when seeing the contrast between Boston Rob in game mode and Boston Rob in private mode was the most entertaining, similarly to Russell in Samoa. The only thing I have to say against his game in Redemption Island is how he played his buddy Grant. I think he could have handled that situation much better, while getting the same results. Other than that: Boston Rob, I still don't know how you did it, but I applaud you and rejoice all the same!
1. Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands, Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites, Heroes vs. Villains)
Perhaps only a smidgeon ahead of Boston Rob when I talk about Boston Rob, once I get to Parvati, there is no doubt in my mind she deserves to be #1. Owing her elimination to bad luck within her tribe in Cook Islands, Parvati took things into her own hands right off the bat in Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites, making it my absolute favorite season of Survivor ever by the same token. Her feats included how she played James and Ozzy like a fiddle, how she orchestrated that black widow female alliance, while letting everyone feel like they were in control (hence Natalie Bolton's hilarious outbursts of 'faux' power), how she remained loyal to Amanda right till the end, how she rocked in challenges on top of being a social mastermind, and how she never once complains about anything. In Heroes vs. Villains, she was a target from day one, yet she managed to pull through all the way to the final three, losing by only a margin. Again, she played a great social game, took full advantage of a mutually beneficial alliance with Russell, and brought a loyal companion as far as she could with Danielle. Parvati may be scheming and mischievous, she is also a woman of her word when it comes to the alliances that matter. It will be very hard to dethrone Parv from her top spot, very hard indeed.
Honorable mentions: Amanda Kimmel (for being in the PAJO alliance), Jonathan Penner (for not being afraid to make unpopular decisions, and providing great entertainment along the way), Stephenie LaGrossa (for proving that women can do more than just flirt), Richard Hatch (for being the best Survivor a Season One Survivor could have been), Grant Mattos (for providing some extra eye-candy in Redemption Island) and Tom Westman (for being an actually likeable leader from the get-go).
What are your Top 10 Favorite Survivors of All Time?