Koh Rong, Cambodia
Number of episodes
February 17 (2016-02-17) – May 18, 2016 (2016-05-18)
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X
Survivor: Kaôh Rōng is the 32nd season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor. As with Survivor: Cagayan, the season featured players initially divided into three tribes of six based on dominant attribute: "Brains" (intelligence), "Brawn" (athleticism), and "Beauty" (attractiveness and charisma). The competition was filmed in Koh Rong, Cambodia during the spring of 2015 and aired from February 17, 2016 until May 18, 2016, when Michele Fitzgerald was named the Sole Survivor over Aubry Bracco and Tai Trang in a vote of 5–2–0.
Though this was the 32nd season to air, it was the 31st to shoot, having been filmed before Survivor: Cambodia, which aired first; the two seasons were filmed back-to-back in the same location. Like all seasons from Survivor: Fiji onward, this season featured hidden immunity idols that could be played after the votes were cast but before they were read; this season also introduced the feature whereby two of these idols could be combined into one single "super idol" that could be played after the votes were read, similar to the idols found in Panama, Cook Islands, and Cagayan. This season also introduced the power to remove a member of the jury, which was given to the finalist who won the final reward challenge.
The cast is composed of 18 new players, initially split into three tribes containing six members each: Chan Loh ("Brains"), To Tang ("Brawn") and Gondol ("Beauty"). The cast includes former NBA player Scot Pollard and Big Brother 16 contestant Caleb Reynolds.
Caleb Reynolds, Debbie Wanner, Tai Trang, and Aubry Bracco returned for Survivor: Game Changers. Reynolds was the third castaway voted out, placing 18th.
The 18 new castaways were divided into three tribes based on primary attribute: Chan Loh (Brains), To Tang (Brawn) and Gondol (Beauty). Though the Brawn lost three of the first four immunity challenges, being reduced to only Cydney, Jason, and Scot, all three survived through the tribe swap, reaching the merge alongside four Brains and four Beauties.
Upon merging, the Brawns and Beauties initially aligned against the Brains but, put off by their male allies’ attitudes, the Brawn-Beauty women Cydney, Julia and Michele decided to team up with the Brains instead to form a new majority alliance. Though the minority alliance of Jason, Scot and Tai had two hidden immunity idols, Aubry convinced Tai to betray his allies, getting rid of one of the idols and joining the majority.
Aubry and Cydney were the primary strategists of their alliance, and turned against each other when there were four players remaining; Aubry won the tiebreaker to join Michele and Tai in the finals. While all three were praised and criticized by the jury, the jury applauded Michele’s more relaxed, yet effective, social game over Aubry’s outwardly strategic game play and Tai’s erratic strategy, and she was awarded the title of Sole Survivor.
The season received generally favorable reviews by critics, who applauded the overall season but criticized the finale, calling it lackluster. Most of the criticism was aimed at the jury for declaring Michele Fitzgerald the winner, with many critics stating that runner-up Aubry Bracco was more deserving of the title. Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter praised the season's unpredictability but panned the final Tribal Council, saying "this was one of the rare seasons that came into its last leg with no inherently 'wrong' winner;" but "a dismal jury delivered a verdict that came so close to wrong it may retroactively dampen my feelings for the season as a whole." Andy Dehnart of Reality Blurred echoed this sentiment, stating that it "ended up being a strong season overall, with some exceptionally dramatic moments and interesting game play throughout" but the finale was a "disappointing three hours."
Contestant Tai Trang also received positive attention for his treatment of animals throughout the game, most notably for domesticating a chicken named Mark, after series creator and executive producer Mark Burnett, over the course of the game. Trang's actions prompted musician Sia to make a surprise appearance at the live reunion show to donate $50,000 each to Trang and an animal charity of his choice.
Ratings for the premiere were down considerably from both the Worlds Apart season and Cambodia season, attaining a 1.9/7 rating/share among adults 18-49; this was largely due to American Idol airing at the same time as the show and attaining a 2.0/7 rating. Including DVR playback, the premiere was watched by 10 million viewers and got a 2.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic, slightly surpassing American Idol's 9.76 million viewers and 2.5 rating.
It was often in the top ten most watched broadcast shows among adults 18-49, a trend that started with episode three. By April, the show became the No. 1 unscripted program among adults in all demographics, beating The Voice.