Survivor, the show known for its crazy challenges, weird survival skills and deserted island location, has found a new home in an unlikely location, Boston University’s campus.
A group of students in the College of Communication started their very own Survivor club and show at BU. Although the filming of the second season is currently underway, students can look forward to the release of the season one pilot episode around the end of this semester.
Survivor clubs are not a new concept on college campuses with University of Michigan and University of Maryland having its own version of the reality show, Patrick Boese, a junior in COM and president, co-founder, host and a producer of Survivor BU, said.
“When you want to start out a club… it’s always such a Herculean task and there’s really no blueprint for success,” Boese said. “You have no idea if people are going to buy into it.”
Boese co-founded the club with his roommates and seniors in COM, Andy Fialko and Alberto Aizenman. The first season of the show wasn’t themed, with the founders modeling it after the first release of the original Survivor series, Boese said.
“I like to tell people in my pitch for the club that it’s basically a lot like the show, and every week you have a challenge and you have a tribe where someone gets voted out,” Boese said. “It’s just you’re doing the format of Survivor in a college environment, which makes for a lot of interesting gameplay, drama and just situations.”
The BU club tries to stay as true to the original show as possible. Boese even channels Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor, and wears the same Columbia shirts as he does.
“One thing that happens is even though you’re not off in Fiji on an island banging sticks together to start a fire, you’re still playing the game,” Boese said. “The game never really stopped just because you’re in your chem lecture … or because you choose to go out on Friday night and not talk with your tribe.”
Some of the challenges students can expect to see on the show include trademarks like eating a variety of questionable food, balancing acts in harsh weather and “touchy subjects” — a game in which contestants vote for who is most deserving of a given title.
A contestant in season one and junior in COM, James Cherico, said he grew up watching Survivor with his family and that there is “definitely no lack of drama” in the first season of BU’s version.
Cherico said he had heard about the club on campus and decided to apply when Boese sent out the first advertisement for it.
“I have a friend who has applied to be on the actual show all the time, and he likes to talk strategy with me about how he would win,” Cherico said. “So I figured I had a good coach in my corner and it’s always something I’ve just wanted to try.”
Cherico has seen every episode since John Cochran first made an appearance in season 23. He said he modeled some of his own game after Cochran because he liked that he was such an underdog.
“The game was really fun to play, but the things I’m going to remember moving forward … are the friends that I made,” Cherico said. “It’s a group now that’s just kind of solidified for the rest of my time in college which is pretty cool, and we all have this shared experience of playing this weird social game together for a semester.”
Cherico also said he sees some of the cast regularly from season one because they now work on the production team for BU Survivor.
Cherico is currently helping film the second season of the show now called “Revolution in Boston” — a take on the history of Boston with the two tribes named after the patriots and the loyalists.
Kiran Arora, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Science, is an avid watcher of Survivor and is looking forward to watching how the BU version turns out.
“I am honestly really curious just because normally it is on a really hot deserted island, so I’m wondering how they would do that in a college setting,” Arora said. “I think it could be really interesting to see.”
Boese said it’s been really great seeing everything that everyone does behind the scenes to “bring the show to life.”
“It’s really a once in a lifetime unique opportunity that you can take in your college career,” Boese said. “There really just aren’t a whole lot of chances in life to do something of this nature. I think the game that you’re playing is one of the most engaging and captivating ever.”