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‘The tribe has spoken:’ Survivor BU grows while airing its first season, filming third

For students anticipating the release of the first season of Survivor BU — produced by a club at Boston University where students have come together to reproduce one of CBS’s longest running reality television programs on BU’s campus — the wait is finally over.

A shot from season 1 episode 3 of the Commonwealth Tribe convening at tribal council. With production of season 3 beginning, Survivor BU’s first season has now begun airing, while previous contestants relive their experiences while watching. PHOTO COURTESY OF SURVIVOR BU VIA YOUTUBE.

With now over 80 subscribers, Survivor BU has begun streaming the first three episodes filmed in the Fall 2021 on their YouTube channel weekly.

While some students are currently in the midst of competing in the club’s third season the “Hauntings of Fenway,” older contestants who were a part of the two tribes named “Bay State” and “Commonwealth” in the very first season, are now beginning to relive their experience.

“No one is the same person they were even a semester before,” said Grace O’Brien, a junior in the College of Communication and contestant on the first BU survivor season. “So looking back at that version of myself playing Survivor, it’s funny, and it’s interesting watching yourself.”

O’Brien, a member of the Bay State tribe, was among 16 castaways to compete for up to 81 days where only one would win the title of sole survivor.

The first episode of season one titled “Kanye Warren Was a Setback, Everyone” has pulled in over 500 views online, with the other episodes, “I’m Sh—tting Bricks Right Now” and “I Didn’t Want to Have Beef With Her, But Now I Guess I Do,” with over 100 and 200 views, respectively.

O’Brien said it was unreal that people around campus who had seen the show were recognizing her from it and asking for spoilers.

“I was at a party this weekend and people came up to me and they were like, ‘Oh my god, you’re Grace from Survivor,’” O’Brien said.

Having grown up watching “Survivor”’ with her mother, O’Brien said she has “fond memories” of the show. But she said it was still a little “jarring” when everyone in her season was a “mega-fan” of the show.

“I’m talking like, absolute mega fan,” O’Brien said. “I’ve never in my life — like they were listing off winners, they were listing off tribes.”

Patrick Boese, a senior in COM and the creator and host for the show, said the real “Survivor” host Jeff Probst has left “pretty big shoes to fill” and that it’s been “surreal” to impersonate him.

“I’m wearing this Jeff Probst shirt that’s horrendously too baggy, but I’m just out there doing my best, which … that’s not changed,” Boese said. “By this point, I have gotten my bearings a little bit better.”

Overall, it was a learning experience, Boese said, especially in terms of how difficult the process was at first to produce the show with “a leaner production team.”

“You’re essentially trying to do a reality TV show that normally has hundreds, literal hundreds of cameras, with three people,” Boese said.

The club grew from filming the contestants with just his roommates and one other friend, Boese said, to a larger production crew now involving past contestants as well.

“As we’ve gotten into season two and season three, the personnel issues were abated, and we had a lot more involvement in our production staff,” Boese said. “We were able to get a lot more footage. We were able to capture a lot more of the narrative.”

Maggie Thompson, a sophomore in the School of Hospitality Administration, said her friend competed in BU Survivor season one which made her decide to apply for season two “Revolution in Boston” last semester.

“I grew up watching the show, and obsessed with the show, so I was like, I have to apply,” Thompson said.

Going from player to production, Thompson said she is now able to “get to know” the other people involved.

“In the game, even when you’re just talking about your regular life, you really don’t know if people are lying to you or not,” she said.

Thompson said she’s “pumped season one is finally out” and that it will be interesting to see how they edit her season once it’s released.

“It’s getting me very excited to see my season but also super nervous because when we played it, nothing had been out on Youtube yet, so it didn’t feel as real,” Thompson said.

O’Brien said that the first season will definitely have lots of “edge on your seat” moments as it lives up to the shock factors with “drama and intensity.”

“They’ve done such a fantastic job editing, they’ve done a great job of promotion, they’ve done a great job all around, and I really hope that we’ll see that come through,” O’Brien said.



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