How the Ratings System Works

Every episode is given its own rating on a scale of 1 to 10. That score is added to a rating between 1 and 5 for each season based on its tier to get an overall rating. The tiers are as follows:

Tier A seasons (5): Borneo, Africa, Marquesas, Pearl Islands, Palau, China, Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan
Tier B seasons (4): The Australian Outback, Amazon, Panama, Philippines, Kaoh Rong
Tier C seasons (3): Vanuatu, Gabon, Tocantins, Blood vs. Water, Cambodia, Millennials vs. Gen X, Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
Tier D seasons (2): Thailand, All-Stars, Guatemala, Fiji, Micronesia, Nicaragua, South Pacific, San Juan del Sur, Worlds Apart, Game Changers
Tier E seasons (1): Cook Islands, Samoa, Redemption Island, One World, Caramoan

How do you decide on the episode rating?

Ultimately, it boils down to the episode being entertaining, exciting, important, or some combination thereof. Did it keep my attention throughout, or did I find myself distracted by thoughts of what Taylor Swift song I should sing at karaoke this weekend? (I’m feeling old-school Tay-tay right now. “You Belong With Me” maybe?) On the flip side, even if it did keep my attention, was it in a way that made me frustrated or uncomfortable? Tension and drama are good; unpleasantness and injustice are not.

What’s all this tier nonsense about?

This was inspired by (read: directly ripped off from) George Starostin’s rock music reviews. Just like some bands are inherently more vital than others, I feel like Survivor seasons have to be weighted properly to rate individual episodes. A great episode from Caramoan is probably not more valuable than a mediocre episode of Marquesas.

How did you decide which seasons would fit into which tiers?

It was a very scientific process. I went through and asked myself, “How much do I like this season?” and placed it accordingly. It was the most challenging 30 seconds of my life.

I can’t believe you put [season] in Tier [X].

I know. That was definitely the hardest one to rank.