Survivor: Millennials vs Gen-X Cast Reactions Part 1: Takali or Leavali It

The fact that I had to type that season title gives me hives.

You might have noticed if you know anything about me, that I loathe the idea for Season 33. Millennials vs Gen X is a lousy concept with a lousy premise and a lousy logo and a veeeeeeheeeheeeheeeery lousy name. It reeks of suck and it’s due to make me cringe, in my professional opinion. An age divide, I can deal with, but generation gaps are just asking for inflammation. I’m expecting a lot less generic old and young trash talk and a lot more heavy, targeted insults.

Still, a good cast will make up for the sins of the premise. Hell, it was a dumb ass idea to do Blood vs Water again the filming cycle after the first, but the cast was so dynamic we all but forgot that. As horrid as it is to make a generation gap season on purpose rather than accidentally wind up with Samburu, I can deal with it if the cast is good. At the very least, I oughta discuss them.

Keep in mind there is ten to a tribe so you’ll forgive me if I am shorter than usual. I also plan to release the gameplay/character rankings separately so you all don’t have to read that many words. With that in mind, I may as well tackle the tribe that I am furthest from, Gen X- also known as Takali.


Ken McNickle

Age: 33

Current residence: Denver, CO

Occupation: Model

I have a number of questions.

One, who thought we needed another Jeremiah?

Two, why is he on the Gen-X tribe at 33? He was born in 1983- is that the new cutoff date?

Three, even if the 80s were the date to be Gen-X or not, we have a 31-year-old on the Millennials Tribe. So why is someone two years older than that on the Gen-X tribe? How are we gonna have a Generation Gap season with such a small gap that the two probably could have been switched?

Ken McNickle is a strange addition to such a heated theme in that he, at age 33, would probably be the baby of his tribe more than Will, the youngest contestant ever, would be on his. He also reminds me of Jeremiah, and if you need a refresher he’s the eighth placer on Cagayan. He is not a contestant noteworthy enough to be replicated, but Ken strikes me as that- right down to being a thirty-something model who seems incredibly boring.

Because he is so young, and so close to being on the diametric opposite tribe, I originally wanted to puke in my suit when he talks about why Gen-X is better. Like, he says mild things about the gap compared to others but he has the least right to say them. I cannot take his comments about hard work and incredible shifts and being disconnected from his devices too seriously when he is only a couple of years older than Kim Powers was, on the lazy side of Samburu.

That’s what I would say, but to his credit he does seem kind of intelligent (citing the Dalai Lama as a source of inspiration was a hell of a move for someone like Ken, plus he’s also a heavy reader), although I have to wonder how much the model is posing. In addition, at least his story is interesting where he is not- he was a self-professed hedonist who went off the grid until finding out he had a four year old daughter, one he loves dearly and was sad to leave to be on Survivor but hopes to win the money for. This is at least a unique story that for some reason wasn’t mentioned in his bio. Parts of it do come off pretty humble-braggy, but at the very least if they want to make Gen-X out to be hard workers, Ken fits into that.

Either way, an interesting backstory is nice and it’s clear that Ken loves being a father, but the backstory will at this stage of Survivor be at best five minutes. With barely any backstory to share, we are left with the character. The boring, boring, booooriiiing character.



Lucy Huang

Age: 42

Current residence: Diamond Bar, CA

Occupation: Dietician

There’s someone I know who is way upset that the photos are in action photos, not actual cast photos. When I say way upset, I mean it- like constant posts and reminders and declarations that this was the end of Survivor. This was actually a relatively normal person I respected too so I was surprised at first. Myself, I consider myself a sucker for the classics and even I am not offended by the lack of cast photos. For one, there was a big typhoon in Fiji that destroyed most of the S33 sets before filming that they had to rebuild so if it never stopped raining long enough for individual cast photos I’d buy it. For another, cast photos are simply not that big of a frigging deal.

However, you cannot tell me that there was not a better photo of Lucy than her staring at you with judgey eyes. She might just be squinting but it feels like she is judging every one of my decisions in life.

That photo of Lucy judging someone could easily apply to her bio- there is something about her that just does not like this concept. I read the bios for preparation and because Ken was so nothing alone that he made me take a three day break, and most of the answers are in fact the generic “Hurr hurr participation trophies we work hard and they don’t” stuff you’d expect the tribe from a generation that immediately forgot they were considered lazy people by the generation before.

Some, like Rachel, also disagree but are polite about it. Lucy, however, might be speaking directly to the other bios when she says that her parents (a generation above her) were considered hard workers, and as a Gen-Xer she had sports participation trophies that were “earned- not given”. I love it when people vocally dispose of the theme set up, and Lucy did that with the worst theme Survivor has ever had. To be fair, she is proud of being a Gen-Xer, but for reasons of independence, not what the show says the Gen-Xers are like. She speaks fondly in her video of doing manual labor and relying on instinct to drive themselves, and divides people into two camps- those who have experienced life and those who haven’t.

Lucy herself is very family oriented- she mentions those that raised her and those she is raising many times in her bio. Even though she was a “latchkey kid with very little parental supervision” she does mention her mother, an immigrant from Taiwan who had to work hard to adapt to America. She also mentions her kids early on in her video and claims that she will miss them, which I don’t doubt. She does want to represent the moms out there, even if she doesn’t plan to be very motherly to others, which still enjoy being a runner-up but hey. Still, she wants to show other moms like her that they can do what they thought they couldn’t, probably like her own mother showed Lucy.

Lucy is kind of a simple human being- a hard worker, a family woman, a bit of a technophobe- but just being simple does not mean she is stupid. She doesn’t immediately strike me as a next level player but I am interested in seeing what she does. She doesn’t strike me as a winner type but certainly not a disaster. She runs the risk of getting a purple edit but if she is shown she will probably be a nice addition.


Chris Hammons

Age: 38

Current residence: Moore, OK

Occupation: Trial lawyer

People have said this is one of the ugliest casts ever. Now personally I give zero craps about that. I spent half of recapping Kaoh Rong a cancerous Wilson Fisk and everyone knew that about me; I certainly cannot comment on the looks of Chris Hammons. Besides, we probably know more Chris-looking people than Michele-looking people, so I would wager Chris himself is probably closer to those we know than those we do not.

That would probably be what I said if I did not read his bio. Dude is waaaaay weird, and I say that as ME. I’m a 22-year-old trans cancer survivor and even I am like “bro, that’s way weird”.

I mean, look at him in person and look at his bio. He looks so… ordinary. I said last season Alecia’s modeling might be the most beige photo ever but it might be topped by Chris Hammons’ presence. He looks like ordinary people.

So would you expect him to be a trial lawyer from Oklahoma living in a trailer as a kid with a drug trafficking father? Would you expect him to say his hometown had a sign celebrating him? Would you expect him to namecheck a trial lawyer I haven’t heard of while saying trial lawyers are the reason Americans have a voice? (Bad example, moving on.) Would you expect him to have a medicine pouch from an “Indian Chief” and that it was his first item of choice to bring to the island? The only ordinary thing in his bio is him saying he’d be like Boston Rob because apparently every guy on Survivor would. Otherwise, his bio is strange as hell.

I covered a weird person in my first article about Survivor which was about 35 years ago in Debbie Wanner. The thing that threw me off was her saying she was like Coach, which missed the point of Coach’s delusion and aggrandization. Like with most things that season I was very wrong, but the bio stands. It’s the easiest thing to compare him to, but unlike Debbie, I think he IS like Coach in video and ESPECIALLY bio.

More importantly, I think that despite him being like Coach he sees himself as an American hero, which Survivor will check very quickly. Even as nice as he is, I get the sense that he thinks way higher of himself than most people do. I think that he genuinely had a hard background, that cannot be denied, but a good chunk of people do without being as big on themselves as Chris.


Sunday Burquest

Age: 45

Current residence: Otsego, MN

Occupation: Youth pastor

You might have noticed that I don’t like Kyle Jason. If you’ve read my articles, and I figure about three people plus my mother have (Hi Mom!) you might guess that I generally have a distaste for that anus-tattooed prickheel misogynist asshole who is only one false racism accusation away from Phillip and disgustingly brags about torturing random people as a bounty hunter and splitting up families and is in general horrid TV that I cannot stand on any level whatsoever.

As you might have gathered, we are not friendly.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my new Kyle Jason.

This is Sunday Burquest. She is a female Minnesotan youth pastor- the diametric opposite of Kyle. As you might have guessed, she is Christian- after all, she calls herself Sunday, and I say calls herself because that may not be her real name- it can’t be, right? Her bio might have mentioned God more than the entirety of South Pacific. Her bio is also tacky and, like Chris’, is self congratulatory for things many have had to deal with, but adds a singularity to it as if she is the only one to ever suffer. Oh, and there’s the little thing about her helping gay conversion therapy and camps, which is so disgusting I can let it stand for itself.

She and I are gonna have a hard time getting along, methinks.

Someone I hate in real life could still be good TV if I swallowed my pride and let her be her all over my TV. I mean, I gave Caleb a chance and he was okay for Kaoh Rong. Hell, his near-death experience made one of the show’s best ever episodes. Double-Hell, getting a Youth Pastor for the Gen-X tribe, which has in general little understanding of youth, that was inspired! The problem is that… fuck her, essentially.

I think she has Chris’ impressive case of self-love, but while I can laugh at Chris’ attempts to be all-American on everything, Sunday is genuinely a pastor and genuinely loathsome, which makes her very hard to enjoy. She talks about already being a survivor after going through breast cancer, which makes my case of lymphoma look like candy and sunshine. Still, she talks about that in very self-congratulatory terms- being a warrior and not a whiner just makes me wanna cringe- and she talks about that like it was the only thing she ever experienced, when that is patently untrue.

As much as I hate her role in the lives of youth she doesn’t like, she corrals the youth she does like in a very important avenue in faith. That in itself is very impressive considering youth are often averse to faith and Christianity is very opposed to women in faith. I mean, Laura Morett- one of the strongest players and leaders the show has ever seen- said she didn’t take a leadership role in faith because women shouldn’t be in that role (a stance she apparently has retracted if her government run is any indication). The fact that a Minnesotan mother got up there and took on a hard job impresses me. She did things with that I hate, but it’s still impressive.

Ugh, what can I say though? I was waiting for the bio and the video to make me look like a chump, but I just cannot enjoy even that. Even putting aside the conversion therapy I still think her bio gives me bad vibes and her video leaves no real statement. She seems like she’s high on herself in a way that makes me very fearful of her future, as I cannot see her even being the fun type.


David Wright

Age: 42

Current residence: Sherman Oaks, CA

Occupation: Television writer

You think THAT’S bad?

Nah, I actually like David.

Yeah, be surprised! A friend of mine swore to hate David solely because he wrote for Family Guy. While the later periods of that show often do go to shit, I don’t watch much of any TV besides Survivor and don’t really care about that, so David is okay for me. His bio doesn’t have the self-praise Chris and Sunday do though he does talk his game up in ways that surprisingly feel natural. He seems like he’s aware of who he is and his own flaws and on occasion his strengths and his video also seems on-the-fly, which I did not expect from a self-professed neurotic TV writer. He’s one of the few people this season I like without even an ounce of irony.

He also seems like a great first boot.

I like Wright a lot (the last name being because a writer named Wright makes me giggle myself embarrassed and I want to distance him from the repugnant Murphy and Samson) but I won’t kid myself that he seems like a horrid Survivor player. For one, you have to read your situation to do well. I can relate to Wright’s awareness of his problems but his tribe is largely full of hard luck egotists who won’t know what to do with a TV writer with a comparatively good life that knows how he will suck at everything survival. For another, on any tribe he’s on his problems are generally game-killers. Being small ensures that he will be seen as weaker on principle; being paranoid ensures that they won’t think to keep him.

Regardless, there isn’t much to say about him other than I like him. He’s very ill suited for the game but I like those so it’s no skin off my nose. As much as I think he is an early boot I think he’ll take it well. And on the offchance he doesn’t, at least some blogger online with three readers thinks he’s an okay dude.



Ciandre “CeCe” Taylor

Age: 39

Current residence: Granada Hills, CA

Occupation: Insurance adjuster

Taylors do not have great reputations on Survivor. Right off the top of my head I can think of someone who sucked at challenges as well as someone who threw rice in the fire. Ceces do not have great reputations at Survivor. When I went to get an image of Ciandre Google tried to fill in “Cece” with “lia”, showing that Google is the only one to remember Cecelia Mansilla.

That in mind, CeCe Taylor will not have a hard road to cross to be the best CeCe and Taylor at once. Having read her bio, however, I think CeCe could be the best Gen Xer that lasts a double digit amount of days.

This whole damn tribe seems like it broke a mirror, so it makes sense that CeCe would have a jilted upbringing. Growing up her life was affected by the divorce of three generations above her and her income was decided by her stepfather. Because of that, she got her first job at fourteen to show her independence. Here’s another person- another woman, no less- that sees being a working woman as a form of independence.

Even above that CeCe has strong respect for women in her life, something that makes her sob story more interesting. She uses it to share she got a job at fourteen, which is self-congratulatory to a degree but not even in the top 5 yay-me moments in this tribe, but also uses her story to compliment the women in her life. This is what differs from other stories which are about How Great I Art. Hell, she has a full paragraph about her grandmother as her life inspiration and Eleanor sounds like a genuinely awesome and badass person!

CeCe’s bio is so long you’d think I wrote it. Yeah, she’s a bit holier-than-thou which would affect me more had Sunday not completely exhausted me. Still, she wins my I-actually-like-you-goddammit award, which is very rare for this tribe and season. I think she’s hella cool and should be pretty chill overall, quite contrasting the Taylors and (player not found) for the CeCes.


Paul Wachter

Age: 52

Current residence: Sugarloaf Key, FL

Occupation: Boat mechanic

I think everything that interested people about Paul was in his photo and those three lines in his bio. A guy who looks like he’s trying to be 30 years younger, who has tattoos and wears tank tops, who’s working as a boat mechanic in the Florida Keys? That’s on Survivor? That guy? This guy had people buzzing from when Redmond dropped the cast list seventeen years ago, which I would have to imagine is the case because his bio is by far the least ever.



Scot Pollard’s bio does a better job at defining Scot Pollard’s character than this, which looks like it was made by robots hitting buttons. This cannot be the legacy that Paul wanted. He looks like the most interesting man ever- or at least the loudest. How did he make such a quiet, useless bio looking like it was made by Grandpa not knowing how computers work?

That is a shame, because his video was pretty explosive. I wouldn’t say the best video ever, maybe not even of this season, but I got a sense of who Paul was, and Paul seems pretty interesting. Maybe not as interesting as he looks, but that’s a hard ask. Paul seems like he takes a little from Rudy and Hali, but at the same time he seems like a unique addition to Survivor lore. He indulges in some generation stereotypes at the end which, sadly, I expected, but a cover band frontman who traveled with his kids around the nation and fancies himself a pirate is someone I wanna see on my screen.

Paul Wachter seems like he will be pretty interesting, though perhaps a little overblown as a character. He has an interesting backstory and personality that his bio betrays by being shit-blisteringly boring. That’s about it, though- he looks pretty good but not as great as he seemed- or as awful as he could be. He doesn’t enrage me like Sunday or excite me like… someone NOT from this season. He seems like someone who could be the eighth best character on this season. That doesn’t seem like what he was going for.


Jessica Lewis

Age: 37

Current residence: Voorheesville, NY

Occupation: Assistant district attorney

This photo is the most interesting thing about her

I really, really am tempted to just say “next” for her. Skip her and go to the next person, even though that person is Bret LaBelle, which in and of itself makes me sad. Talk about Jessica or Bret? Boring as sin, but what I signed up for. I got lucky that Kaoh Rong was how I started, even if MvGX was where I was going.

For one, Jessica has tattoos. Big full back tattoos. I like them immensely and even found them attractive, which is nothing special. To be fair, though, neither is Jessica Lewis. Her video was okay, and her bio was okay, but it’s largely stuff I’ve grown tired of with Chris and CeCe, and it doesn’t come with Chris’ egotism or CeCe’s verbosity. It sounds like how Jessica feels- decent, but uninspiring.

Here’s Jessica Lewis. She grew up on a farm. Her parents didn’t take breaks when working on the farm. She became a law student. She’s awesome. Stereotype about Millennials. Stereotype about Gen-Xers. The only time she’s a little interesting is when she says salt and vinegar chips and champagne go together. I mean, they taste the same but I didn’t think about them together.

She says to do her job she has to be a great storyteller. Maybe she can convince a jury of twelve for her case. Maybe she’s a lot more interesting in real life. But when telling a story, she gets a C- at best. Take it from a self-stylized storyteller- it’s not for everyone. And it’s definitely not for Jessica.


Bret LaBelle

Age: 42

Current residence: Dedham, MA

Occupation: Police sergeant

There is a police sergeant from Boston, Massachusetts named Bret. It sounds like I’m making him up but I swear to Christ I am not. The guy seems like a living stereotype. Police sergeants, guys from Boston, guys named Bret with one T, and any combination of the three. Regardless, for his social standing and demeanor, Bret seems set to serve one purpose- to be a walking mistake.

If you haven’t, watch his video and watch Bret fail. Watch him fail at juggling, at golf, at being funny, at identifying NFL players- though there could be an NFL player and I just can’t tell the cast apart. This is not a role where you normally find police officers from Boston who won awards for bravery, but the Dan Foley role seems like where Bret would specialize in.

I should point out that it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

I used to look forward to seeing who would be a walking error of life even in recent seasons what with J’Tia and Laurabee and all them, but then Dan Foley ruined it. Some would tell you that he’s funny and defend him, but that person will not be me. Hell, I even softened on Rodney a bit, probably the most horrid misogynist that season (I said a bit, a bit) and yet I still have no time for Dan. He was a shitty character even without his ickiness as he reminded me of Phillip’s put-on behavior and him being perpetually wrong was not as great as it sounded. Dan was proof that you could fuck up rubber ducks and still suck ass as a character.

That’s my fear with Bret- his age, the politicized tension of the theme, and his highly unchecked occupation could leave him being unbearable. However, his occupation is what intrigues me- he was a cop with self-professed awards for bravery. If he does become a trainwreck that’d be hilarious, because he seems like he’d be a forced hero. If we had a choice between a Dan and Mike… well, I’d rather him be a great Dan than a bad Mike. At least with the former the disappointment will come sooner.


Rachel Ako

Age: 37

Current residence: Los Angeles, CA

Occupation: Recruiting director

Rachel is a breath of fresh air.

Not in that she isn’t like the rest of her tribe. Life has taken a big steaming dump on her in some vague way, and she hasn’t seen Samburu enough to know Gen-X are NOT hard workers.  She also commits the sin of saying she isn’t like another contestant- all of these combined suggest she is a massive egotist. Yet, with all of that, she really is not.

I think her bio presents itself with humility where most of Takali is full of egotism. She doesn’t specify what struggles she’s written about, but they’re struggles she feels humbled by- she mentions she was scared to write about them and become vulnerable. Not only that, she isn’t abrasive when asked about being a Gen-Xer. She cracks a joke but says that each generation brings something to the table. She leans on being humble-braggy but stops just short, and seems like she is genuinely nice- especially compared to the rest of the tribe.

She also says she’s going on Survivor to encourage API people to be confident and self-expressive, which is a unique goal. You get people who wanna inspire people to be stronger and better but she wants to inspire people to be more open, which feels real. A part of why it feels real is that… well, if her video is any indication, she really is. In fact, she comes across a little derpy. That is fascinating to me because this tribe is so personality-devoid, and I’d never have guessed Rachel to be silly and goofy, especially after reading her bio.

Since I’ve seen her video, however, her bio makes more sense in a different way. I can see a former Playboy bunny who jokingly asks if a bikini is too much to wear and listing the name and subtitle of the book she wrote having a bio that’s polite and measured. More than anything, I can see her not making a big deal of her hardships whereas the rest of her tribe seems like they’re going for the Best Person award because of them. As it stands, she seems like a way nice person and I can see her doing well. Maybe she won’t be super strategic, and maybe I am overrating her and she’s an 8/10 at best, but hell, on this tribe an 8/10 may as well be a 25/1.

Speaking of this tribe…


Takali As A Tribe

For what it’s worth, I could see myself being equally as harsh on the Millennials tribe- I mean, I already super-hate Taylor and I barely know him! Even then, however, at least Vanua will be interesting and unique even if bad. I feel like I covered the same person seven times and whenever I covered a different type of person I felt relieved. Indeed, it’s those different types of people I look forward to seeing- give me the full one episode of Wright more than fourteen episodes of Sunday. Either way, I bet this tribe will be boring and samey. Purple seems like the right color- half the tribe could be purple and I wouldn’t notice.

First Boot: David

Brad Culpepper Pseudotegic Boot: Bret

Guy Who Unironically Says “I Have” To Bullshit: Chris

I Hate This Person Too Much To Give Them A Slot: Sunday

I Like Them And Expect Them To Last: Rachel

Probably The Second Place Mother I Irrationally Love: Ciandre

Might Actually Have A Story: Lucy

Others: Paul, Jessica, Ken


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