Analyzing the "Team Mom" Player Archetype in Survivor

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Happy Mother's Day to every past, present, and future Survivor finalist. ♥

MadDog's Survivor casting archetypes:



Team Mom Analysis:

If you'd like to contact MadDog about any of the archetypes, email him here: maddogsurvivor@

Important to note: When I put this video together, there were 27 players in this archetype, but because it's an evolving analysis, that number is now currently 26.

ALSO Here are several quotes from Mark Burnett, the creator of Survivor, about the mom archetype from his book "Survivor: The Field Guide II":

“The mom is a beautiful person on the inside, and it doesn’t hurt if she looks good in khaki shorts, either. She is maternal in the best possible way, nudging the younger members of the tribe (a dysfunctional family for the ages) to act as civilized as possible. For older members, she is caring but firm, not allowing them to become curmudgeonly. She cooks, she builds, she organizes, she sleeps little, she complains even less. The Mom has seen it all and is surprised by little. And the best part of all for a Survivor willing to adopt the Mom strategy, it comes naturally. No play-acting for this role."

“The Mom in the first Survivor was Gretchen. Her warmth and humor kept the Pagong tribe from self-destructing, and her maternal affection towards Greg was so strong that she postponed flying back to civilization after being voted off so that she could learn Greg’s fate. An example of the power of the Mom strategy came after Gretchen was voted off: not only were her fellow contestants stunned, but members of the production crew were emotionally devastated. There was a pail over the production compound afterward, as if some vital element had left the game."

"Positives: Voting Mom off is like the ultimate act of betrayal, and few fellow contestants are willing to do this. It hits too close to their insecurities of being alone, far from home. The Mom is a reassuring presence. To last on Survivor, a good Mom should be young enough to display physical stamina but old enough that she commands respect. Say early forties. The Mom can use her knowledge of relationship skills to build alliances and maintain tenuous friendships."

"Negatives: Somewhere, back in the real world, the Mom has kids of her own. Being away for six weeks is a huge strain. There might also be a generation gap in the tribe, with the younger members allying to oust an individual who comes across as too matronly or overbearing. Also, playing the Mom has the additional liability of Freudian overtones. Men and women will reflect on relationships with their own mother, acting out these emotions against the Mom. Strange stuff, and seemingly out of place in the wilderness, but yet another proof that Survivor’s focus is social survival.”

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