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Interview: Max Dawson talks ‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’

The “Survivor: Worlds Apart” cast was a bit short on recognizable celebrities, if your idea of “celebrity” happens to be former professional athletes or nearly-forgotten '80s TV stars.

If, however, you spend time around the world of reality TV or academia, or you spend time around those who spend their time around those worlds, there's no question that Max Dawson entered “Survivor: Worlds Apart” as the season's biggest superstar.

As a member of Northwestern's Communications department, Max taught several years of a course titled “The Tribe Has Spoken: Surviving TV”s New Reality,” as well as other courses on TV, new media and the business betwixt them. Several of my critical buddies, including Mo Ryan and Myles McNutt and Erik Adams, made appearances in the “Survivor” class. Since 2013, Max has worked as a consultant for and on the reality TV industry. 

He may not be Lisa Whelchel or Jimmy Johnson, but Max Dawson is almost certainly the most public and professional a “Survivor” super-fan to ever get to appear on “Survivor.”

It didn't help.

There's no question that Max got screwed by a tribal shuffle in which he and White Collar cohort Shirin found themselves on a new tribe with a significant physical disadvantage, which led to a predictable defeat in the first post-swap Immunity Challenge. 

But whatever dismal cards the “Survivor” Gods dealt him, Max dealt himself some questionable cards. Did he really need to be lecturing Jenn on the Zodiac signs of “Survivor” winners? Were there alternatives to soaking his warty, ray-stung feet in the tribal water pot? [He says no.] Could he have done a better job of shoring up his alliance with Carolyn? [He says yes.] Should he have separated a bit more from Shirin and not become a two-headed super-fan target? 

This is one of those exit interviews in which I probably had enough questions for a four-hour conversation, but there was less time to get to general state-of-“Survivor” questions than I might have liked. Oh well.

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