During the 21st season of Survivor last fall, two contestants made it to day 28 of the 39-day adventure in Nicaragua and abruptly quit. The two women, known to fans as NaOnka and Purple Kelly, were not injured or physically incapable of continuing, which has happened to past contestants. And they weren't distracted by the deteriorating medical condition of a loved one back at home, which has led at least one past contestant to leave the show. No, these two women were two-thirds of the way through the granddaddy of American reality show programs—within striking distance of winning $1 million for outplaying, outwitting, and outlasting the other competitors—when they simply decided they'd had enough of Survivor. Luckily for host Jeff Probst and executive producer Mark Burnett, the public does not share that sentiment.
Survivor: Nicaragua won the 8 to 9 pm time slot on Wednesday night, a new night that saw its viewership rise slightly compared to its Thursday-night numbers the season before. Since its premiere in 2000, the show has consistently ranked in the Top 20 (and for many years, the Top 10) among all television programs. How many Emmys has it won for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program? None. The Amazing Race owns that category, winning every year except one since the award's inception in 2003. But if Survivor isn't as popular with reality show critics (a notoriously snooty crowd, for sure), it retains a large and loyal fan base, thanks to the show's willingness to try new things.