At 8 PM ET/PT on September 21st, the 33rd season of the CBS reality series Survivor will begin. This year’s competition carries the subtitle Millennials vs. Gen X, and it will pit contestants from two neighboring generations against one another. For fans of YouTube, there will be a familiar face in the Millennial camp. Mari Takahashi, known for her videos on the Smosh Games channel, will attempt to outlast her fellow competitors to earn the title of Sole Survivor.
As Takahashi told Tubefilter, she was introduced to the CBS team behind Survivor after two fellow YouTube stars, Joslyn Davis and Erin Ward of Clevver TV, were contestants on another CBS reality series, The Amazing Race. Davis and Ward are friends of Takahashi’s (and fellow Defy Media partners), which led to her selection for the new Survivor season.
To prepare for her Survivor role, Takasashi “binge-watched” all of the show’s previous seasons. “Good thing for me,” she told Tubefilter, “I’m actually really good at sitting on the couch and watching television.” She also noted that several of Smosh Games’ more physically-demanding videos, such as those in its Smosh Summer Games series, helped her prepare for the challenges she would face while on the Survivor island.
While Survivor filmed in Fiji earlier this year, Takahashi’s team at Defy Media had to pull off a digital media magic trick of sorts: They had to make her seem active in Smosh Games videos even when she wasn’t there, in order to maintain the confidentiality of her agreement with CBS. To pull that off, she had to film several videos ahead of time. “We shot about two months worth of videos in advance to make it look like I didn’t go anywhere,” she said.
When the broadcast of the new Survivor season begins, Takahashi expects to see many new viewers migrating from CBS to her videos — and that’s where a new series, titled Maricraft: Outlaster comes in. Launched two days before Survivor’s season premiere, Outlaster is a semi-scripted series that creates a mock Survivor setup within the world of Minecraft. All of the Smosh Games hosts will be present, and their avatars will participate in challenges, confessionals, and other typical Survivor fare across six episodes.
While Takahashi thinks longtime Smosh Games fans will enjoy Outlaster, she also believes that new viewers from CBS will dig it as well. She says the series is “the bridge” between YouTube and TV and “the way for us to say ‘this is what we do, let’s put it in a perspective you might understand.’”
Don’t think for a second, though, that Takahashi will leave her fans behind as she appeals to TV viewers. Survivor is a fun jump to TV for her, but in the end, she’s still a YouTuber at heart. “I’ve never been more grateful for what I get to do and the people I get to do this with,” she said. “I went a month-and-a-half without technology, without any connection to friends and family, and when I came back, it was the best homecoming I could have possibly asked for.”