Will One of These Boston Contestants Win It All on Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X?
A pair of Massachusetts natives hope to win it all on the upcoming 33rd season of Survivor.
The latest installment of the hit CBS reality series, which premieres on Wednesday night, will bring the Bay State contestants to the shores of Fiji, a far cry from the sometimes cold and snowy world of Boston. But don’t expect the duo to commiserate over their love of Tom Brady on the show, as they’ll be on opposite tribes of this season’s Millennials vs. Gen X match-up.
Representing the older generation is Boston police sergeant Bret LaBelle. The Dedham resident received the Human Award for Bravery from Gov. Deval Patrick for disarming a gunman in 2014.
“It’s nice to be honored with anything. However, I didn’t do anything that any police officer in the city of Boston wouldn’t have done,” LaBelle said. “Anytime you’re struggling with an armed gunman, it’s a very intense and very scary situation. But like I said, police officers on the street do it everyday and I didn’t do anything differently.”
LaBelle has been a fan of Survivor since watching its second season in 2001. He’s also tried out for the series several times over the years and was excited to finally get a call back, despite some good natured ribbing from his fellow officers.
Dispelling any notion of the show being fixed, LaBelle insisted that there were no bathrooms or other amenities behind the scenes, which is why he made sure to prepare for his appearance by swimming, running, and getting into shape.
“You’re out there, you’re fending for yourself, and it’s completely true,” LaBelle said. “It’s amazing what you can put yourself through and how you can adjust as a human being and carry on.”
Like her fellow contestant, Brookline native Hannah Shapiro is a longtime Survivor fan as well as and has been obsessed with the show since she was 14. While she recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being a television writer, Shapiro hasn’t lost her Boston side since absconding for the west coast.
“I’m sort of aggressive like an east coaster. I think it surprises people,” Shapiro said. “I don’t think you expect the girl in the dress with big glasses to swear like a sailor or say things more directly.”
The former Brookline High student believes that her “tough east coast mentality” is what helped her deal with some of the harsh weather conditions on the show, like when Tropical Cyclone Zena hit on the second day of filming. The storm forced producers to evacuate the cast, the first time that’s happened in the history of the series.
Despite her Boston roots, Shapiro admits that her trash-talking needs a bit of work, because she didn’t really throw much shade at her Gen X opponents.
“I just sort of relate to being an old lady,” Shapiro joked. “So I don’t know how much I can bash Gen X.”
Although LaBelle thinks his generation had to work a bit harder than Millennials, he does admit that he got along with quite a few of his fellow cast members. The sergeant revealed that his favorite part of the process was forming friendships with the other contestants while taking in the incredible view everyday.
“Watching the sunrise and the sunset everyday was absolutely beautiful,” LaBelle said. “I was shocked at how I bonded with the people out there. Some complete strangers have become really good friends.”
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m.