Iconic reality competition show Survivor has been on television for over 20 years. During that time, it has made various tweaks to its basic formula. But the most recent change for season 41 will most likely alter the way contestants plot and scheme.
As a result of COVID-19 precautions, the number of filming days has been cut short, from 39 to 26.
Survivor host Jeff Probst told Yahoo, “if we wanted to shoot two seasons, we had to do it back to back. For us to shoot two seasons of 39 days, back to back, along with our 14-day quarantine, would have meant nearly 100 days, and that was simply too long.”
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After being shut down for a year due to COVID-19, Survivor started filming again in Spring 2021. Because of the new 26-day filming limit, Probst said, “the first thing we had to do was adjust the living conditions of the game so that 26 days would still feel like 39 days.”
Probst continues, stating that “the conditions were very tough because they started with no food, very limited camp supplies, and very few rewards.” This directly affected the contestant’s abilities, “much faster than in the past. After only a handful of days with no food, they started to struggle to form clear thoughts.”
Because the show had to be so fast pace and “relentless,” there was practically no time for contestants to sit, reflect, and plot their next moves.
The new pace keeps them on their toes, and Probst says “you have to be assessing and reassessing your options on an hourly basis because you have no idea what is coming next. The game design has never been so dangerous.”
Probst ends on a capricious note, reminding fans, “it’s not the number of days that matter. It’s what happens during those days. And a lot happens in Survivor 41.”
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Along with the shortened timeline, Survivor is also implementing a “Game Within a Game”. The new interactive feature is designed so that Survivor fans can “find and decode puzzles throughout the season” alongside contestants. Probst will also break the fourth wall a bit and address viewers directly. This way, “they can be privy to secret twists and turns before the contestants know what they’re in for.”
This new feature will make fans feel like they’re on Survivor themselves, with the comfort of knowing food is just a walk to the kitchen away. As for the contestants, Probst says they will no longer be given daily food rations. Now, they must win challenges to get those most basic of rewards.
“Advantages now often come with massive risks,” said Probst. “In order to earn an advantage, you have to successfully navigate something risky.”