What makes a ‘Survivor’

Jeff Probst, his iconic dimples are back; how game has evolved, what you can expect.



Watch “Survivor 41” on CBS All Access, or on Paramount+ every Thursday, or on Wednesday with the Live feature.

CAROLYN MCCAMPBELL, Evergreen columnist

After a long wait from its loyal fanbase, the newest season of “Survivor” has finally made its return. Here’s what you can expect if you haven’t already been watching.

“Survivor” has always had two seasons released each year, one in fall and one in spring. However, after a full two decades of being on-air, “Survivor” had to postpone their seasons for the first time because of the pandemic.

This season of “Survivor” takes place on the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji. With no returners, the new 16 players had to wait patiently for filming to finally start. The cast was chosen prior to the pandemic but had to wait for production to be greenlit, according to a Gold Derby article.

While “Survivor” fans were patiently waiting for the newest season, many turned to watching the older seasons. When rewatching and comparing the oldest seasons to the more recent ones, it’s amazing to see how the game has changed over the past 20 years.

Blindsiding, voting off unsuspecting players, has always been a major part of the game even from the first season. However, the way people pull off blindsides against their competitors has grown more complex and especially more diabolical.

With the help of production and their elaborate opportunities for revenge and advantages, it’s no wonder that players have had to find more intricate ways to use those advantages as people become warier of others.

One aspect of the game that has remained the same over the years has been the host, Jeff Probst. Since its inception, Probst has remained a steadfast onlooker for all 41 seasons, and he has stated he could see himself hosting for at least another five seasons, according to a Screen Rant article.

Although the show certainly wouldn’t be the same without its iconic host, deciding who would take on the role would be a challenge, to say the least. Some fans have taken matters into their own hands by outright saying who would be a good replacement.

Fans think that “Survivor” alumni would be some of the best candidates for the job — namely iconic winners such as Boston Rob, John Cochran, Malcolm Freberg or Parvati Shallow, according to a Showbiz Cheat Sheet article

Another good option would be former player Andrea Boehlke. Though she hasn’t won the title of “Sole Survivor,” she is already in the entertainment business and has a position as a host on “PEOPLE Now,” so it would seem that she could do well as a host on “Survivor” as well.

The best thing about “Survivor” is not the challenges, the hidden immunity idols or the beautiful landscapes that surround the game. “Survivor” is really a social game. Deciding who gets voted out is no longer based on who does the worst in team challenges or who everybody likes the most. In fact, players have been voted out for the simple fact that they are well-liked around camp and are therefore threats to win the game.

What really matters is social capital. Social capital isn’t simply being popular. It can mean that somebody has networked and has worked with a lot of people. It can also mean reciprocity or feelings of mutual trust between two or more players, or what is commonly known as an alliance.

This indicates that being well-liked is not always the greatest factor in winning or even staying in the game. In “Survivor,” how one wins is mostly based on how much a player is respected given the gameplay that they have presented throughout the course of their Survivor journey. With each blindside, or likewise using an idol on behalf of another player you have befriended, we can see ourselves playing the game alongside others in our daily lives.

“Survivor” can be watched on CBS All Access, or on Paramount+ every Thursday, or on Wednesday with the Live feature for a more expensive subscription.