After a long day at school, work, or some combination of the two, we all want to go home, sit back, and relax so that for a few short hours a day, we can temporarily forget about our daily grind. Everyone relaxes in different ways, as some people choose to read a book or magazine, while others tend to their own unique hobby, or play video games. But the most common thing people do in order to relax, is to watch television. People have been watching TV shows for decades now, and we are at a point where the television landscape is the best it has ever been. There are literally hundreds of different shows to choose from, representing every type of genre imaginable, and some shows have managed to enjoy massive success and a lengthy run.
One such show is Survivor, which may be a part of the reality TV genre, but is by far a lot more entertaining than many reality shows. Survivor is in fact a competition, one which takes a group of individuals and maroons them in an isolated area, where they have to provide themselves with their own food, water and shelter, while competing in challenges for rewards and immunity from eliminations; and whoever emerges as the last survivor, walks away with the $1 million prize. The show has been a huge success ever since it first aired in 2000, and has gone on to win multiple awards over the course of its 33 seasons and 500 episodes. With the show’s 34th season coming in March, it is only fitting that fans of the show get a little bit of a look behind the curtain, so here are 15 surprising facts about Survivor.
15. Players Are Allowed To Be Shy
One of the focal points of reality television is to have individuals who love the idea of appearing and interacting in front of a camera, and sometimes there are even certain individuals who actually complain that they do not receive as much screen time as other participants in the show. Survivor has obviously had its fair share of personalities who look absolutely at home on camera, but even though the show may give off the impression that the contestants are all very social and outgoing people, that is far from the case, as many contestants are in fact shy people, and the show actually does not have a problem with it. It makes sense when you think about it, because most of these contestants have probably never had to ‘perform’ in front of a camera, and now they are expected to while surrounded by a bunch of complete strangers in a remote location. You would think that a reality show would not want shy people at all, but Survivor discovered very early on that anyone who spends time around cameras, will get accustomed to them within a few days.
14. Most Contestants Are Recruited
In order to appear fully authentic, Survivor, like other reality competition shows, goes out of its way to encourage everyday people to send in a video that will convince the producers to let them appear on the show, which does in fact work, just not as much as you might think. The truth is that many of the videos sent into the show get tossed aside, as most of the contestants who do go on to appear on screen were in fact found and recruited by the producers themselves, which is why so many contestants are attractive individuals. To give you an idea of how futile it may be for someone to get on the show via video submission, the Survivor Fiji season in particular consisted almost entirely of contestants who were recruited by producers, with only one person being chosen from the videos they received. Do not let this discourage you though, you can still send in a video if you want, just be aware that a random waitress or personal trainer who catches the eye of a producer has a much better chance of getting on the show than you do.
13. Tribal Council Is Quite Long
The most exciting and intense part of every reality competition, is when it comes time for one of the contestants to be eliminated, and although other shows do these eliminations in different ways, Survivor is still the king in that regard. Every Survivor fan waits until the very end of the show to watch the tribal council segment, which is by far the most intriguing part of the show, as it involves contestants ‘venturing’ to a single location, where they then talk among themselves and often times get into arguments with one another before they vote to kick someone out of the competition. Usually, this entire segment tends to take just a few minutes to complete, but this is in fact an illusion created by the show, because the entire tribal council process is incredibly edited and condensed so as to not bore the audience; which would be the case, because the entire segment actually takes between 45 and 90 minutes to complete; and most of that time sees the contestants just sitting around barely saying anything of real importance.
12. They Get Driven To Council
In the last entry, it was made pretty clear that each and every one of the show’s tribal council segments are heavily edited to save time and to keep the audience engaged, and the segments would take even longer if the contestants actually had to walk from their camps to the council grounds. Yes, the show makes you think that tribe members grab their torches and leave camp to go on a long walk to tribal council, which is supposed to build up drama, but this is a reality show, and the producers do not want to waste money and time unnecessarily, which is why the contestants are actually taken to tribal council in a Jeep. In truth, this does cheat the audience in a way, but at the same time, it makes sense from a reality show perspective, because no one wants to waste half an hour watching a group of people walking in a straight line while holding sticks.
11. Most Of It Is Boring
Yes, Survivor is by far the king of the reality competition genre, as it has managed to provide audiences with a lot of exciting footage, but like all reality shows, most of the footage that is recorded is never used or seen. The reason for this is quite simple, as viewers would become far less interested in the show if they saw just how dull and boring the entire cast is when they are not scheming against one another or competing in challenges. Aside from the competition segments and some interesting footage of contestants interacting with each other, each and every competitor basically goes through the same routine every day, as they wake up, yawn, tell each other good morning, and film a confessional in which they sit in front of one of the cameras and express their thoughts, which is where the excitement ends. Most of the footage filmed by Survivor consists of the contestants just sitting around talking among themselves about inconsequential things, and scratching themselves, which of course makes for very uninteresting television.
10. The Medical Staff Is Always Nearby
Now with a show like Survivor which takes place in fairly isolated and remote locations, it should come as little surprise that the cast and crew need to be in close proximity to individuals trained in the field of medicine just in case they get injured or somehow get sick by contracting some kind of tropical flu or illness. Like other reality shows, whenever a cast member is in need of medical attention, there is always somewhat of a spectacle in order to make the situation seem far more dramatic than it actually is, and in Survivor’s case, the show makes it seem as if the medical staff only snaps into action after host Jeff Probst frantically waves his arms. In reality though, the medical staff is always close by, and they examine every single contestant before and after each one of the challenges, and there is even a psychologist on hand to monitor the mental health of the contestants.
9. The Contestants Are Never Really Alone
Every single reality show has a certain gimmick, and in Survivor’s case, the show’s gimmick is that a group of strangers are taken out of their ordinary lives and ‘marooned’ on an island or some other remote location, where they compete against one another to see which one will be the last person standing. Now, the point of Survivor is to give the audience the idea that these contestants are literally cut off from the rest of the world and other human beings, but based on the fact that it is a television show, the isolated part is not all that true. The truth is, the show’s contestants are virtually never really alone, because the cameras and crew follow them around 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, with the only real exception being when the contestants have to go to the bathroom; in fact the crew members have to take shifts in order to ensure that they actually capture every single second of footage.
8. The Show’s Crew Has It Pretty Good
Obviously Survivor is a television show, which means that it needs to have an entire crew of people on hand in order to film whatever happens between all the contestants, as well as a medical staff, and some caterers, and if you thought these people had to live similarly to the contestants just because they are in the same location, think again. The show actually does travel to very remote locations, places that do not really have any high-end hotels for the crew, which consists of literally hundreds of people, to stay in once their shifts are done, so the show provides the crew with their own special facilities. Every season, the crew is housed within prefabricated cabins that are located close to where the contestants are camped, and these cabins come equipped with their own beds and functioning bathrooms; and when it comes time to eat, the crew members who are on break all meet up in a specialized catering tent where they all eat together.
7. Contestants Cannot Go Wherever They Want
When you voluntarily go out into the wilderness for a few days, you get a strong sense of freedom due to the fact that you are separated from the rest of society and all of the noise associated with it; plus you also get the feeling that you can do whatever and go anywhere you want. While watching Survivor, you get the feeling that aside from taking part in challenges, confessions, and tribal council, that the contestants are allowed to do anything they want, as long as it is legal, and that they can go exploring to their heart’s content, but the truth is that the contestants are actually not allowed to do much exploring. In truth, the contestants are kept on some very short leashes when it comes to exploration, as they are told to stay within specific areas throughout the longevity of the season, and the reason behind this is because the producers do not want the contestants to accidentally stumble across something that they are not supposed to see– like the special housing for the crew.
6. Players Stay After Getting Voted Off
When it comes time for the tribal council, everyone knows that someone is about to get eliminated from the competition and kicked off of the show, but what many of the show’s viewers do not know is the fact that none of the contestants actually go home when they are voted off. It is true that when it comes time to fill up the jury, players who get voted off, have to stay around at the Ponderosa so that they ultimately vote on who the winner of the competition should be, and while at the Ponderosa, these former competitors get to hang out, talk, and watch the rest of the show as it unfolds. Each season of Survivor takes about seven full weeks to actually shoot, and since the producers do not know who will go on to win it all, they ask that every single contestant take seven weeks off from whatever job they have to appear on the show. Since the producers do not want to pay to have airplanes going back and forth, everyone involved with the show stays on location until a winner is crowned, which means that if you were the first person voted off, you gotta stay there until you see someone else win.
5. Players Actually Do Not Shower
Most of us do indeed appreciate good hygiene, which is why many of us shower at least a couple of times a week, which is why we cringe a bit whenever we hear that someone has not taken a shower for several days. While watching Survivor, they make it appear as though the contestants do not take any showers, and unlike most of the other stuff already mentioned on this list, this is in fact no illusion, as the contestants actually do not shower throughout the filming of the entire season. Now to be fair, the contestants do wash themselves somewhat when they go to take a dip in the ocean or a river, but we can all agree that that is not the same thing like a good hot shower, so the finalists are pretty dirty by the time the finale rolls around. They may not be allowed to bring razors, soap, or toothpaste to the locations, but the contestants are still allowed to bring certain things with them, like female hygiene products, prescribed medications, and birth control.
4. Challenges Are Not Surprises
Preparation is the key to success in virtually everything in life, which is why we do research and study in school, why professional athletes practice before their next game, and why people spend hours on a presentation for work. As it turns out, preparation is also very important in Survivor as well, and this can especially be seen when it comes time for the contestants to take part in a challenge, but unlike their reactions on screen, the challenges themselves are not really that much of a surprise for them. Now technically, the contestants are surprised at the very moment Jeff Probst unveils the challenge, but after that, everything is about preparation, because what the cameras do not show you is the fact that the production crew walks the contestants through exactly what they have to do for the challenge, and then allow them to ask questions about the task. If that were not enough, they also have people perform dry runs in front of the contestants to show them what to do, which allows the contestants plenty of time to prepare.
3. What Really Happens After Contestants Vote
We have already talked about the tribal council portion of the show several times on this list, and we will be talking about it again for the final time in this entry, because like most things in reality TV, things are not always as they appear. During tribal council, everyone votes who they want to be eliminated from the show, which they do by writing their names on a piece of parchment to later be read aloud by Jeff Probst, and the way the show presents this, it is as if they go directly to Jeff reading the names immediately after the final vote is cast, but that of course is not the case. After all the votes are in, they are taken to be seen by Jeff and the producers, who then discuss in what order the names should be read in order to make the elimination as dramatic as possible for the viewers.
2. Producers Tell Them What To Wear
The entire point of clothing is to keep people warm, to make them more comfortable, and to cover up our private parts, but for some reason it has become a billion dollar industry due to the fact that people need to look fashionable. On Survivor the contestants are allowed to bring their own clothes with them, but seeing as this is a TV show, clothing matters, which means that even the contestants get told what to wear. The producers ultimately have the final say in what they wear, which is why all the attractive women on the show can be seen in bikinis so often, and it is the same reason why the ‘smart’ people wear long sleeve, white collar shirts. One of the more well known Survivor contestants is Cochran, and he was known for wearing sweater vests on the show, which was a decision made by the producers because he never wore such things in his everyday life.
1. Contestants Use Body Doubles
Now, depending on your outlook of reality TV, this revelation can either be extremely surprising, or not surprising whatsoever, because during the challenge portion of the show, Survivor does indeed use body doubles. In all fairness, the contestants do in fact perform in and complete the challenges presented by the show, and these body doubles are in fact not hired stuntmen, instead they are just people who were brought unto the show to provide both the producers and cameras with the best challenge footage possible. These body doubles get dressed in the same clothing as the contestants and they are used in some close up shots, but mainly for aerial footage, which is why you do not hear the sound of a helicopter during the aerial shots, because that footage was in fact filmed with the body doubles later on; so the next time you watch Survivor, remember that you might not be watching your favorite contestants during certain parts.