Survivor has been one of the longest-running and most popular reality tv shows that has ever aired in the United States. And not even just the States. There have been adaptations of the show all over the globe. Something about watching our fellow humans suffering to try and make a million dollars really gets our primate blood pumping. At least it’s exciting.
Behind-the-scenes of Survivor though, there is a lot more going on than you might think. And there have been all sorts of leaks, of course, but that doesn’t mean the producers and executives want you to know these things. They just want you to sit back and enjoy watching your favourite contestant manipulating their way to a cool million.
But did you know that the producers on the show sometimes choose people based on their colour just to make some sort of affirmative-action selection? Did you know that they dress contestants in order to make them more like a certain kind of character? Or that several survivors have actually died since the shooting of the show? You might not know that birth control is considered an “essential” for contestants…let’s learn more!
15. Contestants Get Body Doubles!
I would never have expected this! I mean, I know that reality tv is just not actually real, but I figured that contestants would at least always be there on set. But that’s not the case. Before or after a challenge, if they need some good aerial footage without catching all of the cameras following the contestants around, they’ll throw body doubles into the mix and send away all of the contestants. Who do they use for the body doubles? That’s right! The Dream Team! All of those college interns who are basically being used as lab rat and slave labour are sent into the challenges yet again and are filmed from above doing whatever it is that the producers tell them. I would feel betrayed if I was a fan of this show, knowing that they use body doubles for people who are supposed to be “surviving.
14. Producers Can Be A Bit Racist…
You might not remember this, and I don’t think that the executives backing the show would want you to remember this either. Survivor always has to split people up into different teams or “tribes” so that there can be some interesting competition for tv. There is usually a merge eventually, but things always start with at least two separate groups. They’ve split people up by age before. They’ve even split people up by gender. But, I think the most controversial split they’ve ever done was during season 13. They actually split everyone up by ethnic background. Who knew that the producers on Survivor were racist!? I really had no idea. I’ll be totally honest that I have never really enjoyed watching the show, but knowing that they are willing to segregate the cast of the show by race is pretty insane. “Make America Great Again!”
13. Tribal Council Takes Hours To Shoot
You know that ten-minute bit at the end of each episode where everyone gathers at “tribal council” to vote who they want to be kicked off the island? Well, it doesn’t take ten minutes to shoot that. It takes hours and hours to get the usable footage for that section of an episode. Not to mention the hours it takes to sort through all of that footage. Basically, the host probes each contestant, asking them questions over and over to see if anyone will crack or blow up, or start some sort of drama. Basically, the whole process is just a psychological f*cking that is meant to drive contestants to accidentally spout their plans so that people can get upset and try to vote these people out in their anger. I think that’s got to be kind of abusive. I would never sign up for that sort of stuff.
12. Survivors Are Driven To Challenges
Yup, contestants don’t actually have to survive all that much in terms of normal physical endurance. When they go to challenges, they don’t trudge their way from their tribal camp to the location of the challenge. Instead, they are loaded up into vehicles that have blacked out windows and are driven or boated to each challenge. So, when you see contestants arrive on the scene, what you don’t see is the vehicle sitting just out of frame that they just came from. I guess if you actually want to watch a show where someone is actually working to survive and working harder than a normal person would do, you have to go back and watch Survivor Man (from before when Les Stroud started hunting for bigfoot). At least Stroud really travels everywhere on his own and has to do twice the work because of filming everything alone.
11. 9/11 Forced Producers To Change Locations
A lot of things changed on 9/11. Apparently, even the location of where Survivor was looking to shoot that year. Originally, the producers wanted to shoot a season in Jordan. But after the terrorist attack, they figured it might be a little too dangerous to go out there. Realistically, I think they would have been pretty ok. I don’t foresee a suicide bomber showing up on the set of a reality tv show like Survivor to see who might actually manage to survive the explosion. I just don’t see it. But this was only the fourth season, and I could see how they might be a little concerned for the safety of the contestants they were already planning to starve. So, they decided that they’d shoot on the Marquesas Islands instead.
10. Plenty Of Medical Mishaps
Something that the producers don’t like to make a big deal out of is just how demanding the show can be on contestants. Sure, to be fair, they do make sure that each contestant goes through some physical check-ups before they are given the “ok” to appear on the show. But that doesn’t account for how they’ll react to situations when they’re starving and can’t wash up properly, and get foot fungus, or cut and bruises all over. And those medical exams also don’t account for the heat. You might notice that they never do a winter Survivor season. That’s probably because showing off skin gets more viewers. However, showing off so much skin can also lead to a lot of medical issues. One of which being Caleb Reynolds who suffered heat exhaustion and passed out during the shoot. 14 other people have suffered various medical issues and have had to be taken away from set.
9. Several Survivors Have Died…Not On The Show
Don’t worry, I’m still talking about Survivor, I just figured that The Walking Dead photo might push my point that much more. There are some contestants on Survivor who have not survived too long after the show. To be fair, B.B. Andersen was 77 when he died from brain cancer and a stroke. But Jennifer Lyon likely competed through her whole time on Survivor with breast cancer, finding out only shortly after she lost in 2005. She was 37. Dan Kay (40) died only just this past year from unknown circumstances. And finally, there is Caleb Bankston who died at the young age of 27 during a railroad accident at work. Sure, none of these happened near or on set, but Lyon’s cancer surely took advantage of her starved and unhygienic lifestyle during the shooting of the show.
8. Everyone Makes A Decent Amount Of Money
Alright, so it’s pretty clear that it would be awesome to win a million dollars. It’s also pretty clear that people are willing to be incredible assholes in order to win that million dollars on the show. However, it might make you think that contestants are even bigger assholes than you thought when you realize that they all get paid a decent amount (even if not as big as a million). The runner-up from the big win gets $100,000 and so on down all the way to the first person who gets booted off the island. But you have to remember that even if you are the first person to lose, you get a few thousand, plus you get an all-expenses-paid vacation at Ponderosa. And everyone makes $10,000 just for showing up to the reunion. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. So, I think it’s amazing that people act such horrible people on the show.
7. Contestants Are Sometimes Scouted For…”Diversity”
Some of you may recall contestant, Yau-Man Chan. He spilled the beans on a couple of pretty important issues with the way that the execs cast each season of Survivor. Sure, people can apply to be a part of the show, but more often than you might think, producers send out scouts to find certain types of people. In the case of Yau-Man Chan, they wanted the show to be more “diverse” that season, and so asked him to be a part of the show. They have also gone out of their way to find actors and models to compete on the show. So, when you see all of that drama unfolding, it is apparently because they get actors and models who know how to do nothing but cause drama for everyone. And in some cases, contestants are only there because the producers are a little bit racist.
6. Losers Party At Ponderosa
You may not know about this paradise away from where all of the contestants are constantly sweating and smelling and screwing people over. Once you get “voted off the island”, there is a wonderful place called Ponderosa where all the losers go. While there, they can finally have a shower, they can eat and drink whatever the hell they want…they can party hard and hook up all they want with others in the loser’s circle. By contract, they have to stick around so they can sit on the final jury of the show, so they basically get an all-expenses-paid vacation that becomes more of a party with each loser that joins in. I mean…I’d like a million dollars, but I don’t think I’d be too upset about getting paid a few grand, then getting an all-access pass to this awesome place!
5. Off Screen Love
I mean, come on. You’re putting about 20 adults onto an island or into a jungle together, and you’re going to tell me that they’re not going to get down and dirty at some point? I can’t imagine how many marriages have been ruined because of this show. It’s interesting considering that there is always a camera on each contestant. I bet there is some interesting footage that some of the camera crew have come across. Survivor seems to have a better relationship rate than The Bachelor. Which is strange and hilarious. Look at Amber and Boston Rob. These two were the last two contestants. Amber won the million, then Rob proposed to her. He competed again in another season and he won his own million. And now the two of them are married and have four daughters…poor Rob.
4. Birth Control Is Essential On Set
Given that there are several groups of adults running around with very little clothing, in close proximity for about a two-month shoot…it should be no surprise that one of the essentials on the island is birth control. Contestants can’t gain access to a toothbrush, or deodorant. But at least the executives thought it was a good idea to push birth control on the women on set. If there’s something worse than the religious right getting upset about birth control being used on the show…it would be Survivor babies being born out of wedlock. I still think it’s pretty crazy that they can’t brush their teeth, and they can’t roll on condoms, but they can make sure that the pill is available for every woman. I guess it’s no shock that the show is a bit sexist too.
3. Interns Have An Awful Job
There is a group of interns that are “hired” every year to work on the Survivor season. These interns are referred to as the “Dream Team”. They are almost always a group of college kids, and they all apparently have a dream job. I haven’t been able to find out how well they get paid (but I’m going to guess not well if at all). But their job is not easy. They are the guinea pigs for the challenges before contestants go through. This is to make sure that everything is safe and makes sense. Why wouldn’t you use college kids as lab rats to make sure contestants won’t get hurt? If they do a good job, their prize is a case of beer…which seems pretty sh*tty in comparison to the money contestants make for doing the challenges. And while they’re not being used as rats, they are building props or hauling gear from one place to another…sounds like a nightmare.
2. Producers Make Survivors Dress For Character
It might be known to everyone that contestants on the show can only bring one or two changes of clothes, and they have to be a certain colour and can’t have any logos or anything (other than Boston Rob’s Red Sox hat, I guess). But did you know that the producers on the show actually dress certain contestants so that they can appear more like a certain type of character? That’s right. Character. This “reality” tv show is full of specific types of characters so that each contestant can reach a certain kind of person sitting at home watching tv. For example, John Cochran was made to look like the nerd of the group of contestants. I’m pretty sure most nerds don’t waste their time watching Survivor but I guess this was an attempt to get them. Producers dressed Cochran in sweater vests which he had never worn before in his life!
1. 24/7 Surveillance From The Camera Crew
This has got to be one of the worst things in the production of the show. Each contestant is assigned to a specific camera crew so that every person in each tribe is always being filmed. I think there are only two shifts each day so imagine carrying around that camera gear for 12 hours every damn day. I would hate to be part of that crew. And it surely doesn’t help if some of the contestants are trying to form a love connection. How are they supposed to get intimate when there are two cameras catching the action? I don’t think contestants get paid enough for some adult entertainment to be filmed. But it’s still being filmed. They issue birth control to all those women who want it, so there must be some interesting footage kicking around here.
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