The New Season Of Survivor Sounds Like An Entirely Different Show

22 days. 5 hours. 10 minutes. That's how long we have until our long, long, long Survivor hiatus finally comes to an end. Season 41 will premiere Wednesday, September 22nd at 8 PM. I've blogged about the new season a few times already as news has broke about it, but those stories have mostly come from Martin Holmes on Inside Survivor. But now we have some official news straight from the horse's GOAT's mouth — Jeff Probst. 

In addition to the trailer above, he also did an interview with Parade where he gave us a bunch of new info about the upcoming season. And it truly sounds like it might be a brand new show. Let's go through some of his quotes and try to decipher what it could all mean. 

“Survivor 41 will birth a new era of Survivor,” host and executive producer Jeff Probst tells Parade, “with a faster, more dangerous and much more intense game. We really leaned into having fun with this season and the best kind of Survivor fun is the dangerous kind.”

This matches everything we've been hearing so far. That Survivor 41 will be more "dangerous" and the "monster is hungry." We can probably assume this means the actual survivor aspect of the show will be tougher. Less food, more intense challenges, etc. 

“In birthing a new era of Survivor,” Probst explains, “we are letting go, for now at least, of casting themes or seasons built around a specific twist. Those ideas served us very well for 20 years, but now it’s time for something new. The new players and the gameplay will define each season, much like a Super Bowl or any other regular sporting event.”

I very much support this change. The themes were cool for a little bit and they do work sometimes: Heroes vs. Villains, Blood vs. Water, Fans vs. Favorites, to name a few. But they became forced as time went on. I mean Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers was just flat out ridiculous. People were forced into archetypes that they didn't really fit. So I like that this is just more old-school in that sense. The theme never really defines the season much anyway. As Jeff says, the players and gameplay are what people always remember.  

"We accelerated the pace by changing the game to 26 days and then adjusting every aspect of the game to ensure those 26 days were unrelenting. I think the players will tell you; we accomplished our goal! We really leaned into having fun with this season, and the best kind of Survivor fun is the dangerous kind. Survivor 41 is fraught with risk at every turn. Nothing is free; nothing is easy; nothing is guaranteed."

The 26 days thing is kind of old news for anyone plugged into the Survivor community, but we have officially have confirmation on it now. "26 days. 18 people. 1 Survivor!" won't hit exactly the same, but overall I don't think this change will impact fans TOO much. We're still getting the same amount of players so should have the same amount of tribal councils and episodes. And I've said this before, but I don't watch the show for the survival aspects. I do think that 39 full days is good because it really drains people mentally and physically and you get to see them at their absolute worst. But it seems like they're making the necessary adjustments to make the 26 days a lot tougher in order to make up for the shortened season, so it should even out. 

The quote here that really caught my eye though is "Nothing is free; nothing is easy; nothing is guaranteed." Kind of vague, but he gives a little more info here. 

"The tribes are not given any daily food staple, and reward challenges are scarce. This had a tremendous impact immediately as their mental and physical energy is instantly challenged. Tribes are very small throughout the season, which makes Tribal Council even scarier because there is nowhere to hide. And votes are often at risk, which means you can’t ever rely on how many votes your alliance will have at any Tribal Council. And advantages now often come with massive risks. In order to earn an advantage, you have to successfully navigate something risky. This is a new version of Survivor. There is no way to compare past seasons."

Well that confirms what I speculated about the actual survival elements being more "dangerous." No rice? I do like lessening the reward challenges. Felt like people were having a huge feast every few days. But this change will all help offset the season being 13 days shorter. 

The bigger takeaway here though is that tribes will be very small throughout the season. We're starting with 3 tribes of 6, so I guess that means we're not looking at a swap into 2 tribes at 14 or 16 like we usually see. Which is fine because I think tribe swaps can be unfair to the players and screw over really promising players (Boston Rob in Season 4). Or maybe we still get a tribe swap but it's like 4 tribes of 4 at 16? Or 3 tribes of 5 at 15? How does that change strategy? Instead of having a big majority alliance, it could be best to just have like 2 allies you REALLY trust and stay together all game. And what does this mean for the merge? If the tribes are "small" all season, then we can't be seeing a merge at 13 or 12 or 11. How small can the merged tribe be? 

AND THEN we also have this nugget, "And votes are often at risk, which means you can’t ever rely on how many votes your alliance will have at any Tribal Council." What does this mean???? Makes me think there will be people at tribal councils who can't vote. Maybe because they risked it for an advantage? I don't know if I love that. Voting is the most important part of the game and it's Survivor in its purest form. I don't like tinkering with that. But we'll see what it means exactly. At least it feels like there will be less advantages all over the place, one problem of modern Survivor. 

"Survivor 41 will birth a new era of Survivor with a faster, more dangerous and much more intense game. Players and viewers will feel the difference immediately, beginning with me talking directly to the audience throughout the season, letting them in on twists before the players know. So viewers can play along, second guess, or just sit back and judge!"

This is a pretty major change. Typically, we only see Jeff within the show, but now he's serving as a narrator too it seems. I won't complain about more Probst on our screens, and this seems like a way to make the fans feel more involved. 

"We also have a fun addition for young Survivor viewers. It’s called “The Game Within The Game.” It’s a way for future Survivor players to see if they have what it takes to compete! Each week, there will be a hidden puzzle somewhere within the episode. They’ll have to find it, then solve it. It culminates at the end of the season and connects directly back to the real game with the players."

Speaking of getting the fans more involved, this seems interesting. Kind of vague and leaves me a little confused, but I'm thinking maybe it's just Survivor knowing they had a huge fan resurgence during quarantine, and they want to capitalize on that by keeping a captive, engaged audience throughout the season. 

"And because the game design is so different, I think fans will see that this new version of Survivor was designed to take the game in a new direction–fast, fun, and extremely dangerous! Our goal is always to keep players off-balance and uncertain. This forces them to make strategic decisions based on the little information they may have or assumptions they may be forced to make. If you come into Survivor 41 assuming everything will be the same as before, you are probably going to get burned."

This makes me a bit weary. More as a potential future player than as a fan. I know I can win Survivor the way it's been played for 40 seasons. But if the game and strategy itself are going to be significantly different going forward, then that does give ole Tommy a bit of concern for his future season. I don't like change in general. So I hope things aren't changing TOO much, but I trust Jeff and the rest of the team. 

"From the moment the game started, I felt an undeniable sense of camaraderie and community with the players. It was a very unique feeling. I was literally smiling every time I interacted with the players. I think the audience will feel it in the opening moments of our first episode. There was just no denying that it felt amazing to be with other humans, to see smiling faces, to talk to each other. And then, of course, the strategy began, and the beautiful, vicious gameplay took over!

But even at Tribal Council, where things are often intense, there was a sense of humanity. Don’t get me wrong, blindsides are brutal this season, but the difference is, after someone was voted out, they often thanked the other players for the great gameplay. For me, that is the ultimate version of Survivor, where you can play as hard as possible but still not take it personally. It is, after all, just a game."

I definitely don't want too much Kumbaya and emotional shit. But it is best when the players understand it's just a game and don't carry over grudges and bad blood to become a bitter jury. The best player should always win no matter how dirty they played. Hopefully Jeff is hinting at that. 

"I received so many texts and emails from friends saying that someone they knew had just discovered Survivor and it made me crazy happy! I have always believed that if someone watched even a single episode of Survivor, they would find something they enjoy. I know it because I’ve seen it happen over and over. Someone watches one episode and says something along the lines of, “I had no idea this is what Survivor was about!” 

"I’ll say it right now–if you have never watched an episode of Survivor, just watch the premiere of Survivor 41, and if you don’t get hooked, blast me on Twitter for wasting your time. And if you love it, come back for episode two!"

Survivor had a huge resurgence over quarantine. People had a lot of free time obviously, and with two of the best ever Survivor seasons getting on Netflix, a whole new audience of people finally got to see what an amazing show this is. And within the Barstool world here, I hope Surviving Barstool got some people excited about it too. If you've never seen an episode of Survivor, I highly suggest you start watching this season. There's something for everyone and you won't regret it. I'm going to be putting out more Survivor content than ever this season, and I hope you guys all follow along with me.