“39 days, 16 people, 1 Survivor!” have been the immortal words of Jeff Probst throughout Survivor’s 21 year run. But are the fans and new players in for something totally different for Survivor’s 41st season? Inside Survivor reported on April 9th that Survivor’s upcoming 41st season could be shorter than ever before.
It is noted in the article that this is only a rumor at the time, but this would be a huge change in the show’s format. For 38 seasons of the show, castaways have endured the elements, the game mechanics, and each other for 39 days. The only seasons that have been longer are Blood vs Water & San Juan Del Sur, when there was a Day Zero twist, which resulted in 39.5 days & The Australian Outback, which lasted for 42 days.
According to the rumor, the 41st season could potentially only last for 29 days, rather than the usual 39. There is currently no clear cut reason for the change but Inside Survivor wonders if it has to do with Covid restraints.
“Budgetary and/or scheduling reasons are the first that come to mind—cast and crew having to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Fiji due to COVID-19 certainly eats into a considerable chunk of production time,” the article points out.
What could this mean for the show, the fans, and the future contestants? Let’s explore the possibilities…
If you are reading this article, I am sure you are well aware that Survivor has not produced a new season since season 40 aired at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since the show began airing, fans have gone an entire year without new Survivor episodes. Is it possible that production wants to “catch up?”
There has been some speculation that the next season will air during the summer months. This would be highly unusual, as the show has not aired during June, July, or August since its very first season. Production has fine tuned a schedule where one season airs in the fall (September-December) and the next season airs in the spring (February-May).
Airing Survivor 41 during the summer months would be a surprise but maybe we are on to something. It’s possible that they have decided to shorten production time. They could then film several seasons back to back to back. Then air them in the summer + in their regular fall/spring time slots.
While I don’t think this is particularly likely, it is possible. The official Survivor casting website states that they are currently reviewing applicants for season 43, which “will be taping… sometime between mid May, 2021 and early July, 2021.”
If the show kept its usual schedule starting with Survivor 41 in September, it would seem odd to film Survivor 43 in Summer of 2021 if it wasn’t going to air until September of 2022. We could be in for a Jeff Probst-filled Summer!
Something often discussed when talking about the game is that it is a marathon, not a sprint. Some players hit the island running (literally, in the case of Tony Vlachos in Survivor: Game Changers) and play too hard, too fast, only to see their dreams cut short before the merge.
With only 29 days, the game is still a marathon but a considerably shorter one. Players who wait around until the last fourth of the game before turning it on will find themselves in a tough spot. If the game is shorter, players will have less time to prove themselves worthy of the win. They will have to prepare to play at a much quicker pace than ever before.
This will likely come with a learning curve as well. Players will have to find a balance of playing at a quick pace and making solid moves, without making themselves targets too early. It will be interesting to see how the first few 29 day seasons shake out in this regard.
Less Physical/Mental Toll on Players
Something that is not talked about often enough is the physical and mental toll that players experience on the island. Since the show’s beginning, some players have struggled while on the island and after, due to the stress endured.
Some of this has been seen in the episodes. For example, Erik Reichenbach was medically evacuated on Day 36 of Survivor: Caramoan, due to his body being exhausted throughout the season. Additionally, we have seen many players break down mentally. Spending 39 days on a remote island with minimal food is exhausting enough. Add in the constant paranoia and the need to be in game mode and it can be mentally draining as well.
Sure, 29 days is still a long time but it is a far cry from 39. Hopefully, with less time spent on the island, we will see fewer players suffering. Mental strength is a part of the game but not to the detriment and well being of the players. It is important to remember that this is our entertainment; it’s their lives.
Like the entire article, this is purely speculation. Don’t get up in arms just yet. But with fewer days on the island, could fans be in for seasons with fewer episodes? It might sound crazy but hear me out.
In 2019, Jeff Probst did an interview with ET Canada. When asked why the show was 39 days, he gave an honest, practical answer. The main reason is because it just made sense. With sixteen people, it was the perfect amount. They could film a reward challenge one day. Then an immunity challenge and tribal council another day. Then they would have an extra day for the castaways to recover from the challenges/time to just live with one another.
If this was the reason for 39 days, it seems logical to wonder the effect that 29 days may have. It begs the question: will future seasons have fewer episodes? It’s certainly possible, though not a definite change.
It’s important to note that despite the show having the same schedule since the beginning, it has adjusted the average size of the cast also. Back when the first season premiered, only 16 contestants were vying for the million dollar prize. Fast forward to 2020 and you will find that most of the time, we have 20 eager castaways.
The fact that increasing the cast size has not resulted in fewer episodes is a good sign.
No Change at All
Despite all of this talk surrounding what a shorter Survivor season could mean for fans, contestants, and the show itself, maybe the answer is simple. It is very possible that there will be no obvious change. Inside Survivor even speculated that they could use “the magic of editing to pretend that it’s still a 39 day season.” While I don’t believe the show would blatantly lie to the fans, I could absolutely see them act like it’s not a big deal.
Think about it. At the end of the cold open of the premiere, Jeff will be hanging out of a helicopter or on a cliff or something equally picturesque and say, “29 days, 20 people, 1 Survivor!” And that will be that.
That will be their announcement that it’s shorter. No extra fanfare. Just an acknowledgement at the top of the season and everything else plays out like normal with the same amount of episodes that we have come to expect. The game will be on and fans will forget that it was shorter by the time a new winner is crowned.
Just Wait & See
For now, we have no real way of knowing what to expect from a shorter Survivor season. In fact, we don’t even know if we will have a shorter Survivor season. This is just a rumor and that may be all it ever is. No matter what production decides, we will be glued to our TVs from the moment Jeff Probst introduces the new castaways. For now, let’s just wish the new castaways good luck and hope for a great season, as our favorite show prepares to return to our lives!