There are long running reality shows, and then there is CBS' Survivor. A pioneer in the world of reality competition shows, the acclaimed series has just ended its whopping 34th season with Survivor: Game Changers. There were plenty of twist and swaps in Game Changers, but perhaps the most significant was a complete retooling of the final tribal council. Rather than giving each juror their own speech, final tribal was changed into an open forum, where both the jury and finalists were encouraged to have honest dialogue. And now it looks like the folks behind Survivor were happy with the results, because this new type of final tribal will be around for future seasons.
This news comes to us from EW, which had the chance to speak with Survivor producer Matt Van Wagenen in the offseason. Regarding the new final tribal format, Wagenen revealed that it's here to stay, saying:
I think it's here to stay. I don't see us going backwards. We rarely go backwards. And in this case, we strive to be real, and I know that sounds a bit clichéd or cheesy on a reality show, but we really do strive to have a very real experience. And I think having someone just stand up and ask you a question or talk at you is not as real as a discussion between a group of people saying who deserves to win.
Well, it looks like players like the Reed Kelly and Susan Hawks of the world won't be able to give their impassioned and scripted jury speeches in the future. Instead, they'll have to sit down for a serious discussion with the rest of their peers.
This change in final tribal council format is surely influenced by the end of Survivor: Kaoh Rong. Also known as Brain/Beauty/Brawn 2, Kaoh Rong's jury ultimately awarded the title of Soul Survivor to New Jersey native Michele Fitzgerald. The audience was rather unhappy with this winner, believing Aubry Bracco to be the superior player. But the best player doesn't always win, as it's the jury's job to decide who they want to award $1 to. Since then, Jeff and the folks over at Survivor have been doing anything they can do avoid having a "bitter jury", which resulted in the format of final tribal being reworked.
And it seemed to be successful in Game Changers, as the jury ultimately gave Sarah Lacina the win, following her impressive second season. The jury originally seemed to take umbrage with Sarah, although the open dialogue changed people's minds, leading to Sarah's win. And with the change resulting in the producer's choice for winner, it makes sense that this new twist would go the distance.
Survivor will be back this fall with Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. In the meantime, check out our summer premiere list to plan your next binge watch.