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Survivor Host Jeff Probst Addresses Whether The New Game Twists Are Getting Too Complex

survivor's jeff probst
(Image credit: CBS)

When CBS’ Survivor returned after a lengthy pandemic-induced hiatus, it came back swinging for the fences. Both Season 41 and 42 saw major, never-before-seen changes to the game – which included reducing the time players actually played, production breaking the fourth wall and nearly half a dozen new twists arising. Truth be told, the onslaught of twists felt almost too complicated at times from a viewer’s standpoint, and executive producer/host Jeff Probst is addressing whether they are indeed getting way too complex with their schemes.

To briefly recap, among the new additions to the competition’s oeuvre, so to speak, was the Do-or-Die twist, the prisoner’s dilemma, the Season 42's contestant-baffling Shot in the Dark, the 3-way tribe idols and the hourglass twist. And to be fair, each of them created interesting scenarios – if not downright, utter chaos, according to at least one former player. (Less we forget, the cast famously almost “went to rocks” in Season 42, which hasn’t been seen in ages.) Nevertheless, Jeff Probst thinks the criticisms about those same twists are equally as “fair.” He said to The Wrap:

Yes, there is always the risk of going too far. It’s a real risk. And the scary part is that you can’t change it after you’ve done it. So, it goes back to being comfortable with the risk of having a massive failure. We knew we were going big. And we anticipated that fans and players might think it was a bit too much out of the gate. But we wanted the players to have to reassess everything they thought they knew about Survivor. Everything.

Strategy certainly had to evolve somewhat as a result of the new twists. However, understanding and juggling the sheer quantity of rules and variations at play became a task in and of itself, which in turn presented questions about the perceived integrity of the game. The hourglass twist actually spurred an un-aired argument between players and Jeff Probst in Season 41 because the “flipping” of the winning and losing tribes at whim felt too unreasonable. When the dreaded hourglass re-emerged again in Season 42, fans were almost in an uproar themselves over what they saw as the worst twist in the history of the game.

Jeff Probst went on to tell the outlet, though, that “getting used to” new rules is part of the philosophy of any new game, not just Survivor. He likened it to learning to play poker for the first time, which he said can “feel very complicated until you learn the rules.” Yet, in this touted “new era” of Survivor, things aren’t totally set in stone, either. Even, seemingly, these new additions. Probst continued:

But to your point, we are constantly assessing what is and isn’t working. If we sense something isn’t working, we examine it to see if there are any adjustments we can make and if ultimately, we can’t figure it out, then we abandon it.

So far, we know that a few twists are sticking around for the back-to-back Seasons 43 and 44, according to previous intel shared by Jeff Probst. Fans will, in fact, see the prisoner’s dilemma and the Shot in the Dark again as well as the concept of “earning” the merge. Also, the game for $1 million will again be only 26 days long instead of the previous tradition of 39.

Still, if we’re reading between the lines here correctly, even if some twists are tossed in the Survivor recycling bin, it sounds like only more will immediately take their place… Will Survivor 43 be bound to the same fate of trial-and-error that didn’t play too well for viewers? Find out when it premieres on September 21 on CBS as part of the 2022 TV schedule!

Lauren Vanderveen
Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.