Jeff Probst: Survivor without advantages ‘would get kind of boring’

Photo: Michele Crowe/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Michele Crowe/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Despite a noticeable contingent of our readers asking for a Survivor season without advantages, host Jeff Probst argues it would not be too fun.

The number of idols played in the past two Survivor seasons is staggering. With eight full-time idols and a one-time Super Idol in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, plus six idols and a Legacy Advantage idol protection play in Ghost Island, compounded with numerous vote steals, extra votes, and round-specific advantages, luck has never been a bigger factor in the game.

For all those people hoping that the SEG production group will slow down and revert to an advantage-free or idol-free season, well, it’s a false hope at best. As discussed in The Hollywood Reporter with Survivor host Jeff Probst, he defends the inclusion of the idol nullifier and its ability to prevent an idol’s use on another player when used during the voting stage.

He points to the layers of gamesmanship that will be added if the idol nullifier continues to be used, suggesting that players will start adding that “will they, won’t they” mentality on using an idol, who to use an idol on, and more. He hears that people are hesitant about adding more advantages into the game but doesn’t think it’s gone too far yet.

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“We think it’s fun,” Probst argues. “It makes episodes more fun. When people say, ‘What about a season with no advantage?’ I don’t think you’re thinking that through. I think it would get kind of boring.”

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Oddly enough, I partially agree with Probst on this, but for different reasons. Many of the best seasons of pre-Guatemala Survivor are when gameplay is dynamic. The Pagonging in season one, bad tiebreaking rules resulting in getting rid of mostly Kucha first in The Australian Outback, Samburu in Africa, Maraamu in Marquesas, Sook Jai in Thailand; one tribe decimating the other is boring, and the ability to strategize is low.

However, turning Survivor into a lottery spin where two tribes swap after two eliminations into three, advantages and idols are buried everywhere, and the Final Four punishment for whoever wins the Immunity Challenge instead of making fire is inherently bad. It makes the game look more and more artificial by the season, and we’re close to, if not at, the breaking point.

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We’ll hold out hope for now that the idol nullifier isn’t too overbearing when Survivor: David vs. Goliath airs starting Wednesday, September 26 from 8 p.m. ET to 9:30 p.m. ET.