What a shortened season of Survivor could mean for the show

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

In April, rumors started to swirl about Survivor season 41 and beyond potentially moving to shorter seasons. And now, thanks to the folks at Inside Survivor, we’ve had it confirmed that, at least for the upcoming season, the game will only last 26 as opposed to the usual 39. While we don’t yet know the exact reason for the change, it’s not hard to imagine it being some combination of the cast and crew needing to quarantine for 14 days before the game starts and other complications around COVID-19.

However, the why doesn’t really matter too much (at least if it’s a one-off change). Instead, it seems more important to consider what this could mean for the show going forward. Obviously, some fans will likely dislike the change as it’s a complete change from what they’re used to. That said, there are several potential positives that may come out of a shortened season.

What does a shorter season mean for Survivor 41?

Likely the most important aspect of a 26-day season is that it means the players are fighting against the elements and hunger much less. Now, modern Survivor seasons aren’t quite as punishing as they were when the show started; however, this still isn’t a Carnival cruise. They’re still fighting every day to beat the conditions and are constantly on the verge of starvation.

That mixture has always played with contestant’s minds. Just think about how much junk food you buy when you go to the grocery store while hunger. And now imagine trying to win a game for a million dollars while constantly feeling that rumble in your belly. It’s a recipe for questionable decision-making.

With a shortened season, we could be in for some of the best gameplay we’ve ever seen. Of course, the players actually have to bring that strategic acumen; however, the opportunity is certainly there for the taking. If nothing else, these players should be as well-rested and well-fed as maybe any other Survivors by the end game of season 41.

On top of that, this season could feel even more action-packed than usual. If we’re getting 39 days of gameplay crammed into 26 days, that means production will need to change the schedule. In fact, you could see some real experimentation in how players are taken off of the island.

For example, Survivor production could take some cues from The Challenge and introduce a Purge. Essentially, this is a longer challenge that leads to a person being knocked out of the game without a vote. That’s a big change for the show, but if they were ever going to experiment, a shortened season is the place to do it.

The more likely scenario though is a quicker schedule, changing from a three-day rotation to a two-day rotation. By moving into a two-day rotation between a reward challenge, an immunity challenge, and tribal council, the game is going to move at warp speed for the players.

Hopefully, that elevates the gameplay to another level. Not only are players less worn down by the island, but they’re also moving through the game incredibly fast. Of course, that could lead to sloppier gameplay if the players aren’t up to snuff, but this is an incredibly exciting opportunity in front of the show. Now, we just have to wait until the fall to see if they’re able to deliver on that potential.

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