As a fan of Survivor, I was anxiously awaiting its post-Covid return. However, imagine my disappointment when I realized that Survivor 41 was turning out to be the worst season ever. Here are 6 reasons why.
As soon as that well-known and well-loved music started to play, I got excited. Survivor was FINALLY back! As a late-bloomer when it comes to Survivor (I only started watching about 6 or 7 years ago), I have become an ardent fan. So much so, that I went back and watched nearly every season from the very, very beginning.
I love the challenges, and the chance to get to know random strangers as they try to outwit, outplay, and outlast each other.
Sure, there have been some frustrating seasons in the past. Sure, there have been plenty of occasions when the cast was less stellar than others. Sure, there were twists in the previous seasons that ended up costing my favorite players their spot in the game. But that’s all part of Survivor.
This year, however, there are very few redeeming qualities to a season that is packed full of annoyances and frustrations.
Is It Just Me Or Is Survivor 41 the Worst Season Ever?!?!
I’ve done some reading of my own, and many online review sites are still bestowing many virtues on this season. They are awarding strategic gameplay where I think it is completely lacking, and favoriting players that are beyond terrible.
Perhaps it is just me? Perhaps I have just become jaded by some of the past seasons where things were awesome. But here is my list of the top 6 reasons (there are actually more) why Survivor 41 is the worst season ever.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
If you haven’t watched this season yet, don’t keep reading (and maybe don’t bother watching, but that’s your call).
The (Mostly) Unlikeable Tribes
This year, there are slightly fewer cast members than normal, and they were divided into 3 tribes.
The Luvu Tribe (blue buffs), a dominant tribe that is doing well so far, which is probably one of the reasons we know hardly anything about them. They are the tribe with the athlete, the mom, and some other people. Who remembers?
The Ua Tribe (green buffs) has been an absolute disaster since the very beginning, which is one of the reasons they have been absolutely decimated already.
The Yase Tribe (yellow buffs) had some strong players, but inner turmoil (which they are calling “gameplay”) has hurt them. The tribe also includes one castaway who will likely go down as one of the worst Survivor players in the history of the show (I’m talking to you, Tiffany).
And who are the favorite players in each tribe? Which ones do I watch with bated breath, hoping that they survive tribal council? Nobody. Maybe Xander, but that’s only because he reminds me of a lost puppy.
On the plus side, it is – by far – the most diverse cast I have ever seen on Survivor. I applaud the diversity, even if it was mandated by the studio. Only about 60% of the US population is classified as “White” so it is about time that shows like Survivor better reflected the cultural makeup of the audience.
The Too-Fast Pace
When the season started, they promised a “New Era” for Survivor. The pace would be faster, the challenges would be harder, the rewards fewer, and so on. Even the Survivors don’t have to survive as long as they had to in the past. This year, they will need to keep their torches lit for 26 days, instead of the typical 39. That’s a 33% reduction in goodness.
However, this cannot be blamed on the producers, as this is a restriction that was placed on them by the Fijian government. In order to put the castaways through as much grueling pressure as one would find in a normal, 39-day, season, they have been stripped down to beyond the basics. Rations, food, and flints are in short supply and can be taken away at any time.
And they also lived up to that “faster pace” promise when the very first tribal council featured the two losing tribes each having to vote a player off.
Beyond the pace of the game, there seems to be a sense of haphazard urgency in the editing as well. Tiny glimpses of random moments are all that we’re given in order to get to know this group of people.
A perfect example was a recent reward, where the winning tribe was gifted a personal guide who would be able to show the tribe members how to survive and thrive on the island. Cut to this talented individual climbing up and then hanging upside down from a tree as he retrieves coconuts (nobody on the tribe is going to be able to do that). The next shot shows him cracking open that coconut with his forearm coconuts (nobody on the tribe is going to be able to do that). Then, as quickly as it started – with absolutely no valuable information being imparted (that we get to see) – the visit is over.
Then there were a couple of quick cast interviews, where they talk about how amazing the moment was. I’m pretty sure one of them cried.
And maybe that’s one of the reasons that I (and perhaps others) are not connecting with the tribe members as much as normal, as you simply don’t have enough time to get to know anyone before the next tribal council.
The Lackluster Challenges
There is nothing wrong with the challenges this year, per se. But it just feels like they didn’t put much effort into them, except mixing up a couple of elements from challenges that they have run over and over and over again. Get your tribe over, under, or through the obstacles, then tackle this puzzle or skill game.
And, of course, there is the loss of that all-too-familiar “Come on in, guys!” that started every challenge for many, many years.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully support diversity and inclusion. And I probably wouldn’t have even noticed if Jeff had simply stopped saying “Guys” at the end of that sentence. I’m just not sure why they felt the need to make an entire production out of it. And I do mean production.
It seems exceptionally obvious to me that they did not get the response that they wanted when they originally posed the question to the cast “Does that bother you?” Because it was all-to-convenient (and I’m fairly certain coaxed by the producers of the show) that one of the castaways (Ricard) had second thoughts about it before the first challenge.
And, to add insult to injury, I couldn’t help but feel the hypocrisy when I heard “Let’s go, guys!” being yelled out by the cast members at least two or three times during the next challenge. And I’m 99% sure it was Ricard who did the yelling.
Personally, my own jury is still out on if the term “guys” has morphed enough over the past few years to become gender-neutral. I know that many words have changed their meanings over history, and this feels like one that was on its way to no longer exclusively meaning “males”. But, as a male, it’s hard for me to understand or judge how a female or non-binary person would feel being grouped in with a bunch of “guys” for the half-a-second it takes to say the word.
The Survivor producers, in their ever-so-wokeness, jumped at the opportunity to retire that phrase, and I believe it is gone forever. It’s no big deal, really. It doesn’t impact the game to any great extent. The only reason it feels like a big deal is because they insisted on making it a big deal. Twice.
The Terrible Votes
This is a typical struggle with a show like Survivor. When it comes to tribal council, particularly in the early stages of the game, do you vote to maintain tribe strength, or do you vote along your alliance lines to support the relationships that you’ve built?
And it almost always goes the wrong way. But that has been especially the case this season.
The Survivor 41 tribes are far smaller than normal (6 people each, although we have seen smaller tribes like this in the past) and a promise of a “New Era” which means nobody can rely on the traditional tribe swaps or merge points. That means it is important – if you don’t want to be a terrible Survivor player like Tiffany – to balance personalities with competitive capabilities.
Nowhere was this more evident than the Yase Tribe, which was quickly divided into 2 groups. In one group, you had David (a young, fit doctor), Xander (a very young, fit, but naïve player), and Evvie (a smart and sassy Ph.D. student). In the other, you had Evvie (playing double-agent between the groups), Liana (a college student), and Tiffany (the one most likely to get voted “That Survivor Player” for how terrible her gameplay has been).
So, you can imagine – before tribal council – that Evvie has a strategic choice to make. Stick with the stronger side of the tribe, as she had developed a strong relationship within that threesome. Or stick with the girls. She stuck with the girls on the first vote and got rid of the older, but still strong, male.
During the next episode, her alliance member – Tiffany – practically lays down to take a nap halfway through the immunity challenge. When they (SHOCKER!!) lost, Tiffany then went on to have an epic meltdown that showed exactly how little strategic gameplay lived inside her.
“What if he has an active idol?” Tiffany asks.
“He doesn’t, he showed me the paper and so I know exactly what needs to happen for his idol to be activated, and that hasn’t happened yet,” replies Evvie.
“But what if he has an active idol?????” Tiffany asks.
That exchange goes around and around and around in circles for at least 10 minutes. Ok, perhaps I’m exaggerating.
But Evvie then starts to question her alliance. Tiffany is not strong in competitions. Tiffany does not understand how to play the game. Tiffany is irrational and emotional. Perhaps it was time for Evvie to side with the stronger, seemingly more stable players who trust her implicitly. She sides with the girls instead.
And all of this because she has this vision of an imaginary world where a tribe-swap happens and all three of their alliance members end up shifting together to the same tribe. When that happens, in her mind, they will have a tight 3. And how often, exactly, does THAT happen? And what are the chances that this “tight 3” will implode as soon as that does happen?
But you never know, in the worst season of Survivor ever, it could actually happen. Twice.
The Survivor 41 Crying Game
Next, let’s get down to some of the cast interviews. Yes, Survivor is an emotionally charged game and people do break down on occasion. But please, please, please, can we have at least one episode during Survivor 41 where 3 or more different people don’t start balling their eyes out on camera.
You’ve been on the island for 3 freaking days, it’s not time for a cry-fest quite yet.
Perhaps this is an attempt to humanize an otherwise unlikeable cast. But it’s not working. Instead, they are coming off as whiners.
I have also not, yet had a “You’re terrible, Muriel!” (a callout to one of my favorite older movies – do you know which one??) where someone plots something absolutely devious and I’m all for it.
Don’t get me wrong, there has been plotting. There’s been deceiving. There’s been treachery. But, somehow, most of it comes off as contrived and unnecessary at this point during Survivor 41.
The Crazy Idols & Advantages
Survivor is always packed with twists and turns, many of these coming in the form of idols and advantages. So far, during Survivor 41, we’ve seen a slew of unique game-changing powers, including:
- The Three Way Immunity Idol – Once found, the idol has no power and the idol-holder has no vote until someone on the other two tribes also finds the idol, and all 3 people say their respective phrase during an immunity challenge.
One phrase had something to do with butterflies, the other was related to broccoli, and the other was about a goat on astroturf. Sounds fun. By challenge number 4 (or so), hearing those phrases being said over and over again was getting tiresome.
- The Shot in the Dark Twist – If a castaway feels like they are in danger, they can roll the dice (literally) for a one-in-six chance at safety. They have to trade in their vote for the chance, so nobody has done it yet.
The value of this twist? For one, it forces everyone to lie to the person who is being voted out, even if there is an obvious majority and no chance that they have an immunity idol. Granted, it’s Survivor, they likely would have done that anyway.
- Prisoner’s Dilemma (aka The Risk / Protect Your Vote Twist) – Each episode, people are sent to another island where they have a choice of risking or protecting their vote. If they risk their vote, they might get an advantage. They might not.
This twist is a nice addition, as it gives castaways from different tribes a chance to get to know and test the waters with members from other tribes. This could come into play later with a merge or tribe swap.
- Beware Advantages – This is more of a precursor to the advantage than the advantage itself. If a castaway finds one of these advantages, they will not know the contents of the advantage – or the consequences – until they open it. But, once opened, they have no choice but to accept what the advantage has to offer (or take away).
- The Knowledge is Power Advantage – Basically, this advantage lets a person steal someone else’s idol (or advantage), which has never been allowed in the past. Like the idol nullifier, this means someone who might think they have a small amount of protection going into Tribal Council could lose it at the last minute. But the idol nullifier had some risk, because you had to guess IF the idol was going to be played and WHO it was going to be played for.
This advantage legitimizes the outright theft of an idol, taking all of the power away from the person who earned that advantage.
Granted, in order for the advantage to work, the person has to know who has what advantages in the game. But in a season where nobody can seem to keep a secret, that isn’t much of a challenge.
Maybe, when that happens, the Shot in the Dark will finally get played!
(UPDATED TO ADD) Although I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed how Xander played with the fake idol and made Liana waste her advantage. The fact that she fell for it was another testament to the sad gameplay. If she had any doubt that Xander was still holding the idol (which she should have) she could have stolen Naseer’s idol instead. She was far too focused on targeting Xander.
But it was a joy to watch the smug look on her face crumble into absolute defeat when he answered her “Do you have an idol, Xander?” question with “No, but you can have this fake one.”
Survivor 41 Ratings Drop
One indication that I am not alone in my feelings towards Survivor Season 41 is the ratings. According to TV Series Finale, the ratings for the iconic show have dropped by 10% since the season began and are down a whopping 20% (nearly) compared to Season 40. Unlike Season 40, which actually saw an increased audience between the premiere episode and the second, Survivor 41 saw a 5.6% drop-off immediately following the season premiere and a whopping 29% who dropped off and didn’t bother watching the reunion episode after the final vote was cast.
And the ratings have continued to decline each episode since.
|Episode||Season 40 Viewers (Millions)||Episode Drop Off||Season 41 Viewers (millions)||Episode Drop Off||Season 40 vs 41 (% Change)|
Yes, Survivor 41 is The Worst Season Ever (IMHO)
And there you have it. My opinion – so far – of Survivor 41 and why I think it is (by far) the worst season ever. The season isn’t over yet. In fact, there have only been 5 episodes aired as of the writing of this article. So there is hope that, by some miracle, the game can shake things up and fix itself.
But I think that’s about as likely as finding a hidden immunity idol by simply laying in the shelter all day. Or that Tiffany will suddenly become a strong and strategic player.
Your Turn! Do you also think Survivor 41 is the worst season ever? Or are you enjoying the hot mess? Let me know in the comments below!