On Wednesday, Survivor returns for its 34th season on CBS, this time with Survivor: Game Changers. The new season features some of the show's biggest strategic masterminds squaring off in Fiji in an attempt to outwit, outplay and outlast one another, as usual.
It also has longtime Survivor fans thinking, Another tropical location? More clear waters and sandy beaches? When will we get Survivor: Alaska? Or Survivor: Yukon? Or Survivor: Russian Steppe? As much as we love the show, we would also love some variety. Wouldn't it be cool to see everyone shivering, attempting to ice fish and fighting off frostbite? And wouldn't it be a fresh change to see snowy and icy physical challenges? Or to see Jeff Probst in something other than a button-down?
Sadly, while Survivor has changed up a number of different aspects of the long-running reality game show, it will probably never change its warm-climate locations. As producer and host Jeff Probst told Xfinity in 2012, very vaguely, "It seems quite unlikely that will ever happen." But why? Below, we take a look at some of the reasons floated by fans and producers that Survivor wouldn't survive a season out in the cold.
@ratingsgal No joke, I would love a cold-weather season of Survivor. Too bad the producers are so obsessed with "bikini bodies". Eyeroll.— Nicola Martin (@nmartinwriter) May 27, 2016
@JeffProbst Why has Survivor never done a cold-weather location?— niza strike (@4beachbabe) March 10, 2016
Let's be frank. The biggest thing that stops better television from being made is money. Filming Survivor is already very expensive in comparison to many other shows (and to the vast majority of reality shows): you have a million-dollar prize, medical crews, exotic locations and a huge production team. Adding a cold, rugged environment would only make many of these costs go up. The entire filming team would need to be kept warm and healthy, the location would be more difficult to access and the producers would need to spend more money on safety.
In addition, another aspect of a cold-weather location would likely add costs: Survivor often benefits from filming in countries that help the show financially, either with tax credits or a very favorable exchange rate. It's no coincidence that Survivor has often returned to the same locations over the years. It might be difficult to find a good cold-weather bargain, even in places like Canada.
One of the reasons that Survivor has endured for 17 years is that it is sexy. You have a bunch of scantily clad people running around on beaches, encrusted in sand, rapidly losing those stubborn extra 10 pounds. It's just good television. If you suddenly put these people in puffy, formless snowsuits, many viewers might suddenly feel the need to channel surf. More than that, it could even be difficult to tell contestants apart if everyone was just a pair of sad eyes peeking out from under hats, scarves, hoods and earmuffs.
The terrain itself would also be less of a feast for the eyes. While snowy mountains would be pretty, shots of those mountains would probably be outnumbered by bleak, boring shots of a vast snowy wasteland — and lots of shelter interiors. On the other hand, tropical locations offer bright colors, lots of wildlife and a virtual vacation for viewers.
Just as with most reality TV shows, Survivor is more about relationships than anything else. And while lots of people make friends and enemies over the course of the show, viewership always increases with sex and romance. These two things can be hard enough when the cast is hungry, tired and sunburned, but they might be even harder in cold conditions. Sure, maybe a couple or two would start cuddling for warmth, but we aren't convinced more relationships would blossom in such harsh conditions. And let's not even think about the shrinkage.
Survivor is already one of the most dangerous reality game shows, if not the most dangerous, and its 34-season history has a fair number of evacuations and medical interventions. You could argue that a cold-weather season would offer even more opportunities for safety and health concerns, including frostbite and hypothermia. Contestants would probably also have significantly more trouble foraging for food, making and fueling fires, and generally enduring the elements. While many of these issues would be fun and novel in a way, they would also present a lot of worry for producers.
At the same time, the show's film team would also be in more danger from the elements. And probably just generally pretty miserable.
Finally, we have to admit that while we think a cold-weather Survivor season would be utterly rad, it might be more boring in reality. As we've seen when contestants get cold during rainy tropical nights, people who are cold and miserable don't move around much, and they certainly aren't very interested in forming alliances, falling in love or causing drama. Instead of featuring daring team members running after seals with clubs or sledding down mountains, cold-weather Survivor would more likely feature huddled masses in a shelter, waiting for the whole thing to be over.
After thinking it over, cold-weather Survivor probably wouldn't be much fun for anyone. It might be better for all of us to sit back and enjoy another sunny season in Fiji — and maybe rent The Revenant if we need our fill of watching people being cold.
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