Answers to Your Frequently Asked ‘Survivor’ Questions!

This photo will never not be funny…

After 25 seasons, Survivor still manages to dominate in ratings (Wednesday’s premiere brought in 10.98 million viewers for CBS!) The Ashley has been a faithful viewer of the show almost from the beginning, and, over the years, has come to wonder how certain things work on the show. (Do these people really smell as bad as they look?)

The Ashley set out to answer some of the questions that ‘Survivor’ fans may have about the show.

How do the women on the show manage to stay hairless the whole time they’re on the island? Are they given razors?

Jeff Probst answered this question during a conference call with reporters back in 2008. “There is absolutely nothing, nothing. They are given exactly what we say they have,” he said.

“I think some of the people get a laser procedure that will go in a little deeper than a shave will go. [The] women have more hair than you can see. They don’t have tweezers, they don’t shave. The guys don’t get anything.”

Dana Lambert, a contestant on the current season of the show, recently did an interview with After Ellen in which she describes grooming and bathing conditions on the island.

“I just used salt water,” she said. “But after not having a bath for a while, your hair just stands up by itself. Also, you have one eyebrow. You look like Frida.”

“This is gonna hurt, huh?”

Do they give them toothbrushes?

Nope. Those looking to score a $1 million payday on ‘Survivor’ have to do it at the expense of their dental hygiene. Contestants get creative to find ways to clean their teeth.

“You pick off [a piece] like a toothpick, and use that,” Dana Lambert said. “After not eating processed food for so long, your breath kind of quits smelling. And you kind of quit smelling, weirdly enough.”

Why do these people begin the show dressed in uncomfortable clothes when they know that they’ll be forced to wear them the whole time they’re on the island?

In that same 2008 interview, Jeff Probst said that the producers basically choose the contestants’ clothing.

“[Producers] strip-search them before the show,” he said, adding that the production team controls everything that they’re allowed to bring in their bags. (This is why they don’t bring extra underwear or socks with them to the island.)

Former contestant John Cochran was dressed in a way that made him appear nerdier than he was. During a speech at Northwestern University in February 2012, John said that he had never owned a sweater vest until producers made him wear one on the show.

Are the people on the show really as mean as they seem or are they edited to look a certain way?

As with any reality show, producers have the right to edit a person to fit any mold they’d like. In 2010, the website Reality Blurred obtained a copy of the contract that all potential ‘Survivor’ contestants were required to sign. According to the site, the contract states that CBS is able to create a “fictionalization” of a person, including for “a humorous or satirical effect.”

This means that if they want to create a back story for a person that is false, they can, and the contestants can’t do anything about it, even if what they print or say is embarrassing.

Another interesting thing plucked from the contract? The producers have the right to film a contestant without telling them that they’re being filmed, even if they’re naked!

“Wanna get frisky with the free condoms?”

Do the contestants have access to anything else that we don’t see on camera?

Yes. According to Jeff Probst, the women receive tampons, and all of the contestants have access to condoms in case they want to get hot-and-heavy in the hut during filming. In addition, according to the article, they are given vital medications, contact lens solution, sunscreen, and insect repellent.


Why don’t contestants hunt the wildlife that hangs around their campsite? If they’re hungry enough, wouldn’t they be willing to eat anything?

The contestants are not allowed to hunt or use certain things. In fact, they are expressly forbidden from doing so, per their contract.

“Only flora or fauna [fancy names for plants and animals, respectively] designated by Producer may be harvested or hunted for food, respectively,” the contract states. “Rare or endangered species will be identified by Producer…and must not be harmed or killed by Contestants.”

In fact, killing one of these animals could result in the contestant not only getting kicked off the show, but also facing criminal or civil prosecution.

Fear not, little endangered monkeys! CBS has your back!

Buddy it’s time to eat something…anything!

If someone was literally starving to death, would producers step in?

Yes, according to the contract, which states that, “Contestant groups may, but will not necessarily, be supplied with a nutritional allowance as determined by Producer’s medical personnel.”

However, the contract also makes it clear that you’ll probably lose a “significant amount of weight” if you go on this show. Still, it’s hard to watch someone literally starve.

During a speech at Northwestern University in February 2012, Season 18 contestant Erinn Lobdell recalled how, during a night on Exile Island,  a sound man felt so bad for her that he slipped her a piece of butterscotch candy before leaving her on the island, even though he wasn’t supposed to.

Click the links below to get answers to your frequently asked questions about other reality shows!

Sister Wives

MTV’s The Challenge

Teen Mom

The Bachelor/Bachelorette

(Photos: CBS)

21 Responses

  1. How much time passes from final tribal council where the jury casts their votes until they are read back in the states?

  2. what I want to know is why we don’t actually SEE animals snakes etc wandering around.. they are everywhere. yet we only see them when the camera zooms them in clips. I don’t get it .. u would think that while the people were just laying around at camp we would see an occasional snake slither in to camp or a deer walk in to camp.. yet we never see that stuff.. seems a bit odd. if I was to go spend the night in the woods in Vermont and set up a camera facing my tent guarantee that a squirrel or a deer would walk right in front of the camera at some point

    1. It’s a 44 minute show. They don’t have time to show everything when they’re trying to give us the story of how each player fares.

  3. I have a vague recollection of two contestants who pretended to be sleeping together early on in the series. It ended up it was just a publicity stunt but it’s killing me I can’t remember who it was

  4. I have been working in my backyard to make it look like the set on survivor, where can I see some of the items used on the set, anyone know, I need items to decorate with…have a tiki hut, plants, tiki torches…need more items made of wood…

  5. I was watching survivor tonight, and Tony made a mistake. He had 2 idols he should have given Trish an idol and kept the other for himself. This way both of them would have made the final four.

    1. Tony didn’t make a mistake. He VOTED for Trish, he had no intent to save her. He’s a game playing, lying, slime and he doesn’t want to sit with her int he final 3 when jury votes are handed out.

  6. One of the First Survivor Season to feature returning Survivors (with regular players) season 11 in Guatemala – Stephanie (of the female persuasion) returned.

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