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.”
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!
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!
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.
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