Apparently it’s not just the fans who are going through “Survivor” withdrawals due to the coronavirus-induced hiatus, but also the former players. Russell Hantz, the three-time legend from “Samoa,” “Heroes vs. Villains” and “Redemption Island,” recently angry-tweeted at host Jeff Probst over the extended delay for Season 41. Russell’s argument? Since “The Bachelorette” can produce new episodes during a pandemic (with contestants even “exchanging saliva”), then “Survivor” should find a way, too. “Let’s get it figured out! Everyone else is,” he wrote.
— Russell Hantz (@russellhantz) October 14, 2020
To be fair, Russsell has a point. Many other reality TV shows have proceeded with new seasons despite the various complications brought on by Covid-19. “Big Brother” and “Love Island” quarantined their contestants for two weeks prior to filming, and then kept them sequestered for the durations of the seasons. “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Voice” will continue on with contestants and judges, while eliminating the studio audience aspect. “The Masked Singer” is using banked audience reactions from earlier episodes to give the effect of a lively crowd.
So why is “Survivor” different? Simply put, it’s not filmed within the United States. The program has called Fiji home since Season 33, and that country’s borders remain closed due to the virus. CBS’s current goal is to film the next two installments back-to-back in Fiji between April and June of 2021. If this happens, we wouldn’t expect to see the episodes air on television until September 2021 (for Season 41) and February 2022 (for Season 42).
Of course, “Survivor” could always just scrap the remote island concept and film somewhere within the U.S. borders. But, be honest, would that really be as exciting as the exotic jungle atmosphere we’ve come to expect over the past two decades?
In a previous statement, Probst declared, “The situation is unprecedented and we are learning more information every day. It is out of concern for the well-being of all of you [crew members] that we have taken this step.”
Russell is considered by many “Survivor” fans to be the best player to never win the show. The manipulative villain came close — twice — by being the runner-up to Natalie White in “Samoa” and third-place finisher to Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow in “Heroes vs. Villains.” On his third attempt in “Redemption Island,” he was the second person voted off the island.