'Survivor 41': Why Some Fans Have Labeled This Season the 'Worst'

'Survivor 41': Why Some Fans Have Labeled This Season the 'Worst'


  • Survivor 41 was advertised as “a new era” for the CBS hit.
  • The idea of going “back to the very basic idea of a group of strangers, forced to rely on each other to survive while voting each other out” had the fanbase excited.
  • What happened that now fans have labeled it “the worst” ahead of the Survivor 41 season finale.

Survivor 41 was touted by host Jeff Probst as the start of “a new era” for the long-running reality competition series. They shortened the game down to 26 days (due to Fiji COVID regulations), stripped it down to the basics, and dropped the tradition of adding a season subtitle and stating a theme.

At first, the idea of going “back to the very basic idea of a group of strangers, forced to rely on each other to survive while voting each other out” had the fanbase excited. But heading into the Survivor 41 finale, numerous fans are now labeling this season “the worst.”

A streaming resurgence during the pandemic

Survivor quickly became a cultural juggernaut in 2000 when it made its debut on CBS. The first couple of seasons averaged more than 20 million viewers per episode, and each finale was witnessed by more than 50 million people. Over the years, the ratings steadily declined. And by season 40 Winners at War, a single episode was pulling in about 7 to 8 million viewers.

During the pandemic, the series had a resurgence when it was discovered by a new generation of viewers on streaming platforms. The handful of seasons on Netflix have drawn big numbers. And over on Paramount+, the show is a top performer.

“The show’s a top-three fixture, even when we didn’t have original episodes over the past year,” network president Kelly Kahl told Variety ahead of the Survivor 41 premiere. “People were either rewatching or discovering this show.”

The ratings for ‘Survivor 41’ have tanked

Despite the success of old Survivor seasons on Netflix and Paramount+, Survivor 41 has seen its ratings plummet. The season premiere scored just a 1.1 rating and an 8 share in the 18-49 demo and pulled in a total of 6.25 million viewers. And these numbers have dropped nearly every week.

The penultimate episode that aired on December 8 received a 0.9 rating and 7 share in the 18-49 demo and only 5.7 million viewers. Compared to the season 40 averages, that’s- a loss of more than 2 million viewers overall —  including hundreds of thousands in the valuable 18-49 advertising demo. And the numbers continue to fall. In its 20 year history, Survivor has never seen paltry numbers like this.

Fans are labeling ‘Survivor 41’ the ‘worst’ season ever

Why are old seasons of Survivor growing in popularity, while at the same time the new season on CBS is losing viewers left and right? According to numerous fans the reason is simple — season 41 is “the worst.” And there are a few reasons why.

The production changes have resulted in Probst breaking the fourth wall for no reason and pointless editing flourishes that make zero sense. What is with the slow motion shots? But, that’s just a superficial complaint.

There’s also the fact that Survivor has dumped its format and stopped trusting the players. There’s no more theme song to introduce the cast and no more “previously on” segment to catch up with the game.

The quick edits and the focus on new game features give viewers zero chance to get to know the players and watch this diverse group of people work together while competing against each other. Why are fans not getting the chance to see relationships form and grow?

“This season so far is the absolute worst season from myself, family, friends, and tons and tons of opinions online and bashes. This season NEEDS to get better and CBS needs to learn from their mistakes. People aren’t happy,” one disappointed fan wrote.

The twists are too much

One of the biggest complaints from Survivor fandom about season 41 is the outrageous number of twists and advantages that have consumed the game. In addition to the neverending number of hidden immunity idols, there are new advantages that are simply absurd when it comes to gameplay.

The worst was in episode six, when Erika had the option of smashing the hourglass and changing Survivor history by reversing the events of the prior episode. What?

As Survivor alum Stephen Fishbach pointed out on Twitter, “there are absolutely no stakes for Erika. There’s no decision at all. Of course she uses it. There’s no risk. No question of timing. It’s an ‘advantage’ that has no strategy at all associated with it.”

At this point, there are so many twists, summits, and advantages that producers are controlling the game, not the players. They are forcing them to do certain things instead of letting the game unfold organically inside the structure and world they created.

The politics of ‘Survivor’ mean it’s no longer an escape for viewers

The game that was supposed to be about players outwitting and outplaying each other has now become something completely different. Instead of a group of strangers trying to live together and navigating the rules of the game, they are trying to survive random twists that the producers have put in place.

Then, there’s the issue of politics. Probst said going into the season that “there’s so much happening in the world right now,that if something comes up, let’s talk about it. And we might learn something from it.”

As the executive producer and showrunner, he has every right to make that change to the show. But introducing current politics into gameplay doesn’t allow viewers to enjoy the escapism like they’ve done in the past.

“I quit watching it after the first episode,” one disappointed fan wrote. “Been a fan since 99. Talking politics is a big turn off. Come on guys . This show is no longer about Survivor. [It’s] about shoving liberalism down our throats.”

Another added, “Season 41 stinks! Yes, the worst season ever….I hope they change my opinion.”

The Survivor 41 finale airs Wednesday, December 15 on CBS. The first 40 seasons of Survivor are available on Paramount+ and Amazon Prime.

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