How Much of the Show Survivor is Real and How Much is Fake?

When you get used to the warmth and comfort of your home, being in the wild can be difficult, yet we enjoy watching people do it for almost 40 days and nights on Survivor. Still, as with any reality show, we have to wonder if the contestants are hardy, or is there something going on behind the scenes that facilitates their survival. As various sources reveal, some of what we watch is fake and here a few examples.

Voting out Tribe Members

In a world that has taught us to be fair in anything, fought for democracy and still fights to have equal rights, it is shocking to find that Survivor was not just in some way. We saw the cast their votes secretly as they decided who they wanted out of the show, but as The Richest reveals, the voting system was rigged. For most of us we assumed that since some of the tribe members became allies, they were kicking out those who were not part of the “inner circle.” Unfortunately, the contestants usually have sit-downs with the producers who would not be straightforward with their plans but instead gave the contestants hints about who they want to be voted out of the show. Matter of fact is the producers would go further to reason with the contestants about why making some decisions is better than going ahead with others.

Maybe we might not have believed it, but according to New York Times, when Stacey Stillman found out that she had been voted out because Mark Burnett convinced her tribe members to cast her out, she sued CBS. Stacey, a lawyer, was not liked by her fellow Tagi tribesmen and her attempts to make an alliance failed. Therefore when the members had to decide who to vote out between Rudy Boesch and Stacey Stillman, they chose Stacey.

That would have been the end of it were it not that she ran into Dirk Been while staying at a hotel. Dirk told Stacey that he and Sean had been approached by Mark Burnett to favor Rudy over Stacey when it came to voting time. Stacey continued to sue CBS for unlawful business practices, alleged fraud and breach of contract because, in her opinion, Mark was contravening the rules.

The casting process

To be on television is almost everyone’s dream but to receive prize money amounting to a million dollars is quite a motivation for anyone to get into the show. It does not matter that after taxes winner might end up taking home $850,000; that money is enough to oil some wheels in anyone’s life. Consequently Lynne Spillman, the casting director in charge of both “The Amazing Race and “Survivor” said that they get thousands of applications but they still sometimes are not the right quality, according to Today.

As a result, it is up to the producers to get themselves who they think will fit perfectly on the show and in their opinion, there are no better people than models and actors. It is no wonder that you find those captivating bodies on the show and you cannot help but think what the criteria were in choosing the cast. For instance, on Survivor” Fiji, all but one contestant were recruited which makes us think just what the tens of thousands of applications usually contain that they could only find one eligible candidate.

All the same, once they recruit their actors and models, the process is competitive again because they have to undergo the application process, just like everyone else. Maybe the eligibility criteria used should be changed because once you read the bios of some of the contestants, you cannot help but wonder if you live on the same planet as some of them.

Aerial shots and speeches

The view from above is usually spectacular, but in Survivor, those beautiful bird’s angle shots might be real, but those people you see are not the contestants. As with any television production, there are lots of crew members hovering around the location, and if the real contestants were to be captured as they walked into a challenge, then the outcome would be a not-so-cool aerial shot since we would see not just the contestants but the crew members as well doing their thing.

For this reason, you might be surprised that some of the scenes you watch are not the contestants; from the aerial view, you can hardly tell who is who and besides you are caught up in the moment to realize. The show utilizes a “Dream Team” comprising young athletic crew members who go through the challenges first before the contestants to make sure that they are not asking too much from the contestants; just in case the challenges are not even doable. If you think that is being fake, Mark Burnett could not care less about using doubles because he is making great television.

Additionally, as for the jurors’ speeches, they were not spontaneous. The tribe members who were kicked out get to return to the show as the jury, and while the speeches they give seem heartfelt, they usually have nothing to do with them. Instead, the producers will write the speeches for them and even get the jurors to practice beforehand.

Clothing choice

The clothes the contestants on the show are of course appropriate for the various locations the show is set on; you see them mostly in shorts and sleeveless shirts due to the weather conditions. Surprising enough, the contestants have no say in what they will wear. It is all up to the producers, which reminds you of teenagers who cannot walk out the door in certain clothes unless their parents think it is okay.

Candice revealed that the producers would choose for you what they want you to wear and she was not happy with some of the decisions the producers made for her. She gives the example of bathing suits that the producers bought for her, and she thought one of them was ugly. Why do the producers go to all the trouble you might ask? Well according to Candice, they wanted her to have an athletic look, and she had to wear all pink, and they forced her to have a sports bra.

As for Cochran, most fans thought he looked awesome in the sweater vest, but he admits that it was only because the producers made him wear one. Why? Because Justin Timberlake wore sweater vests at the time, but for Cochran never before had he worn a sweater vest.

Helping out contestants with fire and food

Watching Survivor will make you think that you can survive in any part of the world as long as you are resilient, know how to light a fire, swim, fish and live on the wild fruits. Sorry to say that as much as they make it look easy, you might have to learn how to get a fire going with some wood, dry twigs, and a little friction. Even though some contestants come out as made for the deserts and islands, others prove living in hardship is not for everyone.

Reality blurred blurs our reality and thwarts our survival dreams by revealing to us that the contestants get help from the crew members to start a fire. Erinn Lobdell disclosed that while she was on Exile Island, crew members helped her out discreetly; a sound engineer gave her a piece of butterscotch candy while a cameraman used his lighter to light her a fire.

To add to this claim, other contestants like Kelly Goldsmith said that the tribe received matches to ease their hard time. Mookie also noted that we might have seen like someone’s glasses helped start a fire, but it was a lighter that did the work. If at all the survivors cannot survive on their own, what does it say about the authenticity of the show and do the contestants even deserve the prize money? Well, CBS begs to differ because according to them, the show’s producers do not in any way interfere with reality either by offering help or hindrances to life on the chosen locations.

That is a statement that is difficult to believe when a cameraman confessed that they give the contestants water to drink from the start. The producers put the clean, potable drinking water in a well and the contestants could get it from there whenever they pleased. Maybe it is necessary since dehydration in some of the hot climates can be fatal but why claim that they do not help in any way? Most likely, to give them some credit, it is because they want us to believe that we can achieve anything we set our mind to and anyone can be a survivor. Moreover, seeing the contestant struggle with boiling water was quite something.

Is there anything real about Survivor?

With so many fake scenes on the show, you have to ask if at all there is anything real about it or was it all just acting.

Contestants falling in love

To be sincere, some of the things on the show were real and like they say you cannot fake love. We have seen people falling in love as they act, for instance, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Parker who fell in love while playing lovers on “Soul Food” and they have been married for 14 years. Survivor has also had some contestants coupling up while on the show, but the most notable has to be Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich who were in Survivor: All-Stars. The two went head to head for the prize money, but Amber won it all. Maybe it is the tenacity of both contestants that drew them to each other, but they ended up getting married and have four children so far. Now that is something that no producer can make someone practice beforehand.

Prize money

People join reality television for various reasons; some get exposure like Elisabeth Hasselback who finished fourth place in the 2nd season of Survivor. Elisabeth has gone on to become a co-host in many television shows such as The View which led her to win the Daytime Emmy Award for being an Outstanding Talkshow Host. For others, it is all about money. Money makes the world go round, and although it is the root of all evil as Christians believe from their Holy Book, it is a great motivator. Contestants on Survivor get some reward regardless of how long they have been on the show but of course the longer you can survive not being voted out the more the money you receive.

Fortune talked to a former contestant John Dalton, and he revealed that the lowest amount that one gets paid is $3,500 for the first person to leave the show after three days. Jurors also get called back in for something; each of them receives $40,000. The runners-up walk away with $110,000 while the last person standing goes home with $1,010,000. Returning players take home $25,000 if they are the first ones to leave the show while the rest of the contestants get rewarded depending on how long they last.

However, the amount is all subject to tax and contestants have to include it in their returns otherwise they face jail time like Richard Hatch, Season one winner who had to spend 51 months in prison for failure to pay taxes on his prize money, as Men’s Health reported.

Other real elements

Most of the scenes seen on Survivor are real; for instance, the sleepless nights the contestants have to endure either due to insects or harsh weather conditions. Also, although the crew may sneak in food to the participants, the contestants still go through some malnutrition, and you can tell from the changes in their bodies from when they first appear on the set to when they leave. Further, the strained relationships between some contestants are also real. Janu Tornell in Survivor: Palu preferred to leave after being ridiculed by her fellow tribesmen. We can also not fail to mention the adverse physical and mental reactions that some people experience while on the show. Colton Cumbie felt alone after being separated from his fiancé while Kathy Sleckman had a mental breakdown caused by paranoia and isolation.

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