Since its inception, the winner of Survivor has always been decided by a jury vote. Navigating yourself to the end of the game, voting out your peers but still needing their vote to win in the end. That is one of the fascinating and most compelling aspects of Survivor. Each season, the mentality of the jury is different, and yes, sometimes those juries can be bitter. Survivor is a high-pressure, cutthroat game that taxes people both physically and emotionally. It’s part of the player’s responsibilities not to make the jury bitter. But is there a way to further curtail jury bitterness?
In a recent interview with the Toronto Sun, Survivor host Jeff Probst was asked about the idea of bitter juries and whether there is anything that can be done to combat them. Speaking about Survivor: Kaoh Rong, Probst said, “…last season’s jury was an aberration” and that he believed castaways Kyle Jason and Scot Pollard “…were really tough. And they got to that jury. Nothing against those guys, it’s their prerogative to play how they want, but I felt their impact was pretty hard.” The result of last season, Michele Fitzgerald winning 5-2-0 over Aubry Bracco and Tai Trang, was the cause of much debate and backlash in the Survivor community.
Some of this “toughness” that Probst is referring to when he talks about Jason and Scot can be seen in Cydney Gillon’s Ponderosa video, when the former Brawn tribemates, and Julia Sokolowski, ignored Cydney upon her arrival. Speaking of the atmosphere in Ponderosa, Cydney said, “People are just very bitter, and then they have the nerve to say ‘I’m not bitter,’ well, you sound bitter to me.” And she described Jason and Scot as “two high school girls at a stereotypical high school where they’re just cliquey and can’t do anything for themselves or think for themselves.”
Fellow Kaoh Rong jury member Nick Maiorano also touched upon the Ponderosa attitude in an interview with Rob Has A Podcast, “There was this tone at Ponderosa where the negative traits were what was amplified…” and that “those people [the jurors] didn’t want to see who was truly in control.” But he didn’t believe that “group-think” decided the winner, just that the focus was on the player’s negatives and that the jury viewed Aubry and Tai’s negatives as worse than Michele’s which he said is a valid way to vote.
Probst went on to tell the Toronto Sun that Michele deserved her win, “The one criticism of the season will be: how did Michele Fitzgerald win? I don’t know but it’s really amazing. She was so delicate that it appeared she did nothing but she did and got people to give her a million dollars. That’s winning Survivor.”
But he has plans for combatting potential jury bitterness, “I have an idea – not for this season but for next – to change the final tribal up to help the jury be less bitter. I’ll be curious to see if it works.”
What could those changes be? Fans have previously suggested sequestering jurors individually, but it sounds like the change will directly affect final tribal council rather than Ponderosa. Perhaps a form of “jury roundtable” led by Probst, similar to Big Brother, where the jurors are encouraged to discuss each player and the reasons why they should or shouldn’t win?
Whatever it is, and whether or not it will have any impact, will have to wait until Season 34 which airs February 2017.