Potential Changes to the Jury in Season 34

Jeff Probst hints at format changes to the jury system next year on Season 34 to combat “bitter juries.”

Photo: CBS

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.”

Survivor: Kaoh Rong jury.

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 March 2017.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

26 responses to “Potential Changes to the Jury in Season 34”

  1. Is it necessary to underestimate Michele’s win? Every castaway who gets to the end deserves to win. If you were not able to get enough votes to win, then there is something you missed.

    • Very true. It’s definitely worrying what this jury twist could be and the impact it could have. The power has always been in the hands of the players, and I hope that doesn’t change too much.

  2. Any particular reason that in the Nick piece you didn’t note in the interview he said that Michele deserved to win?

    • Nope. But I did forget to include the Probst quote about saying she deserved to win. I’ve added that part in now. Thanks. 🙂

  3. I find the focus on Jason and Scot’s votes to be both a bit troubling and also hilarious. I have seen so many comments essentially “blaming” them for being bitter and giving Michele the win. However, what is often overlooked is that three WOMEN (in fact, all the female jurors) voted for Michele. It’s like their votes or their reasons for voting for Michele don’t count, because some people only want to talk about two men’s vote.

    • Yeah it is a bit odd how Probst says that Jason and Scot had a lot of influence because I doubt they really impacted how Debbie or Cydney voted.

      • Even Julia’s vote. Yes, they were all three friends and had a similar assessment of Aubry’s game. But Julia was always going to vote for Michele, since they were good friends. It’s not like Julia wanted to vote for Aubry, but was persuaded to vote Michele because of Jason and Scot. As we saw in the show, Julia didn’t have that great of a relationship with Aubry and she had her own issues with Aubry stemming from the Peter vote out.

  4. Whether you sequester the jury individually or not, UTR female winners will always happen. Even when jury members were not allowed to talk, they still managed too (Helen providing info of racism to Ted in Thailand). It doesn’t make any difference. The jury is always going to vote for who they respect more. It’s not that hard. Probst just keeps making the fanbase dumber and dumber with each season that goes by.

  5. Like it or not, bitter juries are part of Survivor. And to combat that is just equivalent to going against nature.

    Besides, if one was deft about it, they could work that to their favor. See Natalie White among other folks.

  6. Are you kidding me? What a horribly dumb idea. I could live with stupid meaningless themes, boring rehashed challenges and reused locations, but this crosses the line. This sucks!

    • Do you know what he is actually proposing? Because I don’t. The power to pick the winner will be still in the hands of the jury, that will not change.

  7. In one RHAP podcast, Stephen Fishbach discussed the dynamics of the S31 jury and remarked how that jury may well have voted for Kimmi or Keith had they made it to the end. So contestants that focus on making “big moves” while ignoring jury the circumstances of how people are being sent to the jury and their relationship with those jurors do so at their peril. Spencer getting zero votes from the Cambodia jury illustrates this.

  8. Maybe he’ll show them a clip show of all the leadership things people did that the Jury may not have seen. I read interviews with some of them later who said they had no idea Audrey did so much stuff and they would have voted for her if they’d known. A compilation of all the big moves would be a great idea for Jury education plus we the fans would love it too.

    • Final Tribal is a test of how well you can advocate for yourself. Aubry isn’t as charismatic as Michelle. You can’t deny this as a factor.

      Aubry could have said “Michelle made a mistake at the final 7 because I had Joe and Tai at the final 5. The only reason she’s here instead of Joe, is his medical evacuation. I, on the other hand, played a strategic and social game necessary to put me in the majority for every vote despite losing my 2 closest allies to medevacs (which were out of my control.)” But she didn’t sum up what made her deserving in a concise or compelling way. It sucks in this instance but that’s how the game has been and should be. If they show clips of the game, production can have an influence on how the people are portrayed to the jury, which isn’t fair.

  9. Unfortunately, I disagree with many of you. I believe that last season was the first time in the history of the this show where the best player of the final three wasn’t voted the winner. In many seasons, (especially those with a final three) two players at the end are what most would call deserving of being the winner. Usually you could have a healthy debate on who was the best player out of those two finalists and whomever won out of the two of them, most of the audience would consider it fair and be satisfied. Last season it wasn’t even close. Aubry undoubtedly played the best game of the three and she lost because of some bitter jury members chose not to listen when she outlined all of the moves she made. To be honest, neither Michele nor Tai deserved the win in my opinion. I’m a Michele fan as well as an Aubry fan, but Michele got outplayed– plain and simple.

    I don’t think that Jeff Probst’s idea will take away the agency of any of the jurors. I agree that sequestering the jury members separately or a roundtable seems likely and I think that one or both of these things could actually help. I like this idea and the game needs something like this. The integrity of the game depends on it. If these Michele-type wins keep happening I’m afraid that the strategically-minded part of the audience will lose interest and stop watching. If the rating dip enough CBS WILL cancel this show that we all love.

    • Some good points, but that’s looking at the game as if strategy is the main component, and strategy is just one part of the game, and, arguably, less important than the social game. It’s up to the jurors to decide what they’re basing their vote on – sometimes they vote purely on who played the best strategically, other times they vote on social game (who they liked more), and sometimes, yes, they just vote out of spite and bitterness. But all of those are valid reasons and it’s why Survivor is so fascinating because each season is different with different views and approaches to the game. 🙂

  10. Let the viewer decide. This way they will play for the camera and not to please future jury members. I find final TC a drag and doesn’t add anything to the show.

    • No! Please anything but this. I NEVER want America to have a single ounce of control in who wins a survivor season. The current system works. If America wants to vote for something tune into a singing show.

        • That would take away a lot of how America’s Survivor works. Because if they are going to be voted out the players want to go to the jury.

      • Agree! Besides what the show lets us see the viewers do not know what all has happened during all that time so it wouldn’t be right or fair for us to vote on a winner of Survivor.

  11. I definitely wouldn’t mind a roundtable…but if it had began around fans vs favorites. I want Survivor to stay around more than anyone, but it probably is in it’s twilight. With that being said it would be weird changing up the format after 34 seasons, especially if we only make it to 40. It just gets hard because where do you fit it in?

    Everything is already so jammed unless this is simply just Jeff conversing back and forth with everyone. Like as a group the jury decides the top topic for each of the 2-3 finalists and they all talk it out.

  12. Yes I hate bitter jurys just vote for who you think played best game even if that person was reason you were voted nothing worse then sore loser

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