Survivor Micronesia has two love affairs and “a record number of blindsides,” Probst says

Jeff Probst talked to reporters yesterday about Survivor Micronesia, which debuts next week. He revealed one of the season’s twists, and also discussed some highlights that constitute mild spoilers, although he did not name names or give specifics.

For example, he said that there are “a record number of blindsides this season. It is amazing how many blindsides we have in a row,” he said, adding that James’ decision last season to not use his immunity is no longer the biggest blunder in the show’s history.

Exile Island returns this season, and Probst said that two people, one from each tribe, will go each week. The purpose was to create “alliance-breakers” post-merge. In addition, there will be drama because on the island, there are “two people, one clue, [and] one idol.”

Probst said that “we have love affairs this season, plural, and they play from episode two. … We have some of the most intimate footage we’ve ever had of a love affair developing and consummating, quote unquote,” he said, noting that “it was brilliant how we got it, how we captured it, because it’s hard to do, they try to hide. We out-thought them, and got some great footage.”

As to initial reports that the show would be an entirely all-star season, Probst said those were accurate, because producers led former cast members to believe that 20 of them would be cast. “We referred to it as the big con,” he said, as “we alluded to the fact that there would be 20 people on this season. We had 20 people on the hook thinking that they were going, knowing all along that only 10 people would be going.” That was done in part because those cast members were “trying to build alliances before the show even started.”

As to specific people, he said Yul and Shane were cast members that were in that other group of 10 that they eventually couldn’t find room for. While there “was a feeding frenzy of favorites caling our casting director pleading their case,” Palau winner Tom Westman and China complainer Courtney both said no when asked to participate.

Pitting favorites with people who watched them on television was an attempt to create drama, and it worked, Probst said. “We hoped that idolitry would turn into animosity, and it did.” He said “the favorites weren’t really there to make any new friends,” and eventually, “the fans wanted to be sure that a fan won the game.” Each group had their own advantages: Together, Jeff said, the favorites have “nearly a year’s worth of experience,” but “on the flipside, you can’t hide if you’re a favorite,” as the fans know each favorite’s strategies.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.