Both Survivor Samoa tribes received pizza reward, despite not having actually earned it

An odd little controversy came up on Friday, after Russell Swan’s exit from Survivor Samoa: some people were mad that the show didn’t give both tribes the pizza reward, even though neither tribe earned it because the challenge was stopped when Russell passed out.

I don’t understand this obsession with the pizza reward. When has the show given a reward that wasn’t earned in a challenge? And why would producers do that? To be nice? To make the contestants feel better after something awful happened? To make sure their feelings didn’t get hurt? Really? It’s a game of survival, (almost) literally.

What baffles me the most is the assumption that’s been surfacing online that the pizza reward was wasted because the contestants didn’t get it. The producers aren’t exactly calling Papa John’s to fly out from L.A. and deliver pizzas that they just threw in the trash once the reward challenge was scrapped. As with many food rewards, I’d expect the pizza was coming from the crew’s own catering department, which means if they weren’t going to award it, they didn’t make it.

Anyway, it turns out that producers did, in fact, give both tribes pizza. After an onslaught of negative reaction to the missing pizza and mean, mean producers, Jeff Probst posted this in the comments of his EW recap: “They did get pizza, we just didn’t have time to include it in the episode. We’re tough but not unfair.”

As I wrote above, I don’t think it would have been in any way unfair to deprive either tribe of a reward they didn’t earn.

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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.