reality TV reviews and news

Fiji may be Survivor’s new permanent home

Jeff Probst on location in Fiji, which may become the CBS show's permanent location and host its final sunset. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

Fiji and its Mamanuca Islands have hosted Survivor all of last year and again hosted both seasons 35 and 36, may become the CBS shows permanent home. That’s what Jeff Probst wants, and that’s what the show appears to be doing for next year, too.

Seasons 37 and 38, which will film in 2018 and air next fall and spring of 2019, appear to be using the resort. The hotel that hosts the show’s massive crew, the Mana Island Resort, is booked next year, Inside Survivor’s Martin Holmes reports. While the hotel does show that it’s completely booked starting March 1, that sold-out time currently no end date—the hotel shows no availability for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019, and al of that wouldn’t be because of CBS’ Survivor alone.

Survivor has never stayed in the same place for four consecutive seasons, though it film four seasons each in Samoa and Nicaragua, just not consecutively. The show has never before remained in the same place for three years in a row, which is what appears to be happening now that Survivor has found a home its showrunner loves.

Interviewed in Fiji by EW’s Dalton Ross, Jeff Probst said, “I hope we stay here forever.”

Probst explained why:

The real truth of the world is, when we started Survivor 18 years ago, there were lots of places we could go. It’s been two decades. It’s a different world. There are not as many places we can go for lots of reasons—the economy, population, political unrest, weather patterns.

[…] Fiji offers us everything that we want. Incredibly beautiful water that you can see down 30 feet, beaches that are amazing, a government that is working with us, local labor that loves to say ‘Bula!’ every day because they’re just happy you’re here. And our crew has never been as happy. We actually have decent accommodations to do this show out in the jungle. It’s a win-win-win.

[…] When you find yourself in a leadership position, what you do realize is, you have to make decisions. It would be great to say, no we’re going to go all over the world. No, there is nowhere to go. This is our home. I hope we end our show here.”

Why Survivor probably won’t travel the world any more

While there are many locations the show has not traveled, it’s not economically possible—at least not with the show’s current budget. Television productions often rely on combinations of tax incentives; cheap labor; and, for international productions, low exchange rates to set up shop in a location. ($1 US currently buys $2 of Fijian goods.)

A producer of another show that filmed in Fiji at the same time as Survivor told me that “Fiji has very aggressive tax rebates, or film incentive rebates, so for reality shows Fiji is a great.”

Ultimately, if the show needs a permanent home, Fiji is an excellent one.

Its beaches are classic Survivor, and the locations the crew has used for challenges—particularly this one in the middle of the ocean—are spectacular. Ease and comfort for the crew is a plus.

My only fear is that the show will double-down on its use of ludicrous season themes, though that was happening even with location changes, and the location, its history, and its culture have meant less and less to Survivor over time. Perhaps, though, Survivor could explore and share more about its new home with its viewers, and perhaps find more interesting story there than in arbitrary tribe divisions.