The Survivor loved ones visit is a fixture of the show, but Survivor 42 shook up the traditional family reward. Here’s the reason for the change.
The new era of Survivor has included many changes to the classic format of the show, including a shake-up of the traditional loved ones visit. Through its two-plus decades on air, Survivor’s loved ones visit has become a staple of the show. Many of the series’ most emotionally moving moments have occurred when the contestants’ family members and loved ones visit show up to visit them in the latter half of the game. Usually, the castaways get to briefly embrace their loved one before competing to get to spend more time with them. This tradition has led to some iconic moments in the show, like when Pearl Islands villain Jonny Fairplay and his friend Thunder D lied about Fairplay’s grandmother dying in order for him to gain sympathy from the tribe.
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The past two seasons of Survivor have had no such iconic family visit moments. Survivor 41 didn’t feature a loved ones visit of any kind in the aired cut, while Survivor 42 retooled the event in a major way. Instead of family members and loved ones making the trip to the island, the contestants who participated in a pizza and sanctuary reward got surprise video messages from home projected across from them while they enjoyed their meal.
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The reason for the major change in the Survivor staple is pandemic-related. Seasons 41 and 42 were filmed back-to-back in the spring and summer of 2021 when the government of Fiji — where Survivor has filmed every season since 2016 — still had strict requirements for entry into the country. Therefore, the crew and the contestants themselves all had an extensive quarantine period before the game could begin, making it logistically unfeasible to bring the cast’s family members and loved ones to the nation for a traditional visit. With the new era Survivor game only lasting 26 days, requiring loved ones to quarantine for two weeks or more to appear on the show simply wouldn’t make sense.
Oddly, Survivor 41’s cast actually had a similar virtual family visit as season 42, but the moment didn’t make the final edit of the episode. On the other hand, Survivor 42’s family visit factored into the game in a major way. Cunning strategist Omar Zaheer used the reward to manipulate Mike Turner into turning on his ally Hai Giang, with Hai ultimately being voted out during the episode’s Tribal Council. The virtual family visit also led to humorous social media commentary and memes, with season 42 contestant Maryanne Oketch using the format to make a joke about her crush on the season’s first vote-out, Zach Wurtenberger.
With Survivor set to shoot seasons 43 and 44 imminently, it will be interesting to see how the seasons handle the loved ones visit. With quarantine requirements and travel restrictions greatly loosened since 41 and 42 filmed in 2021, it seems quite possible that the show will return to the classic family visit format. It’s hard to imagine that the family visit goes away completely or remains in its virtual form, as the event has become one of the most popular hallmarks of Survivor.
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Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on CBS.
Source: Maryanne Oketch/Twitter
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About The Author
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Lee Whitten is a freelance reality TV writer for Screen Rant. He is a pop culture fiend and considers himself an expert on all things Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race. Lee also holds a master’s degree in literature and works as a screenwriter when he’s not too busy rewatching old seasons of Survivor. You can follow him on Twitter @Lee_Whitten to read more of his thoughts on movies and TV.
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