Jeff Probst Calls ‘Survivor 46’ “One of the Most Vicious Seasons Ever”

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jeff Probst

In the lead-up to the February 28 premiere of Survivor 46, Jeff Probst has previewed the cast of 18 new castaways in a humorous light. "There are some very big personalities on all three tribes, and an overall great sense of humor across the board," he earlier told Parade. But, in a new interview with "Rob Has a Podcast," the host and executive producer revealed the upcoming season will not be all laughs.

"You're gonna see in Survivor 46 one of the most vicious seasons ever," Probst says. "I'm telling you. The gameplay is great. When 46 is over, you will feel that."

It's an enticing yet menacing tease from the Emmy winner. After all, as Probst himself admits, "vicious" is not necessarily a word associated with the "new era" of the show. After the pandemic shut down production on the show following the epic 20th anniversary Winners at War season, Probst and the Survivor team decided to take a refreshed look at the show. And, reflecting on a world that seemed more tinged than ever with uncertainty, unrest, and negativity, they responded with positivity. 

Related: Everything to Know About Survivor 46

The result: An era of Survivor that showcases more than ever the three-dimensional people living out on the island, fighting and scrapping every minute for the million-dollar prize. Significant airtime is dedicated to the personal lives of the castaways that brought them to the island and the emotional journey they take, from hitting the sand to getting their torch snuffed. While this focus has earned praise from fans--notably in conjunction with the diversity initiative brought in for all CBS unscripted shows--it has also received pushback from some who feel the show has lost a "bite" that came before the pandemic.

Survivor has certainly oriented itself more towards what makes a player and the transformative experience of the 26-day adventure of a lifetime, to the point where Probst has also said he's not interested in creating typical "villain edits" anymore. But that certainly doesn't mean the "new era" has been completely drama-free. We've seen fierce rivalries develop from the start. Blindsides like Jesse Lopez's betrayal of his closest ally, Cody Assenmacher, are seen as some of the most brutal moves in the show's history. Last season even saw arguably the most "villainous" edit of the new era, with two-time player Bruce Perreault being shown as rude and aloof to his fellow castaways. 

One thing was clear from my time out in Fiji, where I got to interview the cast of Survivor 46 prior to the game starting, as well as witness the first three days of gameplay: This cast is absolutely willing to put their all into the Survivor experience. Before going out to play, they had just watched not only Jesse's blindside of Cody in season 43, but also the Tika Three dominate the postmerge of season 44 to become one of the most impressive alliances in recent memory. So manipulating from behind the scenes and cutting allies seem to be at the top of minds of these contestants as they enter perhaps the most important 26 days of their lives. And that high intensity apparently spills into their approach to the twists and turns as well.

Jeff Probst Reveals the Secret Theme of Survivor 46

"I think this might be the first season of the new era where the players have started to take control," Probst previews. "And they're starting to realize there are other ways to handle Beware Advantages. 'There are things I could do with my Shot in the Dark.' From a philosophical point of view, they're starting to be less afraid of the game, and starting to look at the game and figure out how to break it and use it to their advantage. And I think you're gonna see some really great gameplay."

Probst credits that mentality to the atmosphere of uncertainty the game created from the inception of the new era. Seasons 41 and 42 threw many new advantages and twists into the game that overwhelmed fans and players alike. But that was all part of production's plan to infuse the show with a philosophy for its new players: When you don't know what's guaranteed tomorrow, do what you can today. As a result, according to Probst, that gives players the freedom to play and adapt quickly rather than try to predict what's coming around the corner.

But while they're ruthlessly betraying each other and finding new ways to use advantages, they'll still have plenty of time to showcase their, as Probst calls them, "eclectic" personalities. "This group just has a funny, funny sense of humor about it," he says. "And there's a lot of music this season. Weirdly, either people who play music or sing. And so there's kind of a loose musical thread, a lot of fun." And hopefully, by the end of season 46, we'll be joining along in the chorus singing its praises.

Next, check out the photos and bios of the Survivor 46 cast.