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Jeff Probst has been with Survivor from the very beginning. Since Season 1, Episode 1 he has been a staple of the show. But once upon a time we almost lost our favorite reality TV show host. It is frankly impressive that Probst has stuck around as long as he has. There are few other shows in the history of television that have kept one person around as long as Jeff has been on Survivor. So what drove him to nearly leave? And why did he ultimately decide to stay?
It all starts with one of the show’s most dramatic and notorious seasons. Gabon.
The Problem Season
Survivor: Gabon is spoken of almost like a joke among diehard fans of the show nowadays. If you’ve never seen the season before, it’s worth a watch just to see what happens when you try to run a game like Survivor with 18 people who mix like oil and water, many of whom very likely need real psychiatric help. They’re angry, they’re over the top, and they make you wonder if anyone from that season truly deserves to win.
A season like that was just the excuse Probst needed to leave a game he didn’t appreciate defining his life. Jeff gave an explanation of the feelings that drove him to quit in a New York Times article.
“My Achilles’ heel for a lot of my life was that nobody saw me as a storyteller, that they saw me as a white guy with dark hair who was just a game show host. And that in terms of my own self-image was the thing that could gut me. It was like a kidney punch.”
At the time, Jeff felt uncomfortable being known as the “Survivor guy”. He took a brief break from the show and thankfully seems to have embraced that title a lot more these days. He’s still going strong and doesn’t seem interested in making a departure from his lifelong project anytime soon.
Still Going Survivor Strong
The most recent addition in Jeff Probst’s social experiment, Season 43, is currently at a boiling point. Does it break the mold for the show and open up a legion of new possibilities as past seasons have done? No. But it still delivers on that intense drama and strategy that we all know and love Survivor for. Nobody is interested in seeing that come to an end anytime soon.
Season 43 of Survivor is still in full swing and new episodes are premiering every Wednesday night.