“Survivor” host Jeff Probst kicked off the newest season of the classic reality television show by asking contestants whether he should retire one of his trademark phrases or not in order to make the show more inclusive.
“We need your guidance on something,” Probst announced to the 18 contestants on Season 41, the first “Survivor” season filmed since the pandemic began.
“For 20 years I have used one phrase to call people in for challenges,” Probst said.
“Come on in, guys!” the contestants shouted, some smiling and laughing.
“Come on in, guys,” Probst agreed. “Love saying it, it’s part of the show, but I, too, want to be of the moment. So my question to you to decide for us: In the context of ‘Survivor,’ is a word like ‘guys’ okay, or is it time to retire that word?”
One contestant Evvie Jagoda, who identified herself as a “queer woman,” responded saying she did not see the phrase as problematic.
“I personally think ‘guys’ is okay,” she smiled. “‘Come in guys’ is such a signature expression. I, as a woman, as a queer woman, do not feel excluded by ‘guys.’”
“Does anybody disagree?” Probst followed up, after which there was a pause until another female contestant responded, “no.”
“We feel okay keeping guys?” the show’s veteran host asked again.
“Guys is good,” another woman agreed.
“Okay, mark it down. Discussed and decided,” Probst said.
Later on day three of the show, just before the first immunity challenge, a male contestant revisited the issue with Probst.
“The reality is, there was so much going on, there was so much commotion, cameras, my hair is messed up, I’m half crying, I don’t have the capacity to do what I’m really supposed to do, which I regret,” contestant Ricard Foyé told Probst as his fellow contestants listened.
“I don’t agree that we should use the word, guys. I fully agree that we should change it, whether it just be dropping the guys, changing it to something else. I just don’t really agree with it,” Foyé said.
“The reality is, ‘Survivor’ has changed over the last 21 years and those changes have allowed all of us, all of these brown people, black people, Asian people, so many queer people to be here simultaneously,” Foyé added.
“It’s a great point, and I gotta say, I love that you thought about it more,” Probst responded. “I love that you had the courage, inside a million-dollar game in which standing up anytime is risky, to bring it up again, because I’m with you. I want to change it. I’m glad that was the last time I will ever say it.”
Probst added that he realizes that “somebody right now is on social media saying, ‘Oh, he caved.’”
“It’s @JeffProbst on Twitter. I’ll probably never read it anyway,” the host quipped. “All right, I love that we just made a change from now on. It is, ‘come on in.’”
However, old habits die hard, and contestants continued to call each other “guys” several more times, even in the same episode.
“You guys kept going, you were awesome,” one contestant says.
“So sorry, you guys,” says another.
Even Probst himself forgets his promise and calls the group “guys” at a tribal council.
During the show’s last season, which was filmed in 2019, a #MeToo scandal erupted.
Contestant Dan Spilo was accused of “inappropriate touching” by another cast member and was subsequently ejected from the show after what the show described as “another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”
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