‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Discusses Why We Love Villains

There really aren’t any guidelines when it comes to “Survivor” Hall of Fame voting. Like strategic players? Vote for them. Memorable characters? Go for it. People who changed the game? Why not? That’s who I voted for.

Because of that, we weren’t really sure what to expect when it came time to tally the votes.

But a funny thing happened on the way to last year’s induction acceptance podium*…all five of the nominees were villains.

I had a chance to talk to Jeff Probst about this bizarre phenomenon during my visit to Samoa this past summer.

Gordon Holmes: What were the qualities you were looking for when you cast your 2010 Hall of Fame vote?

Jeff Probst: I didn’t really give it a lot of thought in terms of “What are the qualities?” I just thought, “Who are the best Survivors of all time?” I mean, Parvati is one of the greatest players ever. She’s one of the greatest villains. It’s perfect that she’s also young and attractive. If this were a movie, she’s that black widow that you’re going to fall in love with, you’re going to want to sleep with, and while she’s sleeping with you she has an ice pick and she kills you. Same with “Boston” Rob. He looks at Grant, he tells him they’re buddies. He puts his arm around Natalie. And he’s got shivs in both of their backs. That’s just fun to watch, it makes for a good show.

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Holmes: The executive vote and the fan vote were identical in 2010; Parvati Shallow, “Boston” Rob Mariano, Russell Hantz, Richard Hatch, and Sandra Diaz-Twine. Both sides had those five Survivors in that exact order. Do you think it’s weird that they were all at one time considered to be villains?

Probst: I didn’t even think about that when I was writing the names down. But I do think it’s indicative of what works on “Survivor.” Nice people? That’s who you want in your life. That’s who you want to play cards with, have drinks with, be the best man in your wedding. Villains are who you want to watch on TV. That’s just it. Parvati, Russell, “Boston” Rob, people like that who are manipulative and diabolical, those are the people you want to watch. That’s why when you have a nice person win everybody goes, “Eh.” “Boston” Rob wins and people say, “Love it!” or “Hate it!” He evokes that.

Here’s what it is for me, my favorite shows are “Weeds,” “The Shield,” “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “Dexter.” All the main characters are evil people who are often breaking the law and certainly are immoral. They’re certainly the most fun to watch. I’m not interested in watching, I don’t know, “The Cosby Show.” That’s not fun.

Maybe that’s why Simon Cowell is such a huge star and I’m not. Because ultimately I’m really just a nice guy. (Laughs)

Holmes: Well, there’s no debating that.

*There is no actual “Survivor” Hall of Fame Induction Acceptance Podium.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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