Jeff Probst Explains Why 'Survivor' Lets Contestants Cheat in Challenges

Survivor fans once again had to watch contestants cheat in one of the puzzle challenges as they fought for immunity during the latest episode of Season 44. Cheating has been an ongoing issue on the long-running reality show, and the producers continue to allow it. In the newest episode of his podcast On Fire, host Jeff Probst explained how allowing cheating is a "creative" decision.

In Survivor 44, two tribes copied another team as they completed a puzzle for immunity. Viewers at home might have been left complaining that this was not fair. Why were there no dividers up to keep the teams from copying each other? Why do producers just shrug and let this go?

In On Fire, podcast producer Jay Wolff asked Probst why don't put up dividers to keep contestants from cheating. "Well, we do," Probst explained, via Entertainment Weekly. "We sometimes put up blinders. Sometimes we'll give you a cloth to cover your answer from the other tribe. And sometimes we don't."

There are sometimes "logistical" problems that make it difficult to put up dividers, Probst said. "But sometimes it's also creative, and as you saw last season early on, two tribes ganged up on one tribe and they were helping them – literally yelling 'Put that piece here, put that piece there,'" he explained.

Of course, one reason why contestants can cheat is in Survivor's DNA. The show tries to have as few rules for challenges as possible, Probst said. "We try to let them create their own society. And I know that sounds heady, but that is how we look at it," he said. "So, in this world, if you're going to cheat, you might get away with it, there might be payback, somebody might notice and want to align with you because you cheated. It's your world, what do you want to do with it."

This was not the first time Probst was asked about this. Back in 2013, he told EW that they have used dividers "more times than not," and some challenges can be so intricate that copying doesn't help a contestant complete them quicker. "There are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether we use [dividers] or not," he said at the time.

Elsewhere in On Fire this week, Probst hinted at one aspect of Survivor that needs to be updated. The producers and Probst may change the rule barring players from sitting out back-to-back challenges in a one-episode cycle with reward and immunity challenges. This rule doesn't have much power today, since Survivor rarely features two challenges in a single episode today. "I do think it's something that we do need to put on our whiteboard, and we need to examine if maybe we just change that," Probst explained. "Because it does need to be updated."

Survivor 44 was filmed in Fiji in June 2022 and debuted on CBS on March 1. New episodes air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET. All seasons are streaming on Paramount+.