Snake in the Grass survivalists Yul Kwon, Earl Cole, Malcolm Freberg, and Jeff Zausch didn’t have months or even weeks to prepare for the psychological meets physical challenges. Instead, the Survivor and Naked and Afraid all-stars essentially flew by the seat of their pants, drawing from past game experiences. But also realizing this is an entirely new game, baby.
USA’s Snake in the Grass drops fan favorite legends from shows like Survivor, Big Brother, and Naked and Afraid in a jungle in Central America where one player among them is secretly trying to sabotage the game. Players try to uncover the saboteur – or the “snake” – through a series of challenges and riddles as they tap into previous experiences or knowledge of one another.
Behaviors are secretly scrutinized as players try to uncover the snake. At the end of the hour, viewers and the players learn who was the snake. If the players correctly identify the snake, they get to split $100,000. If they don’t, the snake walks away with all the cash.
How does ‘Snake in the Grass’ differ from ‘Survivor’ or ‘Naked and Afraid’?
Zausch said Snake in the Grass was very different from being on Naked and Afraid. “For me as the outlier, this wasn’t like anything I’ve done before. I suck at games,” he told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “I don’t like games. Naked and Afraid is very difficult, but it’s very simple. You just have to stay alive. That’s the only rule. There’s no gameplay. If you don’t like your partner, you can leave them and walk off into the jungle and start your own life. And so this was very, very different. It was a social game, a social experiment.”
Freberg told Showbiz Cheat Sheet that the game was like Survivor while being nothing like Survivor. “It was interesting because there’s a lot of parallels,” he said. “And yet there’s just the whole dynamic of there being a snake amongst you that changes everything but in a very core grounded way. Like everything became different. So instead of just trying to win a challenge on Survivor, now you’re side-eyeing. I’m trying to watch who’s giving their all, who’s struggling, who’s acting like they’re struggling. You’re trying to weigh a whole new element. So there’s a lot of parallels, but it was definitely like a monkey wrench got thrown it.”
Did Jeff Zausch get naked?
Kwon thought the challenges were similar to Survivor. And, “I think having the Survivor experience was useful,” he told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “The thing that kind of tripped me up, is on Survivor you’re just trying to build the strongest alliance or strongest coalition, right? You’re just trying to get as many people to be on your side. And I felt like kind of doing that naturally in this game, but I kept being like, no, no, no. It doesn’t matter if someone likes you or not.”
“It doesn’t matter because unless you actually figure out who the real snake is, the whole thing kind of doesn’t really matter,” Kwon said. “So it’s a different dynamic because it’s not just about trying to get people to click with you and want to vote with you. It’s actually about trying to figure out the truth.”
Of course, Kwon couldn’t help but laugh, recalling how Zausch got naked during the challenge. “The clothes kind of threw me off, like who is this guy?” he laughed about Zausch. Host Bobby Bones joked about how Zausch could use being naked as a strategy – and Zausch leaned right in.
How much time did the ‘Snake in the Grass’ players have to prepare?
The players loved the two days of multi-dimensional play which ultimately culminated in finding out who was the snake. They also said they had little to no time to build a strategy leading up to the game … which included the player who ended up being the snake.
“They didn’t exactly tell us what the show was about,” Kwon dished. “But I thought it would kind of be like The Mole so I watched a few seasons of The Mole and expected Anderson Cooper to be jumping out to be honest.”
Freberg joked that he didn’t feel ready for the game physically. But with such short notice, he reviewed some Survivor. Plus, “I read Machiavelli before I was on Survivor the first time, so I went back to that. I just did all my reading again before going out.”
Meanwhile, Zausch had recently been treated for Malaria and had just left the hospital. “I was just a few weeks out of the hospital,” he exclaimed. “So I was coming into this out of shape, exhausted, beat down. My mind was just trying to focus and be like just 36 hours. That’s a piece of cake.”
Did they find the game to be a “piece of cake” and did the players ultimately identify the snake?
Snake in the Grass premieres on Monday, August 1 at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT following WWE Monday Night RAW. Sneak peek on Tuesday, July 26 at 10/9.
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