International Women’s Day: The Purple Rock Women’s Alliance Takeover

In honor of International Women’s Day and a thread in our comment section, I organized a roundtable with some of our notable women commenters so we can discuss Survivor from a female perspective, instead of just me desperately shouting over the voices of older men. (Okay so the men of Purple Rock are actually rather feminist and progressive. But let me have this, dammit!)


Commenters Barbara Anderson, KemperBoyd, Violina23, and Ms. Woozah joined me for a chat. They will be designated as Barbara, Kemper, Violina, and Chelsey, respectively. They’re all awesome, so feel free to follow them on Twitter.

Sexism in Survivor

Emma: We know sexism is definitely an issue in Survivor. The answer is probably both, but do you feel it’s MORE a problem within the show, or a problem because the show is reflecting society? Either way, what can the show (i.e. producers) do to combat that?

Kemper: I think it is reflective of society 15 years ago and Survivor hasn’t adapted. It comes back to something Kass said: There aren’t women in the production staff; the view that producers and editors come from is male. So is it a surprise the way the show skews is male? They need more women within the staff.

Barbara: I keep going back to this quote from Jeff in 2012. “There just aren’t as many colorful women characters in Survivor history, and we’ve used up the ones we can. For whatever reason we’re loaded with interesting guys”. That right there points to an issue in casting.

Chelsey: I feel like Survivor is five years behind society. Being gay used to be such a big deal on the show, for instance, until a few years ago when it hasn’t been such a big thing. Survivor has gotten a little better in regards to women, but not by much. We get a season where a women dominates toward the end (San Juan del Sur) followed by one of the most misogynistic seasons we’ve ever had. And for some reason, almost every new female contestant feels like they have to say they’re the new Parvati. Because they think that’s the only way for a women to win Survivor, even though we’ve seen time and again that’s not true.

Barbara: I think someone (maybe Corinne) has said that Production often encourages you to say someone that they want you to say. Hence why a lot of recruits will bring up Parvati, Boston Rob, or Russell if they bring up anybody at all.

Chelsey: That’s annoying, Production. Stop that.

Barbara: Although Michele had the best reason for picking her this season that I have ever heard.

Emma: Yeah, I was high on Michele preseason because she seemed to actually understand why Parvati won. Which is another issue with the show: one of the strongest female winners the show has had is frequently reduced to a flirting sex kitten, even though that’s not at all how she won Micronesia.


Kemper: I fully agree. The Black Widow alliance is one of the best alliances in the game and it’s always reduced to a gaggle of women who sexed their way to the top and it’s not really true.

Barbara: It honestly doesn’t help by the fact that Parvati and Amanda were perceived to have/actually having island flings on the show.

Violina: But to add to what Kemper said… It’s like the recent #OscarsSoWhite thing. It’s not that the Oscars are inherently racist, but reflective of a lack of diverse voices. Jeff and his team always come from a place where it’s all about the alpha all-American man, and that’s always what they are going to think is the ideal picturesque winner. And if it isn’t that, it’s a sex kitten.

Barbara: Meryl and J Lo

Kemper: Violina nailed it.

Ms. Woozah: Do we know how many women are part of production?

Barbara: I mean Lynne Spillman is the head of casting, right? That’s one.

Violina: I’ll also add that Natalie Anderson definitely didn’t flirt her way to get victory, and she got no attention until the last few episodes. It was like they couldn’t figure out how to tell her story.

Barbara: Until Jeremy was voted out.

Violina: Yep!

Barbara: Then it became her story of getting revenge on everybody else for voting out Jeremy. Hell, the whole “girl power” element of her story didn’t really come to light until the SJDS finale. That really should have been a bigger deal, especially since the women were outnumbered by men, 8-10.

Violina: She was very calm and cool and in control, which didn’t fit the female narrative.

Barbara: I haven’t watched One World, but how did they handle someone who seems to be in the middle of the Parvati/Natalie A. spectrum in Kim Spradlin?

Chelsey: Kim’s season was different to begin with since it started out divided by gender.

Barbara: Oh yeah, good call.

Chelsey: Just thinking of other female winners – Tina didn’t so much to win as much as Colby “lost”. Same with Natalie and Russell. Everyone hated that Amber won…

Violina: I can’t remember Kim’s edit very well; I have a bad Survivor memory. But I remember she was masterful, and everyone always seemed to fall in line and believe what she said.

Kemper: Yeah seasons divided by gender allow women to be alpha in a way that other seasons don’t allow.

Violina: Natalie seemed to have a similar quality, but she was able to stay under the radar longer.

Chelsey: Sandra I think is an interesting case. Both her seasons were dominated by men’s edits.

Barbara: Sophie won because Coach lost, Denise won because Malcolm lost, Danni won because Rafe lost…the list goes on and on.

Chelsey: I haven’t seen Marquesas so I can’t speak to Vecepia’s win.

Barbara: I believe Vecepia won because Kathy lost.

Violina: Certainly Natalie W. won because Russell lost.

Barbara: Jenna won because Rob lost.

Emma: I’m not sure if Denise is someone who was seen as having won because Malcolm lost, but that might be because AV Clubbers were largely in love with the two of them pretty equally.

Barbara: I mean hers is the widest stretch in that particular conversation, but had Malcolm won that FIC, she would have have been in fourth place.

Kemper: I loved Denise but I imagine the casuals weren’t as keen. Often the story is of a man’s downfall not a woman’s victory. It’s rare that women get to be the hero.

Violina: I think this goes into a woman’s path to victory. How women can’t “Tony V” their way to victory or they look crazy and unhinged. Often the legitimate path to victory is to let the men implode into piles of testosterone on the floor.


Chelsey: It’s either seduce the men or ride the coattails of the men or hope all the men screw up their own games or hope you get cast in a gender-divided season (not that this is what actually happens but how it is portrayed).

Barbara: From what I hear, that is what happened during One World.

Chelsey: Pretty much. Especially in the beginning, and once the remaining guys got it together it was too late.

Violina: Does anyone remember the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the women manipulate the father into doing what they want, while thinking it was his idea… The wife says, “The man might be the head of the family, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants.”

Chelsey: Yeah which is a funny quote but also – why can’t the women be the head for once?

Violina: Women on Survivor often don’t get the credit, but they are playing the same game with the same rules. I think it’s because they are still playing against men. It’s threatening to be a strong woman. Not that it’d ever happen, but imagine an all female cast: I think we’d see more aggressive play from women.

Kemper: It’s so funny that Kim, who benefited from a gender-divided season, said how she never wanted to work in an all women’s alliance.

Barbara: I think the whole thing is that the casuals and society in general don’t want to see women not act like women should act. That’s why mothers who are more cunning are frequently getting cut down at FTC for not acting like nurturing mothers.

Chelsey: Yeah, I hate that stereotype/expectation of mothers on the show. Like everyone got SO mad at Dawn because she betrayed them and a good mother would never do that.


Barbara: So, I actually decided to Google women stereotypes and some of the prominent ones actually work well in this conversation.

  1. Women are not as strong as men
  2. The best women are stay at home moms
  3. Women are not politicians
  4. Women are quieter than men and not meant to speak out
  5. Women are supposed to be submissive and do as they are told
  6. Women are meant to be the damsel in distress; never the hero
  7. Women are supposed to look pretty and be looked at
  8. Women are flirts
  9. Women are never in charge

Barbara: I hope that the uniqueness of the women this season starts a positive trend in casting. Yes, it is okay to cast “bikini babes” but there has to be some substance there.

Kemper: I agree. This year’s crop of women has been good; only Alecia seems a dud. All the others are interesting.

Barbara: I actually think Alecia has something fairly unique. This is probably the first time that she has struggled with something in her life, but instead of checking out the way Morgan did after the Bryce boot in Cagayan, she has fought to stay in. The only problem is that she doesn’t understand how to fight in Survivor.

Chelsey: I’m liking Alecia more and more! Poor girl has to fight against a tribe that doesn’t even call her by her name. I really hope a woman wins this season. Would be cool it it’s someone from the Beauty tribe even. Help get the awfulness of last time’s Beauty stereotypes out of my head.

Kemper: Yeah, Morgan, Alexis, and Jefra fulfilled all the negative stereotype of Survivor‘s female casting. If they are saying Parvati is the prototypical beauty winner, they can’t then cast a bunch of bikini babes who don’t think.

Chelsey: I just want to add that Barbara’s list is something we as women have to fight against all the time in the real world, and it’s tiresome to have it reflected on one of our favorite TV shows. And I think we as audience members need to fight against our instinct to call a headstrong woman on Survivor a bitch. Or a “witch” even.

Kemper: I found the Three Witches thing really offensive actually. Three dudes are the Three Amigos but three women are the witches.

Cambodia- Ciera and Abi mock Joe

Barbara: I am going to be completely honest here: I actually love the alliance name “Witches Coven”. I know I shouldn’t but there is something empowering about these three women who shouldn’t be friends and allies being friends and allies. It also speaks to how “scary” those three were out in Cambodia. Can I just say that it is a problematic fave of mine?


Kemper: I think we can allow it.

Barbara: Kemper, can you go into more detail about how Alexis and Jefra fulfilled these negative stereotypes of female casting? Also, thank you for allowing me to like the alliance name! 🙂

Kemper: Jefra was a follower.

Barbara: I can see that, especially since she decided to stay with Tony even after the LJ blindside.

Kemper: And they were all 21-22.

Emma: Alexis went to Northwestern and I think she could have been good. Let’s remember she was voted out for being smarter than the others.

Kemper: That is true but it’s hard for a 21-year old woman on the show. Sophie is the rare example of one who was respected by her alliance.

Emma: It does seem that you get the much younger (18-23) women more often than the younger men. And the younger men are rarely just babes. Like, Fabio was, but both Spencers had the superfan role. Frosti was young, but was more of an athletic type.

Kemper: The young guys do tend to be athletic.

Favorite Female Players

Kemper: Character-wise I’m all about Cirie and Courtney Yates, but game-wise it’s Denise. I just respect her so much.


Chelsey: Probably Sandra. I love everything about her. Also love Courtney, Kim, Cirie, Parvati. Denise is also super great.

Barbara: Denise is fantastic.

Kemper: Yeah, I obviously adore Sandra. She should always be the first person out and she wins.

Emma: Favorite character is of course Courtney Yates. I’m also a cliche Parvati fan because black widows forever! Definitely agree on the Sandra and Denise love. I also think Kim is just a total boss.


Barbara: Sandra is also fantastic. I also got to give a hat tip to Tina Wesson, who was the first mom to reach the FTC-and won. She also played an outwardly maternal game but she was just as devious as Hatch. She just wasn’t as open as he was. Also, I have to love somebody who loves Doritos and playing matchmaker for her daughter. I also really enjoy Jerri’s three-season arc from villainess to robbed goddess.

Chelsey: I recently rewatched The Australian Outback and her edit is so funny. Her “villainy” is calling someone out for having food and being in love with Colby.

Kemper: So different from later villains.

Barbara: Those were the days. But, let’s be real, Jerri and Colby would be an extremely attractive couple.


Kemper: Yep. Although my Survivor OTP is rice and beans. Sandra and Courtney forever!

Chelsey: YES.

Barbara: If only Courtney had made it to the merge with Sandra…but that was never going to happen.


Kemper: That and doing Tina a solid and getting Katie and Hayden together.

Barbara: I thought she wanted Vytas with Katie.

Kemper: Because at the time Hayden was taken.

Barbara: Oh, interesting. Katie and Hayden makes a lot more sense than Katie and Vytas to be honest.

Emma: I would be totally on board for Hayden/Katie. Kaden?

Kemper: Haytie?

Barbara: Both sound good to me.

Emma: That’s probably better because Kaden would have fit when he was with Kat too.

The Female Gaze and Survivor Crushes

Barbara: My number one crush is Colby in The Australian Outback.


Chelsey: Ryan O. The eyes. Just basing this purely off looks.

Emma: Oh, Ryno is a good one! When I rewatched Pearl Islands, I was reminded of how cute he was. He didn’t age so well though.

Barbara: I want to add one clarification. We cannot judge each other’s picks. This is a judge-free zone.

Emma: I mean, I think we know mine. But if we’re talking aesthetic appeal only, I think Brett from Samoa is just so cute.

Emma and Cochran at the Survivor Cambodia finale

Barbara: I recently thought about my top ten Survivor crushes and so many of them fall in the Brett camp of “young guys with floppy hair”, yet Brett did not make my list. I guess he is truly Purple Brett.

Chelsey: Jeremy is also 👌


Emma: In two seasons of Brains/Brawn/Beauty, I’ve yet to be attracted to one of the male beauties.

Barbara: I think Jeremy is hotter in Cambodia than in SJDS. I don’t know why though. I was attracted to Jeremiah and LJ has pretty eyes. That is about it for Beauties. I will say that Savage is a good looking older male character who aged incredibly well.

Emma: Yul is an underrated hottie. Everyone is too distracted by his “substance” and “exceptional gameplay”.

Barbara: I think I may have discussed this elsewhere, but I am a big fan of guys with abs and glasses. Yul is the best example of this, but Savage and Cambodia Stephen also works in the demographic.


Emma: Cambodia Stephen 👌👌👌. Stephen in his plaid finale suit 👌👌👌.

Violina: I’m not typically big on muscle men, but that oily Jeremy picture… what a fine specimen! I’m definitely attracted to nerdy guys-next-door.

Emma: Same, Violina.

Violina: Like, I don’t have a crush on Cochran, but I totally want to hang out in a dorm room after class.

Emma: I was working on stuff for our March Madness bracket and wound up watching Cochran win (which is not relevant to the bracket). And I am so hopelessly attracted to him in the Caramoan finale. It’s ridiculous.

Violina: Maybe it’s because I’ve been married almost 10 years (god, I’m even older than I thought), but I am more attracted to people in a “I want to hang out with you and have you join my inner circle” way than in a sexual way.

Barbara: In that demographic, Rob C in post-merge Amazon is pretty attractive.

Emma: Oh, and Barbara, Savage totally has the DILF thing going on in Pearl Islands. (Sorry, Kemper).


Barbara: I know, but I find him more physically attractive in Cambodia.

Emma: Regarding that demo, I found Terry more attractive than Savage in Cambodia. Although glasses totally do it for me.

Chelsey: That Nick guy this season? Zero attraction.

Barbara: I thought he was good looking in the first episode, but as he has started losing weight in his face, I was done with him. Which basically means that Caleb is the only truly attractive guy on this season and I cannot have that.

Violina: I was actually going to bring up Nick – he’s conventionally attractive and not super-muscular, which are wins, but the douchey vibe is palpable.

Emma: Yeah, not into Nick at all. Even my mom texted me that she wasn’t attracted to him!

Violina: I can’t stand the condescending smirky smile. If I didn’t read about Caleb’s Big Brother history, I’d probably find him cute, at least the way they are editing it right now. Because he’s coming across really endearing so far.


Barbara: Unfortunately, I watch Big Brother. I cannot separate this Caleb from the Caleb that was obsessed with Amber.

Violina: Yeah, the Beauty tribe has yet to go to tribal, so they can all just be quirkly lovable teddy bears at this point.

Chelsey: I found Peter kind of good looking, but now its a little tainted. Rough going for the female gaze this season.

Kemper: No one into Old Joey Amazing?

Emma: Long hair doesn’t do it for me.

Violina: Yep. I don’t get the man bun thing, sorry. Seems like a nice enough guy, but not NEARLY nerdy enough. 😉

Kemper: No, I meant Joe Del Campo.

Emma: Hahaha oops! Missed that you said “Old Joey Amazing.” I do love how none of us said Joe or Malcolm for our top crushes. We’re so unconventional!

Chelsey: He and Malcolm are definitely good looking men! Wasn’t complaining having them on my screen, just not as much my type.

Kemper: Malcolm’s facial hair is awful.

Emma: Malcolm kind of looks like my cousin, so that’s a no go. Very charming though!

Violina: So I guess we might be a somewhat skewed sample in terms of what “does it for us” in terms of Survivor men…

Barbara: I love Ozzy in Cook Islands, Joe in Worlds Apart, and Malcolm in general. They just cannot top Colby for me. I also love cocky guys like Boston Rob in All-Stars.

Violina: Meh on Ozzy… Maybe it’s the hair again.

Barbara: I think Ozzy’s hair has just gotten worse and worse as he returns. I absolutely hate how he looks in South Pacific.

Emma: He’s hottest to me in Micronesia, but such a douche.

Barbara: That’s why Ozzy is my problematic fave.


Second Chance Part Two: Ladies Edition

Barbara: Who is the one-time non-Sole Survivor female contestant that you want to see come back?

Violina: J’Tia! (Just kidding)

Chelsey: Hmmm. Natalie from Micronesia.


Barbara: I knew someone would bring up Natalie. I am going to be a bit controversial here and say Elisabeth Filarski. She had a decent handle on the game back then, but she was just dealt a bad hand. I wonder how being famous and famously hated has changed her.

Kemper: I’d have Nat Bolton high up and you all know how much I like Katie Collins.

Violina: If she had any fucks left to give, I’d say Jenn Brown.

Kemper: I think Jenn’s meter is set on no fucks to give

Barbara: Jenn is on my list, but I would be worried that she may quit the game. However, Probst has said that he liked working with her and that she was his ideal No Collar. So, she could come back in a few years.

Violina: Jenn was gold to watch, though. You know, when she cared.


Barbara: Maybe in a FvF season?

Violina: The intellectual side of me is curious how Nadiya Anderson might do playing again. Because she arguably got a bad break, and I wonder how her style might have differed from Natalie.

Kemper: It was the perfect result really having one twin go first and the other win.

Barbara: That could be really interesting. I would love to see So Kim come back as well, especially after dating Malcolm. (As far as I know they’re still dating, but you get my drift).

Emma: Erinn Lobdell from Tocantins comes to mind for me.

Kemper: YES! Erinn was sneaky awesome.

Barbara: It would be nice to see a female return from Tocantins.

Emma: Definitely agree with Natalie Bolton and Jenn Brown though.

Barbara: At this point, I don’t see Natalie coming back.

Emma: Allegedly she was on the short list for Second Chance. Oh! Less likely than Elisabeth and probably would end up as a Wiglesworth, but it’s hard to not want Colleen back.


Violina: Yeah, since her movie career never quite took off 😉

Barbara: Colleen is actually a prototypical Jenn Brown as they were both young and snarky. Yes, she was America’s sweetheart, but she was only edited that way. She was even a bit feisty in her FTC question.

Naming the Alliance

Emma: Every crew needs a name, what should ours be?

Chelsey: We can call ourselves the Female Gaze Alliance or something silly.

Barbara: What about the Katie Collins Squad? After all, we have been united by the Purple Rock Podcast and we are all ladies…

Chelsey: That rock was white though!

Kemper: I liked Praying Mantis Crew.

Barbara: Forget my suggestion. I am down for Praying Mantis Crew.

Emma: Praying Mantis Crew for life.

Queen Bey

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Emma is the token chick of the Purple Rock Podcast. She has watched the show continuously since the second episode and is pretty sure she's never seen the pilot.

Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Micronesia, Cambodia, Cook Islands, China, Philippines

Favorite players: Courtney Yates, Parvati Shallow, John Cochran, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Kim Spradlin
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  • Kemper Boyd
  • Mike Hirsch

    In the Caramoan finale, I saw Cochran and his vest and said, “that’s how I should dress for my wedding.” And, I mostly did just copy him for my outfit.

  • EmAndScoutInBK

    LOVE this post. It completely bugs me that so many female winners get the “won because XMALE lost” treatment. I think you guys nailed it on all fronts.

    I also would really like Erinn and Jenn to come back. Probably Nat too. But I’d throw in for Deena Bennett most of all, though she’s probably not an option anymore. There’s a whole bunch I’d like to see again.. Taj, Kelly Goldsmith (also probably not happening), Angie Jakusz (it’s not her fault she was on Ulong- she actually was kind of a challenge beast).

    One note about being gay on the show – not a big deal… for men. The representation on Survivor for women has been… less. Arguably, the most representation occurred in Vanuatu with Scout and Ami (the first out women since Sonja, as far as I know), neither of whom identify with the labels, “gay” or “lesbian,” (which Jeff got wrong over and over again) from what I’ve read (and forgive me if I’m wrong). Granted, different time, but in that season where both partners made the family visit, they chose to cut away any time there might be any chance that any of them might kiss. They only did this for Ami and Scout. Obviously, very problematic.

    This still fits with the idea that it’s not a big deal now – that that was then, this is now. I agree that it doesn’t tend to be a point of contention, but that’s largely because there doesn’t tend to be out female women on the show at all, the exception being Kelly Remington (my gf has such a crush on her – it’s the officer thing.). Before her, I believe Dana from the Philippines had been the last out woman on the show. Before that, Shambo is listed, but I don’t recall her being out at the time, at least on the show. And then, you’re all the way back to Nat (and then back to Vanuatu). My point is, my one bone to pick with Survivor and the LGBT community in the present is that I feel that, much like the mainstream media, they don’t have a lot of love for the female gay community, and I actually think that ties into a form of sexism. For example, I (who in reality, have no interest in playing), wear masculine clothing generally. I’d probably wear board shorts out there and a tank-top. Who is Survivor going to cast? Me or the bikini babe? And OF COURSE there are feminine LGBT women, do not get me wrong – they’ve casted them. But I think media in general has a problem with anything that even approaches “butch” for women – and that will especially be true for reality television, even more so for one that takes place in bathing suits on an island. We’ve had 2 out gay male winners and several memorable gay male players, and yet, barely any out LGBT female players (6 or 7, I think – but not out on the show, necessarily). I think that’s a problem.

    Sorry for the long comment. I hope it made sense.

    • What is really sad is that besides Scout and Ami (and to some extent Natalie, see her FTC speech), these LGBT women may be out in public but they are closeted on the show. I wonder if it is because they had to include some mention of their sexuality because of the fact that their partners made the Family Visit.

      Also, I am down for Deena and Kelly Goldsmith to come back. I know rumors were that Kelly was on the Second Chance Ballot, but there was no way because she just had twins around the time.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I strongly agree with you on Scout and Ami only really having it mentioned as they had their female partners as their visits and Scout’s partner was on the family photo board. Another interesting thing is that both Ami and Scout identify as some form of pan-sexual, or express the view they are attracted to the person.

        • Oh I figured as much. I wasn’t trying to be controversial or anything…Heck, Natalie’s LGBT status wasn’t really a big deal in Micronesia (as far as I remember) until the whole awkwardness with Parvati. Part of that was the fact that she was edited to be a major man-eater.

          I just realized something. For the three women who identify as bi/pan, they are edited to be either gay or straight. For Survivor, there seems to be no gray area in the sexuality spectrum, which is something I feel woefully unqualified to talk about.

          • Kemper Boyd

            I don’t believe it was brought up on the show until she totally came on to Parvati at FTC. Fair play to her, don’t ask doesn’t get. The worst case scenario is Parv laughs it off, the best is she gets some action.

            You are right though, everything is binary on Survivor, the most complex character dichotomy we get is a hot chick who is also smart (Parv, Amanda) or a brain who is athletic.

          • indescribable hat

            I’ve always found it interesting that they downplayed what appears to be by far Parvati’s most effective use of flirting. Her answer to that FTC question may be the most in-line-with-the-Parvati-mythology thing we ever saw her do.

          • Kemper Boyd

            It’s important the remember that flirting as we see it in sexual terms is the exact same skill set as making friends. The same deployment of conversation, reassuring body language and social touching are what solidify friendships. From Parvati’s second and third games it’s clear she is very good at this. I don’t necessarily think she flirted with Natalie Bolton beyond a social manner and maybe also because she was bored. The reduction of Parvati’s game to sexy siren who tricked men really undermines the level to which her social game made people comfortable with her and allowed her to take out targets like Ozzy and James. Her most important move in FvF is arguably her picking up Alexis and Natalie when she got swapped to a tribe without her two core allies.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            Unfortunately that seems to be an issue with media in general. It’s starting to improve, but even characters who are very obviously bisexual (read: Piper in OITNB) never seem to use the term.

          • I think there is a big stigma with being bi. Some people just want them to “pick a team and stick with it” for lack of a better phrase.

          • Ms_Woozah

            This seems a great spot to post this wonderful gem from last night’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

      • Other Scott

        Yeah, people like Todd get their sexuality mentioned in the introduction to their character, even though it had little bearing on the season and never really came up otherwise. That’s never happened with a lesbian character, as far as I’m aware, despite that being important to both Scout and Ami in Vanuatu.

        • I decided to do an experiment (read: avoiding writing my thesis) on this area. I went to Survivor Wiki and looked at the LGBT-identified men to see who had “gay” as a part of their story. Here is what I found:
          Richard: Absolutely 100%
          Mitchell: Nope.
          Jeff Varner: Shockingly no. He is definitely coded gay, but he’s not out on the show in my opinion.
          Brandon: Oh yeah.
          John: Yeap.
          Coby: Yeap
          Rafe: Yeah
          JP: No because he wasn’t out until later on.
          Brad: Maybe? (I can’t remember Brad really well).
          Todd: Yes
          Chet: Yeah.
          Charlie: Yes
          Spencer: Yes
          Mark/Papa Bear: Yes
          Michael Snow: He’s Corinne’s gay!
          Colton/Caleb and Reed/Josh: Obviously.
          Brice: Sorta. I think he falls in the Jeff Varner camp of “coded gay”.
          Tai: Yeap
          My takeaways: The seasons that had two gay males that weren’t in a relationship tried to hide their gays. I can’t figure out why, but it happened.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Spencer wasn ‘t out yet either though?

          • Purple Rock Emma

            Not to his tribemates, but he came out in a confessional.

          • No, but Spencer’s big storyline in Tocantins was the fact that he tried to hide his sexuality in order to fit in. The problem was that was everybody didn’t like how private he was.

          • sharculese

            I didn’t know JP was gay until after I watched Race Wars, but when my roommate watched it he took one look at the dude and told me his gaydar was screaming.

          • I believe he came out when he was on the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency.

          • Other Scott

            Are you basing that takeaway just on Australia though? I think it’s more a matter of being one season that was early on with two guys who may not have even talked about it on air.

            The only question I have is whether it was brought up in Cambodia or not. It was something very clear in pregaming and knowing Jeff Varner and stuff like that, but I can’t remember it being brought up on the show.

          • Alycia Swift

            I don’t remember it being brought up in Cambodia. It was not a factor nor hidden.

          • I am also basing that on Cook Islands. I think there is understandable reasoning behind though. Cook Islands already had so much to deal with in regards of race on top of the fact that JP wasn’t out yet. I have a hunch that Varner probably had a confessional about it but it didn’t make it to air since he was already perceived as the next coming of Richard Hatch during AO. During Cambodia, it wasn’t brought up. That’s a big reason why I have classified him as “coded gay” because of his (some would say stereotypical) love for drama. In reality, Mitchell could also be coded gay for his parody version of “I Will Survive” but that was during the “Back from the Outback” special. That would mean that Mitchell is the first case of the gay male superfan, even if he wasn’t out during the show.

            Of course, I am probably wrong.

          • Other Scott

            Yeah, if JP wasn’t out, presumably he wasn’t out to production either and we can’t really count that. I don’t remember Brad getting anything though.

          • Fair enough. AO is the only true season with two out men.

          • I took a cat nap and then this idea kinda hit me. For these men, either being gay is a story point or you don’t have a story. The guy that clearly doesn’t fit that binary is Varner who was able to have a story in each of his seasons that didn’t have to rely on him being out on the show.

          • Alycia Swift

            And the women?

          • All right, here we go down this rabbit hole!
            Sonja: Not mentioned
            Ami: Yes
            Scout: Yes
            Natalie: Kinda?
            Shambo: No
            Dana: No
            Kelly Remington: No

          • Purple Rock Emma

            Kelly Remington mentioned it in her bio though, if that counts for anything.

          • Yeah, who can forget her otherwise terse bio?

          • Other Scott

            With all three of those there was no way for production to really hide it though. For Ami and Scout they had female partners as their loved ones and Natalie had that jury question.

          • I think they really hid it with Natalie though. She was all about being a maneater to the point that she was considered more of a Parvati than an Ami.

          • Other Scott

            You and I are making the same points. With lesbians/ bi-sexual women, they hide it as well as they can. With gay men (they’ve never had a bisexual male on the show that we know of, right?) they don’t.

          • Sorry for going in circles in this conversation. No, they have never had a bisexual male that we know of. I cannot imagine how they would handle that or how they would handle having a transgender person.

          • sweaterfan

            I would LOVE to see a trans person on Survivor, but more so than the audience, I worry about their tribemates’ reactions. I would hate for Survivor to cast a trans person only to have them be mocked or ostracized to the point that their game was over before it even began. I remember when Isis was on ANTM and everyone was so mean to her. It just doesn’t seem worth it to put someone through that. But that season of ANTM was quite a while ago now, so maybe people would handle it better?

          • There was a transgender female on Big Brother this last season, and her reveal was handled shockingly well. In fact, everyone kinda just accepted her for who she was, which was fantastic considering this is trashy Big Brother we are talking about. In fact, she was voted out because she was playing too hard too fast, not because she was transgender. Of course, it helps that she “passes” as a female. I would hate to see a trans person who doesn’t pass as their true gender on either Survivor or Big Brother.

          • sweaterfan

            I would agree that they hid it with Natalie since I’ve seen Micronesia at least 3 times and did not realize it was confirmed that she wasn’t straight until reading this thread.

          • I’m still not positive it was ever explicitly confirmed, was it? If so, I haven’t seen it.

          • sharculese

            I remember hearing somewhere that she’s openly bisexual. I want to say it was the EoS chapter on Micronesia, when they’re talking about her final tribal question.

          • I didn’t listen to EoS, so that’s possible.

      • indescribable hat


        Sorry about that, she’s one of my top long shot returnee picks and I got a little excited. Also Julie Berry and Amy from Guatemala.

        And it wouldn’t be her second chance, but this is the female returnee hill I will die on: Cirie on a one-returnee-per-tribe season. Doesn’t she deserve it more than Coach or Ozzy? Doesn’t she deserve it more than Bobby Jon???

        • Fun Fact: During the Nicaragua reunion show, Cirie was mentioned as a possibility to return in a Redemption Island season, but she hasn’t yet. The other people in the audience that night (AFAIR) was Russell, Boston Rob, Coach, and Rupert who have all come back in those type of seasons.

          • sharculese

            I wonder if this is one of those cases where the impediment is the player, not the show. Cirie seemed pretty burned by how HvV went for her, and I think she still suspects she’d be an early target (not incorrectly).

          • I can see that. Cirie as part of the Survivor community is kinda of an enigma. She will do events like last night’s Price Is Right taping, but then will outsource her Survivor Hall of Fame nominations and say how Russell should have won Samoa and HvV (of course HvV may be due to some falling out between her and Parvati, but who knows?).

          • Other Scott

            It’s weird how some people don’t know how Survivor ultimately works but can still play it really, really well. And then there’s people who know exactly how it works but still play sort of questionably (Spencer?)

          • I think Spencer’s gameplay has two big problems. 1.) He came in during the era of Hantz, so his gameplay reads very much like he is trying to be Russell (admittedly this is more in Cagayan). 2.) He’s still so young that he can’t control himself. Although I do not like how he handed Jeremy at the F4 Council, I see why he did it. He just didn’t have to do it that way.

          • Other Scott

            My read on Spencer is he knows the social game is the game of Survivor, he just doesn’t have the social skills to make that work. Whereas Cirie puts more emphasis on her strategy, but she’s such a likable person that she can’t help but do well socially as well.

          • I think that is really fair. Spencer says all of the right things, but he can’t back them up.

          • Alycia Swift

            A total other topic but who else besides Cirie is playing on Price is Right?

          • The people that I remember is Boston Rob, Kelley, Natalie A. (although Nat Ten, I think, was there), Joe, Woo, Tina, and Rupert.

          • Alycia Swift

            Kelley Wentworth? There’s just so many Kelley’s.

          • Yes.

          • indescribable hat

            I have a theory/fantasy that Cirie hangs back in order to let her legacy fade a little because she’s already playing for her fourth chance, but I’m afraid she may just be burned out on the emotional roller coaster.

          • Let’s hope. She is still a part of the Survivor community, and people are still clamoring to see her come back.

          • indescribable hat

            But the returnees are almost never taken out early in that sort of season! Granted, they’ve mostly been people who are perceived as an asset in challenges, but I have to think Cirie could win over some starstruck newbies if she got the shot.

          • sharculese

            Key word “almost.” All it takes is one dude who’s seen Micronesia to explain to the other dudes about the Black Widows and Cirie is on thin ice. In a first or second tribal where you’re scrambling to find someone to get rid of, that’s good enough.

          • The only people who were taken out for good in the pre-merge in this format were the Russells.

          • indescribable hat

            Oh I’m not saying it’s not a risk, I just think Cirie has a decent shot at avoiding it. Even in HvV she had won over the majority and had to be idoled out.

          • sweaterfan

            As much as I’m opposed to seasons bringing back two or three returnees, I would really love to see a couple of boss ladies come back and dominate some newbies 🙂

        • andythesaint

          On the list of contestants to come back one day, Julie Berry is absolutely last. Even below Colton or Colleen. Which is too bad, but the reality of the situation.

          • indescribable hat

            I know, but I refuse to forget how great she was because of her questionable dating choices. In related news, I still love Amanda Kimmel.

          • Kemper Boyd

            I don’t think she can because she knows too much about mechanics of production because of Jeff.

          • andythesaint

            Correct. And that the host that can exert incredible influence on the game would have significant bias.

        • DrVanNostrand

          You take that back. Bobby Jon was a goddamned treasure!!!!!!


      • EmAndScoutInBK

        Yes. Exactly. Out in life, but not on the show. I find it very likely that the show was forced to address Scout and Ami’s sexuality because of the Family Visit. It’s almost certainly a casting/production issue. You can tell just by the lists you gave below illustrating whether sexual identity is part of the story or whether it’s left out.

        • I sincerely hate saying this, but it also helped that Ami’s edit helped to paint her as a stereotypical man-hating lesbian, even when she is not. She just wanted all women at the end on a gender split season. Who could blame her?

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            I know. She’s definitely not, at all. But I think that’s what the edit wanted us to get, and so, we see it as part of the story for once. And it’s basically the only season where it’s part of the show, and that’s how? Blargh.

          • It also works towards making her epic downfall even more epic.

    • Ms_Woozah

      This is such a great point. I can count on one hand the number of lesbian females who talked about it while on the show, and I think the producers/casting is a huge part of that.

    • Kemper Boyd

      We didn’t get into the LGBT sexism issue. That is a whole other kind of sexism. But I think it comes under my Survivor is 15 years behind society (or still stuck how they were when it started) because Gay Men have always been more visible than lesbians and more acceptable to show on tv. That has changed in TV, there are shows like Greys and the Fosters which actively show gay women but it hasn’t changed on Survivor.
      I agree with you that it feels like it hasn’t changed because they want their women young and bikini babe ready. Of the LGBT women only Natalie really fitted the mould. Ami was still much more of the tough old broad model even in her 30s.

      • I don’t know about your qualification of Ami here, especially since she posed for Playboy. I think they were kinda expecting a sex kitten with a brain out of her.

        • Kemper Boyd

          But much earlier, not at the age she played Survivor, maybe more her but she was still over 30 which is old in Survivor.

          • Holy crap, I did not realize that Ami was in her thirties when she played Survivor. MINDBLOWN! I thought she was late twenties for sure at least in Vanuatu.

          • Kemper Boyd

            31 in Vanuatu but yeah.

          • She still reads younger to me. Not Eliza-younger, but younger.

    • sweaterfan

      Great comment! And I think you’re definitely right that at least part of the root of Survivor’s problem with underrepresenting LGBT women is the issue of appearances, which definitely also feeds into the overall gender problem on Survivor. Some of the most interesting and compelling female characters on Survivor have been the women who were obviously not cast to be bikini babe fodder (Sandra, Cirie, Twyla, Denise-China, Denise-Philippines, Trish, etc) but they’re only ever willing to sprinkle a few of them in each season. How much of a statement would it have made for them to include an older woman, or a plus sized woman, or a hot androgynous woman on the Beauty tribe this season?

      • EmAndScoutInBK

        Thank you! I really love the discussion – everyone here is kind of amazing. Yeah, I’ve specifically noticed the problem with women who present toward butch (gd forbid butch). Even on shows meant to represent the LGBT community, like The L Word (I can’t when it comes to butch rep. on that show). The funny thing is, I identify as a soft butch – but I’ve never seen myself on Survivor, and I don’t expect to in the near future. Part of it is appearances, but part of me wonders if they’re concerned about the audience’s ability to connect to us because of negative stereotypes associated with butch women? Gay men are fun, but butch women are fun-killers?

        • This is an awesome discussion. We should do an LGBT takeover/celebration day.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            I think that’s a great idea. I’ve never talked about this in detail with anyone before, so I am really loving this discussion.

          • In regards of butch women, what are your opinions about Dana from Philippines?

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            Let me get back to you on this – I remember some of my initial reactions, but I’d rather refresh my memory with a little re-watch tomorrow before I get into it. Won’t take long, unfortunately, given how quickly she goes out.

          • And in those episodes, she does t have much screen time.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            This took a lot longer than I thought – sorry for the delay. Philippines is a memorable season. That is not because of Dana.

            However, my memories of Dana at the time were this: This is like The L Word where everyone’s reacting like there’s this mega-butch lesbian on the screen, and that’s just not true. Especially since 2 out of the 3 things that she would bring on the island if she could are tweezers and hair product, and she’s a cosmetologist. Not that butch people can’t care about these things – of course they/we can, I just didn’t personally connect to it. And it’s never mentioned on the show – She’s not out as far as we know on the show.

            So I’m re-watching the parts with Dana now. Before I go any further, can I just say, I totally forgot this meant I had to re-watch Michael Skupin (awkward). Here’s what I’m getting – a lot of talking about it without talking about it. You didn’t ask for a play by play, but you’re getting one, so this is going to be a long comment. Sorry!

            From the premiere:

            “Coming into the group and looking around at the rest of ’em, I don’t see any other tatted up people with spikey hair.” – Dana in confessional

            This is how I feel a lot of the time, except make it “coming into the group and looking around at the rest of ’em, I think I might be the only gay person here.” Maybe she wasn’t talking about that, maybe she didn’t feel that way. Maybe.

            2nd Episode: Largely, they just ignore her. They make a point of showing Probst saying that no one’s listening to Dana as the caller in the challenge, but it doesn’t actually look like that. Penner looks up at Dana at one point and says, “what’ya got,” and they do eventually come in second. But Probst is Probst, and he messes with teams during challenges.

            3rd Episode: Noticed she appears to be wearing board shorts and a sports bra for the swimming challenges and is extremely capable in this challenge, at least. She still fits the petite “bikini body” element that I think they want, but it’s nice to see someone at least wearing the amphibian-style shorts I would wear – that’s rare. Otherwise, she’s mostly ignored with the exception of her sitting on a rice bucket where the idol used to be and a confessional about eating.

            4th Episode: Girl’s alliance – the most screen time she’ll get? Lots of talk about how she doesn’t need men, she can make fire, girls should stick together, and how they shouldn’t underestimate her as a female – the worst thing they can do… “I think women naturally feel more comfortable around each other.” Again, I feel like the editors are all about implying something to us, but they’re not going to say it. It begs the question of what did she say v. what did they show, but of course, we can’t know.

            5th Episode: And here’s where her storyline ends – but I’m going to watch the reunion too. She goes up against Artis in the challenge, which is insane. She also looks sooooo sick at this challenge. Fast forward to her leaving – not much to say, it’s just sad. A little talk about how she’s “supposed to be tough,” and Penner talking about how little she is, but it makes sense in context.

            Reunion: There are a couple things that I remembered about Dana without re-watching (aside from getting sick) – spikey hair, suspenders in the promo shots, not being out on the show, and the reunion. I remembered her looking kinda glam (which makes so much sense now that i remember she was a cosmetologist) and making some reference to wanting to be brought back. LOLZ silly Dana, only big male med evacs come back. Anyway, my memories were pretty much right.

            TLDR: My main take-away is that some of the talk comes off as side-stepping sexuality (and framing it as girl-power instead), and I can’t say if it’s her or production. Furthermore, if my memory of certain (definitely not all) fan reaction to her as soooo butch is correct, it is similar to The L Word a la Shane/Bette(as much as I had a crush on her)/Dana/so many others, in my opinion.

          • Thank you for your thorough feedback! I had completely forgotten about Dana being a cosmetologist, which is actually brings up a really intriguing point. Here is a probably incomplete list of people who are tied to the cosmetology/hairdressing profession that have competed on Survivor
            Lindsey (Cagayan) “Hairstylist”
            Lindsey (Worlds Apart) “Hairdresser”
            Yasmin (Samoa) “Hairdresser”
            Kelly (Samoa) “Hairdresser”
            Neleh (Marquesas) Her stated profession on the show is “Student” but her bio brings up how she works full time as a makeup artist and how she has earned a lot of hours towards a cosmetology degree
            Coby (Palau) “Hairstylist”
            Ciera (BvW/Cambodia) “Cosmetology Student”
            Erin (Tocantins) “Hairstylist”
            Patricia (Marquesas) Her stated profession on the show is “truck assembler” but her bio mentions how she worked as a cosmetologist for 35 years.
            For the most part, this is not the people I would think of as hairdressers, which is great for once.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            Thank you for this list – super interesting. I had no idea that Patricia was a cosmetologist – totally forgot that information. Actually, along with basically everyone else on this list except for Coby and Erinn.

          • Yeah, it’s nice to see that in a profession as gendered as hairdresser, there are a lot of interesting casting finds that don’t necessarily fit the stereotype.

  • Alkanarra

    Great article. My go-to example is always Becky. Sure, Yul was a great winner, but when you read about it from both of them, he and Becky were such a duo. Yet she wasn’t a beach babe, she wasn’t a mother type, and she wasn’t comic relief, so the show just kinda made her look like the tagalong. Maybe it’s because she didn’t win or because the abysmal fire challenge was bound to make anyone look bad, but to me she’s the perfect example of Survivor not knowing how to handle certain types of female players.

    1000% on Jenn coming back though. Toss her and Penner in as a BvW pair and you’ve got my dream season right there. So much snark.

    • Other Scott

      But hand in hand with that, the players didn’t respect Becky to the degree they respected Yul either, male or female. It’s not editing that’s the main culprit of sexism on Survivor, most of the time it’s the players themselves.

      • Alkanarra

        I’d agree there, though I’d still say they kinda shoved Becky to the background (she wasn’t exactly the most camera-friendly presence). It’s the same thing with Rob and Amber to me. They were a duo that worked together to get to the end, but even the jury gave Rob most of the credit and (5-4) picked Amber just cause they were mad at him.

      • sharculese

        Yeah, the thing I always point to here is the scene where Adam and Parvati are making their pitch to vote Penner out. Becky is standing right there, and yet neither of them is acting at all like she has a say in the matter. It may not have been what really happened, but it’s the direction the story was going.

    • Kemper Boyd

      Becky is always my go to example and I can’t believe I didn’t mention her. She and Dawn get a lot of shit considering they were both instrumental to their male partner winning.

      • Alkanarra

        It could also be camera presence / just general television appeal? Parvati, for comparison, really didn’t do much that season, but she was flirty and had great confessionals and showed some strategic promise. Is it a matter of Parvati giving them what they wanted or them not being able to figure out what to do with Becky? (Or, more likely, both.)

        • I lean more towards the latter, especially since Becky seems to be a recruit in order to have another Asian female. I also think that Production wanted to have more material in order to show them having a showmance, but there was nothing there.

          • Alkanarra

            I forgot all about the forced showmance. That was an awkward part of the reunion….

          • Didn’t Nate and Parvati have a showmance that season, but it was greatly diminished in the editing? Or is that a rumor?

          • Alkanarra

            No, that was in there. I remember it really being Parvati’s only strategy: successfully ensnaring Nate. She’s much more the stereotype that first season and didn’t — in my opinion — show much savvy until later, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen it and I could be downplaying her.

            Also: you gotta watch One World. It’s not the best, but if you go in focusing on Kim’s game play then it really shows how unbelievably good she was.

          • No, I think you’re right on. Isn’t it interesting that there have only been two interracial showmances and both involve Parvati?

          • Alkanarra

            I’ve heard James/Amanda off-camera rumors, but yeah: I guess Parvati was blazing all sorts of trails.

          • Oh duh, I forgot about them. However,I am not exactly counting them in this because it wasn’t on-camera. However, I forgot one. What about Ozzy and Elyse in South Pacific?

          • Alkanarra

            I’ve blocked out all memory of Ozzy from my mind, so I’ll have to take your word on it. (But yeah, I think so.)

          • I actually think that Elyse was voting out for the pure purpose of weakening Ozzy.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Oh god don’t get me started on the utter joke that is the tactic of getting rid of a woman doing little wrong to weaken a man, if you have issues with Ozzy take him out.

          • But he’s a strong athlete and we need strength for three more days…

          • Kemper Boyd

            It’s what annoyed me with Liz’s boot, yeah she did a lot of social stuff wrong but if you are pissing off Peter by getting rid of his main ally and taking away his power you don’t want to win the next immunity, you want to get rid of him. No sense keeping strength for challenges when you have someone you can’t trust at a merge or a swap.

          • I think that was part of the issue, but keep in mind that Debbie and Joe both disliked her because of her know-it-all status. Since they had the majority in the revote, they got to pick. I also think that they think they can work more with Peter than Liz due to the age issue. Liz was never going to work with them.

          • Alycia Swift

            I don’t remember Joe getting to pick. I remember Debbie being the mastermind with some help from Aubry. From what we saw, Joe was Debbie’s loyal soldier.

          • However, Debbie stoked Joe’s fire with the whole “Liz is the worst” conversation. Even if he disliked Peter, he disliked Liz more.

          • Kemper Boyd

            it’s not the same as others but it’s just the thought process of needing the man you don’t like or trust for challenges when you don’t really want to win and keep him around just doesn’t compute for me. I feel Liz would have had more ability to re-assimilate than Peter.

          • indescribable hat

            Never? She was trying to work with them when they took her out!

          • You say “trying to work with them”, I say “trying to snow them in order to get control of the tribe”. I see your point, but they were always going to bristle with having to listen to Liz.

          • indescribable hat

            Oh yeah, I don’t think Liz was offering them a great deal or anything, but it’s not like she had salted the earth either. I do agree that age is a big part of why they might prefer Peter and that Liz was sort of doomed to rub them the wrong way. I see that as a mistake on their part though. Peter has come across as more arrogant and spiteful, but arrogance from someone younger (and female to boot) offends them more.

          • Yeap.

          • sharculese

            “Debbie and Joe both disliked her because of her know-it-all status.”

            So two season in a row. I guess that’s what happens when you film in Cambodia.

          • Yeap..So far, the boot order has been the same as regards to gender: A male and then two females were voted out first. If a male gets medevaced tonight, the pattern continues.

          • Alycia Swift

            Which is technically what happened last week. Liz got taken out b/c they had issues with Peter but needed to keep him around for his muscles. I’m not saying Liz did not cause her own demise. But based on what we saw, Peter was worse

          • Kemper Boyd

            Absolutely, although unlike some of the women we’ve seen get booted in the past, Liz clashed with some of her tribe mates and was social unaware of it, just it was depicted as lesser than Peter.

          • sharculese

            It’s like Jim Rice is bad at Survivor or something…

          • Alycia Swift

            Didn’t they do that with Semhar as well?

          • Sorta, but I think it was also because she wasn’t that great in the challenge.

          • sharculese

            I think we get enough in the edit to conclude that, in addition to being bad at challenges, Semhar was kind of a wild card who it would be better not to have around. It’s one of two instances where I think voting out the woman of color first may have actually been the right move.

          • sharculese

            When I think of Ozzy all I see is him petulantly jump kicking the structure after his tribe loses that one challenge in South Pacific.

          • Alkanarra

            Petulant is the perfect word for Ozzy. My main memory is of him being so pissy that Cochran flipped when — regardless of whether it was the right move or not — Ozzy had spent the entire season ragging on Cochran and not even pretending he wasn’t at the bottom of their alliance. He was just so unhappy to be taken down by the nerd.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            Ozzy and Amanda were an interracial couple and were more of a showmance than either of Parvati’s. There was actually some action there!

          • Okay, I struggle here because according to the federal standard, Hispanic is not an race, but rather an ethnicity. That’s why I didn’t include them. I am probably wrong on this behalf though.

          • DrVanNostrand

            In Survivor: Race Wars, Hispanic was a race. Probst has spoken!!!!!

          • Fair enough. Ozzy and Amanda are indeed an interracial couple.

          • It’s on my list. I need to finish Philippines and Cagayan first though.

          • sharculese

            There are a couple things she does, but mostly her strategy is to be a sexpot, and a lot of that gets directed at Nate. (Side note: I think Nate is one of the most underrated social players of all time; I would love to see him come back.)

            I think there’s even a confessional at one point where she says that her strategy is just to be as fun and flirty as possible and hope that keeps her around. Pretty sure it’s around the time Nate catches the octopus, and there’s a shot of her twirling her hair around her fingers and saying something like “I bet you could eat a whole octopus by yourself.”

          • Roswulf

            I’m completely befuddled by your opinion of Nate. He had zero success building social relationships with anyone who wasn’t young, fit, and kind of vapid (a failing which ultimately doomed his whole alliance- see Penner, Jonathan). Nate was never socially aware of tribe dynamics- see the J.P. vote, or his shock at Jenny being bounced rather than Penner at the pre-merge double vote. And even if Penner had stayed firm, Nate had picked a side (SIDE WHITE PEOPLE!) that ultimately viewed him as a disposable pawn.

            Nate might be my least favorite Survivor of all time. Well, obviously not, but least favorite survivor who doesn’t DO much of anything.

          • sharculese

            I’m not arguing that Nate was a good strategic player. He wasn’t. I’m arguing that he was innately good at getting people to like him in a way that’s valuable. With the exception of Penner, who disliked Nate? He got in good with the Hiki women almost immediately after the Sekou vote, and then basically engineered the vote out of Stephannie. He was the one Aitu stole when they got to feed a member of the other tribe, he immediately sucked in Parvati, and when Penner sets the vote for Nate, Ozzy is visibly distraught because he likes the guy. Nate might not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but he was obviously personable.

          • sweaterfan

            I re-watched Cook Islands a couple months ago and my number 1 takeaway was that Nate needs to come back. I think he’s a lock to at least make the merge in just about any type of season you bring him back in.

          • sharculese

            Thank you for confirming that I’m not crazy. Yeah, I don’t think it’s that shocking given that he worked in retail, but dude had a natural charisma.

          • sweaterfan

            Oh absolutely – I don’t think he’s got winner potential by any means, but he was pretty good TV and was able to last a fairly long time in the game.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            I think (East) Asian-American females have an added burden on Survivor. How many times do we see them slotted into their classic tropes of meek (Christina, Edna), unlikeable (Shii-Ann, Becky), or untrustworthy (Brenda, So)? But as with a lot of this discussion, there’s a real chicken and egg problem in determining whether the fault lies with casting, society in general, and/or the players themselves.

          • Was Becky supposed to be unlikeable? I think she is edited to be the meek underling of Yul. But, you bring up an excellent point that I wanted to say, but I didn’t have the words to express it.

          • Alycia Swift

            And how many times have they been picked on/treated badly by others. (Christina by Alicia and Colton and Shi-Ann by Robb, then everyone but maybe Ken). We have not seen that with any Asian men. Most are pretty well liked: Yau-man, Tai, Kenny (ok maybe a little sneaky but it was attributed to him being a gamer) and Yul.

          • I would add that Mookie was not well-liked, but almost nobody on Fiji was well-liked (except one that you already mentioned).

          • Alycia Swift

            I forgot about him. And wasn’t there a Daniel Liu, a vapid-model type back in Rob C’s season?

            I also forgot about Cai Boi and Bruce Kanegai who were edited as nutty but likable.

      • DrVanNostrand

        Becky is a tough one. She really deserves something more like a Fishy edit. She was a true partner and strategic ally, but to use Alkanarra’s word, she had so little camera presence. She was a good player, though.

        • Kemper Boyd

          We should also remember, she is a total BAMF in real life, she started an organisation that combats domestic violence and it has become really big.

          • Alexis from Micronesia also does lectures to college athletes designed to get them to see women as actual human beings that they should respect and value.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Hence her being the target of the Amanda idol out, because she is a motivational speaker and they felt she was a good person people liked, even if the edit purpled her to some extent.

    • Roswulf

      A rather similar example is Sundra. The Aitu Four had two incredibly well-defined male characters, and two women who are treated as numbers by the edit because they don’t fit into the normal Survivor stereotypes.

      • Alkanarra

        Oh absolutely. I only mentioned Becky because Yul has specifically talked about how vital she was. But you’re right that even in that foursome there were other examples.

        • Roswulf

          I would love to see the alternate universe edit of Cook Islands if there is no Final 3 twist and Becky and Sundra win key immunities and end up as the finalists.

          • Well, considering the rumors about how Production “rigged” the post-mutiny challenges, I could see them rigging the final few to ensure that they get an Ozzy vs. Yul showdown.

          • indescribable hat

            Wait WHAT? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’ve never heard about these rumors.

          • That’s why I have them in quotes. It is a theory to ensure that they would at least come close to even at the merge. That’s why the message in the bottle twist seems so designed to screw over Raro.

          • indescribable hat

            Oh I actually have heard the message in the bottle thing. I was ready to be shocked about some sort of shenanigans within a challenge. Watching them win out through the power of heart and loyalty and teamwork and whatever was really exciting back when I was watching my second ever season of Survivor.

          • I think there is some speculation that they angled a lot of those challenges for Ozzy and Yul’s strengths specifically. There is a lot of balance/climbing/swimming/puzzle solving/challenge breaking in those challenges that is built especially for those two.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I really liked Sundra, she was an intensely reasonable and likeable seeming woman. The under development of WoC is where Survivor racism and Survivor sexism intersect.

        • I sense another area for discussion.

        • EmAndScoutInBK

          Completely agree about Sundra, and it’s something that has always bothered me. Sundra seemed entirely under-edited. I think Survivor really missed the boat there, and I tend to agree with @disqus_R9cNRvxsfG:disqus about why.

          • I believe in TEOS or Survivor Historians, they mention how Sundra is the heart of the Aitu 4. You would think that would give them something to work with there.

          • sharculese

            I don’t remember it in EoS, but dear god, I can’t imagine listening to Lanza talk about Cook Islands given how cranky he is about it.

          • Fair enough. Now I have to go back and relisten to both of those podcasts. Joy!

      • sweaterfan

        I was just about to bring up Sundra as well. She and Becky actually seem like awesome ladies if you read between the lines of the edit a bit, but the show just completely whiffed on a great opportunity to develop a unique kind of character we hadn’t seen much before (really down to earth, kind, intelligent, strong women). I love that in the Philippines they were pretty much forced to focus on those aspects of Denise because she ended up winning.

  • Roswulf

    This is really cool, thanks for putting it together Emma, and for participating Violina 23, Barbara, KemperBoyd and Ms. Woozah.

    • Kemper Boyd

      It was a really fun weekend of chatting. I’m down for any kind of live chat with any members here because I can honestly say this is one of the two best communities I’ve joined online. It’s where you can disagree without animosity and that is such a rare thing.

      • 100% agree with Kemper here.

      • Violina23

        Totally agree! I’ve actually have become MORE of a Survivor fan because of everyone here. Just makes it that much more enjoyable 🙂

    • Violina23

      It was lots of fun, and I appreciate everyone’s patience because I was sick so I kept going MIA. Part of the conversation was literally typed from the doctor’s office 😉

  • sharculese

    SJDS would probably be remembered as more of a tire fire of sexism if it wasn’t for Natalie’s show-stopping finish. Remember that part of why she won was that the axis of Keith/Wes/Alec saw her as one of the guys. In her walkthrough with Rob she said that one of the reasons that she was able to keep Baylor under her thumb is that those guys were just nicer to her when Natalie was around, which meant she tended to hang around Natalie.

    And that’s before we get to the Julie stuff. And now that I think about it, Alec’s behavior during trail-mix-gate really should have been on the list of bad behavior that got brought up last week. I know what Julie did is questionable, but that was basically a dude picking on the obvious outcast because he thought it would improve his own status.

    • Other Scott

      But I think that ending kind of renders all of that moot, since the guys ended up getting what was coming to them in the end.

      • sharculese

        So did the Axis of Evil, and yet it didn’t render World’s Apart any less unpleasant.

        • Other Scott


          Though I’m not one that found World’s Apart unpleasant viewing. Mostly I found the last few episodes really boring viewing. It’s a season I still have in outside of my bottom third though.

        • Karin Sun

          The difference is that in WA, the misogyny story line was resolved by a man’s victory, and the women who were bullied or voted out only triumphed in proxy to him. In SJDS, the women had a more direct hand in getting their own revenge.

          • sharculese

            Sure, but see what I said about Natalie above, not only was the winner of the season not ever the target of the sexism that went on, she actually benefited both directly (in being able to work Keith as an ally) and indirectly (in being able to lead Baylor around by the nose) from everything that happened.

            Missy, Jaclyn and Baylor didn’t really have a big role in voting out Wes, and they certainly didn’t have anything to do with getting out Alec. So that leaves that, yeah, Jaclyn voted out Keith, but Keith was pretty neutered by that point, and it wasn’t really presented as her moment of revenge so much as her picking who she was losing to.

    • Don’t forget Jon’s part in all of this.

      • Other Scott

        Leave Jon Misch out of this! He is awesome and I’ll hear nothing to the contrary!

        • I’m sorry but his always empty stomach is the reason why TrailMixGate happened.

  • indescribable hat

    I’m taking it a little personally that no one mentioned Panama Aras in the female gaze section. I watched Panama for the first time shortly after watching BvW, where he hadn’t even registered as someone I might or might not be attracted to, and I spent Panama just, like, mouth hanging open drooling, getting distracted from what the players were talking about because Aras was idly scratching his stomach, wondering if this is what watching Survivor is always like if your type is Survivor bikini babes. Seriously, my enjoyment of that season was 60% Cirie being amazing, 30% Aras being hot, 10% other people being crazy.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      I actually came really close to mentioning Aras as one of the Survivor crushes, but didn’t want my list to be embarrassingly long.

      • As compared to my list (which isn’t even all of them)?

        • I enjoyed that you kept dropping new names. You certainly don’t seem to have a specific type.

          • I have a few categories of guys that I like in Survivor, one of which I didn’t discuss in the chat. Not that I am embarrassed or anything.

          • Is it repulsive misogynists? You’re into Rodney, aren’t you?

          • Really? You really think I’m into Boston Rod?

          • Nah. That would just be one of the most embarrassing answers.

          • You do know that I like Ozzy, right? How can I get much more embarrassing than Ozzy?

  • Alycia Swift

    Love this post too.

    It also bugs me that so many female winners got the “won because XMALE Lost”. Denise might have won even if Malcolm made the end. Both were universally liked.

    I’d like Michelle from Fiji to come back. She was playing a decent game and got on the wrong side of a swap. Also, Trish from Caguyan. Most of the predictions from bloggers expected her to go first as the older woman and not being as brawny as the others (she’s built like Debbie this season) and I wonder if Tony would have won if she did not clean up his messes (or get Kass to flip). I think Lisa Welchel would also be an interesting second-time player. Did anyone think she would make it to the end? I also agree with the Angie Jakusz suggestion (she was on the show before everyone was covered with tattoos.

    I’m not on the Jenn train because she did want to quit.

    I like the Deena Bennett and Erin Lobdell suggestions. I’d add T-Bird even though she did not win on the returning player vote.

    And if we are naming those who have played more than once: Kathy Vavrick O’Brien, Courtney Yates, Cirie, and Shi-Ann.

    I do note that they keep casting male former professional athletes. Other than the the one who was in the Olympics (Taj? I just don’t remember who it was and I’m too lazy to look it up. And isn’t an Olympic athlete technically an amateur), which female ones have been cast? I’d like to see some. They actually might go further as they won’t be as well known, unfortunately, and will not always have made the money that someone like Uncle Cliffy or Jeff Kent or Scott Pollard has made.

    • Alkanarra

      If you want some more female athletes then I hear Maria Sharapova is going to have a lot of time off soon….

      But you’re thinking of Crystal Cox, who made it very far in a season full of terrible people and actually had a chance of winning if Sugar wasn’t so whimsical. Good point about the athlete angle though.

      • Alycia Swift

        It was Crystal. I just could not remember.

        • Alkanarra

          Don’t worry; you will neither be the first nor the last person to forget who Crystal Cox was.

    • sharculese

      Hey the greatest professional athlete to play Survivor did it in a sport where he was unlikely to make millions.

      • Alycia Swift

        Since I don’t really follow sports that much I don’t remember who that is. And did he do well?

        My point was that they have not actually cast many women professional athletes, not that every man who was cast as a former professional athlete (or their coach) already made millions.

        • sharculese

          Yeah it’s Tyson.

      • Who was that? Tyson?

      • He?! Oh, you’re just going to assume Crystal- an Olympian!- wasn’t the greatest athlete to play Survivor? GET HIM, LADIES!

        • Alycia Swift

          Well she said “he” in her sentence. That’s why I assumed. If it was Tyson, was he even a professional athlete (in the sense is that is what he did for a living only. I thought he was a store manager or something like that that that bike raced.)

          • According to his Survivor Wiki bio during Tocantins, he is labeled as “former pro cyclist/missionary”

          • sharculese

            I’m really curious about Tyson’s religious journey because, based on how he talks about the church on News AF, it doesn’t really sound like he still practices.

          • I would say that he is not practicing considering the fact Stephen married them rather than someone of the Mormon faith. Also, at least during the sealing ceremony, they cannot have photographs taken and yet there was a picture floating around of their ceremony.

          • Sharculese is a he. But his avatar confused me for a long time.

            I think one of the women from Redemption Island was a college athlete. I do think it would be fun if they got a woman that was a former professional athlete, though (besides Crystal). Actually, my ideal possibly-gettable former athlete for them would be Marion Jones. She got busted for using PEDs, but I always liked her. And she was a great basketball player, too.

          • sharculese

            Before this season I ranked the Survivor professional athletes so that I could see where Scot Pollard fell, and I talked myself into including Ashley Massaro, because pro wrestling at the least requires a lot of athleticism and because I think the logic on casting her was similar (I ended up including Jimmy Johnson too for the second reason).

        • DrVanNostrand

          Gabon is kind of hazy because I had to get hammered to suffer through that pile of shit. Crystal was the one who was awesome at everything and always won, right?

          • I haven’t even seen it.

            But yes.

        • sharculese

          I was straight trolling you for an upvote and you left me hanging.

          • Yeah, I saw what you were going for. But in weighing my options, I thought it would be more fun to attack you under the premise of you being sexist.

            But fine, the upvote is yours.

    • Roswulf

      Saying poor Michelle got on the wrong side of the swap undersells how much she was screwed. She was on the wrong side of a post-merge twist that approximated a swap, but with no time to strategize!

      Damn it Dreamz, why did you have to make probably correct decisions that doomed awesome Asian people all the time.

      • Other Scott

        Or not-awesome Asian people! (Mookie)

    • DrVanNostrand

      I think Denise probably does beat Malcolm. The thing is, pretty much everyone knew it was between the two of them, so no matter who won the final challenge, only one of the two would go to FTC, and that person would win.

  • sweaterfan

    Cook Islands/Micronesia Ozzy was my jam when I was originally watching the show as a teenager, but now I just think he’s a little twerp.
    I’m rewatching Fiji right now, and I have to confess that Boo is really doing it for me.
    I’m not usually into dumb hot annoying guys, but something about him is working 😮

    • BOO?! I have to say, I was not expecting that name to come up.

      Then again, I seem to be the only guy who ever mentions Kourtney Moon (though that might be because everyone else understandably forgets her 45 seconds of One World screen time).

      • sweaterfan

        It’s not something I’m proud of…

      • The only thought when I read “Boo”.

  • Side Character

    Late to the party so no one will ever read my comment. But this was a great read.

    You mentioned a lot of female winners portrayed as “won because a guy lost”. Just for juxtaposition’s sake, I’d like to flip it (though it goes against what this whole thing is about), and list men that maybe won because women lost.

    Admittedly, some may be a stretch, and some may be plain wrong, but here we go:

    Vanuatu: Chris won because Twila lost (and the rest of the women, too…uncalled for?)
    Panama: Aras won because Cirie lost (and Terry too, but he’s a man, we don’t care about that on this list)
    Cambodia: Jeremy won because Kelley Wentworth lost (he might’ve still won with her at FTC but it would’ve been a tighter race)
    Caramoan: Cochran won because Dawn lost (a stretch, perhaps)
    China: Todd won because Amanda lost (though Todd killed it in the FTC)
    Thailand: Brian won because Jan/Helen lost (I’m not sure about this one, because I think everyone hated everyone on that season)

    Thought it would be a different view, showing some women that actually did get some good edits, or edits not really influenced by the men around them.

    • andythesaint

      We read EVERYTHING.

      • Side Character

        I appreciate that, Andy. I like going through all the comments on the page because 1) I have no life and 2) I don’t want to repeat what someone else said. I wasn’t sure other people did this, but now I know.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      I see what you mean, but as you say, we’re talking about the portrayal of a woman winning because a man lost and while some of the examples you gave may be true, I don’t think they were necessarily portrayed that way. Jeremy got a golden edit while Wentworth was the underdog, you admit it’s a stretch, but Cochran was a front runner by the merge and pretty much the obvious winner once Andrea got voted out. Todd and Amanda were too similar of games (compared to say, Russell and Natalie W.) although Amanda sure did snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Todd just helped himself. Terry being an option negates it for Aras, even if Cirie was clearly a strong potential winner. I’ll give you Chris though, but we at PRP are suckers for diminishing Chris’s win. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much of Thailand. For example: Who is Jan? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      Thank you for such a thought-provoking comment, I’m glad you enjoyed reading this!

      • Side Character

        Jan was the older woman on Brian’s tribe–she came in third. People might remember her as the one who, when receiving money for a tribal auction, shouted out that they got MONEY! AMERICAN! (to which Clay replied, “No shit, Sherlock”) She might’ve won if she made it to FTC, but like I said, everyone hated everyone on that season so it’s a toss up–really, Thailand is an ugly season that no one wants to remember. If you have the stomach, you can try and rewatch it–I think I’d only see it to see Shii-Ann again (’cause I think Shii-Ann is great).

  • forever1267

    Burton. But Big and Beefy is my weakness!