Survivor Fan Friction – Abi-Maria Gomes

It’s time for another edition of Fan Friction, a series of essays where one of our columnists writes an ode to one of their favorite Survivor players, while defending them against any potential naysayers (both real and imagined). This isn’t a place to be fair and balanced. This is a chance to let your fan freak flag fly. This time, BadPlayer91 reminds you not to fuck with him about his Abi-Maria love, or you’re dead. 

Why She’s Great

We were first introduced to Abi-Maria Gomes of Brazil (but residing in L.A., of course) in Philippines, where she developed a reputation for her fiery and aggressive attitude. Abi returned to the show in Cambodia, part of the fan-chosen cast of second chance players. Attempting to improve her reputation by showing personal growth, Abi ultimately returned to the ways of her first season and came to accept her role as a Survivor villain.

Despite the fact that she was voted into Season 31, I get the feeling that most Survivor viewers aren’t a fan of Abi-Maria. Across her two seasons, she’s garnered such joyous descriptors as: self-centered, overly-dramatic, mean-spirited, and ungrateful. It’s been said that she lacks tact, is prone to drastic and irrational mood swings, and is impossible to work with. Neither one-on-one sessions with sex therapist and sole survivor Denise Stapley nor an entire season dedicated to personal growth could cure the erratic fire tornado that is Abi-Maria.

Right off the bat, Abi isn’t a lovable character. And I’m not about to convince you she is. Most of the bad things people have to say about Abi are true. We have a lot of footage, a lot of quotes, and even a lot of her own words, that support that. Instead, my argument is that Abi-Maria is one Survivor’s most unique players, and that she brings to her seasons distinct qualities that, while not lovable as a character traits, can and should be appreciated.

(Editor’s note: can and should be appreciated)

So why is Abi great? Because she’s so different and plays the game so differently than any other player. As a result, Abi has a significant impact on her seasons that improves their enjoyability and elevates the viewing experience, even if it isn’t actually Abi herself that we enjoy. Because Abi can be so difficult, so erratic, and so exhausting, she pushes Survivor strategy in unusual ways, forcing those who play with her to constantly readjust and reevaluate. If there is a key to enjoying Abi, it is being able to separate who she is as a person from what she brings to the game, and acknowledge that she pushes those around her and the game of Survivor forward.

Unlike some of the other Survivor Fan Friction articles, I’m not going to argue that the haters have it wrong, and that Abi-Maria should be revered and adored. Rather, I’m going to contend that the numerous arguments for why Abi is terrible are actually positives for us as viewers and the seasons in which she is cast (past and *future*).

Haters Gonna Hate

She screws everything up for everyone else

Yeah, Abi messes everything up. She cannot be trusted- by anyone, maybe even herself- and it results in unpredictable and unexpected outcomes throughout her seasons. People aligned with Abi are the biggest losers, because if you say just a few wrong words, she might vote you out. Or if she says just a few wrong words, your alliance may suddenly fall apart. Pete, Artis, RC, Shirin, Peih-Gee, {Redacted}, and Woo were all aligned with Abi in some form, and all paid the price.

In the past I’ve said that Abi is the ultimate wild card, but the more I think on it, that doesn’t really make sense. In most card games, a wild card is a bonus that helps you out of a jam. Abi is more like a pistol with two barrels, one pointing forward and one always pointing backward at you, and when you pull the trigger you don’t know if you’ll shoot your target or yourself. Also, occasionally the pistol goes off on its own, or just explodes altogether.

But as infuriating as this is for the players, it makes for great television. If production casts a pistol, they’re probably hoping it goes off. How often have we knocked a season for being boring because everyone “sticks to the plan”, and then it seems like nothing happens. Abi is the antithesis to that. Even when it may not be in her best interest, she throws caution to the wind. She makes things that could be simple and straightforward dramatic and wild, and that creates a lot of fun content.

She creates too much drama

Hand-in-hand with chaos is drama, and yes, Abi is highly prone to drama and the creation of it in general. She gets worked up about perceived slights and will redirect her entire strategy based upon necklaces and stray votes. As Hornacek and I discussed in the comments recently, Abi belongs on reality TV, but seems more fit for The Real World, or Keeping up with the Kardashians, or any of The Real Housewives franchises (preferably Atlanta, bring on Abi vs. NeNe!). Luckily for us, she chose Survivor instead, and thus we get all the fun of a drunken “get your hands off my man!” dancefloor catfight relocated to a sandy beach.

But drama creates content like nobody’s business. If drama is the lifeblood of reality TV, then Abi bled herself dry for two whole seasons. A significant portion of both Philippines and Cambodia, often ranked among the top seasons of Survivor, are defined by Abi and the drama she brews. Her actions and interactions are the central focus of Cambodia’s pre-merge and in Philippines, she is essential to the narrative of the season- so much so that the drama between her and RC is one of the only non-Matsing storylines we get pre-merge. Drama is important, and Abi has that in spades. Love it or hate it, Abi is a big part of almost every storyline in Philippines, and without her, I believe a lot of those stories would feel pretty flat.

She is irritating to watch

Again, I’m not really arguing against this. I found Abi very irritating as I first watched her seasons. This is particularly true in Cambodia, where she wraps all the negative aspects of her personality from the Philippines in a cloak of feigned self-awareness and personal growth.

But again, I think this is a huge benefit to both seasons. We love to hate Abi. She hits just the right balance of both irritating and insufferable without crossing the boundary into upsetting or unacceptable. She’s the villain you love to hate, who you root against because it feels good. And for many of us, this creates a level of investment within the show, if only because we are invested in Abi losing. What more of a reason do you need to love Denise and Malcolm if not that they vanquish Abi? Would it have felt as good if it was someone else? I believe we need lows to juxtapose and emphasize the highs, and Abi as the epicenter of the ultimate of lows, is a catalyst for the highest of highs.

I’ll go a step further. Abi’s irritating nature- and the negative, often visceral reactions we have to her- produces for the viewer the same experience as those on the island. Multiple individuals from both her seasons have said that living with Abi was one of the biggest challenges. She becomes almost environmental: the castaways have to deal with hunger and fatigue and flies and being dirty, and also Abi.

But this strain seems to jump out of the screen. We as an audience get annoyed when she blows up, get irritated with her, become tired of her, and it results in a level of personal investment in Abi’s demise. By the time we get to Abi’s boot, you’ve been reeled in and hooked, as much through a desire to see other players succeed as to see Abi fail. It’s the ultimate payoff and something that elevates Abi from an okay villain to a great one: a satisfying conclusion. If Abi were less dramatic, or less chaotic, or less frustrating, then we would be less invested.

She is terrible at Survivor

I wanted, for a least a minute, to play devil’s advocate. Is Abi really a terrible player? I want to say yes, but I realized that if you look at a lot of Abi’s statistics, without considering the context, they look pretty good, or at least okay:

  • 5th & 7th place finishes in the Philippines and Cambodia respectively, 7th member of the jury in both (but she was largely disliked by most, rarely had any power, and a number of individuals considered her a tempting goat)
  • A collective 71 days of Survivor play, with her boot being in the penultimate episode of both her seasons (but as noted above, she really wasn’t a threat in either season, so keeping her around was safe)
  • Made it to the merge twice, once without losing an immunity challenge, and once having survived 4 of 5 tribal councils (but she sat out in 5 of 6 team immunity challenges in the Philippines)

  • Has successfully played an idol (but it was a split vote, so one of her alliance members went home anyway)
  • Won an individual immunity challenge (but due to buying an advantage that lets her skip the first two stages)
  • She successfully votes to evict the player she wants in 8 of 12 tribal councils in Cambodia, 9 if you consider that she was part of the Spencer-Shirin vote split (but, her record in the Philippines is way worse, only 2 of 7, a generous 3 given the RC-Penner vote split)

Most of this falls into the category of ‘doing Survivor stuff’ and in that way, Abi at least is aware of how to play the game. Sure, she isn’t great at a lot of the components, but she leaves each season having ‘done’ a lot of stuff. And I do think Abi has a few moments of smart gameplay here or there. In Philippines, she sacrifices eating to get the advantage that proves essential to her winning immunity. Sure, this only prolonged the inevitable, but it was a good move to at least create some chances. In Cambodia, it is during the 15 minutes that Abi pretends she’s changed that she is able to navigate her way out of a few rough spots on TaKeo.

Overall, I’d argue that Abi is not a terrible Survivor player, nor a good one, but simply a middle-of-the-pack castaway. Her biggest weakness is her social game- or rather the lack of any social ability- which looms over every other element of her gameplay. For example, at final 5 in the Philippines, Abi is smart enough to see the cracks between the other four, and tries to flip things around. Where she goes wrong is not realizing that yelling at Lisa and calling her dumb isn’t the best way to forge a new alliance. (Editor’s note: Who could have known?)

Embrace Debate

If, after all this, you still find yourself saying, “I just don’t like watching Abi”, good. You shouldn’t. And I probably wasn’t ever going to convince you otherwise. But my hope is that you can at least appreciate Abi’s place within the Survivor world. If I was limited to only making two points (which I clearly wasn’t) then they would be these:

  • Abi is a great Survivor villain, and as such, an essential element of what makes both Philippines and Cambodia great seasons of Survivor.
  • When compared to the other great villains, Abi stands apart. Her style of anti-social, no-strings-attached, everyone’s-my-enemy gameplay perpetuates fascinating strategy and challenges those around her in a way many other villains simply do not.

Those are the most basic reasons why Abi can and should be appreciated. Personally, I look forward to the next time Abi-Maria Gomes shows up on my TV screen. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one. After all, Abi was selected for Cambodia based upon fan votes. Either we’re boiling that down to production meddling, silly casuals, horny men (Editor’s note: I feel personally attacked), and lack of better women to vote for, or I’m not alone in my Abi appreciation.

BadPlayer91

BadPlayer91

BadPlayer91 was first introduced to Survivor at the insistence of his boyfriend, who may now regret that decision. His first season was Koah Rong, which will always have a place in his heart, though the winner may not.

Favorite Seasons: Cambodia, Cagayan, Philippines, Pearl Islands, Blood vs. Water
Favorite Players: Sandra, Cirie, Aubry, Denise, Abi, Michaela (BAE)
BadPlayer91

Latest posts by BadPlayer91 (see all)

  • purplerockandy

    Yeah but… I hate her and she sucks. So..

    • Saturday Night Palsy

      You’re just gonna copy and paste this as these get more and more ridiculous, aren’t you?

      • BadPlayer91

        Now he is…

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      Counterpoint:
      Dat ass, tho.

    • Hornacek

      Feature comment, right here.

  • Alkanarra

    She’s fine as a pre-merge force of chaos while the tribes are getting their footing and need allies, but way less fun post-merge since she’s always so stuck in a rut with how she wants to vote. You want post-merge players to be flexible. Dump Abi around the merge of either season and it’s the ideal amount to handle.

    • I think she is fairly flexible in the Cambodia post-merge because she knows that she is on the bottom.

    • BadPlayer91

      Like Barbara said, she does seem a least a little flexible toward the beginning of Cambodia, which is where I think she plays some of her best Survivor.

      In many cases though, Abi seems to be flexible, only in her inflexibility. She has a very set idea of how she wants to vote, and is very reluctant to deviate, but when angered or betrayed, suddenly she’s super flexible, if only to screw over those who betrayed her (or she believes betrayed her).

      Obviously, I would love to see Abi in the post-merge as much as possible. I’d love to see Abi in an FTC honestly, if only because i can’t image but very much want to see someone successfully managed Abi until the end. Like, whoever can ally with her, manage to stay alive, and keep their sanity, would be an amazing thing to watch.

      • If Kelley had her way, we would have her in the FTC and magically Cambodia becomes a top ten season for me.

        • BadPlayer91

          Right? Imagine if Kelley could add ‘careful social and strategic management of Abi-Maria resulting in a FTC blowout’ to her resume? It would be as impressive as the winning part…

          • Unfortunately, it seems like Abi blows that up by voting for Keith in her final tribal council.

          • BadPlayer91

            Even if she had voted Tasha, the vote still would have been 4-3 to Abi, unless there is something I don’t remember? They really needed Kimmi as well, and I think Abi knew that wasn’t going to happen. I get the felling Abi thought it was a toss up between her and Kieth, and hoped that her vote would either tip the scale in event of a vote split, or give her a bargaining chip if they chose Kieth.

          • I was just saying that it makes Kelley’s argument that she was the Abi tamer moot kinda like how the Danielle boot makes Parvati’s claim that she tamed Russell meaningless.

          • BadPlayer91

            Oh, yeah, definitely. If anything, it shows that Abi had doubts about the plan with Kelley and Kieth, and thus prepared to abandoned ship, if she made it.

        • Other Scott

          Your problems with Cambodia are very different than mine I think

    • Assistant Dragon Slayer

      On the other hand, after the merge she turns into a tempting goat. Peih-Gee, Varner etc were kind of foolish to think they could manage her for 36+ days.

      • BadPlayer91

        Yeah, it definitely seems VERY ambitious to be having that discussion so early in the game. And obviously, it proved far too ambition, as neither even made the merge (thanks to Abi, lolzzz)

      • Hornacek

        Like Sherri with Shamar in Caramoan. “Everybody hates this guy so I’ll bring him to the end. It’s only day 7, but hey, what’s another 32 days?”

  • I was excited for this one, because I think Abi deserves defending. She does make the seasons that she’s on more interesting, because other players being forced to deal with Abi tests their skills to a degree that they don’t generally get tested.

    I enjoy watching people try to manage the strategic and social relationships with Abi. And I say this even though Abi’s impulsiveness was responsible for three of my pre-game Cambodia favorites going home pre-merge, including Slay Kween Robbed Goddess Shirin.

    Abi really is the perfect type of villain for me- she’s unpredictable and emotional, but she’s not a horrible human being. She holds grudges and amplifies minor slights, and it makes alliances with her a Herculean task. I’m down for seeing more Abi-Maria on Survivor someday.

    (She also has a legit great ass.)

    • I also think that being around other better players makes Abi a better player because she has to start using other Survivor skills like being flexible or turning on your alliance.

      • BadPlayer91

        Agreed. For all the ‘personal’ growth Abi lacked in Cambodia, her game definitely appeared to have improved.

        Then again, some of that could be given how Philippines turned out with her tribe never losing immunity. She never really had to play the game at the beginning of Philippines, and then seemed out of her element when she did later. Philippines is basically the poster child for ‘vote early, vote often’ with the only Matsing to make the post-merge doing so well.

        • I also think she realized way too late that Skupin and Lisa had turned on her, whereas she seems to have that perception fairly early on in Cambodia. She is also able to get some of her actual targets out (Shirin, Peih-Gee, Stephen, Savage, Woo) unlike in Philippines where RC and Jeff Kent only went out because of Penner.

    • Diego Armando

      Honestly, I think Abi may be the strongest villain the show has ever had. She fits into the perfect “love to hate her” role and creates entertaining situations.

      • Saturday Night Palsy

        Over Jonny Fairplay?

        • I found Fairplay too contrived, even though he was a good foil in Pearl Islands. Abi’s villainy doesn’t even seem to be intentional, it’s just who she is (possibly only when she’s starving/tired).

          • BadPlayer91

            I’d agree. What takes Abi just a step above for me, is that it feels so natural. I mean, the tribal in Philippines where they all tell her she is so unlikable, is one of the best Survivor moments because it’s so conflicting. Even after all that came before, you can’t help but feel at least a little bad for Abi. She had no idea she was a villain, and doesn’t seem to really accept it until her boot in Cambodia.

            Fairplay, on the other hand, does a heavy lean into the role of villain, not just in the first episode, but before the game had actually even started. It doesn’t make him bad at it, in fact, he’s great at it. But it’s more produced. He wanted to be hated, because it also meant he was known.

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            Both you and John make valid points, but does a lack of self awareness make for a “stronger villain? Fair play knew he didn’t have a shot at winning unless he played the villain. He used his villainy as a strength and it almost worked (once).

          • Super duper fan

            But do villains in books, movies, etc. often KNOW that they’re the villain? A lot of popular villains often see themselves as the ones doing the right thing, even if they know that by definition they’re doing the ‘wrong’ thing. The only exception that I can think of at the moment is Joker, who to be fair is one of the most iconic villains ever, but I can’t think of any other now, but of course I may be proved wrong.

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            True, but that’s in books, movies, etc. A real life “villain” knows that what they’re doing is wrong. A real bank robber doesn’t think he’s Robin Hood.

          • indescribable hat

            I think most real people think that they’re pretty OK, the things they do are justified, their enemies are worse than them anyway, etc. Sure sometimes people do bad things and know they’re in the wrong, but I think the majority of villainy in the world comes from people who don’t see themselves as villains.

          • Hornacek

            I think the Joker sees himself as more of a teacher than a villain. He’s trying to show the world (and Batman) that life is random and shit happens.

          • I don’t like this respectful treatment one bit. It makes me nervous. Am I dying and no one has told me?

            And Dalton was definitely necessary, both for his season to be great and for Survivor as a show. I just enjoy that Abi is a villain despite being the hero in her own mind, a la Tocantins Coach.

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            This is a really good point and has sealed the deal in convincing me that Abi belongs at least in the top echelon of Survivor villains.
            Question: as the resident Abi expert, do you know how she came to be cast on Survivor? Any idea whether she applied or was recruited? She just seems so utterly clueless about the show, while also overflowing with natural paranoia and schemery.

          • BadPlayer91

            Oh, very fun bit of trivia.

            Abi was recruited, BUT for Tocantins. She was living in LA at the time, but it was deemed that she would have an unfair advantage over other players because she’s Brazilian, particularly given that when living in Brazil, she resided in a community not far from the filming location of Tocantins. She was replaced by Carolina Eastwood.

            *When i first read ‘resident Abi expert’ I was very worried I wouldn’t have an answer, and am very happy I actually did. I would assume @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus probably has more juicy gossip regarding Abi then i do, lol

          • Hornacek

            Just think, in the alternate universe David Murphy proposed to Abi-Maria at the RI reunion.

          • All I got is that she is off and on with Pete and that she is really nice off the island. She has made up with both Peih-Gee and Woo.

          • BadPlayer91

            Also, from the wikia triva, she apparently made and sells an alcohol called Xi Acai which was semi-successful and not a trash fire.

            And this: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8e4c051d84131b8f6ce6462be60d7349ac163c33677a833e26c88ac26ef9a86a.jpg

          • Someone says that it is very bubbly. Also, man Fabio has let himself get all piratey.

          • Diego Armando

            Fairplay was intentionally playing a wrestling heel, judging by his wrestling obsession.

          • BadPlayer91

            Yeah. That’s where the name Fairplay comes from too…

          • sharculese

            You called him ‘Fairplay’ instead of ‘Dalton’. By your personal code of conduct, doesn’t that require you to put money in the cuss jar?

          • Fuck, you’re right. I am ashamed.

        • indescribable hat

          Fairplay is more nails-on-a-chalkboard to me.

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            That’s crazy talk. Pure entertainment.

          • BadPlayer91

            That’s crazy CHALK

            *runs away*

          • indescribable hat

            I find both his voice and his particular brand of insecure arrogance hard to listen to. And his Sandra hate, which at this point boils down to, “Sure it’s a very effective way to win the game, but it’s not the noble way.” Actually no, it’s hilarious that Jonny Fairplay has been reduced to Rupert logic.

        • Diego Armando

          I think Abi had a funnier comeuppance and she did not fizzle out as badly as he did in her return.

        • Other Scott

          My favourite villain is Russell Hantz personally.

    • Mike Hirsch

      Yes, yes she does.

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      I think Abi-Maria probably has the best figure of any Survivor lady (even though her boobs totally disappeared by the end of Cambodia…)

      • There are a few that are better…

        • Ms. Sweaterfan

          I mean, I guess if boobs are important…and faces.

          • I am sorry but at points, I confuse Lisa and Abi-Maria, especially when both have their hair pulled up.

    • DrVanNostrand

      I only disagree with you on one thing. Abi is a horrible human being.

  • BadPlayer91

    I meant to include this in the post, but big shout out to @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus for having discussed Abi at length with me on multiple occasions. Those conversations proved an invaluable resources.

  • Super duper fan

    You all are setting the bar too high. When we get to mine eventually it will be like comparing Thailand to Heroes vs. Villiains. But for real, it was a great post.

    I agree with basically all of that you’ve said. Abi is such an interesting character, that I can’t never really hate her being on the season, cause she brings so much to every season that she’s in.

    If they ever do HvV2, they BETTER bring back Abi, cause she’s pretty much the biggest female villain post-HvV, and the only one who may actually compete with that is Kass.

    • Abi and Kass are strong female villain locks.

      • Super duper fan

        I actually wonder if they would put someone from original HvV in a sequel. I would think not, but they could potentially put an original Villain to her to Heroes, and backwards (I would guess they would be Jerri and JT for breaking so many of our hearts).

      • BadPlayer91

        Agreed. Though as I hinted, I really think Abi causes more true chaos then Kass, but alliteration man, can’t beat it.

        Merry Mary Murdered Michael

        • Yeah, I think once you know what makes Kass tick (ie being disloyal to her), you get burned. Abi is way more unpredictable.

  • Diego Armando

    Thank you for keeping my (Redacted) joke alive.

    • BadPlayer91

      Honestly, I just didn’t want him in my post. Technically, there are two (redacted)’s in this post, but I managed to just never mention the other by name…

      • Diego Armando

        Oh, I did it for the player you did not refer to. I may be referring your actually redacted player at some point in the future though.

        • I believe they may be a few of us that have refer to a redacted person.

          • purplerockandy

            I want someone to be bold enough to write a post about him.

            Then I won’t publish it.

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            Dude! I worked for hours on that post!

  • https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0ee6a96e02f87f2df95090151d087eac8d3db57c99499f2dadef0522eda722d5.jpg

    Hello Frinkiac meme, my old friend!

    I am actually going to be positive about Cambodia for a little bit (yes, it is possible-remember it does produce my favorite confessional of all time). Anyway, I think Cambodia proves that Abi is not bad physically and that her excuse of having a bad knee in Philippines may hold a little weight. The early Ta Keo/Angkor losses are not really her fault and she almost beat Joe in an endurance immunity challenge (The rumor is that when they had to go to one foot on the doghouses, Wiglesworth couldn’t do it, but production said that Abi was out. Unfortunately, getting in the ocean along with getting rained out screwed over Abi).

  • Mike Hirsch

    Your pistol metaphor is quite good. For me, I always thought Denise was right that Abi was like a poker player who’d never played before. However, Denise never followed that through to (what I thought at least) was its logical conclusion: time and again, the poker player who knows nothing (the Jon Snow of poker, if you will) manages to blow up several other “better” players’ games before getting taken out themselves through sheer dumb luck. She stays in hands she should know to fold, and then winds up winning with two low pair against pocket Aces. Eventually, someone better will adapt their own game and knock her out. A frustrating experience for the players, but kind of fun to watch.

    • Alkanarra

      I just imagined an alternate universe where Abi-Maria is accidentally responsible for a Jean-Robert blindside and it made me so very, very giddy.

      • Mike Hirsch

        Oh man, me too now.

    • BadPlayer91

      Yeah, can’t beat logic from beautiful joy Denise Stapley.

      Denise definitely played a more poker like game with Abi though. To my [limited] knowledge of poker, you can adapt to the player who doesn’t know how to play, but it would probably be hard to utilize them as a weapon. Instead, you just play the game knowing how they play, and thus manage to avoid obstacles others don’t. Once Denise was aware of how Abi operated, she was able to protect her own game, but she never tried to mobilize Abi as a weapon, a mistake others would make. Jeremy made a similarly smart decision in Cambodia.

      • Mike Hirsch

        Yeah, the best way to deal with them usually is to stay out of the way of them entirely. If they’re in a hand, fold. Only stay in hands if you flop three of a kind, that sort of thing. Let them do their thing and knock out somebody else, and play with extreme caution.

  • indescribable hat

    You made some very strong points but also reminded me that Abi should have been cast on shows I don’t enjoy, so…

    Bottom line I appreciate the instability she brings to the game and her villain story on Philippines was amazing, but during the Cambodia vote I felt like I could use a little bit of a longer break from her and I didn’t exactly change my mind. Speaking of instability, Candice is wildly underappreciated as a shaker-up of things and I can see why she’s been cast three times. So there’s my unpopular opinion.

    • Super duper fan

      It’s actually an interesting take on Candice. I’ve only really began to appreciate her in BvW, but I don’t think she actually brings something to the show HERSELF, but rather by WHAT SHE’S DOING, like mutiny, flipping to Villains, and FUBC. From these, the only one that I would argue is brought thanks to her character is FUBC (I know she didn’t said that, but I’m talking about the events surrounding it). But someone like Abi, she backs up the things she’s doing with a clearly visible personality, while Candice is not.

      • indescribable hat

        Candice (until BvW) is like a gamebot who makes mostly wrong decisions. That’s not all that fun to watch, but it makes the season as a whole more fun. She’s never going to sit there like a bump on a log because of loyalty or timidity or lack of drive. She’s the only person ever to jump on Probst’s mutiny offer. She’s here to play hard and fall on her face, goddammit! Much better casting than she gets credit for being.

        • I think Candice is someone who thinks she is a gamebot but she is secretly someone fueled by emotion. She is essence a female Fishbach, except Fishbach has been far more successful than she has been. Think about her “big moves”-all of them stem from emotional decisions.
          The mutiny was so she can get her bang on somewhere else.
          Taking out Amanda was because she thought that Sandra could protect her due to their pregame alliance. She also thought that Russell would be more loyal to her than Parvati.
          Redemption Island anger stemmed from the fact that she was voted out first so she wanted to play. It later became you voted out my husband, prepare for my wrath (friendly reminder that Marissa says FUBC, not Candice).

          • indescribable hat

            I heartily disagree. I may be biased, but I think the mutiny was primarily about taking a big swing to get back with her perceived closest allies, which, yes, included Adam, but also Parvati! And I don’t even see how taking out Amanda because she thought she’d made stronger alliances on the other side could be considered emotional. It was the wrong call because she has bad reads on people, but it was game-motivated!

            BvW is a whole different kettle of fish, since she’s out of the game and mad that she can’t play aggressively so she just exists aggressively.

            I would also count among Candice’s show-improving wrong moves her decision with Amanda not to try to talk JT out of giving Russell the idol. They have this conversation where they’re like, this is a wildly risky move, but we are not that wild about JT having the idol so let’s see what happens.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    Excellent post! I do love to hate Abi, but you make a really great point that she is just the right amount of villain. She’s aggravating, but she’s not so cruel (or hateful, racist, sexist, etc.) as to be upsetting to watch. I suppose her behavior toward RC and Peih-Gee bordered on bullying at times, but for the most part the stuff Abi does that gets people mad at her is either game related or relatively benign.
    Also, I love the double barreled pistol analogy!

    And finally, you’ve got to love that “big Brazilian booty” (to quote the Brazilian dragon herself)

    • BadPlayer91

      Thanks! I considered that there are moments that Abi is a bit of a bully and she says some pretty mean quotes, but compared to other big villains, she doesn’t have anything unforgivable or that could have major repercussions outside the game. It think it’s the difference between ‘rooting’ for their downfall, and being relieved they got the boot, because you were so disgusted by them.

  • StormofCuteness

    Before I read the comments, I have to say you have accomplished what I thought was impossible–given me a new way to look at Abi (who I detest). This was a great piece, Badplayer.

    It made me realize I would far rather watch Abi crazy than either Debbie or Phillip. So, yes, for villian purposes, she truly ups the seasons in ways many others have not.

    • BadPlayer91

      I’m so glad to hear! And I agree, i’ll take Abi over a lot of other notable villains. I was watching Pearl Island while I was writing this, and comparing Abi to Johnny Fairplay really helped me appreciate what makes her stand apart from a lot of other villains in the show.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        Wow, great post @badplayer91:disqus. I think what really sets Abi apart from Fairplay, Philip, Debbie, etc is that she’s almost completely un-self-aware, and therefore can’t possibly be putting on an act, as opposed to someone like Coach, where you’re never quite sure if he’s not just trolling the world. I didn’t mention it in my entry, but Judd also lacks self-awareness in the same way, which is one of the things that makes him a delightful buffoon rather than a true villain.

        • BadPlayer91

          Thanks! I agree, her lack of self-awareness makes Philippines, and the fact that even while ‘trying’ to be self-aware in Cambodia she couldn’t, is as much a sad and terrible character flaw for her, as it is a great bonus for us. lol

        • Hornacek

          In Philippines she really seems to have no idea that people don’t like her and that she’s acting like a horrible person. It’s both comical and sad at the same time.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      I read Debbie as Denise at first and was ready to throw things.

      • sharculese

        I mean, I would rather watch Abi than Denise Martin.

        • Anyone would

        • Other Scott

          Denise Martin almost singlehandedly ruins the end of China. Most irrationally hated Survivor for me

          • Blurry Denzel

            She is such a weak spot on that season.

  • Hornacek

    This is well written but I just can’t agree with any of the parts that aren’t about how bad a player she is.

    “Attempting to improve her reputation by showing personal growth, Abi ultimately immediately returned to the ways of her first season” Fixed it for you.

    “Abi is more like a pistol with two barrels, one pointing forward and one always pointing backward at you, and when you pull the trigger you don’t know if you’ll shoot your target or yourself.” This is an excellent description. If Abi does return to Survivor (shudder) and someone decides to work with her, they deserve whatever happens to them.

    “As Hornacek and I discussed in the comments recently …” Ok, I take it all back. I *love* this entry!
    Hey, I’m not that complex. Just mention me positively (or non-negatively) and I’ll shower praise.

    “Abi is a great Survivor villain …” (grits teeth) I just can’t agree with that. She’s a great Survivor … antagonist, in that she is always an impediment to anyone working against (or with) her, like a giant rock in a path that you can’t get around and have to figure out how to get by it. But to call her a villain implies that she has a strategy and is making things happen, and I can’t agree with that.

    “I look forward to the next time Abi-Maria Gomes shows up on my TV screen.” OH GOD NO!

    • BadPlayer91

      First off, i’m glad you don’t agree. Gives the article a little more purpose, lol. I’d go through why I don’t agree with you, but I wrote the whole thing explaining why…

      I will say, I think Abi has strategy. If she had absolutely no strategy, she would be a great goat. It’s that she has just enough strategy to be very dangerous to work with, but also is just unlikable enough to be tempting as a goat.

      As I noted, I think her biggest issue is that almost any strategy or attempts to play the game are ruined/sidetracked by her terrible social game. Abi will say she she should do X, but do the opposite because she’s mad at someone. She is willing to sabotage herself just to see her enemies fail. For me, that is straight up villainous, and not very rock-like.

      But of course, to each their own.

      • Hornacek

        Abi’s strategy seems to be “Don’t get voted out, win the game.” Which, basically, every player should be doing, but hopefully doing more than that. I guess she does other things, but they just come off as dumb, petty, and vindictive. Not the qualities I want in a Survivor player.

        • BadPlayer91

          Eh, there are people who have won this game with that strategy alone, lol. Yeah, I’m not really gonna disagree with a lot of what you’re saying here. Like I said in the post, I think a lot of the ‘negatives’ about Abi are positives for the seasons she plays, even when ugly to watch.

          Imagine, if Abi was just a little smarter and a little nicer, she might have convinced Lisa and [redacted] to flip, and then we’d probably be looking at one of them as winner.

    • DrVanNostrand

      I’ve enjoyed her antagonism, but I’m satisfied with her first 3 appearances. No more Abi for me, please.

      • Hornacek

        “first 3 appearances” Now you’re just trying to trigger me.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    oh also @badplayer91:disqus I didn’t realize you were a dude! Based on your profile pic I always just assumed you were Beyonce.

    • BadPlayer91

      Assuming i’m Beyonce is just about the greatest compliment you could ever give me. Thank you.

      Also, just realized a huge missed opportunity in not making my avatar just Beyonce….

  • purplerockandy

    I’d like to thank all the commenters who are being characteristically kind to BP91 on his first article here.

    That said, I plan to set fire to the mutual appreciate society the comments to this series has become.

    SOON

    • Hornacek

      Promises, promises.

    • BadPlayer91

      I expected a little more dissent, but i’ll take characteristic kindness!

      Also, obviously, big thanks to PRP staff for letting me talk all my words!

    • sharculese

      The Purp is like an inverse RHAP where we go out of our way to be kind to each other but have no problem dumping buckets of shit on the hosts.

      • purplerockandy

        WHOA. You just blew my mind.

      • I almost want to make this the new site tagline.

    • DrVanNostrand

      The problem is people aren’t making enough insane ‘hot takes’. For example, in this one BP91 accepts that Abi is highly unpleasant and not that good at Survivor. It’s hard to take too much umbrage with such measured evaluations.

      Now, if someone wants to write an article about how Russell was robbed….

  • sharculese

    Roommate update: she can’t apply for Survivor right now. She just got a 1-year contract at Berkeley and is moving across the country to pursue her dream of being a university ombudsman (we’re all allowed to have weird dreams.) So telling them she’s potentially gonna fuck off to the jungle for 2 months at the end of the gig is not something she has the option of.

    • indescribable hat

      How do any of the regular-job people do it?

      • sharculese

        She hasn’t had a regular job in 4 years. Currently she’s working part-time as a receptionist, part-time as a nanny, and then doing contract work as an outside ombudsman, mostly running workplace trainings. I’m not sure she knows how she’s gonna do it either.

      • BadPlayer91

        Well, I think it depends on what kind of ‘regular-job’ you have. Obviously, models/actors or any similar occupation where you are working job to job is easier. I’d guess Boston Rob falls into this category (?) cause a lot of construction workers go project to project.

        Then, people with 9-5 day jobs must either work out a sabbatical or risk getting fired, dependent largely on whether you’re a salaried, valued employee (like, say at a law firm) or a burger flipper.

        But, the more I think on it, most of the big names seemed to be either in a position where they weren’t entirely invested in their job, or they were established enough that they could do the show without derailing their career.

        The only person I can remember talking about their job was Hali Ford. She took a break from law school for World’s Apart and I believe either turned down a job offer or left her job for Game Changers. But don’t quote me on that, i just remember thinking that was a pretty bold move…

        • He’s not a construction worker anymore.

          • BadPlayer91

            Lol, I meant originally.

        • the sky is falling

          As long as you make the merge isn’t the payout relatively substantial? Isn’t the cash payout on a sliding scale depending on how long you last?
          I’d imagine the base payout for first player voted out is at least equivalent to 3-6 months salary for most.

          • I want to say it’s around $30k for making the merge, but the exact numbers can be found with a quick search.

          • the sky is falling

            thats plenty to quit your job. that buys you 3-6 months to find a new one

          • That doesn’t sound right at all, considering the third placer gets 80 thousand and we are getting 12 to 13 people making the merge.

          • I was probably including the $10,000 reunion appearance money in that figure. And as I said, I was guessing. The old payout chart is floating around somewhere; I kinda doubt it has changed much, because Survivor does not care for your concerns about inflation.

          • Correct ie inflation.

            My next question is do they get paid time for the pre-game (ie the press and staying at Ponderosa)?

      • They often quit them or go on leaves of absences or have bosses that are willing to lie for them. Rob C. talks about how his boss during Amazon lied and said that he was going to work in Prague, while everyone else knew that he would be on Survivor.

        • BadPlayer91

          This is the quicker, less wordy, and more knowledgeable version of what I said. It’s been a long day…

  • sharculese

    “Abi is more like a pistol with two barrels, one pointing forward and one always pointing backward at you, and when you pull the trigger you don’t know if you’ll shoot your target or yourself. Also, occasionally the pistol goes off on its own, or just explodes altogether.”

    Hey Torchlight guys, if you make a third game can you make a weapon group based around this concept? I will totally build a character that’s optimized for it if you do.

  • Taako From Teevhii

    Have we started an Abi-metaphor thread yet? I like the double barrels. I’m going to throw on: she’s a Porsche with the windshield spray-painted black.

    • StormofCuteness

      She’s the hornet’s nest you never meant to bump into.

      • She’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.

        Wait, no.

        • BadPlayer91

          Flip the quote and I think it isn’t too far off: She’s like ten thousand knives when all you need is a spoon.

          Yeah, that works better…

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      She’s a monkey’s paw that grants you power…but at what cost??

    • Driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street?

  • Kemper Boyd

    Do any of your guys want to be part of a NFL fantasy league this year? PPR, snake draft.

    • Taako From Teevhii

      @disqus_3Sm0bOf1sj:disqus y’all should join forces

      • Kemper Boyd

        He’s in my league already.

        • DrVanNostrand

          To clarify, does that mean you’re talking about the same league @disqus_3Sm0bOf1sj:disqus was recruiting for? I already volunteered for that one.

          • Kemper Boyd

            No, I did not see him do such a thing. I just needed a league for me and my brother so asked on twitter if anyone wanted in. He said yes, he did not tell me he had one.

          • DrVanNostrand

            He was recruiting for it on a previous thread, but I think he only got Mike Hirsch and myself. It might be worth considering merging the leagues is there’s any difficulty filling up two. I’m up for one more league this year, but I probably wouldn’t want to do two more.

          • Kemper Boyd

            100% I only need 4/5 more people as I’ve got Gouis, my bro, a real life friend and another internet friend plus Denzel. You want in? I can send you the league invite.

          • DrVanNostrand

            I’m definitely in.

          • Kemper Boyd
          • DrVanNostrand

            Done!

          • Blurry Denzel

            Definitely merge the two. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to put together a league or get enough people to join.

          • Blurry Denzel

            I saw yours and quickly abandoned my idea. This works better for me anyway.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Brill, I’ll steal Mike Hirsh and the good Dr then and we can do an 8 team or recruit more people.

          • Blurry Denzel

            I think we will be able to get a couple of more players for this league.

        • Taako From Teevhii

          oh, cool cool cool, I just saw him make a recruitment post and you do one too

  • Esmeralda Patterson

    Duh, psycho bitches always make great television.