We’re keeping Fan Friction train rolling, the 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). Here to finish off our special Millennials week coverage is Blurry Denzel defending one of his top three favorite Survivor nerd girls.
Why She’s Great
In a season that was chock full of breakout stars and interesting, zany characters, one person stood out to me and quickly became my favorite. Hannah Shapiro arrived on the beach, got off to a noticeably bumpy start, fades into the background, recovers, make connections, becomes a decision-maker in the majority alliance and makes it to the end. She has a fascinating arc that helps elevate a pretty damn good season. Along the way, whether she was prominently featured or in the background, she had moments that showed her strengths as a character that I couldn’t help but love to the point that I picked out a “Hannah Moment of the Week” for every episode. She is complimenting Michelle during challenges, she is cheerily calling out Adam’s idol hunting, she snuffs out that Bret is a cop, she is flirting with Beautiful Ken on the beach. She delivered in her own weird way every week
Hannah fills a role for me that a lot of viewers look for when watching Survivor. People like to have someone to relate to. They can see themselves in that person or they would be spend time with that person. They like to cheer for someone that reminds them of themselves and that if that player goes far it is encouraging that the viewer can do it too, at least before the realization that volunteeringly going on an island to starve for 39 days is a fucking insane proposition. She is this nerdy, game-loving player. She is this anxiety-filled person who is socially awkward at times. But she is this funny, warm person that grows on you until you can’t help but love. I see a small portion of myself in Hannah and her success is a boost to me. Plus, I developed a bit of a Survivor crush on her, so I wasn’t rooting for her to leave my screen during the season.
Hannah is a strong character for me but is also a decent player at the game. She is able to make connections with a lot of people. A variety of people speak highly of her as an alliance member at different points. With one notable exception, every person that Hannah wanted out in the post-merge left. It’s a feat that not even the winner of the season can claim. Zeke has done a great job stating how he got people to go to rocks for him. Rightfully so, it’s quite the accomplishment. People also went to rocks for Hannah. Multiple people left their games up to chance before just letting Hannah go. Whether that was a good decision by them is highly debatable, but I think Hannah deserves some credit for that. Hannah had a plan to get the end and completed that path.
Haters Gonna Hate:
What about that 10 minute vote?
Or not leaving Adam and Zeke alone afterwards
Or that panic attack in the challenge she wasn’t even in
And the world’s worst well conversation. She said nothing!!
Hannah is not without her flaws in the game. The conversation with Zeke is especially terrible. Some players are somehow in their comfort zones the second they get off the boat while others are completely lost and in for a bumpy ride. It’s fair to put Hannah in that latter category. While some players are never able to get their shit together before exiting the game, Hannah is able to recover and excel. She is able to make quicker decisions, better reads and bolder moves. Who doesn’t like a good growth arc? Hannah is able to not let those shortcomings be the end of game, though she doesn’t get even half the credit David does for his own growth throughout the game.
Hannah was dragged to the end as a goat
Perception is a tricky thing. How you see a situation and how others see it can be vastly different. While Hannah has a plan and goes about executing it, people may have a different interpretation of what happened. Should Hannah have been better at recognizing the perception others had for her? Yeah, probably. Upon reflection she was drawing dead really early on and I don’t think she could done much to change her fate in a way where she is the winner of Survivor. While the viewers don’t see everything that goes on, players don’t see everything until they are viewers. As a viewer, I didn’t see Hannah as someone with the characteristics of a “goat”.
Her switch is the eventual catalyst for Zeke leaving. She sees Sunday as a possible spot taker and cuts her in a move similar to much praised Cirie move against Courtney in Panama. David doesn’t leave the game until she wants David to leave and she has the key conversation with Ken in the David boot. Does she have to share credit for some of these moves? Yeah, but you better believe that she deserves some props for the moves and she doesn’t get enough of it. Were all these moves actually good? Maybe not, but they aren’t moves usually made by someone who was dragged. Hard to be dragged from the front.
Hannah played up her quirkiness for the cameras
I mean, yeah that seems probable. These are people who are aware they are on a TV show and she wouldn’t be the first one to heighten different aspects of their personalities for the cameras. She was pretty damn good at it if you ask me.
Hannah didn’t play the neatest game in a season that was a little sloppy strategic-wise all around. She made critical mistakes that was never out of mind. But she was a super fun personality that was able to accomplish a lot on her time in Survivor. There is a good player there that deserves more recognition than she gets. If she ever plays again, don’t be surprised when you are impressed by what she can bring to the table. The rise of Hannah continues. Hannah forever! We are all witnesses.
Favorite Seasons: Heroes vs Villains, Palau, Philippines, Cagayan, Pearl Islands
Favorite Players: Cirie Fields, Parvati Shallow, Stephen Fishbach, Natalie Anderson, Earl Cole, Jerri Manthey