Continuing our latest 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. Next is Assistant Dragon Slayer ready to defend his guy against a bunch of scumbags.
Why He’s Great
The cardinal sin on Survivor is to be boring. A boring Survivor player is immediately forgotten by the fans and never even considered for a return appearance*. Judd Sergeant — big, loud, gesticulating, self-contradicting, run-on sentence spouting, paranoid, grammar-butchering Judd Sergeant — was the opposite of boring. Specifically, he was hilarious. Hilarious from beginning to end, from the moment he jumped out of the boat and into quicksand, to the moment he left the tribal council area immediately muttering “scumbags”.
*Unless casting’s first choice concussed herself right before the cast shipped out and its second choice didn’t answer her phone.
Haters Gonna Hate
He was a blustery blowhard
Your point being….?
He was a bully
Judd certainly looked the part of a bully: hulking, shouty, temperamental, and ADD-addled. And Survivor does have more than its fair share of bullies (Rocky, Colton and Alecia, Dan and Will, Scot and Jason). And Judd definitely, by far, tried to intimidate and browbeat people. But he was simply too damn ridiculous, man, to make anybody feel genuinely threatened. I mean, Margaret used the word “bully” during the AYE-DEE-DEE tribal council, but next time you see the clip, just look at her expression. She’s exasperated and a bit desperate (she’s minutes away from being voted out), but she’s not afraid of Judd at all. Obviously I would rescind my defense of Judd if I knew that anybody in the Guatemala cast genuinely felt bullied in the way that Anthony, Cha-Cha, and Shirin felt bullied, but as far as I know that isn’t the case.
He had no idea how to play Survivor
Judd was certainly not a great Survivor player, but my contention is that he was an all-time great Survivor character. He was arguably second only to Tocantins Coach in terms of unintentional comedy (and if Judd were brought back — which casting absolutely should not do — I don’t think he would obnoxiously lean into his persona the way Coach did). But even as a player, Judd had some basic strategic abilities, won challenges, and certainly played the game relatively hard.
At the tribe swap, he jumped ship to the Stephenie LaGrossa fan club (Stephenie, Rafe, Jamie, Lydia, and eventually Cindy), creating a majority alliance that would stay solid through the merge and to the end game — until Danni split open its cracks. In fact, you could argue he played the game too hard, and that he could have placed even higher than sixth if he had just ridden his alliance’s coattails.
For one thing, while his lie about the HII clue didn’t burn him immediately, it made him untrustworthy in the eyes of his alliance-mates. For another, he won the loved ones visit (a mistake that has taken down many a beloved Survivor player, such as Brenda), thus leaving people back at camp unsupervised and primed to be turned by Danni. And who knows? If Judd had Mike Hollowayed the last few immunity challenges and was in an F2 with, say, Lydia or Stephenie, maybe he wins given the composition of the jury; there have been unlikelier winners.
Judd was quite simply one of the most entertaining Survivors ever. As my closing argument, let me just list some Judd quotes. Each is a Hall of Fame Survivor moment, even out of context and without explanation. That’s pretty good for a one-time player on a mostly forgotten season from 12 years ago.
- “(Howler monkeys are)…the most annoyingest noise I ever heard in my life.”
- “I mean it’s not like we’re being bad sportsmanships at all, we just go out there and give it 120 damn percent man, whatever it takes we’ll give, and that’s what I did today and everybody ate good so no matter what I do I’m givin’ it my damn all, man.”
- “Cindy, do I listen to everybody? Okay, Rafe, do I listen to everybody?”
- “When I first walked into camp, Margaret’s telling me that I have Aaaaay Deeee Deeee. That’s how you approach me? That’s what you like to say? She comes to camp… You have Aaaaay Deeee Deeee. Do you know dat? When you first meet somebody, is that something nice to say? Is that a compliment? I have Aaaaay Deeee Deeee?”
- “That thing is definitely, by far, on the ground.”
- “I’ve never told a damn lie in this game, man.” (Gary Hawkins calls him on the HII clue lie) “Okay, okay, you caught me, man. I told one lie. I told one lie, man. I told you, I’m a bad damn liar, man. A bad damn liar.”
- Not a quote, but the entire pecking-order food reward that Judd won is comedy gold.
- “Bye, guys. Hope you all get bit by a freakin’ crocodile. Scumbags.
Favorite seasons: Pearl Islands, China, Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains, Philippines, Cagayan, Cambodia
Favorite players: Yul Kwon, Denise Stapley, Cirie Fields, Tony Vlachos, Judd Sergeant, Benjamin Wade (Tocantins and HvV only), Brenda Lowe (fight me!)