Survivor Fan Friction – Natalie Anderson

Introducing our latest series of essays where one of our columnists writes an ode to one of their favourite 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. Starting things off is Kemper Boyd on her favourite player from a season she says is better than some (like us) give it credit for.

Why She’s Great

There are a lot of reasons to love Natalie Anderson. One of the big reasons for me is how unusual it is to see a big, brassy woman win Survivor. The only other woman with the level of outspokenness to win Survivor is the Queen herself Sandra Diaz-Twine. It’s truly something to see a loud, over the top, quite-aggressive woman play the game.

The main reason to love Natalie Anderson is her unwavering need for revenge. Her entire game is set up on the theory of revenge. When her twin sister is voted out first for no reason other than their Amazing Race appearances, the revenge game is born. Nadiya is Survivor’s woman in the refrigerator; her untimely demise motivates her sister to go on and win the whole damn thing. Then, the closest bond Natalie makes in the game (with Jeremy) is severed by her own alliance acting behind her back and that sets Natalie on a mission.

I personally enjoy seeing a complex female character on TV. I like seeing women of colour who do not fit the stereotypes of their ethnicity. Natalie Anderson is a loud personality, she’s athletic as hell and she isn’t your stereotypical South Asian book nerd. Natalie Anderson is her own person and she isn’t particularly bothered what anyone else thinks about it. That is the kind of woman I want to be.

Do you like interesting personalities? Do you like fun as fuck moves? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you should like Natalie Anderson.

Haters Gonna Hate

She only started playing late in the game

Some critics of Natalie say she didn’t start playing until after the merge and this is true if you think getting into a good alliance and sticking with it isn’t playing. Of course, getting into a power alliance and staying safe within it is a good strategy. We often talk about not playing a post merge game in the pre-merge, but you shouldn’t play the end game at Final 10 either. Natalie Anderson’s timing was impeccable. She stuck with people she hated in the context of the game and she did so because it was better for her. And when the time came, she slit their throats.

I don’t like big moves

You don’t like big moves? What is wrong with you!? Big moves are fun moves and Natalie Anderson is a purveyor of big fun moves. I myself have criticised players for wanting to make big-moves-for-big-moves-sake, but blindsiding Jon Misch was a huge move and it was perfectly timed. Blindsiding Baylor and Missy was a huge move that put her in every possible final 3 configuration (if you think Keith would have got rid of Natalie over Missy, you are crazy).

If you don’t like big moves maybe you like small moves. Natalie also made one of the best small moves in Survivor history — the anti-Tyson if you will. When faced with her alliance splitting the vote and keeping hold of Alec, who could be a pawn for her mortal enemy and alliance-mate Jon Misch, she flipped her vote from Keith. Keeping Keith allowed her to blindside Jon at the next tribal council and then have someone around at final 4 who was a much bigger threat than her to win. So yeah, she has small moves in her bag of tricks.

San Juan del Sur sucked and all the players were idiots

To me SJDS is an underrated season of Survivor. There are a lot of fun episodes, including the Drewchebag boot, which is one of the better pre-merge episodes of Survivor there is.

Now are the cast idiots? Yes, a good number of them are. Does that make her win less impressive? No. Jeremy Collins has said playing with returnees was much easier for him because they are more easy to predict. Idiots are wild and unpredictable and that can get in the way of a good plan. You just have to look at Reed’s boot episode to see what playing with idiots can do to derail an excellent plan. Keith — one of the most famous Survivor idiots — blew up Reed’s plan with a single famous line. So what did Natalie do when it came time to use Keith to get rid of Jon? She explained it in detail to him, she managed his expectations, and she told him how to act and what to say. Natalie Anderson played idiot-wrangler and it won her the game.

There are more decent players on SJDS than people remember: Missy played a very good strategic game, she just mismanaged her social relationships. Jeremy and Josh were players who people respected and trusted. Jaclyn was a better reader of the game than her boyfriend Jon — it was Jaclyn who worried about Natalie’s loyalty.

She’s annoying

I am an avid watcher of The Amazing Race and I was never a fan of the Twinnies; they are a lot to take when they are together on screen. I was worried when they were cast on Survivor that I would be overwhelmed by their energy again, but I was happily surprised to find that each of them onscreen on their own were interesting and compelling in their own right. Natalie benefits massively from being alone without her support system in SJDS because her support system magnifies her quirks to the point of annoying. And for this Brit, hearing the word “bloody” used so liberally on an American TV show was delightful.

Embrace Debate

In summation, Natalie Anderson is a baller. She has impeccable timing, a top draw social game that meant everyone playing loved her and she had big moves coming out the wazoo. Natalie Anderson straight up balled out; she balled out yo. And when it comes down to it, how can you not love a strong, social, athletic, loud-mouthed woman destroying the competition on Survivor? I know I can’t.

Kemper Boyd
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Kemper Boyd

Kemper Boyd became a fan of Survivor after watching Cook Islands because of all the press about the theme, she managed to watch every season by the start of Fiji and has been watching and rewatching ever since. Oh and she's super British so that explains the extra U's in words.

Favourite seasons: HvV, Pearl Islands, Cook Islands, Micronesia, SJDS

Favourite players: Sandra, Kim, Courtney, Parvati, Yul, Nat Anderson
Kemper Boyd
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138 thoughts on “Survivor Fan Friction – Natalie Anderson

          1. I know people like to hate on Reed, but it’s pretty nuts that he nearly brought his alliance back into the majority between this plan and the Jeremy boot.

          2. In the scenario where Reed makes it to the end, he’s probably sitting next to Jon and Jaclyn.

          3. What would have happened if Reed was in the final three and Missy is on the jury? What kind of question does she ask him?

          4. I was just wondering, in this alternate universe, if Missy would have made a Reed-type speech about Reed. Or in this mirror universe (where Reed has grown a moustache and goatee by day 39), will she make a completely opposite speech than Reed’s praising him as a person?

          5. Had he pulled that off we’d be commenting on a Reed Kelly Fan Friction article. We’d laud him for his ability to flip the game. But alas, he wasn’t quite sharp enough to keep Keith in line. And who sniffed the play and got Jon to play his idol despite hating Jon because it was still better for her game?? NATALIE FUCKING ANDERSON

          6. Nat didn’t do it because it was better for her game, she did it because she didn’t want someone else to be the one to get Jon’s blood on their hands. Which, let’s be honest, makes it better. The cool thing about Nat’s game is that she perfectly balanced building a winning endgame with carrying out her revenge quest.

          7. This is true but it was also about her knowing how she could go deep and who she could go deep with.

  1. I heartily enjoyed SJDS, chiefly because Natalie was so awesome. But also because of Alec’s mouth-breathing, and Keith gonna Keith. About as enjoyably dim-witted as a season could be.

  2. Probably the most underrated winner of all time! She was great in that season, her arc after the merge pretty much elevated the season from being a bottom 5 one to a bottom 10-15 one.

  3. I love Natalie Anderson. One of my favorite players ever. She single handedly makes SJDS watchable. She is such an entertaining character and smart player. She excuted a really great resume building game. She is already in a good spot and could basically coast to the end but does so many fantastic little/big moves to be able to claim ownership of and destroy any competition. Also, “Jaclyn, did you vote for who I told you to” is one of the greatest lines in Survivor history. I’m here all day for Natalie love because that queen deserves it. Keep slaying.

    I do really like this series idea and am hoping a certain someone gets their time to shine.

    1. I also hope that robbed goddess gets her time to shine. Hopefully she comes back for a returnee season because I would enjoy a second season of Aubry.

      1. Fuck outta here with that shade. While more Aubry Talk would be great, that’s not who I was referring to.

  4. Counterpoint: your own favorite players list doesn’t have Natalie. You’re feeding us lies here, B.

    That out of the way, is this really a controversial choice? Even as someone who doesn’t like SJDS and thinks her game doesn’t show up until the last two episodes, she’s still clearly a good player. Is there really a large anti-Natalie contingency out there?

    1. Counterpoint: your own favorite players list doesn’t have Natalie. You’re feeding us lies here, B.

      Alkanarra coming thru with them RECEIPTS!

      However, the way I understand this is that there needs to be a point-counterpoint dynamic in the piece, and you definitely get more of that with Natalie than with anyone in Kemper’s list.

    2. I put Yul in because it was all vagina and I felt the need to add some masculine diversity.

  5. I am also a big SJDS fan. I was really confused even at the time of airing by the criticism. I kind of get now why some people don’t like it, but it was such a fascinating season in its unpredictability and Nat A was a big part of that. She is like some kind of combination of Rob C and Sandra’s models of play/stories – flipping seamlessly between alliances, being quite loyal to a couple of people, and being entertaining as hell, while completing a revenge story, and it is amazing. Even for someone who was going for Jon at the time (as I have been mentioned before, I’m often quite shallow in who I root for)

    I look forward to this series, especially the full on trolling I expect in some of these posts

    1. The trolling capacity is too great to ignore. Natalie A is the standard fastball they’re throwing out right before the curveball that will be tomorrow’s Bobby Jon post.

      1. In all seriousness, Bobby Jon doesn’t get enough credit. I think he was very instrumental in both seasons he was on, especially Guatemala.

        1. Absolutely, he ended up on the wrong side of numbers both times. The fact that he was one of the last 2 Ulongs says a lot though

      2. I’m more expecting head-on troll jobs (by certain staff members especially) going after good players who are quite hated in corners of the Survivor community (I’m thinking like, Zeke or Spencer or someone like that)

        1. Either way, there’s no chance someone doesn’t do a Rupert article. He’s basically the poster child of this whole thing.

    2. It’s too bad the Nicaragua re-watch knocked down all but one of my defenses of Brenda.

  6. Natalie played a great game. My enjoyment of SJDS was somewhat marred at the time by the grating interpersonal conflicts, but I think I’d enjoy it a lot more on a rewatch knowing that the irritating squabblers don’t win.

      1. IIRC a lot of the displeasure about SJDS when it was airing was that it seemed very likely that we were going to get an appalling winner.

  7. Has anyone made mention of the snazzy logo for Fan Friction and the shot of what are clearly random audience members who have never played Survivor? Because, it’s quite good.

    1. OHHH! I just understood what the shot was! To be fair, probably a lot of people probably would’ve missed this too.

    2. Thanks for catching that. Unfortunately we have to ditch it since there are going to be a lot of these posts and we can’t have a dozen posts in a row with the same featured image. But the original image definitely captured the “angry Survivor fan” vibe.

    3. Are we sure some of them are not Survivors? The guy with the long hair and beard – isn’t that Matt Bischoff?

  8. Great write-up. I do think that she is rarely put outside of top 10 from what I’ve seen, and is for sure most of the times put in the top 3 out of female winners, but that doesn’t mean the praise is at all unwarranted, and I agree with you that San Juan Del Sur is an underrated season here.

    Ashley Underwood, we’re forever grateful for what you’ve brought to the game. We are not worthy of the joy you bring us.

    1. The real dismissal of Natalie comes in the perception of her season, and the fact that she faced a group that she played against multiple people that were Drew Christy-esque, including Drew Christy. It’s the same criticism that Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin receives.

      1. Even then, Natalie never gets the same amount of credit as Kim for some reason. One other great thing about Natalie is that she never gets a vote casted against her and the three votes that weren’t for her at FTC were either a loved one of a FTC contestant or someone trying to ensure that there was a division between second and third place. That’s bonkers considering how many ballsy moves Natalie makes, especially in the finale. Kemper and I have talked about how stellar Natalie’s opening statement is during FTC because she’s right-they were idiots to even think about taking her to the end.

        1. It’s because Kim had complete control throughout and Nat played lieutenant then took control late on.

  9. Fixed:

    “…but you shouldn’t play the end game at Final 10 either, Zeke.”

  10. This is awesome, well down Kemper Boyd! I can’t wait for all of these!

    Unfortunately, I haven’t seen SJDS yet, so i’ve skimmed on some of this for the sake of leaving a bit of mystery for watching the season. BUT, you have inspired me to rearrange some of how i’m going to view things. I’m still planning on watching through All-Stars straight, but then I was gonna try and knock out some of the 21-24 seasons. Now i’m thinking i’ll intersperse those with SJDS and maybe another season or two, to give a few bright spots between the run of four that is often considered the worse of Survivor slumps.

    So, maybe in the next year or so i’ll bump the shit out of this topic with some thoughts, lol

    1. San Juan Del Sur probably is a good one to watch earlier, because even though it isn’t that well liked we do talk about it a decent amount here.

        1. lol, i get that. I’ve talked a lot more about Abi Maria (particularly with @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus) then I thought I would when joining the site, heh.

          1. I’ll never admit she’s wonderful, but i’ll always admit she’s fascinating! I like her only from the distance of my television screen, heh

          2. WAIT, are you going to do a Survivor Fan Fiction about why Abi is wonderful? Did I just crack the code?

          3. Oh, that’s one I’d be interested in!

            (And not only because it would allow me to use Abi butt gifs. But also because of that.)

          4. Well Barbara and I have discussed her so thoroughly and with so much detail, you could practically just screen cap all our back-and-forth in the comments, lol

      1. Yeah, i figured that out. Unfortunately, the way things have shaken out, i’m not likely to get to it before at least 2-3 more other seasons.

        When I first set out to watch beyond the most current, I was trying to watch seasons my boyfriend had already seen, and I was limited based on what Hulu had available. Since, we have gotten CBS All Access for live-streaming purposes, and he has fallen off watching Survivor in the off-season. But as a result, i’m at the point that i’ve only got 2 seasons after Philippines (26 & 29) left, and I’m trying to watch them strategically to give me a reprieve from the post HvV slump (21-24) and some of the early seasons.

  11. Devil’s advocate: I’m a huge Natalie fan, but… it is kind of a knock against her that she went dormant for a while. In her walkthrough with Rob she flat out admitted she was just kind of riding with Jeremy from the swap through where he got voted out. That ended up serving her well, because it made her seem less threatening to Jon and Jaclyn, but, if Jeremy doesn’t get voted out, there’s a solid chance she’s sitting next to him at the end and gets completely Troyzan’ed.

    1. I think she has the killer instinct to cut him when she needs to, but it’s definitely an unknown.
      I also don’t know that she would ever Troyzan’ed, as I’m guessing she picks up some votes from Missy/Baylor/Keith with or without Jeremy.

      1. I was gonna amend to say the two things she did in that period were make bonds with Baylor and Julie (not that the latter paid off). I think Baylor votes for her and maybe Missy as well because of that.

        As for Keith? If Jeremy gets to the end Keith is voting for the firefighter.

        1. Ah, that’s a good point. I forget that Keith respects Jeremy a lot more than Jeremy respects Keith.

        2. Keith isn’t voting for a woman if a man is up there. I’m sorry but that’s true, I think he’d have voted for Alec if the other two were Nat and Missy.

        3. her bond with Baylor is what allows her to blindside Jon, using Baylor against her mother to get Missy onside was genius. Also she finds an idol with Baylor and then uses it against her, it’s stone cold but you know if Missy weren’t F3 Nat gets her vote.

          1. Yeah, but if she doesn’t end up needing to blindside Jon having Baylor is a number is kind of “okay, you had Baylor as a number.” That jury wasn’t particularly impressed with Baylor.

          2. Those bonds aren’t about what the jury thinks they are about what they help you do and Baylor helped Natalie win.

      2. Also, please tell me they tapped you to do Sophie?

        And if they didn’t, hey guys, Max_Jets for Sophie.

          1. Dude, I wrote this in 10 minutes flat. I was intimidated too the first time but this community is the best so you’ll be safe to write what you think. We’ll tear it apart in a very friendly manner if we need to. DO IT>

          2. So, are you saying I should pitch writing a glorious and excessive ode to the beauty and joy of Michaela-BAE, she who shall not be contained, Sweet Tea-Bradshaw?

          3. Yes.

            My preference would be that people write posts defending players that aren’t universally beloved, but there will be posts for a few universally beloved players. If Other Scott wanted to write about Woo or Jon Misch, I would be 100% on board with that.

            Some examples of players that I think fit the description: Spencer, Shirin (I won’t be writing about Shirin, I’ve been pretty clear about where I stand on that one), Rupert, Amanda, Colby, Russell, etc. Please don’t pitch me on “Fuck all the haters, Courtney Yates is amazing”, because there are no haters of Courtney Yates. She is a treasure.

          4. Lol. Yeah, Michaela is also very recent, so we have pretty thoroughly explored the pros and cons of her two games, particularly as she was one of the best highlights of GC.

            I’d love to contribute, but for the majority of those you named, I haven’t seen or have only partially seen their seasons. Plus, I’ve still got a little more than half the seasons to go, so i’m not exactly the most informed of content creators…

          5. Yes, but you’re going through some older seasons. So if anyone stands out as someone you enjoy, and that player is rarely discussed (or often criticized), I’d be interested in what you have to say about him/her.

          6. Hmmm, okay. I’ll have to think about it. Not having seen All-Stars is maybe the most limiting factor, but i’ll probably have that done in a few weeks, heh.

          7. Writing a post? Reach out via gmail: purplerockpodcast or Twitter: purplerockpod. Note: Feel free to use a dummy email address or Twitter account. I like allowing people to maintain privacy.

          8. I feel like the defense post has been written on Amanda considering how I got blasted (in the nicest way possible) by certain staffers over downplaying her game on this very website.

          9. While everyone knows that is a legendary-tier character, it would be interesting to have an entry of Courtney as a player. Personally, while I don’t find her a great player, I do think she may be a bit underrated, and if she comes back, she has a chance of going Tyson tregactory: doesn’t really care about winning the first time, more willing to play the second time but is cut short, and is underestimated the third time and goes on Kim-esque or NatAnd-esque play. (a man can dream, right?)

          10. Sandra and Earl don’t really have any haters (at least around here). I’d be most interested in seeing the one about Mike.

          1. Im currently working on a different project for them, plus I have Aussie Survivor coverage on the horizon.

            Otherwise I would totally do this.

          2. I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared for the required investment in AUS Survivor, which for me only consists of watching and reading your recaps. I can’t imagine how you feel right now

          1. Millennials don’t use semicolons grandpa, it’s TLDNR

            *hoverboards away at 5 mph*

  12. This is wonderful, Kemper. Count me also as someone who was not at all sure I could handle anymore of the Twinnies, egads, the yelling! But never has someone benefited more from having to go it alone. Natalie was my favorite kind of player and narrator for the season, and frankly, after Jeremy was gone, the only hope I had left to cling to. Hurrah for your words and for chosing someone so worthy.

  13. I’m late to the party, but great post, great analysis, and great winner. I wasn’t a huge fan of SJDS at the time, but I always enjoyed her moves, and I’ve come to appreciate it more with time.

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