People’s Survivor Blog- Failing upward

We’re coming up on an overstuffed finale, and I’m here to remind you how all these failures made it to the end of the season.

John is a nerd on the internet who has never been on Survivor, but has been podcasting about Survivor since 2013. This season, in The People’s Survivor blog, he will blog about his experiences as a Survivor viewer. Follow John on Twitter @purplerockjohn.

“In this game, you’ve got to make big moves.” – Michele Fitzgerald

It’s been a long season, and we’re entering the finale with these players having a one in six shot at a million dollars*. Let’s take a look back at how each of them got here, and built their résumés of failure.

(*In the same way the Cleveland Browns have a 1-in-32 shot of winning the Super Bowl.)


Bret followed a sexy, drunken path of failure to the final six. He started out on top, but since the swap he’s mostly had to play from the bottom. And he’s been surprisingly good at it, consistently convincing power players that he was with them even after they voted out his strongest allies. He’s a sort of “power bottom”, if you will.

“We see what you did there.”

Oh, and also one time he showed his powerful bottom on the teevee during a really fucking weird challenge.


I would list all of Hannah’s failures on Survivor here, but this blog is intended to be some light bathroom reading, not War and Peace. Here are some things Hannah is not good at on Survivor:

1. Physical activity

“Hannah, stop being fucking garbage at this! Love you, tho.”

2. Choosing others who will be good at physical activity

Hannah drafted a team for a challenge. The challenge required physical strength and an ability to throw well. She chose Adam, Jay, Jessica, Will, and Zeke. Total combined weight of that team: 75 lbs. The fucking Purple Rock staff could beat that team in a challenge.

Ok, maybe that’s going too far.

3. Voting in a timely manner

“Ok, Hannah. You can do this. Be incompetent enough to get screen time.”

4. Giving credit where credit is due

Adam plays an immunity idol on Hannah at tribal council. Then, the next day…

Adam: We should vote out Will.

Hannah: Are you sure? He’s the reason I’m still in the game.

Adam: That perceptiveness and social skill is why I am definitely taking you to final tribal council.


He started out as the photogenic “after” to David’s “before”, body-shaming David and everyone else around him simply by existing.

Ken is the impossibly attractive person that you meet through a dating app, and as you exchange initial greetings your inner monologue is thinking, “Holy shit! Jackpot! How is this person single? Am I being punked?” Then, six minutes later, he wants to tell you all about this really amazing book he read by Ayn Rand, and it suddenly becomes clear.

Sweet, beautiful Ken has been all about lifting others up this season. He checks in on David to make sure he’s feeling ok. He allows Hannah to sit and watch a sunrise next to one of the hottest people she’ll ever meet. He teaches Will a life lesson about how the safest of bets is assuming that anyone playing Survivor is probably insane. And he teaches the kids in the audience that spelling isn’t important if you look really, really good.

Remember when Morgan was on Cagayan, and her whole storyline was that she was lazy, but people didn’t care because

Well, objectification has come full circle:

(I hope you all were alone for those.)


Wait, actually, before we move on to Adam can we just get one more Ken pic in here?

That’s the stuff.

Adam, any thoughts on Ken?

Yeah, I think a lot of people felt the same way.

Adam managed to get to the finale despite deciding to make Taylor his goat on like day 12, a process that involved voting out Taylor’s Survivor girlfriend and then repeatedly and awkwardly apologizing to him about it. Because it was Adam’s fault Taylor was now screwed. Adam’s fault. The fault lied with Adam, is what he was saying. If Taylor’s game was Nancy Kerrigan, Adam was Tonya Harding. If Taylor’s dreams of winning Survivor were a man convinced he was a Kinsey zero, Adam was shirtless Ken.

(You get the point? Are you sure? Just in case, I’m going to do a few more.)

If Taylor’s game was Rachel hoping to end up with someone desirable, Adam was Ross. If Taylor’s game was a woman of color, Adam was the first seven votes of this season.

Anyway, Taylor rewarded those efforts by blowing up Adam’s spot in the middle of tribal council and sending the Adam fandom bandwagon careening into a ditch full of Porta-Potties, where it burst into flames. Fortunately for Adam, Hannah came along and started chewing some tin cans after the Taylor vote. Adam was so excited he could hardly contain himself.

“I got yer immunity idol *right here*, Probst!”


David came into this game as a writer for the wildly successful TV show Family Guy,  and his incredible growth from awkward ball of anxiety into legitimate threat to win reminds me of the sort of crisp, tight plotting and character development his TV show is known for.

Perhaps his biggest failure in the game was when he played his immunity idol for Jessica. He was rightly ridiculed for this move by Survivor podcasters and bloggers and Redditors and Twitterers. Not us, though. We were idiots who failed to see that Survivor is a game that can only be played one way, regardless of who you are as a player. What fools we were! But miraculously, he survived this terrible decision and went on to become one of the power players of the season along with diminutive gay man Zeke. Sure, this may not have been the ideal outcome for some of the show’s more conservative viewers, but enlightened folks like me had been rooting for the Harvard grad who works in finance and the highly-paid head writer of a cash cow TV show.

Viva the 1%! Crush the proletariat’s foolish dreams of winning money!


Jay is from Florida, so that’s his first mistake. He was presumably cast to be the comic relief dummy that skates by for a while before being voted out as a potential challenge threat. And he has failed miserably at fulfilling that potential. Instead, he somehow turned out to be a stone-cold killer, blindsiding Michaela and delivering one of the best episodes Survivor has had in years.

It was so great, you guys.
So. Fucking. Great.

Then, he fell into an alliance that was willing to take him to the final five right up until they weren’t. And he wasn’t targeted even before people knew he had an idol, despite being a legitimate challenge threat (as much as one can be when the challenges are “Hey, stand over there and hold this for a while”). He managed to keep the idol in his pocket even when there was a chance he’d be targeted, because he was getting legitimate and reliable intel from Sunday. Sunday! SUNDAY!

But now that his idol has been wasted, he’s likely going to be targeted as soon as he isn’t immune. Which means that he’ll be earning at least $900k less in weed money. And I’m surprisingly as disappointed about this as his dealer is.

Jay imitates his dealer hearing the news