Survivor Fan Friction – Kelley Wentworth

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 Taako from Teevhii on the best Survivor Kelley.

Why She’s Great

Reality competition shows live and die by their casting archetypes. These productions bring in people who can fill a role, specifically one that the audience can recognize and relate to. A commonly-used archetype would be the young, athletic blonde. With the exception of shows like The Bachelor (where young, athletic blondes compose the entire cast), these players often advance far in the game but frequently fall short of winning it all. There are still players from this mould that break through, dominating the competition and winning the hearts and minds of a fanbase with exemplary gameplay. Survivor had one such player a few years back. Her name was Kim Spradlin.

Yes, I could put Wentworth’s name there, and the intro would still work. But as John would tell you, it’s never the wrong time to praise Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin. I don’t need to tell you why she’s great. She’s a Survivor Hall of Famer, and y’all voted her the best winner in the show’s history just a while back. That Yul guy she beat in the bracket wasn’t bad either. They’re both fantastic players that have something in common (besides presiding over the pantheon of Greatest To Ever Play). It’s nothing stats-based, and you can’t find it in the wiki. It’s purely based on intangibles; ya know, the things the scouts use to separate the complete players from the merely toolsy. And while that sounds sporty, trust that we’re about to nerd out hardcore. The thing that Kim and Yul have in common is that they embody the best qualities of each of the Hogwarts Houses. I can’t (or won’t) cite a source here, but I’m sure the PRP commentariat will back me up on that. Moreover, I’m sure they’ll agree that few Survivor players can be viewed the same way. Anyway, the claim here is that Wentworth represents all four houses as well. Kim and Yul are the greatest; Kim, Yul, and Wentworth are Slyvenhuffindors (sp?); ipso facto, Wentworth is also the greatest.

Now, if you haven’t read any of the Harry Potter series, get your life in order here’s the quick and dirty on Hogwarts houses. In Year 1 at the school, students put on a magic hat that peers into their souls and assigns them to a tribe who they will live with for the next seven years. Gryffindor is for the brave, Ravenclaw is for the smart, Slytherin is for the douchebags cunning, and Hufflepuff is for (and I’m literally quoting here) “the rest.” But to break it down further, the Sorting Hat elaborates on the specific qualities that distinguish each house and it can do that because it sings a song every year but, like, also I told you it was a magic hat, talking is probably the least impressive thing it could do.

Gryffindors are set apart by their daring and nerve. That sounds like someone who is willing to make big moves. While Wentworth’s ally Ciera played a large role in founding the Big Movez™ culture, Wentworth made some of the biggest moves in a season defined by them. She’s a player to be sure, and like a true Gryffindor, she stared down every challenge and every opponent without flinching. Also, her Twitter is a delight (that’s @kelleywentworth, go follow her), and you should look at it if you think she doesn’t have nerve.

Ravenclaws are known for their intelligence and wit. First, Wentworth’s got wit (again, that’s @kelleywentworth). The girl can give a confessional. Fishbach makes a living literally narrating Survivor, and she did laps around him as the narrator for Cambodia. For intelligence, you can watch any episode from her seasons and tell how smart she is (yes, even the San Juan Del Sur ones that she’s not in. Compare her to Jon Misch). It may also be worth pointing out that she was targeted across the span of two seasons for being too big of a strategic threat.

Hufflepuffs are defined by their work ethic and patience. Her SJDS bio cited her work ethic as her proudest accomplishment, and her constant maneuvering from an underdog position to Final Four in Cambodia reflects that. As far as patience goes, she spent half of the game in an alliance with Abi.

Slytherins are known for their cunning and craftiness. So let’s start by pointing out that this is the woman who gave us “Sneaky Sneaky!” But to spell it out, she grabs not one but two idols out from under her tribemates’ noses; she plays off of her opponents’ discord to advance far into the game; and she’s willing to dump an ally (i.e. Kass) when the need arises. She’s a Slytherin in all the best ways.

Haters Gonna Hate

Viewers of Survivor should plainly and simply be able to appreciate Wentworth just by watching her play. As a player and as a person, Wentworth has been one of the best castaways in recent seasons. Yet Wentworth hate still exists out in the wild. To find some specimens of the Kelleydae hateraeinae, I ventured out into r/Survivor and entered the search term “Wentworth.” (Editor’s note: should’ve also search K***** W*******, which is totally a thing because children are silly).

Wentworth tries too hard. Her confessionals felt so unnatural

God, I know right? It’s honestly so dumb when people who went through an extensive, rigorous casting process and left their jobs for two months are, like, playing up to the camera. Can’t you just act normal? What, just because you got on the show, you need screen time now too? Some people, man.

Her pleas to not be considered a “wasted spot” felt so contrived

Well, maybe we can back up a little bit and remember that large portions of the fanbase claimed that Wentworth did nothing in SJDS, didn’t deserve her spot in Cambodia, and robbed T-Bird of a spot by being cast. So yup, this spot of tension was totally contrived.

The story of her second chance turnaround falls completely flat because there’s such little personal attachment to it

Wentworth’s story centers on a superfan striving to finally succeed at a game she loves. Yeah, it’s not the most compelling story, but it’s not like Keith and Joe were playing for orphaned Syrian refugees. Are Wentworth’s motivations too gamebotty or something? What would it take for Wentworth to be personally attached to her own story? Would Monsanto have to swipe Dale’s farm out from under him? Or would it have sufficed to adopt a “Spencer-bot Learns To Feel”-type storyline?

I found Wentworth kind of annoying and equally as arrogant as Spencer was in Cagayan; Spencer was at least funny

Yup, the best castaways are humble. Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, boy, wouldn’t you like to watch them play Survivor? And I mean, all the best Survivor players were humble. Sandra who? Plus, if you found Wentworth annoying and unfunny, well, that’s on you.

Wentworth has 0 chance at being in the Funny 115

I don’t understand the reference, and I won’t respond to it. Is that supposed to be a bad thing?


Well to start, I think y’all know how you should feel about vanilla. But point taken, you might think that Wentworth is boring. You might think that she didn’t make an idol play that turned the game on its head.

Didn’t Ethan Hunt a Hidden Immunity Idol out from under the shelter, that’s for sure. And definitely didn’t have the decency to provide an even adequate confessional for a voiceover.

And it’s not like she set in motion THE MOST HISTORIC



Psh, as if.

I have a hard time appreciating anybody who needs an idol to stay in the game

This one is almost too stupid to validate with a response, but I’ll do it anyway. Know who else would’ve been eliminated if not for idols? Yau-Man, Amanda, Russell Hantz, Parvati, Penner, Malcolm, Mike, and Jeremy. I mean, people just tell me these players are good though, I can’t really tell because they needed an idol to stay in the game.

This last one is one that no one would ever say aloud

But I believe it plays a role in the Wentworth hate. I won’t say what it is explicitly, but I have a feeling that if you can’t tell why some people might be instinctively inclined to dislike Wentworth, this might apply to you. I’m not pointing fingers. But I’m sure there are people who disliked Wentworth (who found idols, won challenges, and played off of a fractured opposition to reach the finale) and really liked Jay (who found idols, won challenges, and played off of a fractured opposition to reach the finale). And then maybe the problem doesn’t lie with Wentworth.

Embrace Debate

Listen, I know you’re thinking it. I can hear you saying that I’ve cherry picked and excluded San Juan del Sur to make Wentworth look better than her entire Survivor career would indicate. But just because Neville Longbottom was a doofus in the first few books doesn’t mean that he’s not a badass by the end of the series. And to be clear, that’s not saying that SJDS Wentworth is a doofus; she was targeted and booted early because her greatness was palpable. The Drewchebag Episode shows it (and by the way, y’all wouldn’t get that cinematic masterpiece without Wentworth). Cambodia displays her greatness in its full glory, and her game in Cambodia is worthy of recognition on its own. But then we made a way to equate her to Kim and Yul. She’s a complete Survivor player. I mean, what more could you ask for? But of course, some people will remain unconvinced. And to those people, I leave this quote from Queen Kelley herself:

Those people who truly “hate” me for whatever f*cking reason aren’t going to change their mind. Those people I just don’t give a shit about. Because hating someone you have never met who is on a nationally televised reality show, shows more about your character than mine.