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October 13, 2015

Everyone Loves the 'Survivor' Guys

by Stephanie Earp, posted May 18th 2010 2:45PM
On the 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' reunion show on Sunday, Jeff Probst showed a composite photo of what a 'Survivor' winner looks like, meant to show that the show's winners are a diverse bunch -- old, young, male, female, white, black, Latino, mean, nice, crazy and sane.

The winners, maybe. But the fan favorites are a different story. What Russell Hantz said on the reunion show is true: if America chose the winners, that composite photo would likely be wearing a fedora and a tie-dyed tank top.

When it comes to the most popular players on 'Survivor', there is definitely a type. They are straight-talkers who like to tell the other players exactly what they plan to do. They have a strict code, whether it's all-about-me or do-unto-others. They are usually very talkative and end up functioning as narrators of the show through their interviews.

And oh yeah, they are men.

In fact, other than a tendency to run their mouths, it's about the only thing they have in common.

Ever since 'Survivor' made it official and started giving a $100,000 prize to the favorite players, the winners have included James Clement (twice), Bob Crowley, J.T Thomas, and now Russell Hantz twice. During the 'All-Stars' season, Rupert Boneham won a million dollars after 80 percent of voters named him their favourite player. The only female player to get an audience vote was Cirie Fields. She and Ozzy Lusth both got cars for their trouble. Clearly there are fan favorites who never won a special prize -- but they're guys too, like Tom Westman (winner), Rob Mariano (second place) and Colby Donaldson (second place).

That's not to say the 'Survivor' hasn't spawned some very interesting women who have captured the public's attention. Jerri Manthey was the devil in a blue bikini, Jenna Morasca and Heidi Strobel famously doffed their clothes for reward (and later a Playboy spread), and Amber Brkich ran the board with Rob Mariano at her side and has now produced the first 'Survivor' baby (who is likely already signed up for season 44 of the show).

I think Parvati Shallow (what a last name!) can be added to the list of beautiful women who have played 'Survivor' well and struck some kind of chord with the general public, but as well-known and well-liked as these women are, it can't compare to the fan devotion heaped on their male counterparts. People talk about them, maybe even admit they think they could or should win, but they don't root for them they way they root for the guys. And they certainly aren't admired the way Tom, Rupert and even Russell are. Only Stephenie LaGrossa has come close to getting the same kind of mad respect as Rupert, but her early departure on 'Heroes vs. Villains' probably means she's on her way to the dustbin of our reality-TV memories.

The obvious question is why. Why do the fans like the men better? Is it blatant sexism? Is it a facet of the game, which rewards more talkative guys and quieter women? And if it is the game, then it comes down to the players -- are the players sexist? Some of them clearly are, but as Probst pointed out on Sunday, the gender balance on the show is pretty much even. So maybe the women are sexist, too. I certainly can't imagine Parvati putting up with a woman who acted like Russell. Well actually, I can. Parvati's famed charm was really just the result of smiling all the time and saying nothing. But the juries have chosen female winners as often as male, and you know what they say about putting your money where your mouth is.

Is it the editing? Clearly, the producers went to a great deal of trouble to make Russell seem less insane -- Probst practically announced that on the reunion show -- but do they also edit the men I've mentioned in such a way that people like them? To what end? So that critics like me can accuse them of being sexist? And the women I've mentioned get the same amount of screen time, and they do have their fans -- just not as many, and they're not as vocal about it. I certainly never saw a Facebook status this season supporting Parvati or Sandra, for example. I'm just as bad, I admit it. I was rooting for Boston Rob. I liked the Sandra win and would have been happy with Parv too, but I never took to my Twitter account to proclaim it.

Obviously, there is only one way to resolve this and make sure the next 'Survivor' fan favorite is a woman: an all-female season of 'Survivor'.

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Outwit,Outlast,Outplay! no one said you had to have class and up to now Boston Rob has been the biggest villian and people didn't hate him.. Along comes Russel and blind-sides the ever famous Rob. WOW" does it get any better than that! We have witnessed the biggest villian of all,Russel. Got to love that guy!!!!!

May 19 2010 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Russel, what can we say! I think everyone would admit that we all tuned in to see what he would pull off next. Give the guy some slack. He may be the biggest liar ever, but then there was Robb.Oh ya! He was an arrogant idiot too!

May 19 2010 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would like to see another "2nd chance" type of survivor by bringing back all the people that were voted off FIRST.. give them a 2nd chance to redeem themselves... to be honest I can't even rememer a lot of the "first ones gone" from the 20 seasons.

May 19 2010 at 5:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jmbode's comment

It would be funny but personally disappointing for whoever got voted off first in that season

May 19 2010 at 5:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's sad to think that America honors anyone (Russel)that has so little regard for "integrity", even if it is only a game. The message sent is quite clear... doing whatever you must to get what you want is OK. Sounds a lot like what Wall street did....?

May 19 2010 at 5:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, well, well...Russel did not win. Yeah! Pavarti did not win. Yeah! Sandra won.well, well, well...If one of them had to win I'm happy it was Sandra. I know this show is edited, but J. T. was made to look like an idiot. What a shame and a good ole southern charmer at that. do wish they would have gave an update on Ethan. Praying for him to be well.

May 18 2010 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pierre-Luc Allie

CBS need to create a show for "professional" reality players and stop making All star season. This was a fun season but pretty much everybody had played with at least 1 player before. It gave an unfair advantage to Sandra who use her connection to Rupert to gain sympathy with the heroes tribe.

May 18 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Russell is not a fan favorite. CBS (for some reason) decided to dictate him last season as a master strategist, even though his means of success was he played with idiots (and ultimately beaten by one). He makes decent decisions from time to time, but will wind up trying to control every aspect of the game, and insulting everyone else.

I'm not a Rupert fan, but I realize I'm in the minority of that. But having a contest on a cellular service to choose between tweedledee and tweedledumb does not convince America's love for either of them.

May 18 2010 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

I can't stand Evil Russell. This "America should do the voting" thing that he supports may well work against him anyway. Jeff Probst said that the vote was very close between him and Rupert. That means that Rupert got almost as many votes as he did and there were many votes for other players so Russell obviously did not get the majority of the votes. He may not be so lucky if there were another season for him which I hope there is not. Lots of people despise that jerk.

He made the decision to go to final three with Sandra and Parvati thinking he'd have it made. DUMB on his part. He is a sore loser. The little troll should get over it.

Sandra is one of my faves and I'm glad she's the one who walked away with the big cash. Thanks for making that happen, Russell!

May 18 2010 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fan favorite is a stupid award, that means NOTHING in relation to the game of Survivor. It's simply a popularity contest and can easily be manipulated by gathering enough people to vote for a particular choice.

That being said, letting America have a hand in voting for a Survivor winner in an incredibly stupid idea, because America has access to certain aspects of the game (ie, confessionals...strategies) that the other game players never see. And on the flipside, there's A LOT of content we do NOT see, simply because the show is edited. This coming from a guy who is so incredibly upset and dumbfounded that he didn't win and is simply a sore loser. Had he won, this 'idea' of his would have never come forth.

Russell lost. Twice. He's needs accept it and move on.

May 18 2010 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I suspect the reason fans like male players better on average is that the high profile women players have tried to take advantage of their sexuality to last in the game with the notable exceptions of Cirie, Sandra and the aforementioned Stephanie. Everyone hates a person perceived to be "sleeping" their way to the top. The other woman flirt their way to the top or ride along on the coattails of others. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful comes to mind.

May 18 2010 at 4:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to J-Sim's comment

I agree. Not all the women but most of them use their sexuality to get ahead with the men. You dont see men having to be blurred out on Survivor, but yet every episode a woman has some part of her body blurred out because they like to wear nothing so the men keep them on...The men are more memorable. The women are looking for 15 minutes of fame...Thats why some of them go right to Playboy....

May 19 2010 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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