- Taylor Stocker (Millennials vs Gen X)
Taylor just got on my nerves. I found his showmance with Figgy to be annoying, and it takes up a lot time during the pre-merge. He also becomes a full blown villain by the merge. Taylor steals food from the merge feast, then tries to pin the blame on Adam to get him voted out.
I just didn’t find Taylor to be that interesting. He isn’t even the most enjoyable ‘surfer-dude’ on this season.
- Phillip Sheppard (Redemption Island, Caramoan)
Phillip is a very polarizing player, and as you can probably tell by how low he is on the list, I’m not a particular fan of his.
The producers want Phillip to be a joke character so badly. They try having Phillip be the delusional guy that thinks he’s a badass, so they present the idea of Phillip being a Former Federal Agent as a joke. They even give him a screeching hawk sound effect to show how out there he is. Sometimes this was funny. But most of the time, I just cringed at how hard he was trying to come off as this zany character.
The issue is when we get to “Rice Wars” easily the worst episode of Survivor that doesn’t feature someone being outed as transgender. To make a long story short; Phillip goes to the Zapatera tribe after days of not speaking to them, and demands that they share their rice. This is because the Ometepe tribe doesn’t have enough food due to mold, and Phillip dumping all their rice on the ground trying to remove said mold. When the Zapatera tribe refuses to help the people who have treated them like garbage for the past 7 days, Phillip starts screaming at them for being unreasonable. When Steve tells him to stop acting crazy, Phillip is furious for being called the N-Word.
What follows is Survivor trying to explain casual racism and microaggressions in modern America. And trust me, it is as painful to sit through as it sounds.
I would like to clarify; I think Phillip has a point. He was the only black person on the Murlonio tribe. I believe that made him feel like an outsider, and that some of his tribe members may have treated him differently because of this. Phillip is a smart guy, and I think every point he made during his speech at Tribal Council was/is valid.
My issue isn’t with Phillip, it’s how the editors choose to frame his character. See, the editors are trying to present the idea that calling Phillip crazy is a form of casual racism. There is one major problem, for the past 9 episodes the editors have done nothing but sell the audience on the idea that Philip is crazy. The result is that Phillip isn’t really acting out of character in this moment, and neither is the way people are reacting to him. So when the big moral of the story is, “Hey audience, maybe the way you’ve been viewing this character was racist, and you shouldn’t judge people so quickly”, the episode goes from bad, to Fuck You.
As a storyteller, you don’t get to paint a character negatively, and then criticize your audience for viewing the character that way. The end result is that Phillip just comes off worse. He ends up as a guy that is not all together, and uses the race card at random. Here’s some advice: When your episode on why racism is bad makes me defend the accused racist, you did a bad job.
Some people are convinced that Philip was playing 5D Chess, where he was actually playing this character so people would take him to the Final 3. Then he’d admit he was playing them all along, and he was actual the puppet master in control. If Phillip did this, he doesn’t follow through with the last part where he’s supposed to win the votes. Maybe you find Phillip funny, but to me he just comes off as a 7th grader trying to impress the cool kids by mouthing off to a sub at his Final Tribal Council.
I put him this high because I think the editors make good use of their Phillip Sheppard in Caramoan. Yes, Phillip is still his larger than life character. However this time the editors actually show why someone would want to spend time with him. His ‘Stealth ‘R Us’ alliance isn’t just Phillip (mostly) mugging for screen time , it’s him trying to bond with a group of people younger than him. I also like how Phillip tries to connect with the Fans after the tribe swap. This time around viewers got an understanding of why players want Phillip gone. But also an answer for why people would want to spend time with him other than, “Boston Rob wanted an easy win at Final Tribal Council”.
Phillip was definitely playing a character to get screen time, I just wish the editors picked better footage of him.
- Nick Stanbury (Panama)
He was a generic alpha male, and like most of the La Mina tribe, not very memorable. The one thing going for him is that he has some of the best final words on the show. But honestly, if the best thing I can say about you is that you were eliminated, then that doesn’t really bode well for you on this list.
- Austin Carty (Panama)
Austin is a pretty good representation for the La Mina tribe. He’s a nice enough guy, and doesn’t have any negative content. Unfortunately, he’s not exactly the most interesting character to watch.
296.Natalie Tenerelli (Redemption Island)
Out of all of the ‘Boston Rob Zombies’ in Redemption Island, none followed Boston Rob more blindly than Natalie. As the youngest contestant at the time, she did everything Rob said, and ratted on anyone that didn’t follow his lead. Her prize was a trip to the Final 3 with Boston Rob, where she had no chance of winning the game. At one point Nat just tells the jury to vote for Rob.
There’s still a chance for a Nat10 to return and show off her skills. She was on the ballot for Second Chances and- Okay, does anyone really want her to return? Are there seriously hardcore Natalie Tenerelli fans out there craving to see her on their screens again? If so, please explain your love, because I just found her pointless.
She was a dud of a character, and if you can’t find 20 female contestants with more interesting personality/gameplay than Natalie, you just haven’t been paying attention.
- Joe Dowdle (Tocantins)
There’s not really a lot to say about Joe. He has a flirtmance with Sydney in the pre-merge, and he is seen as a leader on Jalapao. But once the merge happens, he gets medevaced. He’s not bad by any means, but he’s not very memorable, and the season kind of improves once he leaves.
- Roger Sexton (Amazon)
Roger was the misogynist/homophobic leader of the Tambaqui tribe. He was a crotchety man that was demanding of how hard his tribe worked.
I can tolerate Roger because his downfall is so glorious to watch. Just about everything that can go wrong for him does. Women conspire against him while he’s asleep in the shelter. Check. He quits the challenge before getting food. Check. Blindsided? Oh, you better believe it. All that makes it okay to put up with Roger until his boot at the merge.
- Mick Trimming (Samoa)
He starts of as the leader of Foa Foa, but is pretty incompetent. Even though Mick was elected tribe leader, it was really Russell that was in control of the tribe. Beyond that, I honestly can’t tell you a thing about Mick. I guess if I had to describe him in a word, it would be “Feckless”.
- Artis Silvester (Philippines)
Gives solid confessionals, and is anti-Skupin during the pre-merge. He works as a villain, not as big as Pete or Abi-Maria, but a decent villain. Not memorable, but not a lot of negative content.
- Michael Snow (Caramoan)
One of the better members of the Fan tribe. Michael was the swing vote in the first episode, and had a nice friendship with Corinne. He seemed like one of the nicer members of the Fans tribe, and I wish I could’ve seen him on an actual season where he may have been able to do well.
- Carter Williams (Philippines)
Carter is an example of how hard casting can be for the show. Certain personalities can pop in a casting call, but can disappear after 20+ days of no food. This is exactly what happened with Carter, so by the end of his time on the show, he just became a complete zombie.
Still, his cluelessness did provide some great comedy. Like when he accidentally tells Penner that he’s going to vote for him.
- Sherri Bietham (Caramoan)
Sherri is a pretty frustrating character because of her edit. On the Fans tribe, she absolutely dominates the pre-merge in a way few have. She has an iron grasp of the majority alliance, and decides who goes home at each vote. Unfortunately, she also keeps around one of the most unlikeable contestants of all time, Shamar Thomas (pre-merge) as a number. This sets her up early as a solid villain.
Unfortunately once the tribe swap happens, Sherri is placed in the background and given little screen time. She ends up as the goat for the season, but not even an enjoyable one. At Final Tribal Council, Erik tries to give her advice, but she goes out of her way to put him down. Not cool Sherri.
I don’t think Sherri was ever given her due. She was neither the unlikeable goat, nor evil mastermind which is a shame because she had a lot of potential to be really good in either of these roles. Unfortunately, she ends up as a mixed character.
- Edgardo Rivera (Fiji)
Edgardo is the ‘Nice Guy’ in the Four Horsemen alliance. He’s laid back and has a good sense of humor.
He gets eliminated in one of the best blindsides ever. When the Syndicate knows he won’t have the Idol.
Not the worst character by any means, but not great either.
- Nick Brown (Australian Outback)
Nick is a solid background character, but is kind of one-dimensional. He’s shown as lazy at camp. But is also pretty funny. He has the line “if you go dark meat, you never go back”. He serves his purpose well for the season, but isn’t the most dynamic character.
- Keith Tollefson (South Pacific)
Keith has two character traits. He has a show-mance with Whitney, and is Ozzy’s closest ally.
Keith doesn’t contribute much to the season, because he is the first victim of the Pagong-ing. Not great by any stretch, but certainly not bad. He’s better on The Amazing Race, which is not saying much.
- Jeremiah Wood (Cagayan)
Jeremiah is a background character for the season. But still, he’s a nice guy. He has a funny scene where he’s about to reveal the huge secret that he’s gasp, a male model. Not a lot of content, but overall good.
- Christina Cha (One World)
I really wanted to like Christina. I mean I really did. But she just makes it so hard.
Christina was the underdog, the one that was nice even though her tribe always bullied her. However, it’s hard to like a contestant on the show when they don’t even try to play the game. At one point one of her allies makes the mistake of saying that they are going to split the votes with Christina, so if someone plays an Idol they won’t lose anyone important. Rather than seeing this obvious red flag and trying to make a move, Christina just stands there and agrees. It’s almost like she’s saying, “Yes, you are absolutely right. I’m totally expendable and you would lose nothing of value if I were eliminated.”
She has a chance to get to the Final 3, and she doesn’t take it. She gives up during the challenge, then doesn’t even try to convince Kim to take her to the end.
I think Sabrina described Christina best when she voted for her, “You just did not know how to play the game. I don’t even know if you knew it was the game of Survivor.”
- Laurel Johnson (Ghost Island)
Laurel talks about not wanting to play under the radar and making “Big Movez”; before she plays an invisible game and makes no moves.
Basically, Laurel rode Wendell and Domenick’s coattails to the end of the game. You can pretty much describe Laurel’s content in 3 steps:
- Someone proposes to get rid of Domenick or Wendell
- Laurel talks about how getting rid of Dom or Wendell would be a big move and huge for her game
- Laurel proceeds to not make a move against Dom or Wendell, then brags about how that was the best decision
This goes on for about 3-4 episodes, as we watch Laurel enable Dom & Wendell to steamroll the competition.
What annoys me the most about Laurel isn’t her gameplay, but how it’s framed. They give Laurel more screen time than nearly anyone else to talk about how her staying with Dom & Wendell is this brilliant strategic decision. Only… it isn’t. Laurel’s decision to stay with these two guys isn’t strategic, it’s emotional. She’s bonded with these guys and can’t vote out her friends, and the audience knows this. So in the end, Laurel is just annoying to watch because all of her ‘strategic content’ feels inauthentic.
To be fair to Laurel, I’ve only watched this season once, so I have a feeling on a rewatch I’d find more to appreciate about her as a character. But the first time? Man, Laurel is frustrating to deal with.
- Keith Famie (Australian Outback)
Keith was one of the more useless castaways of the early seasons. He butts heads with Jerri over who should be cooking. He wants to cook for the tribe even though Jerri is better at it, and he can’t even cook the rice. Did I mention Keith’s job was a chef? Like, in the real world? That is easily the best gimmick to bring into the show, and somehow Keith messes it up.
Keith improves a lot once he joins Tina’s alliance. He becomes one of the ‘good guys’ and has a nice moment where he proposes to his girlfriend over the computer. Overall, he becomes more enjoyable to watch when he’s interacting with Tina and Colby.
Still, I think Keith can be summed up with how he gets eliminated. Colby would rather lose the game to Tina, than take Keith to the Final 2. Damn dude.
- Sundra Oakley (Cook Islands)
Sundra gets placed this high for being a part of the Aitu 4 storyline, which is one of my favorites. Beyond that, she doesn’t really contribute a lot to the season, other than delivering the worst firemaking performance ever.
- Sally Schumann (Panama)
Sally was a good underdog in Panama. She was on the outside of the La Mina tribe, had a positive attitude, and managed to make the merge by being sent to Exile Island. Sally was one of the saner castaways on this season, but much like the La Mina tribe, not exactly the most memorable.
- Jenna Bowman (Ghost Island)
Jenna’s role for the season is to repeat generic strategy talk from Stephanie J., Michael, or Libby. No matter who it is, she repeats what we already know: Malolo is on the bottom, and she needs to figure out how to survive.
It’s a shame though, because Jenna delivered some funny lines. Like when she tells Jeff that she wants to be on Survivor so she can get rid of her resting bitch face, or how she’s upset because no one hugged her when she was voted out. I wish we got more of this Jenna, instead we were left with a bland strategy player.
- Alicia Calloway (Australian Outback, All Stars)
I think Alicia is best described by Elisabeth in Australian Outback when she says, “Alicia’s job is to talk smack about everyone”. That pretty much sums up the fact that Alicia is pretty sassy, especially to Kimmi. Her most memorable line is when she tells Kimmi, “I will always wag my finger in your face”.
When she comes back for All Stars, she follows Boston Rob and Amber throughout the season, and refuses to see that she’s on the bottom. At the very least, she comforts Sue after the ‘Richard Incident’. Definitely a memorable character, just not one of my favorites.
- Kelly Sharbaugh (Samoa)
The O.G. Purple Kelly. Kelly is decent in the few confessionals she gets. However, she’s mostly there to get Idol’d out by Russell. Beyond that she is mostly invisible. Still, all of her content is good, so I’ll put her here.
- Debbie Wanner (Kaoh Rong, Game Changers)
Debbie is one of several returnee characters that are good in one season, and terrible in another.
Debbie’s appearance in Kaoh Rong is pretty fun. She’s shown to be eccentric, from her confessionals, to her ability to not get dehydrated. Even the editor’s have fun with Debbie. Her constantly changing profession is one of the best running jokes in Survivor.
However, there’s still humanity to Debbie. She’s able to calm down Aubry during a panic attack, and she refuses to get pushed around by anyone. These qualities are both endearing and off-putting at the same time. You understand why the Beauty tribe doesn’t want to work with her at the merge, but also why her allies stick with her.
Her appearance in Game Changers feels like she’s doing an impression of herself, and she’s going out of her way to act odd. This culminates in her meltdown, which is one of the most cringe worthy moments of recent seasons.
Overall, Debbie is okay. But I can’t really justify putting her too much higher when I only think she’s okay in one season, and completely hate her in another season.
Next post: Survivor Contestant Rankings #275-251