Marcus Lehman: “I am athletic, but I bring a certain amount of intellect and common sense”

Marcus Lehman, a doctor and Cosmopolitan magazine’s top Georgia bachelor in 2006, is intelligent and extremely articulate, and had perhaps the most casually confident and clear answers of anyone I talked to. He was recruited and cast as a result of his 2006 appearance in Cosmo, but like Charlie Herschel, was actually “a fan of the show since it first came out,” Marcus told me.

Like other cast members, he’s exceptionally concerned about how others will judge him in advance, and said that he was even being careful about things like the clothes he wore at pre-Ponderosa to keep others guessing. (He was wearing an A-shirt and board shorts when we talked.)

“From society’s perspective, I have a lot of things to ‘hide’ in a game like this,” Marcus said. “How do you be honest with people and upfront with them in a way that they can see that you’re a sincere person, but at the same time prevent them from making what I would say are the typical mistakes that I notice people make when they make when they meet me? As soon as they know I went to Harvard or am a doctor it’s like, bam, automatic assumptions. A lot of people rely on those kinds of instincts in this game. Unfortunately, they’re wrong, just like any presupposition or biases.”

That said, Marcus doesn’t plan to lie, but rather will “have conversations about the present,” day-to-day game and form bonds “so when the rest of the stuff comes out it’s not as a big of a deal,” he said. As a triathlete, he has obvious, visible physical strength and knows that “the biggest, strongest guy hardly ever wins.” But he also wants to be known for more than that. “I am athletic, but I bring a certain amount of intellect and common sense,” he said.

Marcus is subtly and not obnoxiously arrogant, and I didn’t even really sense it when I first talked to him, but that attitude is apparent in some of his answers. For example, he cited both cited Richard Hatch (“an intelligent guy that analyzed situations well”) and Yul Kwon as players he admires, and said of Yul, “I swear I had a man crush on him.” Later, Marcus returned to Yul and said, “I felt like he was faced with a lot of the same problems that I’m faced with … he’s obviously a bright guy, he’s fit, and to me that seems the biggest challenge in the game.” In other words, he admires Yul for characteristics they share–or even has a man crush on himself, too.

Marcus’ understanding of the game and what has worked well for past winners will definitely help him. Yul “established great relationships and kept his mouth shut when he needed to, and that’s the way to do it,” he said. And citing Richard Hatch’s honesty as an example, said that this season, “it would be great to have the game run its course in a way that’s a little more noble, and if I can play a part in that, by all means, I’d love to.”

Marcus plans to “seek common ground to develop trust” among fellow tribe members, and also act as the “arbitrator, the person people can turn to for solutions and also for trust. And really, at the end of the day, kind of sneak under the radar that way.” That sounds like a solid plan that might work.

What could get in his way are his hormones. When he cited the “two types of relationships” that cast members have, he said they were “friendships and intimate relationships,” and for the latter, “I’ve definitely considered maybe going down that road a little bit … I love flirting with girls, so it’s going to happen.”

Here, he talks about his role in the game, how he wants the other contestants to view him before the game starts, and his “secret dream”:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.