Nobag’s power players are no fun

Long before the somewhat surprising ending of Survivor Gabon last night, I was struck by who was left and how much I was annoyed by that and by the direction the game has taken. During the reward challenge, I was thinking, where are all the strong people, the people I like and expected to be around at this point in the game? Instead, those playing a massive game of slingshot golf were mostly the weaker, increasingly unlikable people.

Even those I liked before the game, like Susie and Ken, have become different, less appealing versions of themselves as they play. And don’t get me started on Randy, who’s been awesomely fun until his bitchiness suddenly turned into irrational meanness toward Crystal, which reached borderline offensive proportions last night with his Tribal Council rant about Crystal and GC’s “posse” ruling Fang.

Clearly, the remaining nine players are doing something right, so this is less about them than it is about my reaction to them. I realize that with Survivor and other shows, I really want to respect someone’s game play and like them as a person; I get frustrated when people who are annoying play well and succeed. And I loathe cocky, self-congratulatory players.

Enter gamer Ken, who has made some smart moves, but he’s grown into a cocky ass, and I’m kind of over him despite what a great story he makes. (I sense the editors are, too, which suggests to me he’s going home next week or soon thereafter.) Because of that, everything he does leads to (perhaps irrational) irritation. For example, while his flirting with Michelle–remember her?–was so dorky and awkward that it was endearing, when he commented last night about how beautiful Crystal and Susie were, it pushed me over the edge. That’s not to say they’re not attractive, but at this point, I’m pretty sure he’d say the immunity idol is hot, too.

Back to more rational arguments, it was probably a smart move for the tribe to blindside and dump Charlie sooner than later, because he’s one of the few remaining players whose introversion and intellect represents a threat, but Kenny’s rationale for blindsiding him last night was unacceptably petty and immature, and not the sign of someone who is a winning player. Kenny lied to his alliance and to Sugar about Charlie being the mastermind in his alliance–all because Kenny was irritated with Charlie for spotting the immunity idol clue at the fake-merge feast. “You mess with me and then you’re gone in this game,” Ken said, and also said, “I know for a fact that I can win this game.” Well, you can’t by being a petty, reactionary player. Or maybe you can! I just don’t want that to be true.

I generally love underdogs until they become arrogant leaders, so I know I’d be thrilled with Ken’s game play if he’d just stop praising himself. Again, I realize this is all about my own issues, which I think are exacerbated by the way I’m disappointed that the game I had in my head isn’t playing out: I really wanted to see what would happen when the big, original, Marcus-spawned Kota alliance was forced to go after itself or started to implode, which would only come after the weak-ass, annoying Fang tribe was decimated. Alas, that was not to be, and I’ll grieve and get over it.

Still, there’s something about the way all of these recent blindsides don’t seem to be the product of strategic game play, like we saw last season, but just a series of lurches and stumbles that happened to excise the strong players. Maybe I’m just blind.

And since I’m annoyed for now, I’ll pick on them: The new tribe has a stupid name. Nobag? Really? You have nothing to do all day and the best you can come up with is Gabon spelled backwards? Try this tribe name: Stoidi.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.