Dan Kay “lost the will” to “engage those personalities” he disliked

Dan Kay left his job as a lawyer last year, but he’s now returning to practice law–unless he finds himself “slipping back into the unhappiness that I was in,” he said. In Africa, he told me that the show “kind of came along at the right time,” so I asked now if it was what he needed. Dan said that it’d be “a little bit shallow if I said [Survivor] changed my life,” but “I think it made me appreciate the simplicity of life and what you need.”

Dan said he was unprepared for “strong personalities, being away from my family and friends–it had a little more of a profound effect than I originally anticipated.” Specifically, “I found it increasingly more difficult to deal with the personalities that were out there,” he said, although because he’s Dan, he added, “that’s a function of my own self,” and didn’t blame them.

The people he cited were, perhaps surprisingly, Marcus and Corinne. When he joined Kota, Dan told me that “it was pretty obvious that [Marcus] and Corinne and Charlie were controlling that game. As it got deeper into the game, listening to Corinne around camp made me not want to associate myself with her. I didn’t want to be brought down to her level, like I saw other people being brought down to. So I distanced myself from her. And I did with Marcus as well, because I though he was kind of a controlling personality.”

Specifically, Dan said Marcus had “a very self-serving attitude and that’s what made me not trust him. Jeff put it best when he said Marcus is a little subtly arrogant–I don’t want to bash him, but that’s a perfect example.” Dan said he “would not have flipped” on the alliance had Marcus had “a simple conversation” with Dan about their alliance.

As to Corinne, Dan was “blown away” by the “things she’s told us she’s done in life. … I couldn’t figure out how someone couldn’t be embarrassed with themselves.” As a result, “I definitely distanced myself from them. … They definitely caught on to that, there’s no doubt about it. Maybe they didn’t like my personality, either. I’m okay with that,” he said.

Together, those things caused him to break down. “There’s an element in the game where you not only have to be able to deal with everyone’s personalities in the sense that you don’t want to yell, or tell them to knock it off, or shut up, or whatever, and cause an argument around camp. But you also have engage those personalities, you also have to make them think you’re friends with them, and that’s the part of the game I lost the will to do,” Dan said.

As to the rest of his time on the show, perhaps nothing characterizes it better than Dan searching for the immunity idol at Exile as the helicopter flies overhead and shows us how far off he is. “I did laugh when I saw it on TV. I wasn’t even close to finding that. I have to give Sugar credit,” Dan said. “I can’t believe that I was so narrow-minded in my search,” although he said “there was some logic for looking in the lake” because the shoreline had a spot that “looked like a sandy crater,” as the clue suggested. Ever humble, Dan added “just because I’m a lawyer, I never claimed to be the smartest guy out there.”

His editing was fair, he said, as long as people don’t extrapolate his insecurity in the game to his real-life self. “What really bothered me, the only time I think I’ve seen something on TV that bothered me, was when Marcus called me a bumbling idiot. That was upsetting to me, because that is a really arrogant statement. Here you have a doctor, he’s 29 years old, he’s supposed to be an adult; name-calling is just so sixth grade,” Dan said.

“Other than that, I pretty much laughed at everything on TV. When Corinne called me a ‘former fatty,’ that was funny.”

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.