The real reason Laney left Face Off: guilt

Laney Parkhurst left Face Off during last week’s episode, becoming the first person in the show’s history to leave voluntarily, and leaving four returnees as the show’s final contestants. Her departure seemed to be because of homesickness, but she says it was because of something else, and not a desire to relieve us of her incessant whining: guilt.

In a an interview with EW Laney says “I was homesick, don’t get me wrong,” but that wasn’t the full reason why she quit. Instead, she says that during the challenge, “I started feeling uninspired, even though I love dark elves,” and “I was feeling homesick and I was started to feel guilty for being there when I could see the passion in their eyes. Even having the slightest feeling of not wanting to be there made me feel bad.”

She elaborates on that:

“I never thought in the beginning that I was going to win and that was never my goal. I made a deal with myself that I wanted to at least make it halfway through and I really have not had that much experience with application and sculpting at all before I went on the show. As I was coming down to it, I was noticing as people left how upsetting it was. I could tell how badly they wanted to be there and — don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be there as well — I never really wanted the money and the car that badly. That wasn’t my goal. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do things. As people were leaving, for some reason, I started feeling guilty for being there. [I didn't think anyone] else should go home. I felt like I had accomplished what I’d gone there to accomplish.”

That’s interesting rationale, and surely some will dismiss it as after-the-fact rationalization. What does seem clear is that Laney had pretty much no chance of winning against the returnees–as always, returnees have significant advantage over newbies in competition shows, if only because they know what the experience is like and can shift their focus to things that matter rather than anxiety about the unknown. And whatever the reason, her exit meant she got out of the way of people who are more talented and more passionate about winning.

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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.