Parvati Shallow is a Survivor champ and three-time competitor on the show. The OG Miss Survivor and Survivor Hall of Famer now covers health and wellness for CBS News in New York City. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.
Jeff Probst has said it time and again, “In Survivor perception is reality.” There’s this sort of primal mob mentality that happens when you’re playing the game. The basis of action is fear. Everyone is afraid to be voted out, so they look to anyone they can for a reason to pin the red X on their back.
In the early days of the game, the outcasts become those people who have some sort of weird quirk, like Shirin. Or like Nina, they find reasons to ostracize themselves and then project their isolation onto the others, blaming them for leaving her out. Or, in the case of Mike, his demanding attitude is rubbing people the wrong way, and rather than accepting that his actions are not meshing with his tribe, he sticks to his guns — getting defensive when called out. I get that Mike is proud of his work ethic. His father taught him hard work is the path to success, and Mike built a good life from that foundation. On Survivor, however, things are different. People are looking for reasons to make you different and target you. If you don’t become aware in time to change your behavior, you become another victim of the Survivor mob — as was the case with Nina.
In Mike’s defense, he is on a tribe full of hotheads. Before Mike gets into it with the tribe, Dan calls Rodney’s mother a ho. Come on, Dan. Everyone knows that joke died in third grade after you got punched in the face for saying it to the wrong kid. Please, for anyone still using your mom jokes after the age of 10, let this be a lesson to you. Rodney looks like he was about to explode after Dan’s dumb joke, and I think that’s why Mike gets so much heat from Rodney — it’s spillover from his interaction with Dan. And, it doesn’t help that Mike and Dan are so close. Mike would do well to see that nobody really gels with Dan and get some distance from the man. Let Dan be the odd man out. Mike’s loyalty may be his Achilles heel here in the game. If he chooses to stick it out with Dan, he’s going down with a sinking ship.
Speaking of sinking ships, this season, the producers are really bashing us over the head with the work ethic, whatever job you hold shows who you are thing. I don’t buy that honestly, and I think once the tribes are all mixed up we’ll start to see these people coming out of these set roles that the show has placed on them.
Shirin is clearly a girl who belongs with the no collar ladies. She’s a nudist for one, and watching monkey sex gets her so riled up she comes back to camp and shares all the juicy details with her tribe-mates. Unfortunately, she’s on a tribe full of stiffs that just don’t get her. Ok, that’s not fair. I like the people on her tribe. Carolyn is smart and funny. Tyler’s playing the trustworthy best friend game and getting everyone to connect with him. Joaquin is just ridiculously good looking. And, then there’s Max, who’s not really doing much except for being Shirin’s naked partner in crime. If Shirin is driving them all nuts by talking crazy monkey sex, I say it’s time for a tribe swap. I’m sure Hali and Jenn on the no collar tribe would love to observe mother nature in her full glory.
Although the no collar tribe can’t seem to get it together in challenges, this tribe is having the most fun of all. The girls, excluding Nina, make driftwood surfboards and frolic in the world famous Nicaraguan surf. I’m not sure if this is a testament to the free spirited, no collar style or if these girls are just young, get along swimmingly and loving this adventure together. The vibe of this tribe is fun because the girls and Joe are cut from the same adventure-loving cloth and can enjoy the beauty of the island that they are making home for the moment.
“Living in the moment could be the meaning of life,” says a greeting card I have pinned on my bulletin board. And, I fully believe that it’s true. The more we can find joy and play in our circumstances, the happier and better off we will be. When we’re happy, people naturally gravitate toward us, opportunity comes our way, and we get lucky. Jenn got lucky not getting voted out last episode, and I think it has a lot to do with her attitude. Vince was a paranoid downer and caused drama at camp. Maybe his vote was less to do with strategy and more to do with Will just wanting to be a part of the fun crew.
We see the same thing happen with Nina. Will may be performing horribly in challenges, but he stays in the game because he’s likable. Nina’s complaining and isolating herself is the reason she goes home. This happy tribe wants to keep the positive vibes alive.
Tweet me @parvatishallow with questions or comments.