Tuned In

The Morning After: Getting to Know You

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Quick spoilers for Survivor coming up after the jump:

Poor Sierra. Not so much her getting voted off Survivor; she had a target on her back from the first episode when she got sick, so it’s a credit to her that she got this far. No, I’m talking about how she was portrayed, in the eyes of her fellow tribemates, as history’s greatest monster—getting singled out in the tribe-poll challenge as generally the least deserving of winning the game, and regularly bashed by people on every alliance for her personality.

The thing is, from where I was sitting, Sierra never seemed that bad; a little sour and whiny maybe, but considering the odds against her and the amount of time she had spent on the chopping block, pretty understandable. Whereas Debbie—who has always seemed grating on the show, and last night came off as self-pitying, inept and a bad liar to boot—was inexplicably identified by Jeff and the tribe at tribal council as the most popular person among the contestants. (Smart move by Erin, though, keeping her word not to write Sierra’s name down, a freebie vote that probably locked down Sierra’s jury vote should Erin be lucky enough to make it that far.)

Now I know this is a reality show. Maybe Sierra was incredibly obnoxious in moments that weren’t shown on camera. Maybe Debbie was sweet and a delight to be with in ways we didn’t see. I realize this is all about the editing. But generally the idea of reality editing is to—fair or unfair—produce a seamless, if reductive, impression. It’s weird to see such a competent show as Survivor basically highlight that its editing was giving us a distorted picture of the actual relations in the tribe. I realize that Survivor sometimes edits intentionally to maintain suspense or surprise—I’m thinking of season 2, when Tina was revealed after the fact as a master manipulator whom we never really saw that way on camera. But here it just seems like a storytelling lapse. 

Or is it just me? Did Sierra deserve to go? And was it a good strategic move?