Thursday, April 14, 2011

Survivor's Seven Most Outlandish Characters

Folks who are "characters" tend to not do all that well in the corporate world. When you add the word "outlandish" in front of the descriptor, it makes matters even worse. Then you're talking hardcore unemployable.

But when you mix in the reality television genre then, all of a sudden, outlandish characters are in high demand. On Survivor, most of the most outlandish have been men. Sure, every now and then there's a stray female outlandish character. Yet it's the men who prevail.

Survivor has hit pay dirt with the over-the-top types for a number of seasons now. I'm not talking quirky like the dude with the coconut phone in the first season. I'm talking deranged, delusional, outright wacky and smarmy! Some I've enjoyed watching, others not so much.

It all started with ...

Ah, yes ... dear Richard Hatch. When Survivor was fresh, new and extreme water cooler fodder, Hatch took a new game show concept and became the first puppetmaster of the reality genre. Hatch thought of developing alliances and used people for his own means. He was good at it, too.

I pegged him for the winner by the second episode. Yeah, he was the obnoxious fat naked gay guy. But he was so much more than that. He was the ultimate schemer. Not only that, but I still remember his evil "heh, heh, heh" as his schemes came to fruition. Time hasn't done well with the guy. In his last "All Stars" version, he was basically obnoxious and kept aiming his spear at Sue Hawk.

Boston Rob Mariano. In his early reality television days, he was all over the place -- Survivor, marriage to Amber, Romber on The Amazing Race, segments on The Early Show, back to Survivor. It was a Boston Rob overload. And now we have him back again this season.

Rob's different from many on this last as he does have some sort of charisma about him. But the dude is smarmy! He's a shrewd player of the game much like Hatch was in his heyday. Yet he tends to get overly cocky and he'll stab his best friend in the game (Lex, for example), throw him under that reality bus, then vote him off the island. Heck, I wouldn't put it past him to rig a trip wire heading to the welcome mat!

I just can't understand why this latest bunch of castaways seem to worship him. Smarmy and evil, I tell ya! But I do enjoy watching him anyway.

Some of Survivor's most outlandish characters were just creepy icky dudes with no gameplay. Yes, I'm talking about Jonny "Fairplay" Dalton. If memory serves, he was never good at challenges. In his last appearance on the show, he didn't even try. He didn't have charisma and he was just nasty.

Outside of throwing the towel in and giving up on his last appearance, Fairplay is remembered for telling a lie about his (not) dead grandmother. Most normal people don't lie about dead family. Sure, I've worked with a few who seem to have had six grandmothers die to get time off, but it's so classless and almost straying on forbidden territory. It worked -- the others believed Fairplay's lie and didn't vote him out.

Speaking of folks I didn't like watching, here's Ben "Coach" Wade. He had it all -- delusions of grandeur, weirdness, strange fashions and he was a drama queen to boot. He performed dismally at most challenges and was more irksome than entertaining. I like a bit of sensitivity in men. But as the kids would say, the dude was emo.

This special snowflake dominated airtime in his season and there was nothing at all redeeming about him. He had no decent strategy. He bragged about how tough he was and then cried during challenges. I hope he never appears on any show again for as long as he (or I) shall live!

You can't talk about outlandish characters on Survivor without throwing Rupert Boneham into the mix. Now, I know that he's always a fan favorite. And, he surely isn't an evil dastardly gameplayer. But, for me, he's no gameplayer. With the exception of stealing the shoes on Pearl Island, his gameplay is mostly roar and be a pirate. Or, maybe that should be a primate.

I liked him some in that first season. He does worthy work with children. But by the time I saw him again, the tie-dyed wifebeater shirt and the constant animal roar coming from deep within his gut were annoying me. In his last showing, he had virtually no strategy at all. Yet, he retained his outlandish character.

Sure enough, Evil Russell Hantz has made my list. In his first season, I though "eww" when I first saw him. Then I got all confused. He was so slimy, such a snake oil salesman. Yet there was something oddly intriguing about the man. Why did people just let the guy use them and then toss them aside? It's not like he has the looks or charisma of a Boston Rob.

But he had something. In gameplay, he fared okay on challenges -- no Colby Donaldson shut-outs, but okay. At least he didn't cry and whine like Coach. No one will ever be able to find hidden idols like he did. Russell went in with a strategy, too.

It's just a shame that he's a one-trick-pony. He can strategize well until it comes to the final two. Nor did he ever learn his lesson. He approached each season he was in with the same strategy and never learned the social side of the game. Unlike Coach, I actually enjoyed watching Hantz at times. He did have good game (except for the end game) and I was amazed that folks fell under his spell.

The newest addition to the list and perhaps the funniest is Phillip Sheppard of the current season. When I first saw him in action, I wanted him gone ... like, last week! But as the show goes on, I think I'm falling for Secret Agent Man (SAM -- drink up!). The guy is a hoot!

Sure, he doesn't seem to have much strategy. Sure, the others mock him. Sure, he's a sexist so-and-so. But the things which come out of his mouth, especially convoluted sentences, give the season such a welcome comedy relief that he needs to stay. He really does.

I was trying to figure out why, with some parallels between Coach and Phillip, I despised Coach on the show and Phillip entertains me. It's because, despite the shared delusions of grandeur, Phillip is actually funny. He can stay as long as he makes me laugh during Tribal Council.

What do you think? Are there others you'd add to the list? Why aren't the women as outlandish? (Yes, a few have been -- Shambo comes to mind.)

Images: CBS


Joanie said...


Where are the ladies?


Jackie said...

I don't know. For some reason, they don't seem as "out there" as some of the men.

What women would you add to this list?

Joanie said...

How about:

Sue Hawk, mainly for the snake and the rat speech at the first jury questioning.

Cirie Fields for the seer joy and amazement she showed the first time she played. She also developed into a sly and cunning player.

Parvarti Shallow for playing the sexpot when necessary but also using her brains too.

Now that I think about it maybe you were right, none of the ladies with the possible exception of Parvarti really didn't play characters.

joy n said...

Love this article, Jackie. Agree with your choices and descriptions.

I think that this season may finally put to rest the self-propelled rumor Hantz started that he is the best player ever. He never won. He never got that the social game is as important as the strategy. And I never thought I'd see him cry. I'm not sure who the best is but this list of most outlandish is accurate in my eyes.

Parvati came into my head first as outlandish female. The two that stripped for peanutbutter too.

meb said...

Wow Jackie... you have them pegged. The only one I didn't see was Hatch and I had the misfortune to watch him in Celebrity. What an ass!

They should have an All Stars and only have these guys play against each other. That would be some game each thinking they were the best player of all.

Thanks for the break-down of the most outlandish... it was fun to remember (if only briefly).