Open Mic

We Wuz Robbed! Russell Hantz Was Not the Only One Blown Away that He Didn't Win 'Survivor:Samoa,' and This Viewer Thinks The Producers are Playing with Fire

Chuck Ross Posted December 21, 2009 at 1:18 AM

Tags: CBS, change, Mark Burnett, Natalie White, picked wrong winner, Russell Hantz, strategy, Survivor

We wuz robbed, plain and simple.

If you're not a fan of 'Survivor,' here's what it's like that Russell Hantz didn't win the $1million on the latest edition of the show, which concluded Sunday night, Dec. 20th: It would be as if the great football linebacker, Lawrence Taylor, who was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1986 based on an incredible season he had, was denied the honor because certain of his peers on opposing teams thought he wasn't nice enough, and that he played too intensely to win. That he was too enthusiastic when he clobbered an opposing player or broke up an offensive play.

If Taylor had not gotten the award because of that criteria, you'd say that was crazy. In fact, it was just the attributes that those on the opposing teams objected to, you'd say, that were exactly WHY Taylor was so great and why he did indeed deserve that Most Valuable Player Award in 1986.

It's analagous to what happened to Russell on "Survivor." He was never nice, and it was never pretty, but he was absolutely brilliant and he deserved to win.

If you didn't watch "Survivor:Samoa" this season, buy the DVD when it comes out. You may very well dislike him intensely, but it's also clear that Russell is likely the most cunning strategist yet to have played the game.

But, alas, he didn't win. Here's what both he and winner Natalie White said to E! Online after the vote: " 'It's amazing to me how people play the game," Russell told us, still visibly shocked by his loss. 'You want to be honest, have integrity, in the game? You ever play Monopoly, where you take people's houses and kick 'em out in the street? That's a game. But,' he added ruefully, 'it's part of it, I guess.' Natalie explained how that 'part' figured in her own strategy: 'There's different criteria to play the game. The majority of the people on the jury are not deceitful people, they just don't play that way in real life or in a game. I made it my mission to get to know them and try to figure out what that voting criteria was going to be. I think because of the genuine relationships that I built, they wanted to give it to someone they truly know and will do well with the money.'

Actually, they probably gave it to her because they felt she was the lesser of the three evils, the three evils being Russell, Nick and Natalie.

The problem, however, is that she was the wrong choice.

"Survivor" also arranges through a sponsor to give $100,000 to the person viewers vote as the one they think is the best player on the show. Russell did win that.

Here's my suggestion: CBS and Mark Burnett, the producer of the show, should switch who decides will win the $1 million and who wins the $100,000.

So when it comes down to the three finalists, America votes for the player who has best outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the field and who will win the $1 million first-place money. And the "jury" of nine players on the show can decide who wins $100,000 as their top choice.

Yes, one of the elements that has set "Survivor" apart from the "American Idol"-type of reality show is that viewers do NOT vote for the winner.

But there's an argument to be made that given how upset I would guess the majority of this season's viewers are with the results, "Survivor" is seriously in danger of losing a lot of loyal fans if this change isn't made and we feel betrayed by the results again come spring after the next arc of the show.#