Why Debb Lostby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
In that light, let's take a look at the first person to be voted out of the tribe on Survivor II: Debb Eaton.
My first suggestion was that you have to start making alliances and cementing relationships from the very beginning. The only evidence we saw of Debb working toward this goal was her discussion with Rodger about Jeff's illness. We don't know what else might have gone on, but considering that Rodger ended up voting against Debb rather than Jeff, it's safe to say that her alliance-building skills were not up to the challenge. As I noted in my earlier article, it's tough to know who you can trust after just a couple days, but if you take too long to figure it out, you won't be around.
Debb would also have done well to listen to Sue, the contestant from the first series to whom Debb had often been compared. In one of her many interviews – this one with "E! Online," Sue said the best preparation is to "read lots of books on game-playing, civil wars, the fall of the Roman Empire--don't waste a lot of time on survival books." Yet all we heard from Debb was about how she'd read survival books and how the book said to do this or that to start a fire. We saw how far that got her.
Although I noted that forming an alliance was of paramount importance, you also need to make sure not to scheme and plot so much that everybody knows you're up to something. Debb had claimed that Jeff wanted to leave, and that information – apparently untrue – made its way back to Jeff. Maybe Jeff had indeed said something that made Debb feel this to be true, but the appearance was that Debb was lying in order to plot Jeff's downfall. It backfired.
One place where my advice did not seem to take hold in this case was in the voting pattern. I had suggested that the first to go should be those who are weak and hamper the tribe's ability to win challenges. Debb was pretty strong and had done well, from what we saw, in the challenge (contrast this with Rodger, for example, who got his foot stuck). Michael had indicated that he might vote for Rodger because of his age, but ended up going with Debb instead. It seems that her bossiness and ill treatment of the others, plus the fact that no one person really screwed up the race for them (such as the way Sonja had in the first Survivor) was enough to make them decide to vote against personality rather than physical ability. In this case, it might be said that her personality caused the team to be weaker overall, and that was why she was voted out. Also, Rodger had some useful skills in building, which could still come in handy. Debb's vocation was not nearly as important, unless Kucha captured and jailed some of the Ogakor folks. (Hmmm. Now that would be an interesting twist…)
One more piece of advice that applies here was my fifth suggestion: Pretend to be nice. Debb couldn't cut it in this area. From the very beginning, she was ordering them around like they were her prison charges. Rich got away with a few outbursts later on because of his game skills, but even he realized in the very first episode of the first series that his original plan of leading the group in his planned way wasn't cutting it. Debb never realized how the others must have looked at her, and even accused Michael of being the bossy one.
That, in the end, is probably why Debb lost. She tried to take control, but wasn't up to the task. She was no Rich Hatch when it came to scheming; she was no Sue when it came to being the tough woman; she wasn't even a Rudy when it came to being gruff. She failed to learn the lessons from the first series. And she paid by being the first person voted out of the Outback.
On the plus side for her, perhaps the media attention will be a little dampened when she weds her step-son. And maybe she'll get to be in a Reebok commercial later in the series.