Survivor: The Amazon - Why Jenna Wonby David Bloomberg -- 05/13/2003
It was a huge shocker to most people. How could Jenna, the self-centered, spoiled brat of Survivor end up not only winning, but winning in the biggest landslide in Survivor history? I've already gotten a ton of e-mail suggesting that the jury should be put into the Reality TV Hall of Shame for giving her the win. But when six out of seven people who have spent essentially 24 hours a day, seven days a week with two people all vote the same way, there has to be a reason. So let's take a good look at why Jenna won.
As we do with all of the articles in the series, we will look back at What Amazonian Survivors Should Have Learned. In some places, Jenna did well. In others, not so much.
The first, of course, is to scheme and plot. Jenna was part of the original "cute girls" alliance. She joined with Heidi, Shawna, and Deena to take control of the female camp. Considering that her original plan had been to use her looks in what she figured would be the usual mixed gender camp, she rebounded well in this alliance. The idea was to get rid of JoAnna and then Jeanne and Christy, the women who were doing most of the work but also - in JoAnna's and Jeanne's cases - making camp an uncomfortable place for the younger women sometimes. (Jeanne and Christy were taken to the other camp before the alliance could take them out, of course.) After the swap, Jenna managed to keep stay in the mix with a new alliance to take out Roger and Dave. When Deena wanted to get rid of Alex, Jenna pretended to go along with the plan but instead had joined Alex and Heidi in maneuvering to get Rob and others to vote off Deena instead.
Of course, that all went to hell when Rob joined the outcasts to vote off Alex. Still, Jenna wasn't done. She and Heidi tried to get Christy on their side. When that wasn't working and Rob approached her about a final two plan, Jenna decided to raise holy hell about it rather than accept his plan. She confronted him in front of everybody in hopes that they would see how he was playing games and side with her. It didn't work, but it was a nice try. When Rob came back to her and Heidi with the plan to vote out Christy, of course they jumped at the chance, knowing it would give them another three days.
After Heidi was voted off (in what was extremely lucky for Jenna, since she had been sick and was complaining for days), Jenna didn't really need to do any more scheming. She won immunity twice in a row when she needed it most. She did talk to Butch and Matt about who should be voted off into fourth place, and she formed the alliance that Matt proposed, but all of that seemed to be more reactive than proactive. It seemed she already knew she wanted to take Matt, so why not form an alliance when one was offered?
All in all, Jenna did a decent job of scheming when necessary. She was not like Rob in that she definitely did not have her finger on the pulse of every person. When she was in a place of comfort, she pretty well coasted while Rob was always thinking, always trying to find the best angle. So while plotting kept her around at certain points, it was not the main reason for her win.
Did she scheme and plot too much? No. If anything, she didn't do it enough, as mentioned directly above. While some on the jury seemed to think that she was guilty of dishonesty and the like, I still don't understand that (as I discuss regarding Matthew in the article, Why Matthew Lost). She lied to Deena because Deena was - in Jenna's eyes - a threat to her main alliance and Deena had to go. No way should Jenna have told her she was going! Other than that, we really didn't see too much that supported the jury accusations. I think it's safe to conclude that she really didn't scheme and plot too much.
That said, she did blow the portion of this rule that says you should keep your scheming secret. She made it very clear that she was part of the ruling alliance (as all four did) in the halcyon days (or day) immediately after Deena was given the boot. Because the alliance was so open, it gave the outsiders a good view of what was going on and how they might be able to fight against it - which they did, with Rob's help.
Another part she blew for much of her time in the game was the third rule: Pretend to be nice. Oh, Jenna could be nice, as long as she liked you. But Christy certainly didn't feel like Jenna was being nice, and it seems that Jeanne and JoAnna weren't too thrilled with her either. In the end, even Christy voted for Jenna (more on that below), but that doesn't mean it was okay to violate the rule. Christy could easily have chosen to cast the final vote with her emotions instead of with the strategizing part of her mind. It's happened too many times to count already on both Survivor and Big Brother. The same is true of others on the jury. Jenna should have played nice with everyone, whether they were in her clique or not.
However, she did well in not letting her emotions control her - at least in half of that regard. On the anger front, yes, she blew up at Rob multiple times over his vote against Alex. Yes, she got pissy several other times during the game. But when it came right down to it, she didn't vote with those emotions. Oh, sure, she talked about wanting Rob gone, but when Rob came to her with a plan to get rid of Christy, Jenna hopped onboard rather than trying to screw him right then and there.
On the flip side, she did pretty much wear her good feelings toward Heidi on her sleeve (or, in at least one case, on her face). Heidi and Jenna were a pair that would never vote against each other. We have seen in both Survivor and Big Brother that pairs are often targeted for this very reason. In Big Brother 3, Lisa lost her on-show boyfriend, regrouped, and went on to win. Jenna lost her on-show best friend, regrouped, and went on to win. It almost seems like when Heidi was voted off, Jenna got a spark of energy that carried through to the challenges (much as Luke Skywalker gained help from Obi Wan when the Kenobi was killed by Darth Vader). Being part of a pair is what led, indirectly, to the foursome alliance breaking up - Alex never would have spoken to Rob about the final four if he didn't know that Heidi and Jenna were so tight. If she hadn't won the final two immunity challenges, I would have cited being part of a pair as one reason she lost.
She failed completely in providing food and working hard, a huge violation of the fifth rule. Call it laziness, weakness, whatever you want - but Jenna didn't go out and get wood, get water, get food, etc. Instead, the older ladies with body fat could go do that. That's one reason this rule is so far down on the list. It's a good idea, but it's not always critical, depending on who your allies are. Jenna's allies were not as interested in doing work, so that went well with them.
So then we arrive at the jury phase. Even before the actual jury had been fully filled out, Jenna was saying that she wanted to bring the strongest competition. She made them think that she didn't want to have an easy walk in the park. Whether this had any real effect on them, I don't know for sure, but it probably didn't hurt.
Then, Jenna gave several good answers to questions posed by the jury - perhaps she's used to being questioned at pageants. When Heidi asked who Jenna believed should have been there instead of her, Jenna used Matt's answer (he had to go first on that particular question) and also said Rob. And why not? Rob had come in third place. It was good to show Rob that she respected his abilities. She didn't have to think of anything else for somebody else. And even though it was obvious that Heidi wanted them to jump up and down and yell, "You, Heidi! Of course, you!" the fact is that Jenna knew she had Heidi's vote in the bag already, so there was no reason to say anything further. When she was asked about her lies, she did a good job of explaining that they were part of a strategy to vote out somebody who had betrayed her. While I still think the finalists should have told the jury to stop being so self-righteous, in place of that, Jenna's answers were good ones.
Jenna was also fortunate that most of the jury was made up of ex-comrades in alliances - but that she was not necessarily blamed for their being there. Dave would have blamed Matt more than her, since Matt was supposedly in his all-guys alliance immediately after the merge. Heidi, of course, would not side against Jenna. Same with Alex, who had been voted out by Matt. Christy was certainly a lost cause in Jenna's eyes (though it didn't turn out that way), as was Butch. The others were up for grabs. So all she had to do was play to those who already liked her and she could take home the million. She did that fairly well.
So now, the big question - should the jury have voted for her? Initially, I was as shocked as anybody. I couldn't believe it. The reunion answered some questions, but not all. When I caught up with Christy after the show, I asked, "Why? Why??!! WHY???!!!!" The answer was similar to the reunion. Deena told me that she saw Jenna grow as a player. I received similar answers elsewhere. It was a combination of Jenna actually being in the game the whole time (as opposed to Matt who only really joined the game later on), Matt making some mistakes (see Why Matthew Lost), and her getting tough to win the last two immunity challenges.
Was Jenna a hard worker? No. But many in the jury didn't value hard work as much. Was she nice to everybody? No. But many in the jury were among those she counted as friends, while most of those to whom she wasn't nice were gone before the jury phase - remember how she and Heidi convinced Deena to get rid of Roger before the jury? Was she the best strategist in the game? No, that honor must go to Rob. But she used what she had and pulled it together.
Jenna did play the game, and played it well on both the strategy and challenge aspects. You don't have to be the nicest person to win. In fact, the nicest person usually doesn't win. But you do have to do whatever it takes to stick around. In Jenna's case, that meant a couple of strategic moves, such as dumping Deena when Deena tried to take out Alex, or making sure Roger was gone before the jury, or temporarily aligning with Rob despite her anger to give herself another three days. And it meant some physical moves, giving her all in the last two immunity challenges to get into the final two.
The jury in this game of Survivor will not be going to the Hall of Shame, despite the many requests. Indeed, many times on this site I have gotten angry at juries for voting with their emotions rather than their brains. Three of the Rotu-4 were targets of my wrath because they voted against Neleh. Why? Because they were mad that she had beaten them. Did they give her props for outplaying them? No. They instead got mad about it.
So after I thought about things further and examined the way the jury voted, I realized that they voted the way I would like to see juries vote. Christy overcame her anger at the "evil stepsister" and recognized that she had been outplayed. Deena, although stabbed in the back by Jenna, recognized good play when she saw it as well. Rob, the master of strategy, knew that Matt had not come prepared to play the game and had also been outplayed by Jenna. The jury voted not according to personality or emotion, but according to who played the better game (notice I said "better" and not "best" - because I still think Rob played the best strategic game, he just was outdone in the last two immunity challenges; see Why Rob Lost for details). For that the jury should be applauded, not shamed. And that is why Jenna won.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at email@example.com.
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