CBS TV “Survivor” ultimate “Game Changer” – Outing of Transgender Contestant

May 24, 2017, at 7:00pm CT is the final episode of this season of Survivor on CBS TV, followed by the live reunion show with announcement of winner at 8:00pm CT.

The final “jury” will take place during that final episode, when members of the “jury” will vote for a winner, instead of voting a contestant out as during “tribal counsels” of the previous episodes of the season.

At the “Tribal Council” of Episode 5 – broadcast Wednesday April 12, a desperate Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as a transgender man, and tried to insinuate that Zeke’s hiding this aspect of his life showed an ability to be deceitful. However, Jeff was quickly and emphatically rebuked for this tactic by everyone else in the tribe, as well as host Jeff Probst. After a long discussion, Jeff Varner apologized, and expressed shame and remorse for what he had done. Seeing that Varner would clearly be voted out due to this, Jeff Probst took an open roll call from all of the players, and then eliminated Jeff Varner without a formal vote.

The event made national news and has been trending at Twitter because of the despicable behavior of Jeff Varner, now considered to very likely be the worst in Survivor TV history.

I do have to wonder about the decision of CBS TV and producers of Survivor to not edit out the “outing” to protect Smith – and therefore, I have to wonder if some of the blame should be put on them for the revelation, rather than all of the blame on Jeff Varner. Varner did the crime. CBS put it on TV. However, the reaction of the victim, Zeke Smith, which has been amazingly good, very likely included his approval to do so in order to turn a bad event into a good event. Previously, he had not revealed it because he simply wanted to be known as Zeke, not a transgender Survivor contestant. I would not have guessed Zeke to be transgender – the transformation being so complete and convincing, now a male instead of female. There are gay contestants this season including Tai Trang – who I’d not have guessed is gay, but that he is gay is already known to viewers and contestants from a past season. Apparently, none of the contestants of this or any past season knew Zeke Smith to be transgender. I’m not sure host Jeff Probst knew, considering how shocked he was when it was revealed – but perhaps more shocked for how it was revealed. 

Varner’s plan not only backfired – resulting in him being eliminated, I believe what Varner did has possibly assured Zeke Smith will be the winner of this season of Survivor, or at least be in the final three – of which the final “jury” will vote for the winner. It is unlikely, because of what Varner did, outing Smith as being transgender, and the sympathy of all other players, no one is going to vote him out at any of the remaining “tribal counsels” of this season. Also, as of the next episode, the two tribes will be merged, so that it is no longer tribe vs. tribe, but will then be competition between the remaining individual contestants.

Survivor: “Game Changers” — taking place at Mamanuca Islands, is the 34th season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor, featuring 20 returning castaways. The season premiered on March 8, 2017, with a two-hour episode, marking the 500th episode of the series. This season is the third to film in Fiji after Survivor: Fiji and Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. It is the fourth season to feature entirely returning players, following Survivor: All-Stars, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, and Survivor: Cambodia and is also the eleventh season overall to feature returning players. This season features former contestants from the show, that were considered “game changers” – making strategies and risky moves that either did or would have significantly affected how the season played out. Host Jeff Probst stated that in preceding seasons, “we’ve had so many new players that were good players, and the game has continued to escalate in terms of the level of gameplay that it suddenly became apparent that we actually have a lot of great game players.” Producers also sought out applicable contestants from earlier seasons in order to ensure balanced representation.

That contestant Zeke Smith is transgender is a game changer.

That Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith is the ultimate game changer.

If it were not for this game changing event, I’d not have predicted Zeke Smith would survive to be in the final three.

Now with the three I would have predicted to be in the final three, I can now only go so far as to predict the final four, in this order:

  1. Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth
  2. Debbie Wanner
  3. Tai Trang
  4. Zeke Smith

Editorial Article and Review by Jim Lantern


Thursday – 13 April 2017

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Categories: TV Reality Shows, TV Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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