Ready for some conspiracy theories to start you week? I hope so because I sure am! This is something that I briefly tweeted about last week but feel like should get a little more in-depth coverage in this Survivor pre-season. It has to do with how castaway biographies sometimes change in the matter of minutes without any warning.
When the Survivor: Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers cast was first announced last week, Chrissy Hofbeck had one of the more interesting snippets. Asked to name a Survivor she is most-like, she cited Jenna Morasca because “I’d take my clothes off for chocolate and peanut butter!” I made a mental note of it since I was going through my cast assessment tribe by tribe and the Healers would be second.
By the time I got around to preparing my cast assessment for the Healers, Jenna was nowhere to be found on Chrissy’s profile. In her stead stood Tai Trang and Spencer Bledsoe. She went from name-checking one of the least liked and remembered winners to two generic answers that recruits have been giving since either’s original season. Those two answers don’t sound like they come from the same voice.
It’s a fairly well known fact that players are able to change their answers to these questions even after they have come out. Chrissy could have realized she didn’t want to say she would get naked on television and asked to have it changed. It’s possible but given everything we have seen from her pre-season personality, it doesn’t sound likely. Chrissy isn’t a wild-child but she isn’t a completely demure person either and it sounds like a fun answer she would give to show her Survivor knowledge.
What seems more likely to me, is that either CBS or Survivor itself saw the answer and told somebody to change it. Back in the day of Survivor: the Amazon, Jenna and Heidi stripped down for chocolate and peanut butter was a huge part of the show’s lore. Some people had already started losing interest in the show and its status in the cultural zeitgeist was not what it had been. When Jenna and Heidi took off their clothes for food, Survivor felt a rise in relevance to the point where everybody began talking about it again. It immediately became one of those big moments people remembered.
More than a decade down the road and with the world having gone through a lot of changes, that moment still stands fairly memorably to a lot of people. Probably much to the chagrin of multiple high ranking executives who would prefer not having Survivor associated with two young women getting naked for cheap chocolate and peanut butter. Like a lot of Amazon’s gender-based discussions, Jenna and Heidi’s food-motivated nudity has not aged well. If this had happened in today’s social-media driven world, the show would have faced so much scrutiny for getting two women to get naked for peanut butter.
With Chrissy going ahead and bringing it up in her biography, on the CBS official website no less, it seems perfectly plausible that somebody ordered to have it changed. She probably could have brought up Jenna in any other scenario and have it stick. Ryan Ulrich mentioned Todd Herzog, the Survivor: China winner who has never been brought back and has gone through some tough times. You don’t see his answer being changed on the website because Ryan brought up Todd’s best qualities and how they might parallel to his own skills. Had Chrissy done something similar with her Jenna answer, I don’t doubt for a second it would still be up on the website.
There’s also something to be said about how that answer might have not fit in with the edit Chrissy is about to receive on the show. While she does not look her age, Chrissy is one of the two older women on the cast. If the show wants to show her from the angle of the “mom that goes out for a new challenge” kind of variety, her willingness to get naked on camera for food doesn’t necessarily jive with that.
Given that in Josh Wiggler’s the Hollywood Reporter article about Chrissy, everyone was already pegging her as the mother, that kind of edit seems very likely heading Chrissy’s way. I’ve talked about this numerous times but it’s a shame when edits get in the way of personality. I love the fact that Chrissy is bringing up such an old-school Survivor moment in her bio. It makes me excited to know that she appreciates the show for what it was back then. It makes me want to cheer for her because of her dedication to the franchise.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if the answer had been changed to skirt around the nudity of it all but still said Jenna. No offense meant to either Spencer or Tai but anybody who names them as their Survivor comparisons could easily have just watched an episode here or there in the last couple of years. They don’t exactly scream “I know the show extremely well” like calling back to Jenna does. By changing the answer in such a way, I really do feel like some fans might see Chrissy differently this post-season if they hadn’t noticed the answer pre-change.
That isn’t to say that the answer isn’t Chrissy’s. It’s very possible that she gave the original Jenna answer, it got posted, CBS or production said “no way this is allowed to stay”, and had Chrissy give a second answer. I just don’t think that the change itself came because Chrissy requested it.
Now I’m ready for the likelihood that I’m going to post this, have Chrissy inform us all that she simply chose to change her answer and have all this egg on my face. After all, if you’re going to go in on “conspiracy theories” about Survivor contestants in the pre-season, you have to be read to accept the fact that you’ll probably be wrong. Still, in the chance that I am correct, I felt the need to let people know what Chrissy’s original answer had been so that like me, they can fall in love with her personality and get way too excited about her potential winning choices.
To note: Chrissy also had listed “playing Candy Crush” as one of her hobbies and that has mysteriously been edited out as well. Let’s chalk that one up to potential failed subliminal advertising for another CBS show, hosted by Mario Lopez, that is definitely not getting a second season.