The ‘Survivor’ Season 46 Finale Drama, Explained


Survivor Season 46 wrapped almost two weeks ago, but the drama never ends. In a season where Jeff Probst coined “Spicy Jeff” as his new nickname, should we have expected anything else? Absolutely not.

In a rare statement from Survivor via the show’s official Instagram account, producers urged fans to “remember to practice kindness.”

“One of the best things about the Survivor community is the passion, engagement and excitement around the show, gameplay and those brave enough to compete,” the post read.

It continues: “So, a reminder as we watch and discuss the entertaining competition, epic blindsides and emotional journeys these players go on, remember that who you see on screen are real people navigating this experience.”

It’s pretty obvious to fans what this cryptic post was referencing. Following the finale on May 22, a plethora of Survivor fans have been teaming up against this season’s fifth-place contestant, Maria Shrime Gonzalez, after ripping the win away from her closest ally, Charlie Davis. Instead of writing Charlie’s name on the parchment, Maria opted to pick Kenzie for the win, resulting in a 5-3 vote in Kenzie’s favor.

The Survivor fans have since expressed anguish over this: What a betrayal! That’s an extreme villain move on her part. Is Maria the smallest woman who ever lived? (Charlie would be so pleased to see my Swiftie reference here.) Survivor fans were quick to hop aboard the Maria hate train following the final vote.

If the posts linked above aren’t enough, just take a look at the comments in any of Maria’s recent Instagram posts. “Damn I didn’t even want Charlie to win but anybody could see how COLD you were. Just so bitter too,” one comment reads. Another: “You betrayed Charlie. You betrayed your sacred duty as juror. You betrayed the game itself and you betrayed all of us fans.”

Following the finale, Maria did explain her decision to pick Kenzie over Charlie. “[Kenzie] also said, ‘I’m doing this for me,’” she told Entertainment Weekly. “It spoke to me as a woman on a personal level that this is what I faced so many times in my life, and I chose me, and she chose her. And that's why I chose her.”

But the decision has had an effect on her friendship with Charlie. “I don't doubt that we won't be able to get past this,” Maria added. “It's hard to watch. It's hurtful.”

Charlie will probably have an easier time looking past Maria’s vote than the Survivor fans, however, if those tweets are any proof. Viewers have continued to lay into Maria, even digging into her after she shared a photo of her posing with some “Free Palestine” graffiti—not because of her politics, but because she cut fellow contestant Venus Vafa out of the photo.

If you ask me, in all of the above, Maria did nothing wrong. Kenzie was clearly the best choice for a winner, having secured multiple immunity wins and a terrible first tribe. Charlie did betray her, but he also wasn’t the one spearheading the vote to send Maria home—that was mostly done by Kenzie, who beat Maria in the second-to-last immunity challenge.

And as for the Venus post, Maria gave a pretty reasonable response as to why her co-star was removed: “It is not my place to make anyone’s political statements for them,” she wrote, adding, “I don’t believe in speaking someone else’s politics unless we’ve both agreed to share it simultaneously.”

But this is what happens when villains are removed from the Survivor ecosystem. Instead of reveling while watching devilish characters like Russell Hantz and Parvati Shallow, everyone gangs up one of the normal castmates on social media. The team behind Survivor needs to understand that villains are vital to the show’s fanbase—without them, one wrong move can turn a kind contestant into the fanbase’s worst enemy.

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