Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 42 of Survivor!
it was a double tribal/double elimination night on the April 27 episode of Survivor 42. Rocksroy Bailey – who had taken advantage of what fans consider to be the worst twist in the game’s history a week prior – was voted first in the double whammy. Entering with the next group, Drea Wheeler was shocked to see how Bailey had joined another black player (in Chanelle Howell) who was already on the jury. This situation sparked a huge conversation about race, and now last season’s fan favorite Shan Smith is calling fans “toxic” for the reactions to what happened.
Specifically, contestants Drea Wheeler and Maryanne Oketch (the only two black players remaining in Season 42) noted the tendency to Survivor of how black players are usually eliminated early or consecutively. This did not sit well with teammate Jonathan Young, who took it as an insinuation that he was a “racist” for planning to vote for Wheeler next. Nonetheless, Wheeler and Oketch have shown solidarity by openly using each of their hidden immunity idols to fight what they see as a systemic problem.
There was a ton of reaction to the intense tribal following its airing, especially on the official Survivor Facebook page. On one side of the spectrum, many fans commented that the two contestants were “playing the race card,” which is actually what Drea Wheeler predicted would be the conclusion for viewers. Survivor 41′s Shan Smith isn’t happy with what she sees on the forum and demands that the page be taken down by CBS. She wrote on Twitter,
This pastor says fuk the FB fandom. His toxic& @survivor should delete this page. It’s hard to denounce racism, especially on national television. I’m so proud of @maryanneoketch and @Drea_Wheeler for holding on, speaking our collective truth #Survivor #survivor42April 28, 2022
Drea Wheeler wrote on her own Twitter following fan split, she respects “everyone’s thoughts and opinions” and only asks fans to “be nice” to her Survivor 42 family. Conversely, Maryanne Oketch (who officially changed her Twitter last name to match her on-screen crush) remarked its account on the “overwhelming” support she received for taking a stand the way she did. She added that having seen important conversations about “socio-cultural issues” take place on Survivor over the years, this is what has “reinforced” her not to “allow a pattern to continue”.
Race was also a big tribal council topic in Shan Smith’s season. Survivor. 41 and 42, in line with CBS’s 2020 diversity commitment, increased the number of players of color to 50%, where before they were outliers. As a result, Smith and his other black tribesmen decided to form an alliance together after the merger as a nod to “the culture”. Their group eventually fell apart and runner-up Deshawn Radden broke down in tears on a tribal because he was torn between his darkness and the demands of the game.
There were many comparisons made at the time between Survivor 41 all-black wedding band and the one seen last summer on Big brother, called “the barbecue”. The latter was clearly more successful in his goals, as he was able to crown the show’s first black winner in 23 seasons, but he also faced criticism from fans over the running dynamics. Shan Smith reflected on all of Cookout’s comparisons after their stint, saying she hoped next season would accomplish what they failed to do.
Obviously, Shan Smith’s vision of a more formidable all-black alliance didn’t exactly come to fruition in season 42, but there’s still the possibility of a black winner sitting in the final three. Judging by the preview for next week’s episode, Drea Wheeler and Maryanne Oketch aren’t so much in trouble as a certain “he.” Tune into CBS May 4 at 8 p.m. EST on the 2022 TV schedule to see how everything continues to shake.