Hannah Shapiro was a runner-up on Survivor season 33: Millennials vs. Gen X.
There's a lot happening on the islands of Fiji in season 34 of Survivor. Birds are singing, coconuts are falling and baby goats are escaping slaughter. Survivor: Game Changers is in full swing, with a cast of returning players mixing up the game. There's been blindsides, puzzle wins and even some sugar stealing. I can't help but notice that, among the remaining castaways, there's a strong group of strategic ladies taking over the game. Yes, the men are muscled, shirtless and great at throwing sandbags. But it is the women strategists that seem to be making the decisions and causing the torch snuffing.
As a lady strategist myself, I can't help but love the lady power emerging on the beaches. So, I decided to shine a light on the badass, unapologetic and underrated women taking over the competition. I'm not on TV anymore, but, hey, I get to write about the brave folks who are.
Sandra Diaz-Twine: The Queen
Sandra Diaz-Twine has proven why and how she is a two-time winner. Sandra is the epitome of an unapologetic woman who is playing hard and taking out her enemies. Being unapologetic as a lady on Survivor is hard. Often jury members don't love the women who take them out and don't feel bad about it. But Sandra is such a bold, mind-game-playing lady that you can't help but love her. The fights and chaos she manipulated in episode four that caused J.T. to go home with an idol in his pocket —or, back at camp — was the work of a master. She earned her crown no matter what happens the rest of the season.
Cirie Fields: "Steel Magnolia"
Cirie Fields has called herself a "couch potato," a "gangster in an Oprah suit" and, most recently, "Steel Magnolia." Her reputation precedes her and it's clear her fellow Game Changers players are a bit nervous about trusting her. Still, she is in the game and with a tribe that has been winning and keeping the numbers. Cirie is the ultimate mind-controlling strategist. She's been a part of a strong all-ladies alliance before and seems in a decent position to last in the game. But who knows, she hasn't even lit her torch yet.
Hali Ford: "The Cobra"
Hali has really been impressing me in season 34. She has stayed calm, cool and collected while on the bottom, which is much harder than it seems. Hali called herself a cobra, ready to strike silently. She's a lawyer who's been proving her points articulately at tribal council, and is seemingly harmless on the surface. However, she's clearly willing and ready to make some moves.
Sarah Lacina: "Criminal"
Similar in narrative to Hali, Sarah is someone who is playing under the radar in Survivor: Game Changers. She seems to have everyone's trust, but despite her reputation, she claims to be playing like a criminal this season. She seems willing and excited to make moves to prove she's not a cop to trust. Don't let her adorable French braids fool you: I think Sarah may be the silent killer she named herself in episode one — if she ever goes to tribal council.
Aubry Bracco: My doppelgänger
Aubry has been riding the bottom all season long. But throughout all of it, she has managed to keep calm and not get voted out. We know from season 32, Survivor: Kaoh Rong, that she's a strategist who tends to have a clear read of the game. If her smart, calculated answers at episode four's tribal were any indication, Aubry is not one to underestimate, even on the bottom. If Aubry can find herself some allies that don't immediately get voted out, I have faith her strategist colors will show once again.
Sierra Dawn-Thomas: She lassoed the legacy advantage
Sierra Dawn-Thomas is a player who swore in episode one she wanted to make some big, game-changing moves. With the legacy advantage in her pocket and no clear target on her back, she may get the opportunity to do just that. In her first season, Sierra was surrounded by macho men who dominated the game. Perhaps this is the type of playing field that will spotlight her gameplay.
Michaela Bradshaw: "Tea Sippin'"
Michaela has found her name on the lips of vote writers, but has managed to always be the fake vote and never the real one. Having played Survivor with Michaela myself, I know that she is a fierce competitor in physical challenges, as well as a passionate player. She seems to be enjoying her current role as the Luke Skywalker to Sandra's Yoda.
Andrea Boehlke: Will balance for peanut butter and make moves
Andrea Boehlke is someone who has grown up on islands playing Survivor. Even when she was just a baby player, she wanted to make big moves against Boston Rob. Now, her third time playing, she is more willing than ever to make some moves. Andrea seems to be riding with a good crew that has the numbers. But like Sarah and Cirie, she doesn't even know what tribal council looks like yet.
Debbie Wanner: The strategist
Yes, Debbie seemed to lose her cool and even her sanity a little bit in episode four — but who hasn't when starving on an island? While her path towards a victory may be quite difficult now, there is no denying there is a strategic player under her big personality. Debbie proved in season 32, Survivor: Kao Rong, that she could pull off a blindside with the best of them. Who knows what sort of strategic gameplay could emerge out of her colorful language.
In praise of the ladies
The women this season have been kicking butt. Of the five people eliminated so far in season 34, four have been dudes. Let's all take a moment to appreciate the strategic ladies of Survivor: Game Changers. Ain't no party like a Survivor strategic lady party... cause a Survivor strategic lady party will get you voted off before you even know what happened.
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