'Survivor's' NaOnka: Hero or Villain?
Ben Watson
Ben Watson
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
This season of Survivor has been lacking in many areas: compelling challenges, tribal blindsides, interesting castaways. However, one area where Survivor: Nicaragua hasn't skimped is providing us with at least one polarizing contestant.

Four episodes in and NaOnka "Nay" Mixon, the 27 year old P.E. Teacher from Los Angeles, has steadily become one of the most contentious contestants in 21 seasons. Judging by the comments in Survivor articles and slideshows on BuddyTV, people really feel strongly about Nay.

Most of the negative comments I've seen towards Nay seem to deal with her inordinate amount of hatred towards Kelly B. and they way she will snap so quickly towards members of her tribe. The Nay defenders have stuck up for her by pointing out that she is playing a strong game and that it isn't fair if she treats Kelly B. differently than everyone else.  

It started out that Nay would only say mean things about Kelly B. in the confessional, but last week she took her hatred to the next level when she confronted Kelly B. and told her straight up that she didn't like her (among other things), that was fine, but when she told the camera that Kelly B. better keep her leg away from the fire, that was both confusing and scary.

It's easy to shutter when you hear Nay say things that are biting (however, sometimes true) or insensitive, but there are also times when she is genuinely funny. Unfortunately because of the nature of this season, the show hasn't allowed us to spend enough time with La Flor to form basic opinions outside of stereotypes and sound bites.

So in fairness to NaOnka, I thought I would briefly highlight the pros and cons and let you sound-off below.

Pro: NaOnka
What can you say, the girls got moxie. From the moment she arrived in Nicaragua, Nay has spoken her mind and stuck up for herself. People may not approve of her methods but she has worked her way to the top of the La Flor tribe by finding the hidden immunity idol. Much has been said about the way she got the clue, but what was she supposed to do, there's a million dollars on the line. What she did wasn't any different than what Danielle did last season when she wrestled Amanda to the ground for the clue.

Nay knows that if she wants to go far in Survivor, and have a real shot at winning the million dollars, then she needs to be ruthless. In a season where not too many people appear to be "playing the game" Nay is giving it all she has. And that has to count for something.
Even with such a polarizing personality, Nay has still managed to work herself into a tight little alliance with La Flor top dogs Brenda and Chase. And with the idol in tow she may be able to hang around for a few more weeks.

For those of us who thought Nay was all talk, last week she let us in on part of her strategy involving Kelly B. She wants to play mind games with her to force her to quit. While that may not be the nicest or compassionate approach, this is Survivor we are talking about!

Con: NaOnka

NaOnka may not have the social game necessary to sustain a long life in the game. Even if she managed to make it to the final two she could have a difficult time winning over a scorned jury. Remember Russell, the self proclaimed best Survivor ever (his words not mine, although I've grown to kind of like the guy), was able to make it to the end twice but his abysmal social game put the final nails in both his coffins.   

Lastly, there's her obvious disdain for Kelly B. and her artificial leg. What started out as kind of funny has morphed into something that makes me uncomfortable every time she brings it up. And she brings it up a lot. Either the show has done Nay a disservice in their editing (a huge possibility) or Nay has nothing to say to the camera unless it has to do with Kelly B.'s artificial leg. It's OK not to like somebody, but I fear for Nay's sake that she will get too caught up in the hating that it will detract from her game play.

So say what you will about NaOnka, but she certainly has given this somewhat lackluster season beginning some needed controversy. She has taken a stance and so far stuck with it. In her CBS bio she summed up her game play when she said of herself, "I'm a firecracker and I'm also a rainbow. I could be thunder and I could be lightening. I could be that star in the sky that's just twinkling, or I could just be a beast."

Alright Survivor fans, let me know what you think. I know you have strong opinions out there, just try to keep them civil. Is Nay really all that bad or do you think she's playing a strong game?

(Images courtesy of CBS)