Here's a juicy bit of gossip for reality television fans to chew on. Everyone knows the story of real-life Sleepless in Seattle single dad, Jason Mesnick
, who applied to be on The Bachelorette
in the hopes of finding a new mom to complete his ideal family. But here's what you might not know.
Jason's original first choice wasn't to appear on The Bachelorette
. He wanted to be on Survivor: Gabon
. One can imagine an alternate universe where Jason survived Tribal Council votes instead of rose ceremonies. He would have lived in a lean-to shelter under constant rainfall instead of at The Mansion. Forget about the time he had to compose a song and sing it for Deanna. Instead he would have had to rip big hunks of meat off of a roast with his teeth and spit it in a bucket. The team with the heaviest bucket wins. Not everything would have changed. Either way he still probably would have gone on a helicopter ride. Well, as long as he didn't get eaten by wild animals first!
To be fair, from what I understand Jason never received a callback about becoming a castaway. For all anyone knows his application to CBS could have gotten lost in the mail. You've got to wonder whether the Eye network is kicking themselves right now. They could find room on that cast for G Sizzle, the angry maintenance worker best remembered for storming off and almost missing a challenge, but they couldn't find room for the enormously popular spin off star of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette?
I know it's too late now, but as a regular viewer of both series I can't help but wonder how Jason would have fared in Earth's Last Eden
. Perhaps the best way to guess would be to examine Jason's essential character, those of his personality traits that would likely come out no matter what show he was on. Despite being professionally and romantically successful, Jason seems like an exceptionally easy going guy. That's what makes him charming. He manages to get what he wants without pushing and shoving. It's easy, of course, when you have 25 girls coming to you, but he was the same way when he was one of 25 guys going to Deanna. While it may seem more natural for a Survivor competitor to lie and back stab other contestants have made a simpler, more psychologically healthy strategy work in the past. With a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and a charming self confidence, Jason seems like the kind of capable number two guy a leader like resident Doctor McDreamy would seek out on Day One. He could fill a similar role to that of Ethan Zohn
in Survivor: Africa
, Ryan O'Prey in Survivor: Pearl Islands
or Ian Rosenberger
in Survivor: Palau
Jason could definitely use his boyish cuteness and confident charm to devastating effect. The same big brown eyes that turn Molly
's knees to Jell-O could be used to weaken almost anyone's bargaining power. But flirting has rarely proven a successful Survivor strategy in the absence of other skills. Just ask Survivor: Vanuatu
e Berry or Oz
zie Lusth and from Survivor: Micronesia, Fans Vs. Favorites
. Bonding too closely with just one person to the exclusion of others can be a big mistake. Worse than that, who remembers Lilliana Gomez from Survivor: Fiji
? Her tribe voted her off early on in the game because her snuggling and flirting with the men made the other women feel threatened. Jason can obviously multi-task between different women. He does it all the time on The Bachelor. But on The Bachelor doesn't have the option of secretly turning on him every time he says something stupid about being a better kisser. On Survivor
it's a different story. If Jason could win a reward challenge and take just one person along we could be in for some good night vision television. He knows his way around the inside of a Coleman tent. Just ask Molly. But as soon as he applies his charm with two people who are on different sides of a division within the tribe he could easily be accused of playing both sides and get voted out before he even had a chance to smooth talk his way out of it. The question is whether he would overplay his hand without realizing it, or whether he would feel free to use flirting a little more judiciously than he's really allowed to on The Bachelor
The other big downside I see for Jason is that despite looking great hanging out by the pool with his shirt off, he might not be all that strong of a competitor in the challenges. Sure, we've seen several times that Jason has a basic athleticism and some physical coordination. He's a lifelong fan of the game of golf, he held his own shooting hoops in the garage with Deanna's family and he climbed the rock wall at REI. We know from interviews that he worked with a personal trainer to increase his muscle mass before going on The Bachelor
. But here's what you realize if you watch Survivor
for very long. The people who got their muscles in the gym face a double whammy when they begin starving in the wild. They need more calories to sustain their energy. But worse than that, having bulky muscle mass doesn't usually make them great all around athletes. They tend to fare less well in the challenges than people who got their muscles, say, digging graves or lugging around firefighting equipment. People at the gym work on isolated muscle groups and they usually miss the connecting muscle systems. Because they do reps in short bursts they also don't develop as much endurance as people who chop down trees eight hours a day. None of this is to say Jason wouldn't be more physically fit than, say, the older women. But those slender, sneaky young models on Survivor
have often been successful in arguing that bulky men eat twice as much rice but can't solve a puzzle or cross a balance beam any faster. A group of Jason's ladies could potentially take him out of the game early.
There's certainly plenty of room for debate about how Jason would have fared in the African grasslands so make your voice heard.
-Henry Jenkins, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(photo credit goes to ABC and CBS)