Debbie Wanner has been called many things on Survivor: Kaoh Rong. She has been called a chemist, a waitress and a part-time model by herself. Debbie has also been called awful, annoying and loud by everyone else living with her. The most outrageous claim about Debbie has been one out of her own mouth though. 

Debbie thinks she is a mastermind and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Debbie is not nearly as smart as she thinks she is, despite the fact that she landed on the Brains tribe. This doesn’t mean that Debbie isn’t playing a good game of Survivor. It’s just a different game than the one she thinks she is playing.

Debbie Is the New (and Improved) Special Agent Phillip

In many ways, Debbie is reminiscent of one of the most infamous players from Survivor history. The arrogance, the loudness, the larger-than-life personality, Debbie shares a lot with Phillip Sheppard. Someone should probably check if Phillip is still alive, in fact, Debbie could be channeling his spirit. For those lucky few, that don’t remember Phillip was the contestant from Survivor: Redemption Island and Caramon, who let everyone know he used to be a FBI secret agent. 

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Phillip was one the biggest characters Survivor has ever seen and was utterly ridiculous. The thing that must be remembered about Phillip is he made it pretty far in his first season. Phillip was the runner-up of that season behind the beloved Boston Rob. Sure, Phillip was a patsy but he was a valuable patsy.

The fact that Debbie rubs people the wrong way is actually beneficial to her. If you can survive to the merge on Survivor and you’re annoying — you’re in a good spot. People are going to get rid of the strongest threats at that point of the game. They aren’t going to take down people who effect the quality of life. Like Phillip Shepard, Debbie is someone that people are going to want to take to the end because they view her as a non-entity. 

Debbie Is Delusional but Not That Delusional

This is where Debbie’s threat level comes into play. No one can deny that Debbie has an inflated sense of self. She is supremely over confident in her abilities. You really need to look no further than the aggressive predatory way she tried to align with helpless Tai to see the “real” Debbie. The thing is that while she is similar to Phillip Sheppard she’s not nearly that naive. Debbie is not a complete idiot. 

She’s pretty tone-deaf socially but she does notice things. Debbie isn’t helpless out on Survivor island. She is just aggressive, too aggressive maybe, but she is still making the right moves. It helps that Debbie is one of the few members on the Brains tribe with any measure of personality. Aubry is the only competition for Debbie and Aubry has only recently emerged that there is something going on there. Debbie might have been overestimating her role in the brain tribe but only slightly.

From the very beginning Debbie emerged on the Brains tribe as a big force. She noticed that Peter was going to try to gain control and stopped it. She is seemingly the leader of that Brains alliance. It’s not really like Joe has done anything all season and Neal was too busy dealing with puss coming out of his knee to ever really be a threat. 

Since the merge Survivor: Kaoh Rong has been Brains vs. Brawn, with Beauty stuck in the middle, Debbie could easily mount a coup at some point. Again she is not going to be targeted because everyone thinks she is annoying idiot. It’s high likely, if the Beauties stick with the Brawn tribe, that Debbie will be the last Brain standing. 

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We already know that alliance between Brawn and Beauty is tenuous. None of the Beauties, with maybe the exception of Tai, like any of the Brawn members. There will be division between Brawn and Beauty eventually and that’s where Debbie could once again become vital to the game. She’s the swing vote then and she’s important. Debbie’s just loud enough to get her way. 

Debbie Is a Fighter

No one can say Debbie is playing a good social game. She is not a popular person however much of a character she is for the cameras. Debbie does play hard though and that’s really what separates her from Phillip Sheppard. It is what separates Debbie from a lot of infamous Survivor contestants who the show loved to make fun of and edit into ridiculous situations. 


Debbie is the latest in a long line of Survivor buffoons. There is always one person who the show mercilessly pokes fun at without their knowledge. Unlike the other buffoons, Debbie is just the slightest bit more savvy. She is probably never going to come to realization that she is annoying. She will probably never realize she is not in control. Debbie won’t go down without a fight. Debbie is ridiculous but she is playing the game just as hard, if not harder, than anyone else left. 

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Survivor: Kaoh Rong is entertaining but it is clear there are very few contestants on this season who are “all-star” material. Debbie’s not one of the greatest players ever but compared to some of the other contestants of her season, especially Scot and Kyle, she is a real threat. Debbie’s weird but it wouldn’t be the first time a weirdo won Survivor. It’s unlikely but it’s not impossible. Plus with all the medical evacuations this season Debbie might just make it to the end for having a hearty constitution. 

But what do you think of Debbie’s chances?

Survivor: Kaoh Rong airs Wednesdays at 8pm on CBS.

(Images courtesy of CBS)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.