There isn’t one contestant in my 12 years of watching Survivor that I have despised more than Colton Cumbie, the openly gay college student who viciously attacked almost every competitor he came across. He was mean, petty, arrogant, lazy and by far one of the most ignorant people to ever compete on the CBS reality show (8pm ET tonight).
And with all that said, the show is sadly no longer as interesting now that he is gone. In one of the most amazing displays of karma ever witnessed on television, Colton was sent home last week due to an appendicitis that led to him being hospitalized.
My initial reaction was pure elation, not because he was in pain but because it reduced him to actually being human and humble. He was no longer in a game he felt like he was controlling, and that was very satisfying from a spectator standpoint.
Then reality set in. As much as I abhorred Colton’s actions and very existence, he made the show interesting. He was the type of villain the show had never experienced since its inception in 2000. Sure, there have been some great antagonists like Russell Hantz and Jonny Fairplay, but you could tell a lot of their schtick was just that. Colton made no apologies for being so mean-spirited that he almost brought some of his team members to tears.
He had no desire to help around camp or in challenges, and he even went as far as to abandon his male tribe early in the game to hang out with the females (where he claimed he felt more included). You would think a person who has presumedly experienced intolerance in his life would be more tolerant of others, but that was hardly the case with Colton. He made no bones of the fact that he was an equal-opportunity hater.
His lowest point came two episodes ago when he told team member Christina Cha that she was being voted out next. She put up little resistance, but the bully in him found the need to say he wouldn’t care if she jumped in the open campfire.
A short time later when Colton was very sick and unable to get up, it was Christina who chose to sit by his side and to rub his head to make him feel better. Of course he went on to dismiss it as her trying to curry favor. But even after it was determined he was being taken out of the game, there was Christina to hold his hand and wish him well.
It was a perfect example of one contestant showing integrity and another showing none. Colton admitted in his exit interview that he has learned from watching himself on TV. “If I could do it over I would definitely be nice,” he claims. “It’s opened my eyes to treat people better than how I treated them on the show, and it has helped me grow as a person.”
That remains to be seen, and I’m honestly not holding out hope that he can change. One thing I do know for sure, though, is that this season of Survivor won’t be the same now that he is gone.
© 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Credit: Monty Brinton