Why Erika Had Problems With the ‘Survivor 41’ Edit

Erika Casupanan

CBS Erika Casupanan in "Survivor 41."

It’s official: Erika Casupanan has officially been crowned the winner of “Survivor 41.” Last night, in the finale of “Survivor 41,” Erika made it to the final three and garnered a majority of the jury’s favor in a landslide 7-1 vote, beating out Deshawn Radden, the final member of the season’s “All-Black alliance,” and fan-favorite Xander Hastings, who was a major presence this season and, at 20 years old, one of the youngest competitors to ever compete.

Many fans are celebrating Erika’s victory, in part because she was well-liked by the fanbase for her character and gameplay, but also because she has broken a number of milestones: she is the first female winner since Sarah Lacina in season 34, “Game Changers,” the first Canadian winner (and only the third Canadian-born contestant to ever compete), the first Filipino winner, and the first winner of color since Wendell Holland in season 36, “Ghost Island,” in a season in which many social and cultural factors beyond the game were a major backdrop. Because of these milestones, Erika tweeted jokingly during the finale that she “must be a witch [because] I just broke a curse.”

Despite how Erika’s victory was well-received, the widespread jubilation was tempered by the collective shock of a win which almost seemed to have come out of nowhere. This was due in no small part to her edit – an edit which baffled viewers, analysts, and players alike. One of those players was Erika herself, who recently spoke out about how she was portrayed on the show.

Here’s everything you need to know about the edit behind the winner of “Survivor 41,” Erika Casupanan.

Fans Have a Problem With Erika’s Meager Screentime

Confessional counts are widely used by fans and commentators to analyze how contestants are faring in their edit; usually the biggest breakout characters of the show have the highest number of confessionals, and quieter, more low-key players – such as Heather Aldret this season – have fewer. Confessional counts are one of the key measures used by Survivor Edgic, a site meant to predict the eventual winner of each season based on their gameplay and edit.

In the hours since Erika was announced as winner, fans have pointed out how Erika’s edit was severely lacking, especially as a winner. There were a number of big-name players who received a much heavier edit than she did, such as Xander Hastings, Shan Smith, and Deshawn Radden. As of episode 12 – the last episode before the finale – every single person in the final 9 apart from Heather received more overall confessionals than Erika had. JD Robinson, who was eliminated in episode 4, had only four fewer than Erika (at 22, vs. Erika’s 26), even though she outpaced him by 8 episodes.

As fans were wont to point out, the jury seemed to be quite impressed by Erika’s game at last night’s Final Tribal Council; even Danny McCray, the only juror who didn’t vote for her, praised her as having “played the game I wanted to play.”

As viewers have noted, the problem with this is that the audience didn’t get to see much of it. As a result, much of the fanbase feels like they didn’t have real insight as to what went on in the season; instead, they were simply gifted with the presence of major characters like Shan, Xander, and Deshawn, who, although their games may have been flashy and interesting, shouldn’t oversaturate the show at the expense of others, especially the winner.

Fans See A Gender Bias in Editing

Erika Casupanan and Deshawn Radden in Survivor 41

YouTubeErika Casupanan and Deshawn Radden in episode 12 of “Survivor 41.”

Erika is not the first winner to be underedited, however. In fact, as fans have noted on Twitter, underedited winners are almost exclusively female.

In a breakdown of all winners’ edits, Rob Cesternino’s fact checker highlighted how 20 of the 22 most “overedited” winners are male, while only two are female. Conversely, 12 of the 14 most “underedited” winners (not including Chris Underwood of season 38, “Edge of Extinctinon,” who was not in the game for most of the season) are female. Erika falls near the bottom, about 33rd out of 40.

As Erika tweeted when she was revealed as the winner, “I’ve avenged my purple sister,” referring to “Purple Kelly” Shinn, a contestant from season 21, “Nicaragua,” who was notoriously underedited, likely due to her quit halfway through the merge. Her “purple” nickname has since been adopted by fans to refer to other contestants who receive scant edits.

Erika Was Worried The Edit Made Her ‘Unrootable’

With these kinds of numbers, it is unsurprising why many fans, let alone Erika herself, would be upset about her lack of airtime. Since she was officially revealed as the winner of “Survivor 41,” Erika has spoken publicly about her edit, and how it affected her.

In an interview with EW, Erika said that, as she left the game, she had “no ego about how I was going to be shown.” However, given how she has been a longtime “Survivor” fan, thoughts about how she would be portrayed publicly and received among the fanbase did affect her. “I’m aware of Edgic and I’m aware of what a winner’s edit looks like,” she explained. “So the first episode goes by and I think, ‘Okay, I see what they’re doing.’ And then kind of seeing the beginning part of the pre-merge, you can’t help but think, ‘Oh, I’m not getting the traditional winner’s edit’.”

She was also worried she might be “destined for a lifetime of having to defend my [win] even though I came home so proud of myself.” Nevertheless, she said she believed that overall, “the story that they showed of me was really positive.”

However, she also said that she worried her low-key edit would make it so that people wouldn’t be inclined to root for her. “It kind of sucks that the edit made me unrootable for some people in a way,” she said.

She went on to say that she was proud of her win, and that perhaps her low-key edit could help some fans realize that the edit is not all there is to the game:

Who knows, maybe the edit is a signal to people to kind of let go of their existing beliefs of how “Survivor” normally needs to go and let go of their systems and really just be open to the twists and terms that the game gives the audience.

Many fans are inclined to agree with her. Perhaps those who put too much faith in the edit need to check their biases.

Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Season 42 will premiere March 9, 2022.