By John Powell – GlobalTV.com
Very few people on Survivor make it to the jury and fewer still go on to win the big cash prize. Every once in awhile though someone leaves the show with something truly priceless. Matthew Blankinship is one of those fortunate castaways. Survivor has changed his life. He and fellow castaway Frannie Marin found each other and love on the show.
“That caught me way off guard, to be honest! You are one of 18 castaways on a beach and everyone is a total stranger. You don’t expect to immediately click so intensely with someone out there! I think it caught both of us off guard! The first few days we couldn’t help it! All we wanted to do is just talk to each other all the time…It is really, really rare to find someone with whom you have so much chemistry right out of the gate. I feel like I’ve known her forever,” said Matt.
For those wanting to know how well the couple is doing since leaving the island and the game, Matt shared an update.
“Frannie and I are dating! We’re going strong! I think it’s rare in life, much less on Survivor, to find a connection that you keep. I owed it to myself to allow this to flourish. It is a beautiful thing! I love spending time with Frannie! She’s wonderful!” he grinned.
Matt not only made a meaningful connection on Survivor he also has changed as a person because of the experience. He admits that before the show he lacked confidence. He would often second-guess his decisions and self-sabotage. Being part of the cutthroat game and such a massive production that is being seen around the world changed him, for the better.
“You should have seen me in the first few interviews on the island! I was literally stuttering! I couldn’t get a frickin’ word out because I was overthinking everything that comes out of mouth! I was thinking that this is going to be in front of a million people but over time I was able to calm myself down. I told myself you have a voice that matters. You have a perspective that matters and bringing it out into the world is something that you should do. I was happy to find that kind of confidence and that sweet spot of believing in what I have to say and believing it’s worth something. I think that was like a really big shift for me. I think before and after Survivor really has been a pretty big pivot for me and life-changing, confidence building moment for me and my life,” he said proudly.
As every loyal fan or devoted player knows couples, showmances, whatever you like to call them, are automatic, easy targets on a reality game-show. They represent a ready-made, unbreakable, alliance and two votes cast as one. There is nothing more dangerous than a shatterproof alliance. Frannie and Matt were well aware of their position in the game and the perception others had of them but with such a small tribe it was hard to hide how they really felt about one another.
“It was impossible! We genuinely could not. We did try but it was all futile. I love Claire (Rafson) and her reactions (on the show)! I love them! I love watching it back because it’s so funny. It was plain to see for everyone. I will say we tried to tone it down over time. During those last couple episodes we genuinely did not spend very much time together at all,” he said.
Just because he and Frannie share a deep connection doesn’t mean that she didn’t try his patience at times. When Frannie won individual immunity and immunity for her team, Matt admits his heart sank. He didn’t understand why that once she won immunity for herself why she couldn’t have thrown the rest of the competition thereby giving the other team and Matt immunity too. Matt was flooded with mixed emotions at the time. He was thrilled for his friend but also disappointed that her actions put him and his game in so much unnecessary danger.
“Even in the moment I knew Frannie dropped the frickin ball! I’m like, this is just greeeeeat but I also cannot blame her, right? It is a dream of everyone to win an immunity challenge and get given that necklace by Jeff (Probst). I would never ever take that away from her. I think that’s like a life achievement for her. Part of why I said what I did on the way out of the game is because I didn’t want her to blame herself. I wanted her to understand that I understand and I love her for it anyway. I’d be lying though if I said I wasn’t thinking: Frannie just dropped the frickin thing!” he laughed.
In the game, Matt made his fair share of mistakes too. Like, not bringing his bag with him to last night’s challenge. A bag which contains his useless fake idol but also his Shot in the Dark too. Matt freely admits he screwed up but there is plenty of blame to spread around.
“This is what kept me up at night. There’s no excuse. We were merged, right? Everyone’s together. In my mind, there’s no universe where we don’t come back to this beach. There’s no possibility of that happening…And to be honest, this might be throwing people under the bus but I was NOT the only person who left their bag. Nobody saw this coming. Am I dumb for it? Absolutely. Have I learned that lesson the hard way. Absolutely. I just had no idea. I like I couldn’t even conceive of a world in which we didn’t go back to camp,” he said.
As he did on the show, Matt acknowledges that his head wasn’t in the greatest of spaces when he stepped on the beach. That state of mind wasn’t only because he just went through a rough break-up but that he knew he couldn’t play the kind of ruthless game he saw others play in the past. That just wasn’t part of his DNA as a person and a competitor. On the island, he was constantly at war with how far he was willing to go to win.
“I mean, it’s Survivor. Every asset is a weakness and vice versa. I wanted to play a genuine game because I felt like that played to my strengths. I wanted to make real friendships and real bonds out there at least for the first part of the game. At some point, you got to start stabbing each other in the back and I was prepared to do that. I knew I couldn’t play in a way that was not me. I can’t be Danny and play the way that Danny plays. I have to be myself and play the way I can play with my strengths and weaknesses,” he said looking back.
As the first member of this season’s jury, Matt had a very clear idea at the time of who he wanted to win and why.
“For me, the game is all about perception. It’s like a little bit of a cliche but it’s also true. I want to know that you understand how everyone else is perceiving you. That you understand what’s going on in the game, the relationships and you have navigated your way through all of that. I want you to demonstrate that you understand what happened in the game and how people were perceiving you at every stage of the game. That doesn’t necessarily mean control. It can be but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. I don’t necessarily care as much about who is driving a vote as I care about that you’re in on it and you understand your position relative to everyone else. I want people to demonstrate that to me in the final tribal,” he said.