One can only imagine all of the conversations, actions and people that end up on Survivor’s cutting room floor. After 20 years on the air, it has perfected the craft of editing players into heroes versus villains, and all others who end up supporting those roles. Given the controversy surrounding Survivor: Island of the Idols, though, it's a bit surprising to learn how one of the middling players has a bone to pick about her “uncomfortable and painful” edit on the show.
Karishma Patel lasted 32 days on Survivor: Island of the Idols, which is not too shabby. The other tribemates didn't seem to like her or her work ethic much, but Patel wasn't outright despised or loved, as some of her castmates were at the time. She played the middle, or so it seemed. When asked about her Survivor edit by EW, Patel revealed,
Short answer, my edit was uncomfortable and painful to watch much of the time. Frankly speaking, I haven't watched my season again, but I'm looking forward to doing so when I'm ready... Survivor, as a show, is in the business of telling stories. And I cannot blame them for taking the 'Karishma Story' in the direction they did, but I disagreed with some decisions on how to tell that story.
This wouldn't be the first time that a former Survivor contestant didn't like their edit. It's another facet of the game that is bound to disappoint. Who doesn't want to be the hero of their own storyline? But as Survivor has proved time and time again, usually we are the footnote on someone else’s story.
Still, judging by Karishma Patel's own words, she seems to believe that she was eaten up and spit out by Survivor and CBS for the sake of entertainment. She claims that her Survivor edit left out important details and context that would have been more truthful. Patel said,
I was first portrayed as having cultural differences that were causing isolation. Then I was constantly berated by Jeff's yelling during challenges to create the illusion that I was the reason we lost. And finally, I'm sleeping all the time because I'm lazy and selfish, not because I had side effects from taking medication without food. Tack on some non-game-related, out-of-context discussion about my family, and you have reality gold at my expense!
The show did seem to just sparingly allude to Karishma Patel's background as a modern Indian-American woman almost in a passing, tokenism manner. But yet in Survivor: Island of the Idols, Patel was shown playing her hidden immunity Idol at the perfect time, effectively blindsiding Elizabeth Beisel that fated night. She also made it a lot farther than anyone anticipated, so her edit was actually more compelling than some others whose names we don’t even bother to remember.
The former player conceded that, though she took her edit as a “joke,” it is “production 101” to have set her up as an underdog of sorts. To be honest, it’s not the worst-case scenario for Survivor. Better to be an underdog who doesn’t win in the end than a nobody who didn’t get much time in the sandbox at all.