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Following Jerri on ‘The Surreal Life’ – Episode 1: So Far, So Bad

by David Bloomberg -- 01/14/2003
With most inductions into the Reality TV Hall of Shame, it ends there. The person has been on a show, acted shamefully, and that was that. But Jerri Manthey is now on another reality show, The Surreal Life. Let’s take a look at the first episode, which is not setting a good example for her supposed behavioral change.

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With most inductions into the Reality TV Hall of Shame, it ends there. The person has been on a show, acted shamefully, and that was that. But it seems that reality show participants are being recycled. Real World and Road Rules cast end up on the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. People from Survivor have ended up on Big Brother and Cannonball Run 2001. Now inductee Jerri Manthey from Survivor 2 has ended up on The Surreal Life. So we are beginning a new column to follow Jerri and see if she continues her shameful behavior in this, her second reality TV show. So far, it’s not looking good for her…

Jerri Manthey’s reputation preceded her to the Surreal Life house. While some of the ex-celebs had no idea who she was, those who did knew to expect the worst. As MC Hammer said when discussing her before she arrived, she was the one who, um, wasn’t all that nice.

Before she arrived she was on the phone with her mother saying it wouldn’t be like the last time. This time, she’ll be nice. While I really would love to believe that, everything inside of me screamed that this was complete and total baloney. I guess we’ll see. Oh, wait, it didn’t take long for the Jerri we all know and find shameful to come out. The full statement was that she’ll be nice… as long as nobody pisses her off. Ahhh, well, there we have it. Heaven forbid anybody should piss off Queen Jerri.

Jerri admitted she was “a roaring bitch” on Survivor. But then we have to remember that she has a different definition of “bitch” than normal people, as shown in her Playboy article and her follow-up web chat.

For one thing, she said at the time that she was “very proud of the way I played the game.” So either she was proud of being a bitch or she has since changed her tune. But she did say that only her bad side was shown on Survivor, magnified by lack of food and sleep. However, that doesn’t explain why she continued her behavior long after she was well-fed and well-rested. For example, when she continued to stick it to Kel at the reunion (she has never apologized for slandering him on national TV). And to put a final exclamation point on that, at the end of her chat, she was asked if Tina’s breasts were real or fake. She replied, “I really don’t care to comment on that.” She followed that immediately with, “I think it’s pretty evidence what the answer to that question is.” So, what exactly was the cause for that particular bout of bitchiness?

Also, she said several times that she thinks the word “bitch” really is just a way of saying somebody who is independent, strong, and outspoken – but it has negative connotations. She even went so far as to say that if she were a man, she’d have been a hero. Um, no. The term does indeed have negative connotations – but it’s supposed to! It is not just another way of describing a woman who is independent, strong, or outspoken. It’s a way of describing a nasty shrew of a woman – like Jerri.

In the chat, she also said that men are threatened by women with power and it’s not the fault of the woman. Uh, yeah. And this applied to her how? Not at all.

OK, so I’ve gone off on quite a tangent there, but it all had a point – she may have admitted she was a bitch on Survivor, but that doesn’t mean she’ll be any different this time around. I’m sure she was not cast for this show based on the idea that she would have everybody join hands and sing songs around a campfire. She was put in to cause sparks – to be a bitch.

And she began right off the bat by (privately) trying to psychoanalyze the others in the house by saying they were already famous and maybe they’re a little afraid of who they really are. Give me a freaking break. She hadn’t even met them and already she was looking for the worst in them. What’s really interesting is that she later said that it was important for her to come in without expecting anything. Um, I think she blew that one already. And remember, she’s going to be nice this time. Riiiiight. Oh, and if they don’t treat her with the respect she deserves, she’ll retaliate. One can only wonder what kind of respect she thinks she is worthy of. Perhaps they need to make sure to bow to her on a regular basis.

It was hysterical to hear MC Hammer describe how he took a poll of normal people on what they thought of her and the general feeling was that they wanted him to smack her for them. Later on, Hammer talked to Jerri one-one-one and she told him that it’s a man’s world and went on about how difficult it is to be an assertive woman. She should have just left the “ertive woman” off of that sentence. Hammer seemed to take her side, but I can’t imagine that will last for long. We shall see.

In another segment, everybody had a fortune cookie supplied by the producers. Jerri’s asked if she is laid back or high maintenance. Can you believe she actually claimed to be laid back? I kid you not. She again admitted she could be a bitch, but only when provoked. You know, she keep saying things like that and I have to wonder what exactly she considers a provocation. In Australia, she attacked Keith for his rice-making skills. She attacked Kel for… well, I’m not sure just what for. Etc. I’m sure they were all poking her with sharp sticks for hours before she snapped into “bitch” mode and we just didn’t get to see it.

Finally, as if to show that she really does not understand how to deal with people, Jerri was talking about how she felt tension from the other women. She played this off as normal because women are territorial. Again, she is ascribing motives to people without even knowing them. She assumes that they don’t like her because they are territorial (and territorial for what? Is there a competition to date Emmanuel Lewis?). In fact, they don’t like her because she is who she is. As Brande Roderick noted, Jerri pretty much says whatever is on her mind. Well, gosh, that’s great – but Jerri doesn’t understand that you can’t go around doing that all the time if you expect to stay on the good side of people. She didn’t learn it in the Outback, and I doubt she’ll learn it here.

When you live your life in such a way that you blame everybody else for your own failings, it’s hard to learn anything. And that is what we have so far seen of Jerri.

David Bloomberg is the Editor of the Reality TV Hall of Shame, and can be reached at

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