Exclusive: Debra "Debbie" Beebe talks about 'Survivor: Tocantins'
By Reality TV World staff, 05/08/2009
Despite ending up on the short-end of the game's post-merge tribal alliances, Debra "Debbie" Beebe managed to survive more than a month in Survivor: Tocantins.
However that all ended on Day 33, when she appeared to unsuccessfully attempt to convince the game's controlling alliance to target Benjamin "Coach" Wade, the controversial castaway he'd been allied with since Day 1, and was voted off herself instead.
On Friday, the 46-year-old middle-school principal from Auburn, AK spoke to Reality TV World about how she feels the show misrepresented her decision to turn on her long-time ally, it she would have really honored her offer to give up the Final 3 immunity necklace if she'd won it, why she didn't make a bolder attempt to oust game leaders James "JT" Thomas Jr and Stephen Fishbach, and what the status of her relationship with Coach is now.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be voted off or were you expecting it?
Debbie: I was absolutely, totally shocked (laughs)
I was very surprised, yeah.
Reality TV World: They didn't show you mentioning that in the part of your Final Words that were broadcast last night...
Debbie: Yeah, well you know what, for two days everybody had gone around saying 'We've got to vote coach out, we've got to vote Coach out' and I finally jumped on board with them. IT looked a little bit like I was kind of the ringleader in that but, um, I jumped on board with it and yeah, they got me
Reality TV World: Wait a minute, you're saying you weren't the 'ringleader'?
Debbie: No I wasn't. And everybody will tell you that. Yeah, I wasn't. There were some others out there.
Reality TV World: Well who were they?
Debbie: Well JT and Stephen for sure. Um, Taj had had it with Coach [too] and so they really... they really got me going on it and making me feel like the only way I was going to survive in the game was to get rid of him. And you'll see later, hopefully you'll see some more things come up about that [which should] clarify it
Reality TV World: So you're saying that [Day 31] conversation where you were shown approaching them about how you were having "second thoughts" and suggested [voting off] Coach, you saying that came after a conversation where they had already planted that idea in your head?
Debbie: Yeah, yeah. I mean it was one of those things where so much is going on out there and we really -- you know once Tyson was voted off, I knew my time was limited. [There was] a lot of scrambling and heck, after 30-something days out there without food and water and no sleep your brain just -- I couldn't honestly remember doing different portions of it so when I watch it I'm like 'Oh my gosh,' 'Oh, wow.' It's [been] interesting.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction sitting there at Tribal Council listening to Coach talk about how much he trusted you?
Debbie: Oh, I felt horrible. I felt awful. Even last night watching it, oh my god I felt bad. But in all honestly, you know this is a game. Coach and I talked. We're great, we're fine, it's a game. And most of us really got that, that we were out there to play a game. I mean it's amazing that we've made great friends through this but I don't think anybody went on Survivor to make friends, they went on Survivor to win a million dollars.
Reality TV World: So if you were surprised [to be voted off] what were you expecting to happen... you obviously made that offer [but] a few days earlier had told Coach that you that you thought Stephen and JT would turn on you and go to the Final 3 with Taj instead, so what had happened, you had a change of heart and no longer thought that was going to be the case?
Debbie: I knew Stephen and JT were in charge of the game, at least at that point. That's what I totally felt and honestly, watching it [at home], Stephen's more in charge of that game than anybody, but he didn't appear to be that way in camp.
And so I think what happened is it was just one of those deals where all of the sudden this isn't playing out the way we had planned, and like I said, everybody was out to get Coach for two days and I was finally like 'Okay, I gotta go with the group or I'm going to be voted out if I don't go with the tribe.'
Reality TV World: So by 'two days' you mean what, those first two days after Sierra was gone?
Debbie: Um, see three days out there is an episode
Reality TV World: Sure...
Debbie: I get kind of confused but it was like after Sierra was gone the talk immediately started that Coach had to be next.
Reality TV World: Okay. As part of that whole scrambling there you made that crazy offer...
Reality TV World: ...where you actually told JT and Stephen that you'd be happy to finish third and give them immunity if you made the Final 3.
Debbie: Yeah, yep...
Reality TV World: For the record, what would you have done if that had happened. Were you planning to honor that deal or were you planning to do like Dreamz did to Yau-Man [in Survivor: Fiji] and renege on it or what was that all about?
Debbie: Okay, here's the deal. I truly believed myself that I would do that at that moment. I really did because honestly, as I said, I knew my time was limited [and] I felt that those two were in charge of the game. And I honestly meant it at that point, because to me third would have been -- third would have been winning for me at that point.
Now, if it came absolutely down to it and I was sitting there and I have a million dollars dangling over my head with that I hope that I would have kept true to my word. And in this game you take so many crazy turns you don't know where and in what place you'd have been in by that time.
But I was sincere in the moment that I really would have done it.
Reality TV World: Okay, here's what I didn't get about that offer -- that seemed to come the day after you tried to use the fact that Coach said he didn't care about the million dollars as evidence to get him out of the game (laughs)
Debbie: Yeah. Honestly, JT and Stephen, at the beginning, they were afraid of me being a strong player, I'll be honest with you. They really knew that I was a physical threat to win the challenges and they also knew that I was a social threat.
Heck, the whole jury at that point was Timbera [members], and they knew I was close with Timbera and they did not want me to get very far or get to the jury because even Jeff, like the week before, said 'Debbie, what's it feel like to be such a threat?'
And I really think, and Stephen alluded to it a little bit last night, about me being such a threat.
Reality TV World: So, based on what we saw last night, it almost seemed like that offer to give up immunity was really what made them decide they couldn't believe the rest of the stuff you were saying. Do you think that was really the final nail in your coffin, has that come up in any of your [post-show] discussions or anything like that?
Debbie: Yeah, I honestly think that had already decided. I think they had already decided that I had to go. But obviously they didn't know whether I was saying that to other people. I wasn't, JT and Stephen were the only two I ever said that to.
And it was just getting to the point in the game where you've got to start making some strategic moves -- it's either going to kill you or it's going to help you -- and Timbera made stupid moves from the beginning. Very stupid.
Reality TV World: Why do you think you guys were so fractured immediately after the merge?
Debbie: You know, I don't know. Immediately when we merged, JT and Stephen started really working Tyson and Brendan to not trust each other basically.
And so that's where all of the sudden Brendan gets voted off because Brendan is awesome and Brendan was in incredible physical threat, the kid is brilliant. He's so likeable once you get to know him and so all of the sudden everybody went after Brendan [because] they were told Brendan was coming after them so all of the sudden paranoia set in
Reality TV World: So did you ever try any plan other than trying to form that Final 3 alliance with JT and Stephen to save yourself? I mean last night's episode even showed JT and Stephen talking about how surprised they were, given how obvious it was that they were controlling things, that the other four of you guys were just kind of sitting around and letting them do it.
Debbie: I know, weren't we crazy? I think I was half brain-dead by then (laughs)
I don't know, what is everybody thinking? I mean it was obvious who was controlling the game but everybody for some reason -- and see, Coach 'gave his word' and there was no changing it.
We could not get Coach to change his rethink and get JT off. It was not happening.
Reality TV World: So you had brought that up, or somebody else had brought that up?
Debbie: I brought that up to Coach. Actually, Tyson and I and myself and Coach had talked a little bit about that but Coach was very determined to make his point that he was 'going to change this game and it was going to be a game of honesty and integrity' and he wasn't going back on his word. So he was the key in that and he wasn't going to let anything happen to JT and Stephen because he had given them his word.
Reality TV World: So do you try approaching Erinn and Taj about a women's alliance? It's seemed pretty clear that Taj was going to be the odd one out at No. 3 even if she and Stephen and JT got to the end.
Debbie: Right, right. We talked about it, although it was mostly Sierra and I did. The problem with Erinn was we knew as soon as we merged Erinn was jumping tribes. We knew that. Because Erinn really was our tribe's choice to go instead of Jerry but Jerry got very sick and did not want to be a quitter and asked us to vote him out.
So we voted Jerry out but that was really supposed to be Erinn and then Timbera never lost another Immunity Challenge and so Erinn knew that she had that 'X' on her back, let's say.
And I've got to give her credit -- she still kept her head up and did her thing and it's gone well for her. But we knew as soon as there was a merge Erinn was jumping ship and she would be a loss.
Reality TV World: Going back to last week's episode there again for the second, it seemed pretty obvious that Coach and yourself were clearly the ones that approached Sierra about reforming the Timbera alliance... was there something that wasn't shown [and that wasn't that case] or did you just not want to acknowledge it while you were in the game?
Debbie: No, no, we definitely did it. And I definitely acknowledged it. I said to JT and Stephen, 'Yeah, I was looking at our options about a Timbera alliance, absolutely.' I mean I was honest about it.
But I just felt that we needed to see where we were. Sierra was so made at us for voting for, you know, writing her name down when they blindsided Tyson that she wasn't having any of it. But I still had to stick my toe in and see.
But no, you know I don't like it when people blame [the show's] editing -- obviously what's on camera is what we did.
Reality TV World: Well the editing didn't really make it look like you were being honest about that situation [afterwards], that's why I'm asking
Debbie: Um, I think if you listen a little bit carefully I [was] honest. And that was the thing, you know what Coach ended up saying was 'Debbie and Sierra talked about it' [and] that wasn't true, Sierra didn't bring it up, Coach and I brought it up, and I said 'Yes' to JT and Stephen when Sierra was calling us out. I said 'I did, I was exploring options.'
But again, like I said, there was two days of this constant bickering and battering that was going on and when I put my hand out and I said 'OK, I've had enough' that was after a couple of days, it wasn't just a couple of minute thing.
Reality TV World: How did you end up on the show, how were you cast on it?
Debbie: Well it was interesting, I applied for Season 2 and wasn't accepted and got a call that said 'Hey, we'd like you to apply for Survivor again.'
Reality TV World: Season 2?
Reality TV World: Like seven years earlier?
Reality TV World: And they called you seven years later? (laughs)
Debbie: Yeah, seven years later [and] under a different name (laughs)
I mean there's different rumors on exactly how they found me again -- I don't know what they are so I don't want to speculate -- but when they called and said 'Survivor' I was like 'Oh my god, this is amazing.'
I said 'Sure, I'll just take a look,' and next thing I know I'm on a plane to Brazil.