The Traitors Season Two Reunion Recap: Peppermint Underscores the Biases That Led to Her Elimination

The first thing I noticed about The Traitors Season Two reunion was that it was hosted by Andy Cohen, so you know they wanted it to be dramatic and gay. He is Bravo through and through;  this would not be a reunion where the Bravolebrities are considered in any way less than the “gamers” (nor should they be!).

The reunion opens with the cast minus the final four (Kate, MJ, Trishelle and CT) watching the finale from the Fire of Truth through to the end.

Rewatching, this sequence feels even meaner; Trishelle saying it was so hard to write CT’s name once that she couldn’t do it again was especially cringe to me — as though she didn’t play a part in creating the situation where any of their names had to be written down. At least CT owned his cruelty; to not do so feels insulting at worst and oblivious at best.

When the final four come in (Trishelle wearing some approximation of the throne in Game of Thrones, yikes), it’s clear that MJ is still mad at Trishelle and CT for turning on her in the last moment. I don’t blame her! Why shouldn’t she be mad? It’s not like Trishelle and CT “had” to eliminate someone; this elimination was entirely voluntarily. When you choose to take money and pride from someone, they may never want to be on good terms with you. Why should they?

Other people besides MJ are still salty, too. Johnny Bananas isn’t over being voted out first just because he’s won The Challenge more than a few times. Phaedra literally still thinks Dan is a “piece of shit” because he wanted to throw her under the bus so early on, for reasons that hardly seem strategic. (I don’t disagree with her! It’s not like his strategy even worked lol.)

Peppermint, meanwhile, thoughtfully expresses her legitimate and wholly felt disappointment in the way the season transpired for her.

A superfan of The Traitors, Peppermint explains that when no truth is available, people rely on the biases they bring with them. We knew this was exactly what happened with her early elimination, but it felt like the game kept moving so quickly that the contestants sort of just moved on, without deeply considering, at least publicly/on screen, why things went down the way they did.

Peppermint goes on to say, quite poignantly, “Yes, I’m a drag entertainer, but I’m also so much more than that. Most people don’t know a trans person, so they learn how to treat us from TV.”

Peppermint brings up an element that has not yet been broached in the reunion: representation. It’s sad to think about this treatment of Peppermint being someone’s first introduction to interacting with a trans person. To see Peppermint, the one contestant from RuPaul’s Drag Race, so swiftly and ruthlessly othered and then eliminated simply because folks did not give her the benefit of the doubt over other players is hard to stomach.

Peppermint uses this moment to call attention to that tension and educate. She’s challenging her fellow contestants to remember that outside of the insular world of this reality TV show exists a much larger world — one full of people watching, learning, and theorizing about how they should treat each other.

“It kind of eerily reminded me of a high school experience where I was the only out LGBTQ person at the time,” Peppermint says.

Some contestants on competition reality TV posit that there are, essentially, two worlds: the world in the game, and the world outside of the game. These players talk about how they’re soooo one way outside of the game (usually positive attributes), but in the game they are being soooo the other way (usually negative attributes). It makes me wonder about who seems to be allowed to embody this duality. Who is given permission to form multiple systems of ethics — one which functions inside the game and one outside? Who has to play by the rules and who gets to make the rules?

Peppermint, due to the lack of other trans women of color on the show, must serve as a paragon of representation. For her, there is only one world. How she is in the game is not only how she is seen in the world, but how others like her can be seen. The weight of that is heavy in the room at the reunion, as it should be.

The rest of the reunion is thought-provoking, though it feels less impactful than anything Peppermint brought up. Parvati credits Peppermint with helping her and Sandra move past their years-long beef, at least for long enough to play the game. Trishelle can’t seem to move on from how MJ is still mad at her. She seems to have expected to screw MJ over, though doing so was not necessary for her to win, and for MJ to then forgive her. Trishelle wants and seems to feel entitled to some kind of good vibes from MJ, which is…interesting!

Overall, it strikes me how some folks here — namely Phaedra, Peppermint, and MJ — are comfortable publicly owning their frustration and disappointment without seeking resolution. MJ wears her anger towards Trishelle, and to some extent CT, openly on her face. When Dan says he isn’t sure if Phaedra still thinks he’s a piece of shit, she tells him simply that she does. Peppermint outlines her disappointment without absolving Trishelle or any of the others. John, the British politician, for all his righteous indignation on Trishelle’s behalf, seems preoccupied with getting MJ to make nice with Trishelle. Why?

As a person who struggles in personal relationships to hold let alone verbalize anger or disappointment, I find MJ, Phaedra and Peppermint’s choices inspiring. Sometimes, you can just be hurt. You can just be sad. And you don’t have to come up with the solution. Sometimes the best solution is sitting in the murky waters, taking the time for you — and whoever is in those waters with you — to truly understand how you got there, individually and collectively. Then, and only then, can you decipher how to swim out.

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Anya Richkind

Anya is a writer, a Pisces, and a huge fan of Survivor. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Jess and their kittens, Buckett and Tubbs. She writes a substack called Questions I Have in which she explores questions big, small, medium, and more. Check it out here:

Anya has written 37 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. Switched off as soon as Peppermint was eliminated. It was obvious to anyone paying attention what was gonna happen and if you bring it up to anyone outside of the community, you’re instantly batted back with “well Trishelle was playing the game”. They’re not getting my valuable viewership numbers with their unbridled microaggressions and othering.

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