America watched a Juneau woman battle rough seas, hot sun and her own stomach on the first episode of the reality TV series "Survivor: Marquesas," which aired Thursday night on CBS.
Juneau-born Sarah Jones, 24, vied for the chance to be the sole survivor among 16 demographically diverse castaways on a deserted South Pacific island. She lives in Newport Beach, Calif., and is an account manager for a clothing company and a free-lance photographer.
The show follows two teams, Maraamu and Rotu, for 39 days as they struggle to survive off the fat of the island with few sundry items. Through a series of physical and mental challenges, the players vote to eliminate each other until only one survivor is left to cash in on the $1 million prize. The series is expected to end in May.
CBS does not allow participants to speak with the media about their experiences until they are voted off the island.
Television audiences - as well as Jones' family, which still lives in Juneau - saw some less-than-stellar moments for Jones that could have proven to be her undoing in the show's first installment.
Cameras captured her losing the contents of her stomach during a "spirited" boat ride to the island, lounging on a raft while her teammates paddled it to shore, cuddling up to a fellow castaway, dropping a torch during the first physical challenge, and getting two votes from teammates looking to boot her from the island for doing her hair more than her share of the work.
"She's a primper," said Sarah's father, Larry Jones. "It was just strange. To see someone you know so intimately and know that 50 million other people are seeing her little idiosyncrasies, the things you are so used to, and they are seeing them, too."
Larry Jones was speaking primarily of castaways Sean Rector and Vecepia Towery, who cast votes against Jones and said they wondered if she would pull her own weight or rely on her looks to carry her through the competition.
"... What value does she have to the group, other than being cute?" Rector said on the show.
Larry Jones said he and the group of friends and family who got together to watch the first episode uttered a few choice words for the TV talking heads.
"I called him some bad names," Jones said, laughing. "I have to admit I was ready to kick his butt a little bit. I think we just have to wait and see. I think she'll turn it around in the long run."
Jane Walters, Sarah Jones' mother, who also hosted a party to share her daughter's debut, seemed to take a more pragmatic view of how Sarah was portrayed.
"I think it's a TV show and a lot of it is for show," she said. "I'm just tickled that she did this and we are just so proud of her. No matter how it ends up, it took a lot of guts to do what she did."
Walters said her daughter had been extremely sick the first couple of days of the trip, which might explain the way she was portrayed on the edited show.
Jones' 12-year-old sister, Samantha Green, said it was fun to see her sister on TV and figured she may have to fend off some autograph-seekers at middle school today.
Green also had some advice she said she would have liked to pass on to her sister: "I would tell her to put some clothes on."
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