Season 1 of The Traitors U.S. was one of the great reality TV treats of early 2023, and when the show returns, it will be with a cast of all-stars from the genre, many with big personalities and big-time strategy. All 21 competitors this season will be reality alumni, a change from last year’s half-notables, half-normies format. The cast was officially announced on September 21st, which opened up a world of possibilities and speculation. Who among them are natural allies? Which contestants have reputations that will lead them to be distrusted or targeted for elimination? Are any of them dating? Who might perform a wig reveal up in the traitors' turret?
Ahead of the Season 2 premiere, we try to answer these burning questions and more.
The cast only departed to film in Scotland in late September, so it'll be a while yet before the show returns. The first season dropped on Peacock on January 12, 2023, so that might be a spot on the calendar to keep an eye on.
We’re hoping that Season 2 will opt for a weekly release, in order to build suspense. But as of now, the only thing we know about the format is that the season will include eleven 60-minute episodes, plus a reunion special, but nothing about how the episodes will be released.
It only makes sense to start with the former Survivor players, since it was a former Survivor player who won last season. And the Season 2 casting department did not stray very far from the Cirie Fields template, starting with Cirie's old Black Widow Brigade alliance-mate Parvati Shallow. Parvati won one season of Survivor and was runner-up on another, and along the way amassed a reputation (gendered as it was) for being a manipulative temptress. That reputation made her a massive target when she returned for Survivor: Winners at War, ultimately forcing her to play an unwinnable hand. The fact that Parvati was so notorious even among a group of 20 Survivor winners doesn't bode well for her ability to fade her threat level in the Traitors manor.
She'll be joined by her Heroes vs. Villains and Winners at War castmate Sandra Diaz-Twine, who bested her in the finals to win the former. Sandra's reputation also precedes her, though hers is of a woman who is endlessly adaptable and able to convince people she couldn't possibly win. She's also an incredibly unsentimental player, so there's no guarantee she's going to stick with Parvati simply because they're the only two Survivors.
As with the Survivor alums, the Traitors selected a pair of the most well-regarded and feared players in Big Brother history. Janelle Pierzina has played four times, making the final three twice and setting a record for competition wins along the way. She's both a tremendously social player and also unafraid to be outwardly opposed to certain players, which is to say she will not back down from an argument. She played alongside Dan Gheesling on Big Brother 14, which was not the season that he won (that was Season 10) but was the one in which he pulled off the infamous "Dan's Funeral" strategic gambit/three-act play, staving off certain elimination through a combination of brazen lies and the confidence only a Catholic school teacher could muster. Strategically speaking, Dan is terrifying. Also, Big Brother players have a well-earned reputation for engaging in pre-season alliances, so he and Janelle will almost certainly be closely aligned.
Perhaps more than any other group of contestants, it will be fascinating to see how The Challenge alums adapt to The Traitors. Social strategy is a big part of Survivor and Big Brother, and even the Bravo shows are constantly dealing with shifting alliances within the cast. There's social strategy on The Challenge, too, but it is so heavily dependent on the fact that there are physically demanding challenges ahead. This tends to keep the big, athletic veterans safe, because younger, newer, weaker players are afraid to take them on. On The Traitors, the competitions are a laughable afterthought. This is going to leave Johnny Bananas, C.T. Tamburello, and Trishelle Canatella with only their wits to go by. Challenge players are not really known for their wits.
On a long enough timeline, Challenge enemies become allies, if only to keep themselves safe from the new blood, so Bananas and C.T. will buddy up. It's hard to say which one of them will be better at the social bonding necessary to win at The Traitors. Bananas has such an irrepressible used-car-salesman vibe to him; it's hard to imagine who that will impress (honestly, probably Kevin Kreider from Bling Empire). C.T. is more genuine, but can be moody. Trishelle? Trishelle is a mess. She'll be gone within the first three episodes.
The Bravo alums didn't do great in Season 1. Reza Farahan and Brandi Glanville were the first two reality stars to leave, Kyle Cooke figured out that Cody Calafiore was a traitor but couldn't get anyone to believe him, and poor Kate Chastain was held hostage by the show and forced to continue in a game she thought was stupid and with people she also thought were stupid. Kate was the best.
This season, Real Housewives of Atlanta's Sheree Whitfield will join her former castmate (and upcoming Married to Medicine star) Phaedra Parks. Phaedra did Ultimate Girls Trip with Tamra Judge (The Real Housewives of Orange County), so if these three ladies can put their heads together, they might be able to come up with a strategy. Temperamentally, though, things could get tricky. Tamra has been known to have a hair trigger, and it's impossible to predict whether Sheree will click with someone or make them an enemy. Phaedra made up horrible lies about Kandi Burruss in Atlanta, but she was hilarious on UGT. Expect more of that rather than strategy from Phaedra.
The other Bravo alums include MJ Javid from Shahs of Sunset, looking to best Reza's last-place showing; and Larsa Pippen (Real Housewives of Miami), who is dating another Traitors cast member, Marcus "son of Michael" Jordan. Couples on The Traitors have been a source of much controversy, which you know if you watched the U.K. version. Larsa and Marcus can't exactly pull the secret-couple ruse, of course, but they will probably get targeted as a pair sooner rather than later.
The eight other Traitors cast members include:
Being the lone representative of The Bachelor worked out pretty well for Arie Luyendyk Jr. last season, at least until Cirie convinced him to eliminate himself from the game for no reason. So Peter Weber might not be in that bad of a spot. Maksim Chmerkovskiy's whole job on Dancing With the Stars was to build a bond of deep trust and intimacy with other celebrities, so he ought to be pretty good at this. Peppermint has somewhat famously never returned for an all-star season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, yet here she is, ready to slay as a potential Traitor (or Faithful). It'll be interesting to see if the two Love Island alums Bergie and Ekin-Su make a transcontinental bond or not.
Wilder is a boxing champion who, along with his fiancee Teli Swift, was on the E! series WAGS Atlanta. The Atlanta connection could put him in league with Phaedra and Sheree. Finally, John Bercow is a former Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom and is known for the way he says "order." Honestly, if he's smart, he'll round up all these players who aren't affiliated with the big strategy shows and form a counter-alliance against them. Politically, Bercow was a Tory who switched to the Labour party, then was suspended from Parliament for bullying. Which means he and Tamra have a lot in common and should really consider becoming this season's power couple.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: The Traitors, Big Brother, The Challenge, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Survivor, CT Tamburello, Dan Gheesling, Janelle Pierzina, Johnny Bananas, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Parvati Shallow, Peppermint, Peter Weber, Phaedra Parks, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Sheree Whitfield, Tamra Judge