Few interviews are as entertaining as the one I had the pleasure of conducting between Peacock’s The Traitors Andi Vanacore and Quentin Jiles. Fans of the new reality show, part Mafia and part The Mole, instantly fell in love with Andi and Quentin. There was something truly genuine about the pair who went all the way to the end only to be betrayed by their closest ally Cirie Fields. Now, months after filming, the couple have broken down all the essential parts of their time at the castle, the competition, what went wrong and whether they would do it again.
I admit to watching more than my fair share of reality TV. I’m a sucker for good games, and I especially like ones where lying and scheming are involved. I like to encourage the underdogs and the “good guys” who rarely stand a chance against the “puppet masters”. Those players who, against all odds, make it to the end and sometimes (but not usually) win. The Ozzys and Johnnie Macs of gaming are the ones I encourage.
Traitors make it especially hard for honest competitors to win, as there are three crooks among them plotting against them. Chosen in secret at the start of the series, this three-person bloc “murders” a contestant each night and actively works against the “Loyals” during the day to banish a “Loyal” member. Everyone works to put money in the pot because someone will walk away with a wad of cash when it’s all over. If a Traitor is still in the game at the end, he gets it all.
That means you better know who you’re standing next to or go home empty-handed. In each episode, the faithful try to elect a traitor instead of losing a member. The concept is obviously to find the Traitor and banish him. It proved to be a tall order, however, and even when the traitors returned home, it was usually because Cirie had decided it was time for them to leave. Unfortunately for Andi and Quentin, they were tricked by Cirie, who chose her protectors and allies early while secretly working against them. Finally, in the final moments of the Traitors finale, Cirie reveals she was a traitor and walks off with all the money, leaving Quentin and Andi stunned.
Andi and Quentin were the easy favorites. They made the series that could have been boring knowing everything in advance, fascinating to watch. Unlike the competitors, we knew who the traitors were. We knew it all the time, but it was binge-worthy TV because of this pair and the antics of a few others (looking at you, Kate Chastain and Brandy Glanville).
Quentin and Andi were incredibly generous with their time providing insider information and unique perspectives on what we did and didn’t see. The two said Alan Cumming was as fabulous as he appeared. They both commented that he was kind and caring on and off camera and had impeccable style. The other non-human character, Castle, also provided as many psychological scars as their castmates. Mid or Diary rooms for Big Brother fans were all over the castle and could be a far cry from the usual set at times.
Moving from room to room can be cold and isolating. Andi mentioned how psychologically taxing it was to be in the castle after being sequestered for the evening. “You were alone with just your thoughts,” Andi said. They mentioned that it was difficult not to lose “your intuition”. Not being able to trust each other made this pair vulnerable to Cirie, who was always working them. Quentin also said giving up all contact with the outside world makes you start to question yourself. They both said you really have to know who you are as a person, and Andi said being “mentally strong” was key.
When asked who was the funniest, Andi replied that Kate was always good at laughing. They said, “you never knew what she would say, but she was so smart and so kind.” Quentin also listed Kate but added Christian de la Torre. His antics on and off camera could always make him laugh.
The pair explained why everyone trusted them, which inadvertently secured victory for Cirie. Quentin said his raw emotions almost got him in trouble, but probably also made him more trustworthy. He said he was trying to be himself. Both said they weren’t capable of the kind of deception needed to win in the end. Anyone who saw the heartbreaking finale knows they were truly shocked.
Andi listed their openness to representing the LGBTQ+ community. They said, “I gave up a part of me to be on the show.” Their authenticity as a non-binary trans person of color is rare on a show today. It was vital for them to show this underrepresented community. Their reality came through on screen and I could see why competitors universally trusted them. They also applauded the entire cast and crew for continually making them feel seen and respected. They have never been abused. Any discomfort the pair felt was a result of how difficult the game was.
They said emphatically that the missions were as hard as they looked. Quentin said the barrel mission was physically demanding (except for Kate, everyone joked), but the two came alive when talking about the cabin in the woods mission. Scary critters nearly got the better of both. Andi almost gave up at one point but was able to keep going because of Rachel, which made her later banishment so hard for them personally. Andi sincerely thought Rachel was a traitor because they had been manipulated all day by Cirie. Quentin also explained that initially he and Christian would have gone to the other side of the cabin and were grateful that they hadn’t. A simple mistake in recognizing the input made all the difference, and Quentin was able to avoid the worst bugs. He said he might not have been able to handle the other side.
Since the finale, the two have spoken with Cirie and hold no grudges towards her. Andi said: “She outdid us.” They both said there were a lot of things the viewer didn’t see where the relationships were forged. Long conversations about families and parenting solidified the bond between these three, and though they were shocked and devastated, they forgave him. Despite Andi’s emotional final moments, they forgave almost immediately, but Quentin needed a little more time. He has since reflected and respects his gameplay.
After such an emotional journey, I was curious if any of them would perform again, and the response was surprising. After a while, the two said they thought they could. It was hard to leave family, friends, cell phones and iPads behind, especially knowing what they are up to now. They both said they would play the same way, and Quentin is convinced he will be banned almost immediately.
When asked what comes next, they responded with exciting things. Both are focused on their new parenting duties, and Quentin keeps politics front and center. He added: “We all pay taxes. You might as well know where the money is going. He also has big dreams which include his own talk show. He is so gregarious that I can’t help but think he would be extremely entertaining. Andi also has her hands full with her bundle of joy and has a new start-up in the works which will be a subscription-based music platform.
In a world and game that often rewards and demands dishonesty, it was refreshing to see Andi and Quentin play honestly. These two were genuine, kind people who played the way we would all want to, with integrity and respect for everyone. If only that had been enough to win. Traitors is currently streaming on Peacock.
Tracy Palm Tree
As the editor of Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the editor.
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