So-called reality competition shows are often in their own little bubble when it comes to what is actually shown on TV. In order to win, sometimes contestants go too far to push aside their rivals including being deceitful and taking advantage of someone’s common decency.
But what unfolded on the November 13 episode of the 39th season of “Survivor” was one for the history books, causing producers to step in both on and off the camera about castaway Dan Spilo‘s habit of inappropriately touching fellow contestant Kellee Kim. However, two other players, Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel, took matters further and lied about also having #MeToo-like issues with Dan — causing Janet Carbin to vote against someone she actually liked at tribal council over concern for fellow females in the game. But when she learned that Missy and Elizabeth had tricked her — they actually voted WITH Dan in targeting Kellee, who got the boot — she acted quite emotionally over what transpired.
Here is how Janet, a 59-year-old lifeguard, reacted when she found out she was deceived by the other two women just so they could get ahead in the game: “I feel anything that has to do with sexual uncomfortability has nowhere, no place in a joking environment, a game environment. It’s its own entity. It’s a very powerful thing. Lives can be destroyed.”
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When the two-hour tribal merge episode concluded, fan backlash to the Missy and Elizabeth’s opportunistic and deceitful behavior towards Janet was not pretty. The next day the episode was shown, both women felt compelled to issue an apology on Twitter. Missy wrote: “I became so caught up in game play that I did not realize a very serious situation, nor did I handle it with the care that it deserved.” As for Elizabeth’s response, “To women everywhere, sexual harassment ans sexual assault are extremely serious life altering topics that I do not take lightly. They have no business being used as tactics to further one’s own agenda.”
Judging by the comments from viewers of the show, they were having a hard time believing that their statements as being sincere. The show’s handling of the issues on the so-called Island of the Idols season, which wraps up in December, also was criticized. Host and executive producer Jeff Probst did issue this statement, “We spent more time and consideration on this question than anything I’ve ever been involved with in my entire career.” Producers did say on-air that they met individually with contestants and that a “warning” was give to Dan.
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In a Gold Derby poll about the matter, 61% of “Survivor” fans felt that although deception and deceit is part of the show’s playbook, it was a step too far when it came to inappropriate touching among the players. Drawing praise was Janet, whose maturity and caring after being exploited by eager-to-win players earn her points among viewers. Of those voting, 31 percent declared her to be their favorite player and hoped she would win the $1 million prize at the end.
A few said that Janet should have known better than to trust Missy and Elizabeth, while others admired how she handled the hurtful situation after learning how she was tricked. Probst also had this to say: When you’re living in a jungle where everyone is lying, it’s very hard to know who and what to believe. The audience has the benefit to see every conversation and in that context he story is much clearer.
Continue the discussion in the comments about whether this situation has changed how you feel about the show and if “Survivor” and CBS dealt with this serious situation with enough concern given that Kellee called out Dan in much earlier episodes.
With that in mind, we will give Kellee the final word on the matter via her Twitter account:
Hi everyone, I'm hurting and very sad watching this last episode too, but please try to be kind and understanding. No one deserves threats or shaming, and we can talk about this in a way that we are all better for it💪🏼 #Survivor #Mentalhealth
— Kellee Kim (@kellee_kim) November 14, 2019
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