As ”Survivor” fans prepared to sadly bid adieu to funny, sunny and more-adept-than-she-seemed Elaine Stott after she became 14th player to be voted out of the 39th edition of the game at the end of an episode titled “Just Go For It,” something weird happened. The action continued as host Jeff Probst paid a rare visit to the camp space of the players. Clearly something weird was up.
Turns out, it was a continuation of a topic that will likely define this season of the long-running reality show — inappropriate touching of female castaways by handsy Dan Spilo, 48, a Los Angeles talent manager. Probst told the remaining contestants, “All right, so I need to share some news. I just spoke privately with Dan and I want to update you guys. A decision has been made and Dan will not be returning to the game. He will not be going back to camp. He’s gone.”
Yes, the guy became the first ever player in “Survivor” history to be ejected from the game for his behavior. A title card popped up on the screen, which read: “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.” One can only surmise a female crew member was involved.
Now, this is all well and good EXCEPT — in my mind — the producers and Probst should have called out this dude out from the VERY FIRST EPISODE when his touchy-feely tendencies were revealed by players Kellee Kim and Molly Byman — 34 days before this call was made. Matters got truly gnarly, however, when on the episode 8 –which aired almost a month ago — when Kellee discussed her Dan issues with her her new post-merge tribemate Missy, who also said she had felt uncomfortable about his behavior. Missy then complicated matters by using the accusations to sway others to vote a certain way.
At one point in that episode, producers were heard getting involved off camera and asked an emotional Kellee whether she wanted the show to intervene. And they did. At the end of the segment, a title card appeared that read: “The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually. They were cautioned about personal boundaries and reminded that producers are available to them at all times . Based on the outcome of those discussions, the game continued. In addition, producers met privately with Dan, at which time he was issued a warning for his behavior. Producers continue to monitor the situation.”
Well, how did that work out? What if there was a female contestant who kissed men’s hair and kept snuggling with them in the shelter and rubbed their shoulders? Well, I am pretty much sure it would never happen unless there was mutual consent.
I have watched this show since the very first season that premiered in May 2000 and I have to say I am incredibly disappointed that they didn’t do more to not just to protect the female players, but also to set a standard for respecting others and to take ACTION for behavior that should not be tolerated. Dan should have gotten a serious warning on the very first episode and told if he kept touching the ladies, he would have to leave. And he should have been booted out when Kellee broke down after the merge.
I mean, they allowed this guy to share time on Fiji with his adolescent son for the Loved Ones reward — denying someone a chance to feel affection in an appropriate way.
It is going tobe hard for me to watch the season finale next week on December 18 as I believe that the show dropped the torch when it came to creating a safe atmosphere this season. That Dan was allowed to linger on the show as long as he did added no value to the game and now has given this season a rancid aftertaste. Here is hoping that Janet Carbin, Lauren Beck and Noura Salman stick together and make up the first all-female final three since 2016’s “Survivor: Kaoh Rong” just to somewhat compensate the show’s unforgivable lack of action.
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