Kellee tells producers about the situation.
Kellee tells producers about the situation.

Viewer horror over ‘vile’ Survivor scandal

The current US season of Survivor took an emotional turn this week when five women accused a male contestant, Dan Spilo, of inappropriate behaviour.

During the two-hour episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols, which aired in Australia on 9Go on Thursday night, contestants Kellee Kim and Missy Byrd discussed their negative experiences with fellow contestant Dan, a Hollywood talent agent, who they claim exhibited a "pattern" of inappropriate touching that continued even after he was asked to stop.

 

Dan (at left) inside the sleeping shelter with his arm around a female contestant.
Dan (at left) inside the sleeping shelter with his arm around a female contestant.

In this week's episode the two tribes finally merged, giving many contestants a chance to meet for the first time. Two such contestants were Kellee - she previously confronted Dan about his inappropriate behaviour during the season premiere - and Missy, who discussed new instances of unwanted touching in a lengthy conversation. "When I first got here, Dan was super kind and super helpful. But then one night, the hands were wandering," said Missy. "Was he doing that with Elizabeth, too?" asked Kellee. "With everybody," replied Missy.

In a to-camera confessional, Kellee opened up about realising she wasn't alone in finding Dan's behaviour inappropriate.

 

Dan's behaviour has rattled the female contestants.
Dan's behaviour has rattled the female contestants.

 

Liz demonstrates where Dan rested his hand on her while she tried to sleep.
Liz demonstrates where Dan rested his hand on her while she tried to sleep.

"It's super upsetting, because you can't do anything about it. There are always consequences for standing up. This happens in work settings, in schools … This isn't just one person," she said, getting emotional. "It's a f***ing pattern. It's a pattern. It takes five people to be like, man, the way I'm feeling about this is actually real. It's not in my head. I'm not overreacting to it. He's literally done these things to five different women in this game. That sucks. That totally, totally sucks," she said, breaking down in tears.

As Kellee began to cry, a producer spoke up from behind the camera. "You know, if there are issues to the point where things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops," the producer told her, breaking the reality TV "fourth wall". "I don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable … I just want to make sure. This is not like - it's not OK."

 

A producer intervenes – a Survivor first.
A producer intervenes – a Survivor first.

According to Survivor Reddit, this is "the first time ever" a producer has inserted themselves into the action while the cameras were rolling, but given the situation with Dan, the change in procedure seems appropriate.

After Missy and Kellee's conversation, Survivor added a title card addressing the situation. "The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually," the card read. "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 behaviour. Producers continue to monitor the situation."

 

Dan patting contestant Missy's leg at camp.
Dan patting contestant Missy's leg at camp.

While Kellee felt "disrespected" and "disgusted" by Dan, she still wanted to win the game, so she hatched a plot to eliminate Missy. Missy figured it out ahead of time, and she formed another coalition to vote out Kellee. She was successful: Kellee was voted out.

This was an infuriating turn of events for an older female contestant named Janet, who voted to eliminate Dan out of solidarity with his accusers. Earlier, the women had come to Janet to explain the situation, and she rallied to get Dan out of the game.

The Janet vs. Dan plot line was a major focal point of the rest of the episode in which Janet repeatedly stood up for her convictions even though she may lose because of it.

At the end of the double episode, the allegations against Dan were discussed in front of host Jeff Probst at tribal council. Dan apologised if he'd made anyone uncomfortable - then the tribe voted out Jamal, who bravely stood up for the women earlier that night.

"You believe women if they choose to bring that up because it's difficult enough to do that in and of itself," Jamal said when another contestant questioned the women's stories. "We have a responsibility to hear women, listen to women and believe women when they're ready to tell their stories."

It was a complex episode with no easy ending: The man who allegedly made so many female contestants uncomfortable was still in the game, while two of the people who spoke out against inappropriate behaviour had been voted out.

The unfolding drama made for one of the most controversial Survivor episodes to date, with many viewers questioning whether the show did enough to deal with the allegations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Survivor is a microcosm for our real world," executive producer and host Probst said during an in-depth interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the episode. "Situations just like this one are playing out in offices and bars and colleges across the country and the world."

This article originally appeared on Decider and was reproduced with permission



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