When #metoo visits the Survivor beach

This week’s episode of Survivor detoured into unchartered waters when a contestant Keelle expressed feeling uncomfortable with a tactile tribe member, Dan.

Things escalated when other women agreed they were also uncomfortable with Dan.

It led to a producer intervention and warnings.

But Survivor is also a game. Lines were blurring when there was some questioning of whether the information was being used against people, with so questions over how legitimate the complaint was, and indeed whether jeopardising someone’s reputation beyond the game was fair.

And how could a Tribal Council in which sensitive matters were discussed ever be separated from the vote?

Entertainment Weekly spoke to host Jeff Prost abou it all…

EW: Okay, a lot to get into here. There are so many angles and things to get into with this whole Kellee and Dan situation. Let’s start on the production side. We saw Kellee say in an interview how uncomfortable she was with what she saw as Dan’s inappropriate touching, and in a Survivor rarity, heard one of your producers talking back to Kellee about it. We were later informed that the producers met with the players as a group and individually, and that Dan was issued a warning for his behavior. Take us through what was happening behind the scenes as you all discussed how to handle this situation, and then how those meetings with the players went.

Jeff Probst: Okay let’s start with the big picture. We monitor the players 24 hours a day for 39 days. There is never a moment when a producer is not with them. And the various producing teams on both beaches have daily downloads, so everybody is always aware what is happening with every player. Personally, I am constantly being updated on what is happening on the beaches. I receive updates on everything from minor injuries to rice rations to idol finds.

After Kellee and Missy’s conversation about Dan, one of our co-EP’s interviewed Kellee. This is normal Survivor protocol. And, as you saw, in the interview Kellee got upset, so our producer stopped the interview to ask if Kellee wanted production to intervene. This is a very important moment because the producer is having to navigate a delicate balance of looking out for Kellee without taking any action that might negatively impact her game.

To her credit, Kellee stated that she felt the issue could be handled by the players involved and did not want us to take any action on her behalf. And as you saw in her earlier conversation with Missy, both women were very clear that they were not going to let one person “blow up their game.” But based on Kellee’s interview, the producer immediately shared the story with me and I immediately contacted CBS. The decision was made to meet with all players, both as a group and individually, to remind them of personal boundaries and hear of any concerns.

When we met privately with Dan, we told him that his actions were making some of the women uncomfortable and reminded him that personal boundaries must be respected at all times. We also informed him this was an official warning.

You can read more here.


    • And no woman should use the inappropriate touching to further their game by lying about how it didn’t bother them when it clearly did, throw other contestants under the bus that were trying to help them and then contradict themselves to Dan and laugh about it with him like it’s not an issue. The same applies in real life climbing the corporate ladder and only after you get where you want, you tell people. Women and men need to call it out straight away.

      • I was going to comment, but you have summed up my concerns very well. There was one particular contestant who stated clearly that she really didn’t have a problem, but was happy to make up complaints to induce Janet into reacting as she did.

        That was where the issue became dangerous – when the situation was used to lie and smear reputations in order to manipulate the game.

      • Both Missy & Elisabeth released statements the day after the episode, and both said they didn’t know how strongly Kellee felt about Dan. Elisabeth was very clear during the episode in confessionals that Dan’s touching didn’t bother her – she and Missy told Janet and Kellee it did for strategic purposes. Jeff brought up Missy & Elisabeth in his interviews with both THR and EW – his THR quote was “On one hand, there is no denying that he made some of the women, like Kellee, uncomfortable, and he needed to address it. But understandably, he also wanted to defend against other accusations from Missy and Elizabeth that were not true and were simply gameplay.”

  1. Reality TV is mostly about the contestants willingness for self exploitation, as part of the process the more aggressive alpha personalities will try to psyche out and intimidate those who may pose the biggest threat or are the weakest link, finding a scenario that gains more attention from the audience is also an advantage as it provides publicity for future media careers and commercial product endorsements.
    In this game any publicity is good publicity, I’m sure the producers are well aware of that.

  2. Yes, this was quite a weird situation. Dan is certainly a creep, but I think both the contestants, the production crew and CBS, I believed, handled the situation very well

  3. The one I really felt sorry for was Janet. She seemed to get caught innocently right in the middle. She seemed truly devastated by events she had nothing to do with. And fancy Kellee going home with two idols in her pocket !

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