‘Survivor’ has #MeToo moment, producers step in after contestant accused

(L-R): Dan Spilo and Kellee Kim from this season of 'Survivor.'.
(L-R): Dan Spilo and Kellee Kim from this season of 'Survivor.'. CBS

SPOILER WARNING: Do not read on unless you’ve watched Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor.

In an intense two-hour episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols on Wednesday, multiple women accused one male contestant of inappropriate behaviour.

Kellee Kim expressed discomfort around fellow castaway Dan Spilo during the episode, and she had previously confronted him during the season premiere about the way he engaged with her physically.

During an emotional confessional, Kellee said that Dan’s behaviour is “a pattern.”

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“This isn’t just one person,” she said, reminiscent of the many #MeToo accusations made in recent years. “It’s a 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.”

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The producers broke the fourth wall and responded to Kellee off-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,” they said. “Because I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable … I just want to make sure. This is not … it’s not OK.”

The producers spoke with all the contestants as a group and individually following their chat with Kellee.

Before the first immunity challenge on Wednesday night’s episode, a title card appeared, revealing: “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.”

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Fellow contestants Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel used Kellee’s complaints towards Dan and lied about their own interactions with the 48-year-old talent agent to make him a target to be voted out at tribal council.

Missy, Elizabeth and Kellee told Dan’s ally Janet Carbin that his behaviour made them uncomfortable.

“As much as I feel disrespected by [Dan] and disgusted by him, I’m not going to make a game decision based off of those feelings,” Kellee said before the tribal council meeting. “I’m upset with the way that he’s been behaving, and it’s the fair thing to do, but this game is not fair. I’m not playing this game to be fair. I’m playing this game to win. Dan makes sense as a decoy vote, but Missy is the person we want to vote out.”

When Missy found out, she and other contestants banded together to vote Kellee out of the game, sending her to jury.

Janet confronted Missy and Elizabeth after the vote and they admitted they lied about their interactions with Dan.

“My viewpoint is that I have never felt uncomfortable,” Elizabeth told the camera. “I know what people are talking about, but it’s more in a joking way, and maybe that’s where we’re on the wrong [side] of it because we shouldn’t be joking about it. But no one has come to me with legitimate life concerns. It was little baby snippets here and there that snowballed into something bigger than it ever should have been.”
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During the second tribal council of the episode, Dan weighed in on the accusations against him from some of the female contestants.

“I work in the most high-wire industry in regards to this business. Most of my clients are women. Most of the people I work with are women. I work in an industry in which the #MeToo movement was formed and allowed, thank God, to blossom and become powerful and strong,” he began. “My personal feeling is if anyone ever felt for a second uncomfortable about anything I’ve ever done, I’m horrified about that and I’m terribly sorry.”

“If ever did anything that ever even remotely made [Kellee] feel uncomfortable, it horrifies me, and I am terribly sorry,” Dan said. “True, untrue, it doesn’t matter what I feel. It doesn’t matter whether I’m aware of it. It doesn’t matter whether I ever sensed it. It doesn’t matter whether I knew it happened or it didn’t happen. If someone feels it, it’s their truth.”

Dan apologized and added: “I couldn’t be more confident in that I’m one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. I have a wife, I have been married for 21 years, I have two boys, I have a big business, I have lots of employees. I think what upset everybody here is that this has somehow turned into gameplay.”

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Many fans of the show took to Twitter to discuss the situation that unfolded during Wednesday night’s episode.

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Survivor’s official Twitter account let viewers know they were not live tweeting during Wednesday night’s episode because it had “discussions on a serious topic.”

“Hi #Survivor fans. Tonight’s episode has discussions on a serious topic, so we’re going to handle things differently this week and not live tweet this episode,” the tweet read.

After the episode aired, Kellee tweeted that she was “hurting and very sad watching this last episode too.”

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“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 tweeted.

Janet took to Twitter to thank her fans following Wednesday night’s episode.

“I want to thank you for all of your support. It was a very difficult time, however I do love and care for my fellow survivors and I don’t want to see them negatively affected by anything that is said from the game. Thanks everyone,” Janet tweeted.

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Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, host Jeff Probst said he was “incredibly proud of Kellee for being willing to speak up.”

“She was very courageous in speaking her truth.”

“It’s very clear that Dan’s touching was making some of the women uncomfortable, and we saw many of those moments on camera,” he continued. “There is no denying that it happened. But as Missy and Elizabeth embellished their stories about the situation, it put Dan in an unfair light and further complicated everything.”

Probst said that Missy and Elizabeth didn’t have all the information when strategizing to exaggerate Dan’s behaviour.

“Missy was not privy to Kellee’s private confessional where she shared how upset she was about Dan,” the longtime Survivor host told the outlet. “Then, to complicate things, Missy learns that Kellee is actually conspiring against her, to vote her out. This changes everything. Missy has a new archenemy and voting out Kellee becomes the mission.”

“Elizabeth states that she wasn’t uncomfortable with Dan’s behaviour,” he added. “She hadn’t spent time with Kellee, so she didn’t have any insight into how Kellee was feeling. So, from her point of view, Elizabeth didn’t see any issue in going along with the Dan story. Perhaps if she understood the impact Dan was having on Kellee she might have made a very different choice.”

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MGM and CBS sent Global News a joint statement in regards to Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor.

“In the episode broadcast last night, several female castaways discussed the behaviour of a male castaway that made them uncomfortable,” the statement began. “During the filming of this episode, producers spoke off-camera to all the contestants still in the game, both as a group and individually, to hear any concerns and advise about appropriate boundaries.

“A formal warning was also given to the male castaway in question. On Survivor, producers provide the castaways a wide berth to play the game. At the same time, all castaways are monitored and supervised at all times. They have full access to producers and doctors, and the production will intervene in situations where warranted.”

Survivor: Island of the Idols airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global.