'Survivor' Producers Forced to Step In After Harassment Allegations Arise
[Warning: The below contains spoilers for Season 39, Episode 8 of Survivor, "We Made It to the Merge!"]
In a special two-hour airing of Survivor on November 13, producers were forced to step into the series in order to tackle harassment claims.
Many of the female competitors including Missy and Kellee (pictured above) found commonality with each other over the fact that they'd felt uncomfortable around Dan. The talent manager allegedly had been touching the women against their wishes and vocal boundaries.
The revelations came to light and allowed the women to bond after the remaining tribes merged. After being brought together, it allowed the contestants to compare stories and the severity of their claims forced producers to step in.
"When I first got here, Dan was super kind and super helpful. But then one night, the hands were wandering," Missy told Kellee during a beach stroll.
"Was he doing that with Elizabeth, too?" Kellee asked in return. "With everybody," replied Missy.
"Before the merge, I hadn't met Aaron, Elizabeth, Missy and Elaine. So Missy and I started talking and we basically bonded over the fact that Dan has been extremely inappropriate," Kellee shared in one of her confessionals.
Kellee also tells Missy she refused to sleep next to Dan and said he had tucked her hair behind her ear and continued to touch her despite asking him not to.
Delving further into her confessional, Kelle said, "It's super upsetting because you can't do anything about it. There are always consequences for standing up. This happens in real life, in work settings, in school, like you can't say anything cause it's gonna affect your upwards trajectory. It's gonna affect how people look at you."
"It made all of us uncomfortable," Kellee continued in her confessional about Dan's inappropriate touching.
"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,'" she added. "He's literally done these things to five different women in this game. That sucks. That totally, totally sucks."
As Kellee got emotional, a producer stepped into the scene saying, "you know, if there are issues, to the point where things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops. 'Cause that's — I don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable."
When she responded and said she thinks it's going to stop, the producer added that "it's not okay," that she feels uncomfortable.
Following the sentiments and revelations made, title cards appeared on the screen as it was revealed producers met with cast members to discuss the matter, and decided to continue the game while issuing a warning to Dan.
In the episode's second tribal council, host Jeff Probst confronted the situation and asked Dan to chime in on the allegations. When the contestant huffed and said, "okay, since it won't be let got, clearly, Jeff," Dan began before Probst interjected. "You're right, I'll never let it go," the host said.
Dan offered a form of apology to those affected by his actions in an address, but how the game proceeds remains to be seen.
The host spoke with Entertainment Weekly following the episode and said, "Dan was clearly frustrated with me for bringing the topic up at Tribal. My guess is that... he felt I was just trying to turn this into a bigger story. From my point of view, this was an obviously important story and one we had not yet talked about at Tribal Council."
"Tribal Council is where you are held accountable for your actions," Probst added. "Dan was the central figure in the story, so this was the appropriate forum for the discussion."
The host also shared that "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."
Will that warning go any further? Tune in Wednesdays to find out when Survivor airs on CBS.
Survivor, Wendesdays, 8/7c, CBS