Reality shows often bill episodes as “the most dramatic ever,” but Wednesday night on Survivor may actually deserve that moniker.
Contestant Jeff Varner outed rival Zeke Smith as transgender during the tribal council elimination round as a last-ditch effort to save himself.
CNN reports that "other contestants reacted negatively, telling Varner that was personal and he shouldn't have said it. Varner insisted he did it to show that Smith was deceptive during the game.”
"Is it starting to hit you, the gravity, that you didn't just tell six people, you told millions of people?" Probst asked Varner during the show.
Survivor host Jeff Probst told Entertainment Weekly that he could simply not remain quiet about the situation despite rarely divulging his opinions in the series’ 34 seasons.
"I cannot imagine anyone thinking what was done to Zeke was okay on any level, under any circumstances, and certainly not simply because there was $1 million on the line," Probst said. "I think the response from the tribe, as it so often does, mirrors what the vast majority of society will feel. You just don't do that to someone.”
Since Survivor episodes are taped months in advance, its producers have been preparing for the social media uproar that erupted Thursday over Smith’s outing. CBS worked closely with Smith and consulted with GLAAD, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights group, before the episode’s broadcast to determine how to best handle the incident, according to the New York Times.