Tonight's episode of "Survivor: Game Changers" got ugly, and very personal, with one castaway blindsiding another in a new way -- outing him as transgender.
At least the story has a happy ending for Zeke Smith, who told People the April 12 drama served as a reminder that "hate will always lose."
Season 34, Episode 6, "What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile," had this synopsis from CBS:
"What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile" - Emotions run high when the game begins to take a toll on one tribe, and castaways try to pull their way to safety at a physical immunity challenge."
Host/producer Jeff Probst was very careful in his wording when promoting this episode to Entertainment Weekly:
The huge threats keep on falling. What can you tease up for next week, sir!
One of the best things about the Survivor format is that it allows the show to remain culturally relevant no matter how long it's been on... and I think it's a fair statement to say that's the case next week.
As it turns out, that relevance was "Millennials vs. Gen X" star Zeke Smith being outed as transgender, by a desperate Jeff Varner. Zeke said he told "Survivor" producers that he was transgender during his audition, but didn't say anything on the island because "I didn't want to be the 'first transgender Survivor star,'" Zeke told People (via HollywoodLife). "I'm not ashamed of being trans, but I didn't want that to be my story. I just wanted to go out on an adventure and play a great game."
He was "shell-shocked" to be outed by a fellow player in the April 12 episode. What was the purpose of the outing? Zeke speculated, "I think he hoped others would believe that trans people are fraudulent. What's great is that nobody bought it. It's important people see he lost that fight. The message should be clear that hate will always lose."
UPDATE: If you check #Survivor, fans are definitely rallying behind Zeke, and calling out Varner ... who is also calling out himself, instantly regretting his decision to out Zeke at tribal council.
"Survivor" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.
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