Cody Lundin’s lawsuit against Discovery for allegedly defaming Lundin in its reality series “Dual Survival” was voted off the island earlier this month when a district court in Arizona granted Discovery’s motion for summary judgment. Lundin’s claims arose from an episode titled “Journey’s End to a New Beginning” which depicted Lundin walking off the program after clashing with the show’s co-host Joe Teti. Lundin alleged the episode advanced the “false narrative” of him “walking off the show in disgrace as a burned-out, irrational, incompetent and mentally ill has-been.”
In granting Discovery’s motion, District Judge Roslyn O. Silver noted that although “Dual Survival” is hardly a “reality program,” it did not misrepresent Lundin’s behavior. Silver found “Lundin was happy to participate in the charade as long as he was portrayed in the manner he preferred.” What charade you ask? Silver cited several examples in the case record that reflect “Dual Survival” is far more scripted than “real.” For instance, Silver wrote “Dual Survival” often portrayed the hosts as having little access to food and water. In reality, Silver found the hosts enjoyed breakfast and dinner at resorts, hotels, and lodges, and also receive catered lunches on location. In addition, Silver noted multiple scenes in which “wild” animals were placed on set to be “hunted” by Lundin and Teti.
But when it came to the episode’s portrayal of Lundin, Silver found the depictions were accurate or, at least, substantially true. For example, Lundin objected to a scene in which he is shown angrily throwing objects at Teti. Lundin claimed this scene was the “cornerstone piece of the false narrative” that made Lundin appear incompetent and mentally ill. Yet, he admitted he was angry; just not with Teti. Lundin was upset with a producer who allegedly instructed Lundin to throw the items in this fashion. Silver found the scene accurately portrayed Lundin’s emotional outburst, and whether it was directed to a producer or Teti was immaterial.
Lundin also objected to scenes in which he cursed at Teti and that these statements were rearranged to fit into different points in the dialogue. Silver, again, found this depiction of Lundin to be substantially true since Lundin actually uttered those words and was upset with Teti when the statements were played in the episode.
Moreover, some of the scenes to which Lundin objected were judged to be completely true. For instance, Lundin is portrayed laughing at Teti as Teti struggles to kill a rattlesnake. Teti’s on-screen statements that the snake is dangerous and that this is no laughing matter, Lundin argued, cast a false light on Lundin suggesting he is a “seriously mentally ill basket case” to find humor in such peril. In reality, Lundin claims he was laughing at Teti’s incompetence and not at a situation in which someone could become seriously hurt, and that Discovery should have provided this context to the viewers. Silver disagreed and found this depiction of Lundin to be factually accurate because he was truthfully shown laughing at Teti as he tried to kill the snake.
On a broader level, Silver found Lundin failed to demonstrate how any portion of the episode posed a serious threat to his reputation or, at a minimum, casted Lundin in a highly offensive light. To the contrary, Silver determined the episode at several points displayed Lundin in a positive light, commending his mastery of the art of survival and calling Lundin’s departure a “big blow” to the program.
Lundin has until December 2, 2018 to file a notice of appeal.