A Muslim woman exited the new Discovery show Survive the Raft Sunday after saying she felt isolated from and targeted by the other cast members on the show. The show’s host, Nate Boyer, gave Yahoo Entertainment News her thoughts on what actually went down in the episode.
The new series is based on a 1973 social experiment called “Peace Project” from anthropologist Santiago Genovés and features a group of nine Americans on a raft together who were “handpicked to disagree about everything.”
And as the season continues, the group is offered the chance to swap out a current cast member for a new one, which is where the drama began on Sunday for 41-year-old Summer Homayed. When a potential new castmate arrived on the raft — also named Summer — Homayed immediately felt threatened, as if she would be the first name brought up to be voted off. (The actual first — and unexpected — exit occurred after a contestant suffered a seizure on the inaugural episode and had to be evacuated.)
But in an attempt to shift the chopping block spotlight onto 36-year-old cast mate Lashanna Lintamo, Homayed was ultimately accused of embellishing a story and stirring the pot.
Later, Homayed claimed that Lintamo was threatening her and the group, but another cast mate who heard the conversation didn’t agree and again accused her of stirring the pot. At that point, Homayed got the sense that the target was officially on her back.
“100% the team is looking for their moment to get rid of me, and I don’t want to sit here and say it comes down to a racial thing, but I’ll leave that for the world to see,” Homayed said in a confessional interview. “We don’t speak the same language, we don’t have the same culture. I feel singled out, absolutely, I didn’t come here for that. What the heck am I doing here?”
Homayed decided to tell the rest of the group to go ahead and vote her out. But then she engaged with Lintamo about how she was feeling, and Lintamo responded.
“You better step back because you’re looking stupid,” she said to Homayed. “You’re a liar, you’re fake, you’re stirring the pot. I’m done eating your nasty food, I’m done. You’re a liar. And the world doesn’t see it. You’re messing up the opportunity for women to break free in the Muslim community.”
And with that, Homayed began packing her bags to leave but ended up joining the group for a brief meeting with show host Nate Boyer, where she told the group how she was feeling.
“I felt isolated since day one, I really did, I even came out to you guys. I spoke about it. I am different,” Homayed said.
She then left the raft without any votes being cast and spoke with Boyer, telling him that she felt “targeted.” He then asked if she felt that way on the raft or in the real world.
“Both places, I am targeted. I am a Muslim woman,” Homayed said. “Maybe I can’t sit with them for their conversations. Maybe I can’t have sex talk because I’m reserved. Maybe I can’t assimilate like they can. We’re different.”
In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment about the episode, Boyer said that he understands why she would have feelings of isolation and targeting, given her “unique story and background,” and assumes she has probably felt those things in her life before the raft as well.
Boyer was a United States Army Green Beret, having served six years and multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he said gave him a personal perspective on the matter.
“Living in the United States and being of a Muslim background, that’s gotta be tough on a lot of people. And I know that from some of the interpreters and Special Forces folks that I worked with from Afghanistan, they come back here and people don’t understand their story. And they don’t understand their beliefs, and it’s hard for people to relate to them. And I’m sure that can be very lonely and scary,” Boyer said. “And yes, this country is pretty good, and I think it has the potential to be great, but we’re not perfect. I think some people definitely get the shorter end of the stick compared to others. So I wonder if a lot of that contributed to those feelings. And then when you’re in a sensitive and vulnerable state, maybe you’re a little bit more easily triggered. So I could absolutely see why she felt that way.”
However, Boyer went on to say that he didn’t think the group had targeted Homayed or intended to make her feel singled out.
“Whether it was fair or not, I don’t think she was specifically… I don’t think the group was in on it to get her,” Boyer said. “But it probably felt like that, and I can’t blame her for feeling those things. She has every right to feel that way.”
Survive the Raft airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Discovery.