Island Challenge production accused of leaving “a trash dump” behind in Panama

Once again, MTV and Bunim-Murray have been accused of damaging the environment at a Challenge location. Previously, the production was accused of destroying a leatherback sea turtle nesting beach and many eggs during production of The Gauntlet 2 in Tobago, a charge they denied.

Having produced the latest season of the show, The Island, near Boca del Drago in Panama, the production is now being accused of trashing rainforest on the private property where it filmed.

The Tree Climber’s Coalition (apparently there’s actually more than one member, despite the apostrophe in their title) has posted damning photos of the production area, which it says “looked like a trash dump” and had “an area of devastation inconsistent with the surrounding forest. MTV had packed up and gone and there was nothing left behind that could be compared with what had been there before.”

The group says “a bit of forest had been cleared in order to accommodate the activity. Large generators had been brought in to provide power, pads for the generators had been built, lighting had been installed along the beach, an access road had been built, and quite a bit of bamboo and other wood had been cut for building the tiki huts.” In addition, the group’s report says people were stopped by security and/or the police when they got near the production, even when they were walking on the beach and “in Panama all beaches are, by law, considered to be public.”

While the pictures tell a pretty obvious story of the mess left behind, the report is full of a lot of sketchy grammar and broad speculation, and it even admits that “[a] lot of the information here is, admittedly, hearsay” and “comments are nothing more than my own opinion of things. The exact details of the event have been unverified.” Among those are the claim that the small island where the treasure chest is located “is a protected area and we have been told that it is unlawful to set foot on the island.” Told by who?

They also allegedly found “copies of script [sic], giving us an ‘advance’ notice of what participants would be saying to each other and to the camera when the show was aired.” Those were more likely production notes about what actually happened, rather than what would happen, because the series would be a lot better if there was actual writing, and there’s no way those drunks could remember or deliver lines to save their lives.

“Reality” TV Gets Real Trashy [Tree Climber's Coalition]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.