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The Traitors US castle had another enemy: COVID

The Traitors US castle had another enemy: COVID
Traitors US season 1 winner Cirie Fields and Amanda Clark-Stoner at breakfast the day before Amanda exited the game due to a positive COVID-19 test. (Image via Peacock)

One of the early mysteries of The Traitors US was why Amanda Clark-Stoner disappeared from the castle. The answer is rather simple, but there’s also more to the story.

At the end of episode five, host Alan Cumming only said “Amanda has had to leave the castle for reasons beyond her control.”

When the show premiered on Peacock in January, Amanda said she’d let everyone know what happened. Meanwhile, people started speculating, including suggesting she was pregnant.

In late January, Amanda posted the answer to Instagram, first saying this:

I kinda just want to clear the air about two of the assumptions that I’ve seen people make. Number one, that I was pregnant. The show was filmed over eight months ago, and I am obviously not pregnant.

My husband and I are actually gonna be starting IUI treatments next month, and I’m going to be sharing that journey to hopefully end some stigmatization around infertility and normalize the conversation.

And number two, that I quit, which would never happen. Your girl is not a quitter. I could have broken both my legs; I would have been hobbling around that castle trying to figure out who the Traitors were.

I was a Faithful through and through, trying to figure it out.

So why did she suddenly leave? Here’s what she said:

What really happened was that I tested positive for COVID, and I was no longer able to participate in the competition.

I took every precaution: I wore an N-95 and a surgical mask on my flights. I quarantined before and after I got into Scotland, and I was vaccinated. And I still tested positive and couldn’t continue.

And whenever I found that out, I felt like total shit. It was like the rug got pulled out from underneath of me and all my hopes and dreams and this amazing opportunity that I will probably never get again just was taken away from me in an instant.

But instead of focusing on the negatives, I’m trying to focus on the positives and the facts and they are the Faithful didn’t banish me. The Traitors didn’t murder me. And as far as I’m concerned, your girl has unfinished business in Ardross Castle. So who knows? Maybe I’ll get my revenge.

Testing positive for COVID-19 is a simple reason, but doing so after quarantining and competing in a COVID-free bubble raises some questions—especially because Amanda wasn’t the only one with COVID.

Why The Traitors US filmed its first day twice

A person wearing a red jacket and jeans sitting on red couch, with one arm on a pillow
Geraldine Moreno on day 2 of The Traitors US season 1, before her banishment (Image via Peacock)

COVID didn’t just affect Amanda: It also affected at least two other The Traitors US players.

The most shocking to me is that The Traitors US started production with a cast member named Kevin Greene, who was identified in a Vevmo thread in May 2022 as a possible cast member.

In a YouTube video posted to Brandi Glanville’s channel, Brandi and Reza—both of whom missed the Andy Cohen-hosted reunion—had their own reunion, and discussed Kevin around 24 minutes into the video. Brandi says he was “hot and smart and cute” and they “had some very flirtations conversations.”

But the incredible part is not about his relationships. “He got COVID on the first day,” Brandi said, “and we had to reshoot everything, and he doesn’t exist on the show.”

It’s one thing that the US version pretended that the cast stayed in the castle overnight, instead of just being honest about it like the UK version was. But to reshoot an entire day? Wow! That’s some good acting on the cast’s part. I’m so curious if the same Traitors were selected during the reshoot.

The alternate player who replaced Kevin? Geraldine Moreno, the first player banished from the game. The Traitors wiki speculates that the last-minute substitution “might have contributed to Geraldine becoming an outsider, and led to her quick elimination.”

Since Geraldine was present for the first first mission, did they re-film that, too? Or was that filmed on the second day, but collapsed into the first episode?

When the players show up to that mission, Alan Cumming tells them “the aim of the mission is to ignite these two beasts,” and behind him, it’s clear that the two massive figures have already been burned, since they’re scorched. I assumed that was from a challenge rehearsal, and it very well may have been, or it could have been because they’d all done the challenge the day before.

A third Traitors US player tested positive for COVID-19

A person in a big white sweater sits in a darkened room and gazes down with a sad look
Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick on The Traitors US episode 8, the day before her exit from the show (Photo by Euan Cherry/Peacock)

Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, in an interview with Jack Vita, said that she, too, tested positive for COVID—but not until the day she exited the competition. Here’s what she said:

I ended up getting COVID. So, they were testing us like constantly and I think it’s where you got COVID during the shell

They were testing us constantly, and then as the numbers dwindled—I don’t even know if I can say this or not—but as the numbers dwindled, they started testing us like every other day or every couple, it wasn’t like every.

And I know exactly when I got it: I got it from Amanda during that church challenge.

The challenge in the church, which was filled with extras—who were wearing masks on their faces, but the Eyes Wide Shut orgy type, not the kind that filter viruses from the air—was in episode five, so on the fifth day.

However, there were a few days off during the production, so the 10 days of the game weren’t contiguous. Stephenie says later in the interview that the cast had Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 2022, off, though they stayed in their hotel rooms.

Stephenie explained what happened next:

Amanda was on my team, and Amanda came down with COVID. And then like five or six days later, I started getting a severe cough, splitting headache.

Now I already had COVID, and I already been vaccinated, you know, so I could travel the world, doing my reality shows.

I knew it. I was thinking, I have COVID. And I’m like thinking to myself, When’s the next test? And sure enough, it was the day I got murdered.

I got murdered and then they’re, We need to give you a COVID test so we can work your flight. So I got stuck there an extra week in a hotel.

Amanda left in episode five, and Stephenie didn’t leave until episode nine, the day before the finale.

That Stephenie was coughing and sick for several days before she was tested is definitely concerning, both for her own health and those around her.

Since she had COVID symptoms while filming for several days means it’s very possible other players could have been infected, too. Vaccination does prevent severe disease, but as we all know now, doesn’t prevent infection, alas.

Did other players come down with COVID, just after the day-10 finale? What would the show have done if all the finalists tested positive? Was this just a complete fluke? Or were the production’s COVID protocols lacking?

On Tuesday morning, I asked Peacock about the production’s COVID protocols, and what the network did to ensure the game would still be fair after the first day was filmed again. I’ve not yet heard back, but will update if I do.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how itโ€™s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

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Happy discussing!

Matthew K

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Hey Andy! I interviewed Amanda for my podcast The Traidar. If you listen to the March 16th episode (Traitors Us Reunion Part 2), Amanda goes into a fair bit of detail about what really happened on set with Kevin. Take a listen and feel free to quote us in the blog!