Is This the Most Brutal Verbal Attack in ‘Survivor’ History?

In its 19 years on air, Survivor has shown us the best and the worst of its castaways. To many, the show might seem like a simple reality television formula. But true Survivor fans know that the island is often a social tempest, and sometimes, people really snap.

Host Jeff Probst is big on this point. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said, “You then put them in extreme conflict, in this case, being abandoned on an island, deprive them of everything else and force them to work together while voting each other out.  It’s a tremendously stressful situation and typically, the tougher it gets, the more a person’s façade is stripped away and the more truth is revealed.”

One season, in particular, put a fine point on this idea with the behavior of a castaway who verbally assaulted a campmate. This instance of bullying is arguably the most brutal verbal attack in Survivor history.

Who is Shirin Ooskoi

 Jeff Probst
Jeff Probst | CBS via Getty Images

Shirin Ooskoi has been featured on two seasons of SurvivorSurvivor: Worlds Apart and Survivor: Cambodia. Ooskoi has described herself as a superfan, though her enthusiasm for the game sometimes rubbed her tribemates the wrong way. A Yahoo! executive at the time, Shirin’s CBS bio details why she thought she’d win the game.

“I practice “voting people out” in real life and succeed. I’m a fighter and risk-taker. I’m super smart, observant, and don’t let my emotions govern my actions at work, let alone in games. I have no qualms with using people or their secrets to get ahead,” reads Ooskoi’s bio.

Ooskoi’s talkative and enthusiastic gameplay eventually drew the ire of certain tribemates, leading to a confrontation that would go down in Survivor history. After a reward earned by tribemate Will Sims, Shirin expressed a certain distrust in Sims’ attempts to share the reward. Sims didn’t take well to that, and verbally attacked Shirin.

Who is Will Sims

Jeff Probst
Jeff Probst | CBS via Getty Images

Will Sims has only ever been on one season of SurvivorSurvivor: Worlds Apart. Some fans wonder if that’s as a result of the controversial argument he had with Shirin Ooskoi. Sims was seen as something of an unreliable player on the season, as his tribemates felt that the alliances he tried to create couldn’t be trusted. He was also occasionally kept at arm’s length due to his short temper, especially after he exploded at Ooskoi.

Sims won an auction reward that included a cooler full of rations meant to last him throughout the entire season. He elected to share his rations with his tribe, but some of his tribemates, including Shirin Ooskoi, thought he was being deceitful and hiding some of the food for himself. Sims took issue with this, and that’s when the verbal assault began.

Sims attacks Ooskoi in a verbal assault

The whole situation started when Ooskoi questioned Sims about sharing the food. She claimed that he was hiding some for himself. Sims didn’t take well to that, and started a fight.

“I chose to share that with you guys, and you’re gonna question that?” asked Sims. “All you do is eat and talk! What else could fit in there? Don’t ever question my character.” He then went on a tirade.

“So let’s get it all out then. … You don’t wanna hear the truth. Nobody even likes you. I can guarantee there’s nobody at home in the United States right now who misses you,” said Sims. “We all have loved ones at home who love and care about us and you’ve got nothing. You have nothing. You have no family you have nothing. I do what I want!”

Later, at tribal council, Ooskoi brought up the entire altercation, and decided to get real and reveal why Sims’ attack really cut her to the core.

“He started talking about how I have no family and I’m a loser. How more poeple in this game have liked him than have liked me in my entire life,” said Ooskoi.

“That’s true though,” replied Sims.

“And you know why I don’t have a family?” continued Ooskoi. “Let’s talk about that for a second Jeff. Yeah, it’s so funny and so great to put me down for not having a family. I don’t have a family because my biological father is just like you and verbally assaulted me all the time.”

The original attack left Ooskoi in tears after she left the camp to be with other teammates. While some have pointed out that the behavior was utterly toxic on Sims’ part, others have said that perhaps it’s good to televise such things, so others can see how bullying really affects people.