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It Only Took 12 Years for Lost’s Producers to Apologize to Evangeline Lilly

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Last week, Evangeline Lilly spoke on the podcast The Lost Boys about her time on Lost, including calling out some of the show’s lazy, sexist writing. She also described a negative, uncomfortable experience being pressured into doing a partially nude scene.

“In season three,” she said, “I’d had a bad experience on set with being basically cornered into doing a scene partially naked, and I felt had no choice in the matter. And I was mortified and I was trembling and when it finished. I was crying my eyes out, and I had to go on do a very formidable, very strong scene thereafter.”

This wasn’t the only time something like this happened. She went on to say, “In season four, another scene came up where Kate was undressing, and I fought very hard to have that scene be under my control, and I failed to control it again. And so I then said, ‘That’s it, no more. You can write whatever you want—I won’t do it. I will never take my clothes off on this show again.’ And I didn’t.”

Executive producers and co-creators J.J. Abrams, Jack Bender, Damon Lindelof, and Carlton Cuse issued a statement to Deadline, offering a public apology and also stating that they’d reached out directly for a private apology.

It says, “Our response to Evie’s comments in the media was to immediately reach out to her to profoundly apologize for the experience she detailed while working on Lost. We have not yet connected with her, but remain deeply and sincerely sorry. No person should ever feel unsafe at work. Period.”

I suppose an apology 12 years after the fact is better than no apology at all, but the fact that an apology was needed in the first place is still maddening. Those four people (especially Lindelof and Cuse, who were the series’ showrunners and likely onset during these scenes) had an opportunity to listen to Lilly when she was expressing discomfort in the first place.

Moreover, they apologized for “the experience” Lilly had, but it wasn’t just one experience. There was the scene that left her “crying [her] eyes out,” the scene the next season where she tried to establish agency over the use of her body and was once again steamrolled, the descent into lazy, sexist writing, and that’s all just from one interview. As Deadline notes, she’s previously shared other stories from the set, like the time she was “punished” by a “misogynistic” stuntman and was left with the skin flayed off of both her forearms. This was not just one experience, but from the sound of it, a culture of sexism that permeated the set.

In that interview, Lilly describes addressing that culture head-on, from expressing discomfort at the way nudity was handled on multiple occasions to “[throwing] scripts across rooms” when her character Kate was depicted as having no agency, as being a mere cog in a love triangle. It’s not like the producers didn’t hear this feedback; they simply chose to ignore it.

It’s nice that they’re apologizing, but if the people in their positions started listening to women when they say they’re being made to feel “unsafe at work,” maybe we could stop getting these apologies a decade too late.

(via Deadline, image: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.