“Dual Survival” is a reality TV series which aired on Discovery Channel for nine seasons, from June 2010 to October 2016. During its run, it became one of the most prominent series in the survival genre, riding the wave of popularity set by shows such as “Survivor” and Bear Grylls’ “Man vs. Wild”. It featured a pair of survival experts showcasing the best of their abilities in predetermined survival scenarios. One of the most prominent stars of the series was certainly the naturalist and primitive-skills expert, Cody Lundin, who appeared in the first four seasons of show. While the main hosts of “Dual Survival” were later frequently subject to change, Cody’s departure was perhaps one of the most surprising to fans.

Who is Cody Lundin?

Cody Lundin has a lot of expertise as a survivalist. He was born in rural Arizona. Where he was raised an only child.

After matriculating from a local high school, he started living in a naturalist commune with friends, and then in a bush shelter while he attended college in Prescott, Arizona, from which he graduated in 1989 with a degree in Depth Psychology and Holistic Health. He is the author of two books about wilderness survival – “98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive”, and “When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes”. Today, Cody lives his life off-the-grid in a self-designed sustainable solar earth home located in the wilderness of northern Arizona, where he runs the Aboriginal Living Skills School which provides courses in outdoor survival and bushcraft.

Prior to hosting “Dual Survival”, Cody was the host of another Discovery Channel series, “Lost in the Wild” (2004), which centered on solving missing persons cases in wilderness areas. While this series didn’t last too long, Cody stayed in touch with Discovery Channel producers, who cast him in “Dual Survival” in 2010.

Cody’s departure and Discovery Channel defamation lawsuit

Cody’s expertise along with his fun personality and sense of humor made him a fan-favorite, however, Cody’s trouble with the show producers started during the third season of the show, when his co-host Dave Canterbury was replaced by Joseph Teti. Cody was featured in all the promo material prior to the release of season four, and there was no sign of anything unusual happening, until one episode showed Cody walking off-set visibly frustrated, so fans wondered if he would be coming back, Discovery Channel announced that Lundin was no longer a part of the show; the news came as a shock to fans, who were eager to find out what caused Cody’s departure from “Dual Survival”.

‘Dear campers, unfortunately, I have been fired by Discovery Channel for differences over safety and health concerns on the show, and will no longer be a part of “Dual Survival”’, he explained in a subsequent Facebook post. ‘Although I’ll miss elements of the show, what I’ll miss the most are my fans and the opportunity to teach – on a global level – life saving skills, indigenous culture, and values of integrity and respect toward our natural world’, Cody continued.

Watch Cody Lundin and Joseph Teti take on some of the planet's most unforgiving terrain only on 'Dual Survival'. Tonight at 10 pm.

Posted by Discovery Channel India on Monday, April 8, 2013

Discovery Channel posted their own statement in response, saying ‘We are always striving to get a lot of different takes on survival on our air, and we felt it was time for change’. This statement further upset Cody, who claimed that their explanation for firing him was completely inaccurate. He also criticized the show’s producers for implying that he quit the show because he couldn’t handle the increasingly complex survival scenarios. ‘Not only are these implications completely false, they question my professional experience, expertise and integrity in a manner that I will not tolerate’, he wrote in a further Facebook post.

In 2016, the online tabloid “TMZ” reported that Cody had filed a defamation lawsuit against Discovery Channel for allegedly misrepresenting his character. The tabloid also reported that Cody’s new co-host, Joseph Teti, was making him feel unsafe while on set, which was one of the main reasons for his departure. Apparently, Teti openly threatened Cody’s life on two separate occasions – according Cody, while shooting in Norway, Teti waved around an ice axe, while threatening to bury Cody in the mountains, and later, during a shoot in Hawaii, Teti threatened to kill him with a spear.

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Regarding the defamation lawsuit, the court eventually ruled in favor of Discovery Channel, due to a lack of evidence to support Lundin’s claims. District Judge Roslyn O. Silver noted that Cody willingly participated in an edited reality TV show, and that his character wasn’t misrepresented. ‘Mr. Lundin was happy to participate in the charade as long as he was portrayed in the manner he preferred’, she said. Judge Silver also found that Cody failed to demonstrate how exactly   the show portrayed him in a negative light, pointing out that there were multiple scenes in the series which commended his mastery of survival skills, while calling his departure a ‘big blow’ to the show.

Other controversies

To this day, Cody Lundin’s firing and subsequent lawsuit remains one of the biggest scandals of “Dual Survival”, but it’s far from being the only shocking revelation about the show.

Cody’s first co-host, Dave Canterbury, was let go in 2011 after it was revealed that he lied about his qualifications to be cast.

In his resume, Dave wrote that he was a sniper in the US Army, which was later proven to be false, along with some other claims. After being released from the series, Dave posted an apologetic YouTube video, admitting that he lied. ‘Did I embellish some of the things on my resume? I did. I didn’t do it to hurt anyone. I didn’t do it to make things difficult for anyone in my family. I actually did it to, number one, better my family’, he stated.

It was later revealed that Joe Teti, much like his predecessor Dave, lied on his own application resume. He claimed to have served in the US military Special Forces, in a division so secret that he wasn’t even allowed to name it, and also said that he’d completed the Special Forces Sniper and Special Forces Combat Diver training. Many veterans who watched the show found these claims hard to believe, and after a background check was done on Joe, it turned out that there were no records of him completing said Special Forces courses.

However, he did serve in the US military Special Forces, just not in any kind of ‘secret’ unit, and was never deployed in combat, contrary to what he’d claimed on the show. As a result, Teti was disavowed from Special Forces Association (SFA) – ‘He’s an embarrassment to the Regiment, because of the falsehoods, lies and embellishments he’s used in association with his Special Forces qualifications’, said the former Army Sergeant Major George Davenport, a member of SFA.

That’s not the only controversy Joe was involved in, as he was actually forced to leave the show after a violent incident. He was shooting one of his final scenes of season six when he attacked a dog, and allegedly killed it. As per a “TMZ” report, Joe saw a group of stray cats running from a dog onto the set; when the dog nabbed one of them, Joe went after it leaving it dead or gravely injured, depending on the reports. Following the incident, he was apparently banned from all Discovery Channel offices, while the executives tried to figure out what to do with “Dual Survival”.

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As a result, the show was cancelled, and season six was condensed into only four episodes, while the network cut ties with both Teti and Matt Graham, his co-host at the time.

 “Dual Survival” cancellation

However, this cancellation lasted only a few months, returning for the seventh season in January 2016, with a brand new cast consisting of Bill McConnell and Grady Powell. As it turned out, “Dual Survival” fans were not so keen on the sudden change, evidenced by the series’ viewership dropping drastically after Joe Teti and Matt Graham were released from the cast. While the first six seasons of the show averaged around 1.5 million viewers per episode, season seven failed to reach even a million viewers. The audience reacted particularly badly to Bill, who was seen as overly dramatic and grating.

This prompted the producers to switch the cast again for season eight, releasing Bill McConnell in favor of Josh James and Bo McGlone, and again changed completely for the ninth season, with Jeff Zausch and E. J. Snyder hosting the show, but the viewership never returned to the levels of the first six seasons.

Although “Dual Survival” hasn’t been officially cancelled by the network, there hasn’t been any news about the show making a comeback since season nine concluded in October 2016, so after more than five years it’s safe to assume that Discovery Channel has no intention of renewing it for another season.

Is “Dual Survival” fake?

During its run, “Dual Survival” faced with some criticism debating how realistic it actually is. While it was partially framed as an educational show, at least in the beginning, the exposed lying from some former cast members hurt the series’ credibility. On the other hand, the show has always been honest about certain elements being fabricated, and each episode was prefaced with a disclaimer stating ‘On some occasions, situations are presented to Dave and Cody so they can demonstrate survival techniques’. Even the show’s stars would sometimes ‘break the fourth wall’, to discuss how a certain scenario would play out in a real life-or-death situation. For example, in season one, Dave and Cody ran across a pair of large snakes which would be a decent source of meat in a dire situation.

They agreed not to touch them, while saying that in a real-life scenario they wouldn’t be able to display such kindness.

During Cody Lundin’s lawsuit against Discovery Channel, the judge pointed out that “Dual Survival” is even more scripted that the producers are willing to admit to the audience. For instance, while the show often portrays its hosts as starving and having no access to water, the reality is that they’re always located near resorts, lodges and hotels, and were even receiving catered lunches during filming. She also noted multiple instances in which presumably wild animals were actually captive animals placed on set for shock value.

The fans were also quick to point out some inconsistencies which they noticed on the show; in one episode Matt Graham was spotted holding a red tips book of matches, but when he handed them to Joe Teti they somehow turned green, and then red again, which indicated that the said scene had to be filmed multiple times, and was then spliced together to get the best take.

Furthermore, the show’s producers liked to add in some drama, by making it seem that the survivalist pairs hated each other. The season seven hosts, Bill McConnel and Grady Powell, are perhaps the most obvious example of this practice, as they seemed to butt heads on screen more often than any other pairing. When they were later asked about how they felt about this, both Bill and Grady said that that there were no real hard feelings between them, and chalked up the drama to some ‘TV magic’.

Similar shows

Scripted or not, people still enjoy watching survival series which showcase humans’ ability to withstand the harshest of circumstances. While “Dual Survival” isn’t airing anymore, there are still quite a few survival focused TV shows out there.

Perhaps the most popular such series right now is “Naked and Afraid”, which has been airing on Discovery Channel since 2013. The show features a group of people trying to survive in the wilderness – while completely naked.

For the fans of competitive reality TV shows, there is History Channel’s “Alone”, featuring ten survival experts competing for the prize of $500,000. Each contestant is thrown into the Canadian wilderness with only a backpack of essential equipment; they have to find food, water and shelter, all while documenting their experience with a camera. Since “Alone” started airing in 2015, the series has built a dedicated audience, gaining the status of a cult classic.

“Mountain Men”, another series produced by History Channel is a popular addition to the survival genre. Unlike most other series, though, it takes on more of a documentary-style approach, as it documents the daily lives of people who spent years living in remote locations in Montana, Alaska and Maine.

The first survival reality series, “Survivor” is also still on air, and is entering its 42nd series on CBS, having spawned numerous international spin-offs, the most successful being aired in Australia, Denmark, Turkey and France.

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