What You Need to Know About the ‘Siesta Key’ Controversy

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle
The cast of MTV’s Siesta Key. (Photo: MTV)

If you’re wondering why Siesta Key has been trending for the last 24 hours, know this: It’s for all the wrong reasons.

Siesta Key is the name of a new MTV reality show set in Florida, which premiered Monday and is being pegged as “the new Laguna Beach.” However, drama is already swirling: One of its stars has been linked to a disturbing shark video that went viral last week.

Here’s everything we know about it:

The Show: So, wait, what is Siesta Key? In case you skipped the show’s premiere episode, the concept was reportedly crafted by cast member Alex Kompothecras’s father, Gary Kompothecras, and follows eight friends on the affluent Florida island of the same name. Alex is the Lauren Conrad-type star and narrator of the show, which is filled with love triangles and bikinis. One review calls it “Laguna Beach for Trump’s America.”

The Incident: An Instagram video shared by local fisherman Mark “The Shark” Quartiano last week depicts four men dragging a shark behind a boat at high speed. In the gruesome footage, those involved can be seen laughing at and filming the animal abuse taking place.

Reportedly, the men sent the footage to Quartiano, a famed Florida shark hunter, hoping he’d get a kick out of it. Instead, Quartiano turned it over to authorities after outing them on Instagram with the tags #sowrong and #notcool. Even Florida Gov. Rick Scott condemned the video, calling it “heinous and sickening.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has identified suspects and an investigation is underway. However, after the video was posted online, the men were quickly identified, and activists connected Alex Kompothecras to one of the alleged abusers.

The Players: As a result of the footage, a Facebook group, “Boycott Siesta Key MTV,” was created.

“Over the past few days, the connection between the production of the Siesta Key show and the horrific videos and photos of animal abuse have come to light,” according to the page.

Per Rolling Stone, star Alex supposedly commented and admitted to knowing one of the men involved but didn’t defend his actions.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with the shark video,” Alex allegedly wrote. “Yes he’s a friend of mine, but no I don’t agree with what he did. Check your facts before you go posting on my page. Thanks.”

The exchange has since been deleted, but Alex was in a woe-is-me kind of mood after making headlines.

The Aftermath: According to TMZ, Alex is one of the cast members who have been receiving death threats because of their connection to the footage. While police did not consider online threats substantial enough to warrant arrests, Monday night’s premiere party was canceled for safety concerns.

“I wouldn’t say that’s the only reason,” Gary Kompothecras later told the Tampa Bay Times. “There are other reasons.” He declined to comment further.

The lack of an official premiere party doesn’t appear to have put a damper on Alex’s celebration.

No word yet on how the boycotts affected ratings for the premiere.

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