“Escape the Night,” one of YouTube Original’s longest-running web series, features a diverse cast of famous YouTubers who attempt to make it out of a large-scale escape room with their lives. In each episode, the team navigates through mazes and puzzles, competing in challenges to find artifacts or keys to evade the haunted properties, sometimes at the expense of their fellow YouTubers. The team is often left to vote for which of their friends to betray in order for everyone else to escape. By the end of the season, a handful of YouTubers guiltily escape with their lives knowing their friends had to die in unimaginably painful ways.
“Escape the Night” is written by YouTuber Joey Graceffa who also stars as the team leader in all four seasons. Graceffa and his ex-boyfriend Daniel Preda produced the show together, frequently going above and beyond to make sure that their costars were comfortable on set. Sometimes they even paid out of their own pockets to provide the best trailers, costume designers and makeup artists for the cast of YouTubers.
Everything may not have been all sunshine and rainbows, however. “Escape the Night” star and YouTuber Gabbie Hanna has recently come out with a video on her channel “exposing” the details of what it was like to work on set. “It was the absolute worst-case scenario,” Hanna explained. The video is the fourth chapter of her series “Confessions of a WashedUp YouTube HasBeen,” in which Hanna publicly airs her grievances with other YouTubers and celebrities who have wronged her.
The series has earned Hanna a lot of attention online and not in a good way. Many users in the comments section of her video are chastising Hanna’s last-ditch efforts to rescue her dying internet presence by always playing the victim. Others are praising Hanna for her bravery in speaking out despite “haters” always trying to cancel her online.
In her video, Hanna owns up to the fact that she was not the easiest person to work with on set and that she regrets starring in two seasons of “Escape the Night” despite her lack of interest and rapidly declining mental health. Still, she defends herself by saying, “I had a very emotional reaction to a very emotionally triggering situation, but I could have handled myself better.” By the end of her video, she speaks directly to Graceffa and Preda, stating, “I apologized, you accepted it and then, the second it’s popular, you throw me under the bus.”
Hanna is not quiet about her struggles with her physical and mental health. She is very open about life after her diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is characterized by bouts of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Hanna provides symptoms of ADHD throughout her video while explaining her truth about what life was like for her on set.
One of Hanna’s biggest gripes involved the absence of healthy food options on the set. Along with other physical and mental health issues, Hanna also struggles with eating disorders that make it difficult for her to consume the food that her body requires. She offers screenshots of text messages between herself and Daniel Preda, showcasing that she made her dietary needs known and requested that healthier meal options be offered on the set. However, these options were not provided for her. Hanna complains that her pleas about the lack of proper nutrition and the producers’ disregard for her boundaries were the reasons why her character was killed off of “Escape the Night” in Season 4.
Among the complaints about the food, Hanna also brings attention to the fact that her work hours were unreasonable and that her costume was ill-fitted to her body. Hanna recalls repeatedly sitting in her trailer in full costume, hair and makeup, but nobody calling her to shoot. She had to work around the shooting schedule, constantly rearranging her other affairs to sit and do nothing on the set of “Escape the Night.” The expensive garments and heels she was put in made it difficult for her to run in timed challenges and the jewelry she was allegedly forced to wear made her skin break out in hives. It seems that none of Hanna’s requests and protests were resolved by the producers of the show.
Not only was Hanna’s online reputation tarnished as a result of “Escape the Night,” but many of her relationships with other YouTubers were ruined. “I thought they were my real friends,” Hanna laments in her video about her costars. She claims that Graceffa and Preda are making her out to be a diva, but Hanna exposes the misogyny in their statements, claiming that “every other woman who advocates for herself” is written off as a diva, “even if she needs to fight for the bare minimum.”
On the same day that Hanna released her exposé to millions of her subscribers, an “Escape the Night” star fired back with a tweet aimed at Hanna. Rosanna Pansino, known for her sweet personality and pastry recipes, got involved with the drama by setting some facts straight about Hanna’s claims. Pansino calls Hanna “the most difficult, mean and selfish person” she had worked with on set and that Hanna conveniently left key details out of her video.
— Rosanna Pansino (@RosannaPansino) June 28, 2021
Pansino’s tweet clarifies that Hanna did not attend two of the three wardrobe fittings before filming, so a costume was made for her in her absence. Pansino mentions that Hanna also neglected to fill out the dietary restriction forms until the first day of filming, so the healthy options would not be available in time. She recalls multiple occasions in which Hanna cussed out production assistants and walked off set without finishing the shoot. “I also have ADHD,” Pansino admits, “however, that is simply not an excuse to treat people like that and behave in that manner.”
Graceffa and Preda have also provided their side of the story with videos on their channels, filled with evidence (“receipts”) disproving Hanna’s complaints on the matter and calling her out for her lies and desperate attempts to always be the victim. In his video, titled “Gabbie Hanna Needs to Stop,” Graceffa attempts to bite his tongue, but makes several digs at Hanna’s poor work ethic, calling her “delusional” and “a nightmare.” He explains that filming a series means you have to play the game of hurry-up-and-wait and that Hanna was not familiar with that style of shooting. Her actions on set are the reason her reputation has been tarnished and the reason why he is no longer friends with her.
Daniel Preda’s poised video “The TRUTH About Gabbie Hanna & Escape the Night” features over an hour of footage of behind-the-scenes videos, text messages and voice memos between Hanna and him. He chastises Hanna for using her ADHD diagnosis “as a crutch to excuse her behavior on set” and opens up about his own struggles with the disorder. He provides several different videos of the healthy food options available for the stars and informs viewers that he even made trips to the grocery store to appease her tantrums about unhealthy snacks.
Preda remains respectful of Hanna’s eating disorder but refuses to take ownership of its return while she was on set. “It’s unfortunate that [Hanna] continues to manipulate and use scare tactics in this series in a last-ditch effort to salvage what is left of [her] online influence,” Preda says. Still, he ends his video on a positive note by pleading for Hanna to be able to “seek the help that [she] truly needs to heal [her] heart and soul and find happiness in [her] life.”
Overall, Hanna’s truths are valid; however, as Pansino pointed out, many details were withheld from her viewers. This is a common thread for people with a massive following online. Videos exposing inappropriate behavior and undesirable circumstances are almost always one-sided and biased, attempting to cover up certain truths to sway viewers. The lack of the full truth and the constant need to point fingers directly resulted in the drama that ensued across multiple social media platforms. Unfortunately, stars and celebrities choose to hash out their disagreements online for views. It appears that all of the drama between these parties could have been resolved with a private, in-person conversation.
Recently, people have been feeling more entitled to their opinions online, hopping onto bandwagons when it’s popular to proclaim hate about certain celebrities. Many fans are too quick to defend their favorite stars, even when their behavior is unjustified and inappropriate. An overwhelming number of people online jump to conclusions without understanding the full picture and create trending tags calling for celebrities to be ostracized or “canceled.” Cancel culture is the epitome of toxic internet culture. After the animosity and deception that has been spread online over the past year, people should make a conscious attempt to uncover both sides of the story and the full, honest truth before pounding out an angry comment from their keyboards.