×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Big Brother’ Contestants Being Jerks? Hardly a Shocker

The network's disclaimer is a nice gesture, but reality TV players know 'the game'

Let’s give CBS credit for trying, but if networks are going to begin taking responsibility for everything reality-TV contestants do and say, we’re going to spend all our time wading through a sea of disclaimers and apologies.

On Sunday’s edition of “Big Brother,” CBS added a disclaimer in response to some of the racist and homophobic utterings of those sequestered in the house. But the network’s discomfort with the situation brings to mind the prefect of police in “Casablanca,” who was shocked, shocked to discover gambling is going on. Or put another way, there’s that old saying about laying down with dogs and waking up with fleas.

Networks look for big, brash personalities to power their reality competition shows. And after roughly a dozen years and thousands of participants within the genre, the would-be stars know being a shrinking violet or wallflower is seldom the way to wind up with your own TV show, or even on “Celebrity Rehab.”

SEE MORE: CBS Slaps Disclaimer on ‘Big Brother’: Beware “Prejudice”

By now, people have learned the language and currency of reality TV, and they show up with an agenda in mind — as eager to be perceived as a certain type of “character” as the networks are to create them.

Let’s not forget the history of the genre — or rules that are pretty clear to everyone who signs up. “Survivor’s” myriad incarnations, after all, including a “Heroes Vs. Villains” edition. If you want to extend those 15 minutes of fame, notoriety can be as quick and easy a path as virtue.

Casting people can do all they want to try weeding out the extremes and finding contestants who appear natural on camera, but all too often these supposedly ordinary folk show up with preconceived notions about what sort of personality they want to convey, talking about “playing the game” and “I’m not here to make friends” and all the other lines that have become clichés, along with “This has been an amazing journey.”

SEE MORE: ‘Big Brother’ Easily Leads Way on Sluggish Sunday at Big Four

In that context, it’s no surprise some would cross lines of civility. The only way to avoid having jerks — or at least people who say and do jerky and offensive things — in the “Big Brother” house is to stop doing “Big Brother.” And since the show not only fills several hours a week during the summer but also has media folk talking about it in the context of this controversy, don’t anticipate that happening.

So while the fact CBS felt compelled to distance itself from the comments exhibits a degree of corporate responsibility in the bigger picture, for the most part it’s window dressing and makeup.

Because if anyone thinks this is the last time somebody’s going to say something outlandish as reality shows throw extroverts and fame-seekers together — all with the intent of making “sparks fly” — as they seldom say on a show like “Big Brother” in the literal sense, “Get real.”

More TV

  • BBC Studios, ZDF Form Development and

    BBC Studios, ZDF Form Development and Co-Production Partnership

    BBC Studios and German pubcaster ZDF have formed a strategic partnership to develop and co-produce “world-class content,” the two companies announced Thursday. The new long-term partnership will bring BBC Studios, the British pubcaster’s commercial arm, and ZDF together to co-develop scripted TV series, such as “The Mallorca Files,” created by Dan Sefton. Both companies will [...]

  • Nat Geo to Air Jeremy Irons-Narrated

    Nat Geo to Air Jeremy Irons-Narrated 'History of the Emirates' Series Globally (EXCLUSIVE)

    National Geographic has taken the bulk of global rights to documentary series “History of the Emirates,” narrated by Jeremy Irons and co-produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi together with British factual production outfit Atlantic Productions. The series profiles the United Arab Emirates’ ancient history, going back 125,000 years and culminating in the country’s union in [...]

  • View Conference Opens Registration for 2019

    2019 View Conference Opens Registration, Calls for Short Film Competition Entries

    Registration is now open for the 2019 edition of the View Conference in Turin, Italy. No speakers have been announced yet, but past conferences have featured some of the world’s top creative talents in visual effects, animation, gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Last year’s edition featured composer Hans Zimmer, Paramount Animation topper [...]

  • The Gifted Rel Canceled

    Fox Cancels Marvel Drama 'The Gifted,' Comedy 'Rel'

    Fox has canceled the Marvel drama “The Gifted” after two seasons and Lil Rel Howery comedy “Rel” after one season, Variety has learned. “Gifted” was set in the Marvel “X-Men” universe and followed a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their teenage children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on [...]

  • Whose Line Is It Anyway

    TV News Roundup: CW Sets Summer Premiere Dates, Announces Six New Series

    In today’s roundup, the CW announces five returning and six new series for its summer slate.  DATES “Queen of the South” will return to USA Network for its fourth season June 6 at 10/9c. Alice Braga plays the show’s lead, a woman seeking refuge in the United State after fleeing from a Mexican drug cartel. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content