×

‘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.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Breaking Bad

    'Breaking Bad' Movie Release Date, Title and Plot Revealed

    The “Breaking Bad” movie is coming to Netflix sooner than you might think. The film, titled “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” is now set to be released on Netflix on Oct. 11, according to a report from the New York Times, with Aaron Paul returning as the series’ popular meth cook Jesse Pinkman. Jesse [...]

  • Laurence FishburneNational Memorial Day Concert Dress

    Laurence Fishburne to Produce 'Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' Series for Disney Channel

    Laurence Fishburne is stepping into the animation game. The “Matrix” star is set to executive produce “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” an animated series which has been given the greenlight at Disney Channel. Based on Marvel’s comic book series, the show hails from from Disney Television Animation and follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • 'The Simpsons' Producers on Disney, Spinoffs

    'The Simpsons' Producers Talk Potential Disney Spinoffs, Confirm Apu Will Remain

    “The Simpsons” has never shied away from lampooning Disney over the years, but maybe that’s no longer the case. Homer, Marge and co. are of course now part of the Disney family and made their first appearance at the Mouse House’s D23 Expo convention, where the show’s producers were asked plenty of questions about what [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content