For the first time in Big Brother’s history on CBS, all white contestants have been systematically eliminated from the show with weeks to go until the season finale.
During the first couple of days in the house, Derek Frazier, Tiffany Mitchell, Azah Awasum, and Xavier Prather agreed they wanted a Black player to win the show.
They also pointed out Black players don’t often make it to the jury house, so they decided to align to protect each other as far as possible, with the goal of one of them winning.
The initial four later pulled in biracial players Kyland Young and Hannah Chaddha, naming their group The Cookout.
The Cookout laid out a deliberate plan in direct reaction to what happened last year on Big Brother All-Stars when Cody Calafiore led an all-white group of players called ‘The Committee’ to victory.
The committee voted out the one Muslim player, the three Black players and one gay player early on in the season, and without a lot of compassion.
This year, some fans have claimed The Cookout is racist.
But longtime host Julie Chen Moonves isn’t buying it.
“I think it’s hard for some people who are not of color to understand the importance of the Cookout making it this far,” Moonves told Entertainment Weekly. “I have heard some call the formation of the Cookout a form of racism. In my humble opinion, it is not. As a fan of the show, it’s impressive to see an alliance this big make it this far. That rarely happens.”
Minority contestants have struggled to gain traction, often put in the Big Brother house with an overwhelming number of white players.
In fact, no African American male has ever won the show in its previous 22 seasons.
CBS was aware of the ongoing accusations of racism on the reality TV show and executives finally did something about it.
Earlier in the year CBS announced that all cast members on their reality shows moving forward would be at least half people of color.
“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” said George Cheeks, president and chief executive officer for the CBS Entertainment Group. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our network.”
And what a huge difference that’s making.
From last years six member Committee:
To this years six member Cookout:
Calafiore has dismissed the accusation that race had anything to do with his strategy last season.
But he’s strangely defended controversial players like GinaMarie Zimmerman and Jackson Michie saying ‘they were crucified’ when they left the show (not acknowledging that maybe their comments and actions deserved it).
This season, for the first time ever, there was an even split among white players and people of color, making the dynamic of the game completely different.
The Season 16 cast in 2014, won by Derrick Levasseur with Calafiore as the runner-up, had a 13 to 3 white player advantage.
In 2013, Aaryn Gries referred to Asian people as “squinty-eyed,” called her Black roommate Candice Stewart “Aunt Jemima” and asked her Korean housemate Helen Kim to “go make some rice.”
Zimmerman and Spencer Clawson were also accused of insensitive comments during the season, so much so that host Julie Chen Moonves spoke about it on The Talk.
“It stung,” the host said at the time. “I took it personally. The really sad part was it took me back to the ’70s when I was growing up in Queens, when I was 7, being bullied and being called a chink … the year is 2013! Then I felt ignorant. There are still people who feel that way? Yes, there is.”
However, claims of discrimination continued past Season 15.
Moments before being crowned the season 21 winner in 2019, Michie was shocked when Chen informed him that his houseguests had expressed concerns about his behavior, making choices based on race or age — something he denied, but later apologized for.
Additionally, season 21 contestant Kemi Fakunle spoke out, revealing she was “disgusted” about what was happening inside the Big Brother house, seemingly alluding to aggressive comments made by Jack Matthews during the live feeds.
The final six houseguests are about to enter a fast-paced two weeks of competition with another double eviction scheduled for next Thursday.