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As reality television on CBS rolls on in 2020, the network is making a big pledge for 2021 and beyond. The network is making a big change behind-the-scenes and will be revamping its casting to make sure all ethnicities are better represented in shows like Big Brother, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Love Island, and others. Going forward, these shows will have at least 50% of their casts consist of people of color.
The move addressed an elephant in the room fandoms like Big Brother and Survivor have talked about for some time. For the last 20 years, both shows have featured a largely white cast with a few minorities thrown into the mix in order to create some diversity. For years, many former players of both games have frequently spoken out about the lack of representation on both shows and how their edits were sometimes used to perpetuate negative stereotypes.
In a game like Big Brother, this casting move may finally address the conscious or unconscious bias of players who align with other white players and target minorities before others in the house. It's an incident that happened seemingly as recent as Big Brother All-Stars and, in the views of some, has made the game that much harder for a non-white player to win if they're always in the minority in the house. As of Season 22, a black contestant still has yet to win the traditional version of American Big Brother, though black singer Tamar Braxton did win a 30-day version of Celebrity Big Brother in 2019.
As far as Survivor is concerned, EW reported that CBS's decision came after comments from The Black Survivor Alliance (a group consisting of former black players of the show) that pointed out the racism or bias of the franchise over the years. Season 28 player J’Tia Taylor spoke about the show's tendency to edit players to exhibit certain stereotypes and compartmentalize them within limited and negative roles:
Lazy, crazy, workhorse, and sidekick are the typical ways that Survivor portrays African Americans, which is disproportionally negative. We are heroes, nerds, beauties, and so much more in real life. And I’d like to see that on Survivor.
Big Brother's issues with race are well-documented, and it's a disappointing trend that some instance of racism has been alleged by each season's cast for quite some time now. White players are often accused of racism and microaggressions by fans and other players alike and, even when some are caught blatantly using racial slurs, they're rarely given an extreme punishment for doing so. Perhaps with this new initiative in place, the shows and players will have a chance to grow and one day put the ugliness that has plagued the franchise for so long behind them.
The Amazing Race is currently airing on CBS Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on reality television, and for more news happening in television and movies.