The moment CBS announced their new game show, The Activist, the network received heavy backlash. Adversaries of the series spoke out against the idea citing that the concept was vain and offputting. After considering their options, CBS has opted to change the five-week competition into a documentary.
In The Activist, which producers already filmed, six contestants chose a cause related to health, education, and the environment. The winner was the person who earned the most attention on social media while competing in different challenges. They didn’t make any real impact on the world. Players also didn’t raise money to donate to their cause. They just raked in the most likes and comments. The series also had a celebrity panel, which included Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough. In the end, the most popular person gets to attend the G20 Summit in Rome.
October 22nd was the original premiere date, but their fanbase and fellow activists were furious.
“Could very well be the worst idea for a TV show ever,” wrote environmental activist and Bleedingcool.com manager, Andy Wilson. “Measuring the success of activism by engagement and social metrics is inherently wrong. I have seen campaigns do incredible, powerful work that isn’t quantifiable by how many retweets it got. And I have seen apparently incredibly popular things on social media fizzle and not take hold, never affect change.”
And Janice Gassam Asare from Forbes jumped in to question the motives behind the CBS game show.
“Many people lose their lives advocating for the most marginalized. These individuals should be amplified, venerated, and celebrated — not the folks who join a show to win a competition,” she wrote. “If you’re going into activism for fame and popularity, then is it really activism?”
CBS Reworks ‘The Activist’
Because of the outcry, CBS has chosen to rework their game show The Activist into a documentary.
“[I]t has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day,” wrote creators CBS, Live Nation, and Global Citizen said in a statement. “The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”
The series creators wrote that they made the premise in poor taste. And activism should be a worldwide effort, not a competition. They followed by apologizing to their fanbase, true activists, and everyone associated with the show.
“As a result, we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced),” the statement continues. “It will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organization of their choice, as was planned for the original show.”