Outrageous ‘The Activist’ reality competition show to be ‘reimagined’ after fierce backlash

Josh Milton September 16, 2021
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Headshots of Usher, Julianne Hough and Priyanka Jonas

(L-R) Usher, Julianne Hough and Priyanka Jonas. (Getty Images)

The Activist, a tone-deaf X Factor-style reality competition show with civil rights instead of power ballads, has been “reimagined” amid backlash.

The newly-announced CBS series was met with a firestorm of criticism after Usher, Julianne Hough and Priyanka Jonas were announced as hosts last week, with detractors accusing the show of being “tone-deaf”.

Hough herself said she was “deeply listening” to critics of the show, which would have seen contestants compete in “missions, media stunts, digital campaigns and community events”.

But now producers have bowed to pressure and announced the original format of The Activist will be retooled into a documentary special instead of a five-episode competition series.

The Activist was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same,” CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation said in a statement to CNN.

“However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day.

“The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort. 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 series, which had been slated for a 22 October release, had already been filmed.

Instead of the activists competing against one another in social media campaigns and media stunts, the statement continues, the documentary format will instead follow six campaigners and the “impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in”.

“Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of their choice, as was planned in the original show.”

“Activists and community leaders around the world work every day, often without fanfare, to advance protections for people, communities and our planet.

“We hope that by showcasing their work, we will inspire more people to become more involved in addressing the world’s most pressing issues.”

Announced in May, The Activist initially drew next to no attention. When the celebrity judges were revealed, however, it became a lightning rod for criticism.

The now-scrapped format would have seen six activists from three causes – health, education and the environment – take part in challenges and use social media to promote their campaigns.

More: TV

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