Story at a glance

  • Producers behind “The Activist” changed the show to be less of a competition-style reality show.
  • This followed intense criticism over its promotion of performative activism for the sake of views.
  • Six activists will be featured, all of whom will receive grant money toward a cause.

CBS’s newest reality competition show will undergo major changes after mounting backlash occurred following the announcement of its format.

The forthcoming series, called “The Activist,” would bring prominent activists from a variety of issues and advocacy work together to compete for prize money as a means to promote their individual causes. 

Celebrity judges include rapper Usher and actresses Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Julianne Hough. 

The reality and competition style of the show drew criticism that it would promote performance activism and distract from actual social issues. Some causes include social justice and equality, health equity and climate change. 

The show’s producers, including CBS, Global Citizen, and Live Nation, released a joint statement announcing a change in the show’s format. The competition-style design will be scrapped and the network will opt for a documentarian approach to the 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. 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 statement began.

“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).”

Six activists will be featured on the revamped show, and will automatically be given a cash grant to the organization of their choice rather than compete for a prize money. 

Published on Sep 16, 2021