CBS has announced that it is changing the format of “The Activist” competition series to a one-time documentary since the show was met with extensive backlash. Actors Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Julianne Hough and singer-songwriter Usher, were cast as judges in this reality show, which was announced last week and set for premiere starting October 22.
Produced by CBS and Global Citizen, the series set activists against each other before a jury of celebrities. Their accomplishments would then be judged based on their social media campaigns.
After the show was unveiled, there was an instantaneous criticism on social media with many people characterizing the series as inconsiderate and tone-deaf. Netizens called the show’s concept a “dystopian” commemoration of “Insta-activism”.
In a statement on Wednesday, CBS and their producer partners Global Citizen and Live Nation said that they are reinventing the format for The Activist as a one-time documentary special instead of a five-episode contest 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 push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort,” they said.
The three organizations said that the contest elements have been removed and a new release date will be announced in the coming days.
“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.”
“We hope that by showcasing their work we will inspire more people to become more involved in addressing the world’s most pressing issues. We look forward to highlighting the mission and lives of each of these incredible people,” the statement established.
“Global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologize to the activists, hosts, and the larger activist community we got it wrong,” the organization said.
“It is our responsibility to use this platform in the most effective way to realize change and elevate the incredible activists dedicating their lives to progress all around the world,” it added.
According to Variety, the footage for the original format of the series had already been shot. However, considering the changes, filming is expected to begin from scratch for The Activist.
Global Citizen also released a statement and apologized for getting the show’s foundation “wrong”.
Priyanka Chopra issued a statement telling her followers that “You have been heard.”
In a post on Instagram, she admits that the show got it wrong, and she was apologetic that her involvement in this show disappointed a lot of her fans.
She further asserts that activism is fueled by cause and effect and when people come together to raise their voice, there is always an effect.
Meera Kaul is a Silicon Valley-based author and contributor.