A Big Brother producer who encouraged a black houseguest to behave in a stereotypical manner has been reprimanded, CBS executives acknowledged on Thursday.
CBS programming executive Thom Sherman said that a producer “overstepped” in an attempt to get a soundbite from Kemi Fakunle, who has since been evicted. The producer has also undergone “unconscious bias training.”
Fakunle reportedly told other houseguests that a producer named Christine tried to get her to behave in an inauthentic manner. “I think I’m portrayed as a bitch. 100 percent. They were like, ‘Oh, why don’t you, like, wag your finger and be like, Uh uh, girlfriend. I’m like, I don’t even talk like that, so maybe try again, Christine.’ And she was like, ‘Oh, I mean, I just thought that was an option.’ Why are you trying to—I literally don’t talk like that, so, like, what are you trying to do?”
This isn’t the only time CBS has been accused of overlooking racist behavior on its popular summer franchise. Not only were three people of color quickly evicted from the house, but some of the HGs have been accused of racist and bullying behavior. As a result, the show released this statement:
“Big Brother is a multi-platform reality competition show about a group of people who live in a house for several months with no contact from the outside world. The audience is able to view the show during the multiple weekly broadcasts as well as on the 24/7 live, online stream, which captures unedited content of the contestants’ unfiltered moments in the House,” they said. “At times, the houseguests say things that we do not condone. We share some of the viewers’ concerns about inappropriate behavior and offensive comments, and producers have addressed specific incidents with the houseguests involved. However, there is absolutely no truth that the casting of the show is racially motivated, that the Houseguests’ behavior is predetermined or that the outcome is controlled in any way.”
On Thursday at the TCA summer tour in Los Angeles, CBS President Kelly Kahl was questioned why these instances of bad behavior didn’t always make the broadcast. “In terms of how people are represented, the vast majority of time we are very happy with how they are represented. Most people who have been on those shows speak very fondly of their experience. I’m not sure how much better we can edit that show. There are thousands of hours condensed down to 42 minutes per episode. We are not able to show every single thing on the show. We strive to show a good representation of what happens.”