In today’s installment of Did Anyone Think This Through for More Than Five Seconds, we’re highlighting CBS’s forthcoming competition series The Activist.
The reality show, hosted by Usher and cohosted by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Julianne Hough, will see six activist contestants compete “to bring meaningful change to one of three urgent universal causes: health, education, and the environment,” according to a news release quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
Despite that the entertainment industrial complex has turned just about everything else into a reality competition, this particular idea left people ice cold.
“If we needed any further proof that activism has officially been coopted for liberal playhouse fun, making issues that need systemic overhauls into cute slogans, celebrity worship cults and quirky competitions – here you go!” tweeted AJ+ host Sana Saeed.
“We are so close to ‘The GoFundMe Show’ pitting a teacher who needs supplies for her students against a 20-year-old in thousands of dollars of medical debt on prime time tv,” tweeted Wired writer Caitlin Kelly.
Throughout the five-week televised competition, contestants will go head-to-head in a series of challenges to “promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input.” Huffpost reports that the activists will compete in “missions, media stunts, digital campaigns, and community events aimed at garnering the attention of the world’s most powerful decision-makers, demanding action, now.”
The ultimate goal is to make it to the finale, which will be set at the G-20 summit in Italy, where they will meet with world leaders in hopes of “securing funding and awareness for their causes.”
Nabilah Islam, an activist and former Georgia congressional candidate, tweeted, “Fighting for issues is tough enough without having to dance and sing for a bunch of millionaires while they decide who’s worthy of their crumbs. Who ever thought this was a good idea should take a fucking seat.”
Others pointed out the irony of the show’s controversial hosts, including Dancing with the Stars breakout Julianne Hough, who wore black face for Halloween several years ago, and Indian actor Jonas, who told a Pakistani activist accusing her of “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan” to not “yell” at her during a Beautycon event, the Times reports.
“In order to prevent global warming, you must first seek counsel from wise R&B singer Usher on how to create a killer TikTok that will garner enough online engagement to knock out your chief rival, that b— who wants to eradicate malaria,” Twitter user @Halalcoholism joked.
Some critics argued that a better use of the celebrity hosts’ time would be to open up their own wallets.
CBS Executive Vice President Jack Sussman called The Activist “a groundbreaking series poised to inspire viewers” in a statement publised by Vulture. Currently, it’s mostly inspiring anger. “Kill it with fire,” tweeted user @thegates0fmel.
Will people watch the show for kicks or will they avoid it altogether? We’ll just have to wait and see on October 22 at 8 p.m. when The Activist premieres.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.