CBS' 'The Activist' Reality TV Series Pivots to Documentary Format Following Backlash

The former reality competition show, which was set to be hosted by Usher, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, and Julianne Hough, announced the format switch on Wednesday.


LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES - 2019/02/14: CBS logo seen at the CBS Television City Studio in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


CBS’ heavily-criticized reality tv series The Activistwill now become a documentary special, Deadline reports. Additionally, the show will no longer premiere on Friday, October 22, as was previously planned.

The former competition reality TV show, which was set to be hosted by Usher, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, and Julianne Hough, announced the format switch on Wednesday after experiencing a wave of backlash that bubbled up last week.

The previous format of the show would have featured six activists competing to see who could get the most attention on social media for their respective causes. Footage that has already been shot of the series is being scrapped and the whole thing will be re-done.

CBS, as well as producers Global Citizen and Live Nation, released a joint statement explaining the change.

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,” the statement said. “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.”

The statement continued, “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). 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.”

A message from Global Citizen on "The Activist."

— Global Citizen ⭕ (@GlblCtzn) September 15, 2021

Also on Wednesday, Hough took to IG to address criticism of the show and questions people have raised about why she’s qualified to judge activists, writing, “I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge.”

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