CBS unleashed a new diversity pledge on Monday, vowing that the casts of their reality shows like Survivor, Big Brother and Love Island will be 50 percent Black, Indigenous and people of color. It’s a significant move from the network, which is the juggernaut in the reality TV market.
“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” George Cheeks, president and chief executive officer for the CBS Entertainment Group told Entertainment Weekly. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our network.”
The move comes on the heels of a summer in which former Survivor contestants have spoken up about about the lack of diversity and how they felt like it affected their post-season opportunities. Several former cast members of color created the Black Survivor Alliance to tell their stories, bring “light to our collective experience with implicit bias and racism on and off the show” and discuss inclusion efforts with top CBS brass. Big Brother drew criticism in 2019 for several white contestants’ racist remarks on the show. CBS also took heat for its 2017 new fall lineup of scripted shows: six new series, all led by men, five of whom were white.