'The Activist' show backlash: here's what's going on with the controversial show

Hosts Priyanka Chopra and Julianne Hough weigh in on 'The Activist' show backlash: 'You were heard'

Priyanka Chopra Jonas poses backstage for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on May 23, 2021 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California
(Image credit: Rich Fury / Getty)

What's going on with The Activist show? The forthcoming CBS reality series that intended to inspire has caused a stir instead and become a hot topic of conversation on social media, to say the least, with many people voicing their concerns and dissatisfaction over its premise.

Set for a premiere date of October 22, 2021, The Activist is a competition amongst people who are looking to make an impact in three key areas: health, education and the environment. Six contestants will go up against one another in a series of competitions to secure funding for their cause, and metrics will be measured via social media. Usher, Julianne Hough and Priyanka Chopra Jonas are slated to serve as the celebrity judges.  

While people are in favor of highlighting activists' work, the notion of competition for funding did not sit well with folks. Here's what to know. 

'The Activist' show backlash on Twitter

Twitter users were quick to respond to the competition aspect and offer their insight. "Stop commodifying social justice."

'The Activist' show: judges respond to criticism

Following the criticism, the judges took to social media to express their thoughts on the situation. 

"I have been moved by the power of your voices over the past week. At its core, activism is fueled by cause and effect, and when people come together to raise their voice about something, there is always an effect," Priyanka Chopra wrote on Twitter. "You were heard."

Meanwhile, Julianne Hough addressed her fans earlier in the week and said, "Thank you for using your voices, calling me in, your accountability and your candor. I am deeply listening with an open heart and mind."

At the time of publication, Usher has yet to make a statement about the show. 

What's next for 'The Activist' show?

The issue was too hard to ignore, and thus changes have been implemented going forward. 

“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," CBS and production partners Live Nation and Global Citizen said in a joint statement. "The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.” 

Rather than promote a competition aspect, The Activist will instead be a primetime documentary special that highlights the work of the six contestants who were initially set to go up against each other the show. According to Variety, each of the activists will receive a cash grant for a cause that's close to their hearts.

"We hope that by showcasing their work we will inspire more people to become more involved in addressing the world’s most pressing issues," the statement further read. "We look forward to highlighting the mission and lives of each of these incredible people."

Currently, the CBS website page devoted to The Activist is not active. As soon as more updates about the series are released, we'll be sure to keep you informed!

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.