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The Activist Reality Competition Show Proves Rich People Will Do Anything Other Than Actually Help

America's Next Top HUH?!

America's Next Top Model title card with activist text plastered over it.

The Activist is an upcoming competition series where six activists go head-to-head to promote their causes. The series will premiere on October 22nd on CBS with Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough set to co-host.

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God, what I wouldn’t give to have that “Imagine” singalong be the fumbled attempt of the day for celebrities trying to do some good in the world instead.

According to Deadline, “The Activist is a competition series that features six inspiring activists teamed with three high-profile public figures working together to bring meaningful change to one of three vitally important world causes: health, education, and environment.” Jack Sussman, EVP Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming at CBS added, “We’re thrilled to have Usher, Priyanka, and Julianne as part of the series, guiding our CBS audience through the journeys of passionate changemakers from around the world.”


Normally this is the part where I break down how this is not what folks meant when they said they wanted their voices to be heard. I’d talk about how ironic it is that these co-hosts could probably just donate to whatever causes these activists are—and I can’t believe I’m typing this—competing for, but instead, they’re pitting them against each other to see who has … I dunno, the best cause?

Honestly, I feel like this is one of those cases where telling y’all that this show is a thing that exists is enough to explain why my jaw hit the floor when I saw that tweet yesterday.

Activists go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input. The three teams have one ultimate goal: to create impactful movements that amplify their message, drive action, and advance them to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy. There, they will meet with world leaders in the hope of securing funding and awareness for their causes. The team that receives the largest commitment is celebrated as the overall winner at the finale, which will also feature musical performances by some of the world’s most passionate artists.

Online engagement?

So viewers have to take part in this American Idol style? You’re actually pitting health, education, and environment against each other and having us be part of the deciding factor on who—again, can’t believe I’m typing this—wins?!

And the contestants are competing for a chance to go to G20 in the hopes of securing funding, so there’s still a chance they’ll be turned down?!

And the finale is gonna have a concert?!?!

Why not just host a benefit concert, CBS, and put the proceeds toward these three categories? Or should I be aiming my WTF IS THIS at Global Citizen, the organization that’s producing this masterclass of “there’s still time to delete this”?

The Activist is a first-of-its-kind competition series that will inspire real change, as the series progresses from the United States to Rome for the Activists’ final challenge at the G20,” said Hugh Evans, CEO and co-founder of Global Citizen. “The audience will see the Activists’ passion and commitment for their causes tested as they petition world leaders to take urgent action to resolve the interconnected crises we face.”

Evans, my friend, I think there might be a reason why this is the first-of-its-kind. Just spitballing here, but when I think of reality TV, I don’t think of “competition to decide which activist has the best idea.”

For some reason I cannot comprehend, the team behind the series doesn’t realize how bad of a look this is (maybe they will when they see that ratio from that announcement tweet). Michael Rapino, CEO at Live Nation Entertainment, said: “The Activist will spread awareness about society’s most urgent issues while also giving every viewer the opportunity to be part of the solution – an unprecedented example of how entertainment can change the world. Combining competition and compassion, these essential causes will take center stage, as the show proves that there are no issues we can’t solve when we work together and demand change.”

I am begging this to be canceled before they give it a second season and dedicate it to Black Lives Matter. Oh GOD, it’s gonna get a second season and it’ll be dedicated to Black Lives Matter, won’t it? We flew too close to the Sun in thinking that 2020 was the only dumpster fire year we’d have to traverse through.

We’re gonna get cobbled-together racial inequality footage with sad reality show stock music playing in the distance.


And because I’m petty, here is the exact outcome you’d expect when a show called The Activist gets greenlit.

I’m going back to bed.

(image: CBS Television Distribution)

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Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)

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