‘Big Brother’ Focuses on Racism, Homophobia — and It Pays Off

Jul 8, 2013  •  Post A Comment

CBS’s "Big Brother" brought its recent outbreak of racism and homophobia out of the relative obscurity of the live Internet feed and into the glaring spotlight of the prime-time broadcast Sunday night — and got a ratings bump out of it, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"After a week of controversy, the Sunday episode of CBS’s long-running reality series aired homophobic and racist remarks from two contestants, Aaryn Gries and GinaMarie Zimmerman. As a result, ratings zoomed 11% in the key adults ages 18 to 49 demographic, compared with the season premiere a week earlier, according to Nielsen," the story reports. "A total of 6.2 million viewers tuned in, enabling CBS to walk away with the 8 p.m. hour, early numbers showed."

As we reported separately, it was a low-rated night overall for the broadcast networks, with CBS and Fox tying for No. 1 in the 18-49 demo for prime time overall with 1.2 averages, based on Nielsen overnights. But "Big Brother" was the highest-rated show on broadcast prime.

"The comments from Gries and Zimmerman had aired on the show’s online live stream, but it had been unclear whether CBS would actually air the material on broadcast. Last week, the network issued a statement distancing itself from their remarks; the pair also lost their regular jobs back home as a result," the Times reports. "Gries told an Asian American contestant to ‘go make some rice.’ Zimmerman, who had worked as a beauty-pageant coordinator, used the N-word in criticizing welfare."

However, even with the controversy, the report notes that "Big Brother" is off to a less-than-stellar start on the season. "Ratings for the first four episodes represent the show’s worst opening average since 2008," the piece notes.


  1. Where is all of the indignation against CBS! People were quick to attack Paula Deen. This type of programming is not helping to reduce this kind of activity. All it is doing is encouraging more people to participate in race-baiting and Homophobia. What would legends like Cronkite and Severeid say about a network that would go this low to improve summer ratings.

  2. Ratings are probably down due to the earlier start date. They’ll probably grow as the summer goes on…

  3. I will no longer watch Big Brother or possibly even other CBS shows bc I cannot believe that CBS would stoop sooo low to decide to air the controversy on TV just to get ratings points! Wow, an all time low! It’s 2013 and there are STILL uneducated ignorant people obviously in this world, however, CBS should NOT fuel those ignorances on-air and gives those racists a “spot light” to becomes infamous over it!
    What are you people trying to teach the youth of America? That if you are a racist, you too can become a “star” for 15 minutes!
    CBS had the choice to just edit that stuff out before airing it on TV but it’s disgusting they CHOSE not to edit it out but instead subtitled the audio to clarify the racist remarks incase the TV viewing audience didn’t hear it?? Are you kidding me? Should have never aired!
    That one ignorant blonde making racial verbal noises and talking about slanted eyes and saying the Asian-American should be voted off Just bc she was Asian was like watching the KKK saying black people should not ride on the same bus as whites… It’s JUST THAT OFFENSIVE CBS! To let your game contestants target people out BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE after making fun of them on national TV!
    That is a horrible choice to air the racism on prime time TV!

  4. Hmmm… so evidently when people say or do wrong things on tv, it should be ignored and buried as if it had never happened? We should just pretend that the racists and haters of all types don’t exist?
    This type of hateful speech should be aired because it exposes hidden hatred and allows us to see people for their true selves, while also opening up dialog about what is wrong with what they say and why.
    Hiding from these problems historically has allowed them to fester and become much larger problems. The only way to combat them is to allow people to be shown as they really are so that we, the public, can decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. What better place to do that but on prime time TV?
    BTW – saying that the network should have edited racist comments out means that you believe viewers don’t think for themselves – “Hey, public! You’re too stupid to see that this person is wrong!” I want to decide for myself, thank you.

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