The Future of Reality TV Is 'Good Behavior Bonuses' for Not Being Racist

Illustration for article titled The Future of Reality TV Is Good Behavior Bonuses for Not Being Racist
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Reality television is at a pivotal point: how does an entertainment engine so dependent on offensive people behaving badly navigate the Black Lives Matter movement or any sociopolitical issue? There’s one possible answer—according to Page Six, undisclosed television networks are now providing “good-behavior bonuses” to its talent in an attempt to incentivize not being a racist, sexist, transphobic, or homophobic person online.

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“They’re talking about ‘behaving well,’ as in not using racial slurs on social media and not getting into fights with castmates. It’s not a high bar,” a source told Page Six when asked for clarification as to why “networks would want to cultivate a bunch of goody-two-shoes.” I’d go ahead and argue that the bar is on the ground.

In June, the Daily Mail reported that Edward Myers, a well-known private investigator, had been hired by CBS, Showtime, MTV, and Vh1 to comb through cast members’ social media content and flag any problematic language. That decision follows a slew of TV firings: CW fired Hartley Sawyer from The Flash for a handful of racist tweets and some referring to assault, such as “Date rape myself so I don’t have to masturbate,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. MTV cut ties with Taylor Selfridge, shelving the forthcoming Teen Mom OG at Home: Cory & Taylor’s Baby Special because of her racist tweets, including: “We have to greet everyone at work but sometimes I won’t greet the Black people because they scare me,” and “My uncle is dating an Asian. Aunt Ping please make me sushi,” according to The Blast.

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At Bravo, Vanderpump Rules canned Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, Max Boyens, and Brett Caprioni over allegations of racism. Schroeder and Doute’s firing followed accusations made by Faith Stowers, the show’s lone Black cast member, a week before: she went on Instagram Live and told her followers Schroeder and Doute called the cops on her back in 2018 after they learned she slept with Jax Taylor back, and that the two of them later told police that Stowers was robbing people in Los Angeles, citing an article about a different Black woman who was accused of those crimes. Peter Hunziker of Below Deck: Mediterranean was fired shortly for “his racist [social media] post,” according to Bravo, and will be edited out of the rest of the season to the best of their ability—never mind his constant slew of misogynist nonsense on the episodes that have already aired.

Jezebel has reached out to Bravo for comment. We will update this post if we hear back.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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preparetosurgetosublightspeed
preparetosurgetosublightspeed

You know, I watch Below Deck (and feel free to judge me for that), but I’ve yet to see any of this serious editing they promised. Pete is a dumpster fire for being a garbage human toward the women on the boat, so the racist crap is just more icing on the shit sandwich, but he still shows up on screen a lot. I suppose there’s only so much they can do when the other cast members are talking about what a creep he is, but you’d still think they could cobble together an hour based on bad guest behavior, the more mundane bad behavior and mental instability of the other cast members, and whatever the hell goes on in Hannah’s head.

I also remember him babbling some bullshit about taking 23andMe and being “The Unit.” I thought it was odd at the time, but I’m now wondering if that was some white supremacy bullshit, although I can’t find anything online that supports that.