Julie Chen Moonves is shooting down critics who are complaining Big Brother’s first six-person, all-Black alliance. The longtime Big Brother host spoke about the alliance, known as “The Cookout,” and said anyone who feels the alliance is racist is wrong.
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“I have heard some call the formation of the Cookout a form of racism,” she said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “In my humble opinion, it is not.”
Chen Moonves explained that Big Brother, where houseguests live together and play a social strategy game mixed in with physical and mental competitions (this season the winner gets $750k), says it’s “impressive” to see the group of six work to keep things intact.
She added, “As a fan of the show, it’s impressive to see an alliance this big make it this far. That rarely happens.”
The Cookout alliance is made up of Azah Awasum, Hannah Chaddha, Derek Frazier, Tiffany Mitchell, Xavier Prather and Kyland Young. The alliance’s de facto strategist is Mitchell, who is a fan-favorite and has been predicted by many fans to win the entire game.
The group formed early on in the house, tasking themselves with a mission of having the first Black winner being crowned and to put the group ahead of any of their personal games until they make it to final 6. The group was so covert, they actually did not meet in the house as a collective until last week. Finding success early on as the numbers in the house whittled down, they were able to take out additional houseguests every week by each forming a close bond with a non-Black houseguest becoming a duo. To ensure that the duo partner left, each Cookout member would be nominated for eviction with them, but the Cookout member never left because they controlled the numbers in voting.
The Cookout’s social game has been so strong this season that they maintained power almost every week in the house — even during the weeks that they did not win Head of Household. They wielded enough influence that their duo partners and other allies would do their bidding.
The entire alliance officially made it to the final 6 during the Sept. 9 episode. The Cookout making it to the finals serves as a historical feat.
Former winner Andy Herren summed up most of the BB fandom’s feelings in a series of tweets:
The Cookout is the best alliance in Big Brother history and I’m glad it is now official. I know I sound like a broken record but you all don’t respect them enough. It has been FASCINATING watching them outplay everyone. GTFO with the “this season is boring” nonsense. #BB23— Andy Herren (@AndyHerren) September 10, 2021
History has been made. The Cookout achieved their goal and we will be getting our first black winner. And that winner needs to be Tiffany or Hannah. #BB23— Andy Herren (@AndyHerren) September 10, 2021
This season, Season 23, will be the first time in the show’s 20-year history that a white male player does not make it to the jury that decides the winner of the show, per The Insider.
The Cookout is actually a result of a mandate CBS made last year amid last year’s BLM protests. The mandate states that 50% of a reality competition series’ cast must be BIPOC.
The mandate resulted in 6 Black houseguests, 1 Asian houseguest and 1 Latinx houseguest — the most minorities that have ever been in the house at once. Usually, only one or two Black houseguests are in a season, and they are usually picked off early and don’t make it to jury. Aside from that, for years, previous Black players have been at the receiving end of microaggressions and outright racism in the house — until now.
This is truly a historic reality television moment!
Shadow and Act Managing Editor Trey Mangum contributed to this report.