Last week, after three people of color — Kemi Fakunle, David Alexander, and Ovi Kabir — were the first to be eliminated, Big Brother 17 vet Audrey Middleton spoke out about how the show's producers allegedly exploit and "undermine the edits of the minorities" while protecting "the worst individuals," including Gr8ful's Jack Mathews and Jackson Michie. Following Kemi's eviction, members of the Gr8ful alliance, including Head of Household Nick Maccarone and his showmance Bella Wang, again came under fire; this time for allegedly bullying Nicole Anthony, who barely escaped eviction on Thursday.
Big Brother executive producer Allison Grodner has now spoken up about the bullying allegations in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying, "The house dynamics in this social experiment are unpredictable and different every year as people align and realign. The bigger the group, the bigger the chance for some sort of 'mob mentality.' It seems to be that 'mob mentality' that occurred this past week against Nicole. As a large group, they whipped each other up into a frenzy and it became a major story both in and out of the house."
It's worth noting that the comments do not directly address the contents of the Reality Blurred article published after Kemi's eviction which detailed some of the major differences between what comments made it to air — particularly when it came to Jack and Michie, who were overheard making threatening remarks about Kemi and David on the live feeds, including an incident in which one of them may have used a racial slur. However, the ousted cast members have since addressed the topic of whether they believe they were targeted based on racial biases.
Kemi Fakunle previously told the site that she believed "bullying" was too strong a word to describe the group's behavior but also admitted to feeling slighted by the fact that she and two other people of color were eliminated and had to try to play back in during the Camp Comeback challenge. "It's hard to say, but yeah, I mean, it definitely doesn't go unnoticed. It's definitely disappointing. There was definitely an in-group vs. out-group feeling in the house and I mean, I really don't know," she told EW, when asked if race may have played a part in them being targeted. "I don't want to say something without being certain about it, but we definitely felt a presence in the house that we weren't a part of."
Ovi Kabir echoed that sentiment in a separate interview with EW, responding to the group's isolation of the banished houseguests and harsh treatment of Nicole Anthony, saying, "I don't think there was blatant racism or anything like that going on as the reason we were targeted. But subconsciously, yeah, I think some things came into play. Kemi, David, and I are three people from different backgrounds that don't share the same commonalities as some of these other houseguests in there. So bonding in certain ways is more difficult for us in those things. And you find whatever you can in the house to single somebody out. And so maybe our differences were the reasons why it played in some people's heads."
Meanwhile, David Alexander said that he didn't think race played a factor in their eliminations. "Based on my awareness and reading people and seeing how Kemi and Ovi worked the social game, and based on me being banished and just losing the first comp, which felt like the lucky comp, I don't think it was racial. I think the cards fell the way that they fell," he told EW. "Like, what if Sam didn't win that veto and save Cliff? What if I didn't get banished? I wouldn't have been there. And if Kemi didn't whisper every time she talked in the house, she probably wouldn't have been evicted. So it didn't feel racial to me based on my read on the game."
Big Brother 21 airs Sundays at 8/7c and Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9/8c on CBS.
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