“Big Brother" debuted its 24th season on Wednesday, July 6, and is already embroiled in controversy over the houseguests' treatment of Taylor Hale, a 27-year-old personal stylist and former Miss Michigan USA.
So far, in the two episodes that have aired, 16 new houseguests moved in and competed for Head of Household (HOH). In the premiere, Daniel Durston, a 35-year-old Elvis impersonator, won the first HOH of the summer which means he was tasked with nominating two other players for eviction.
Sunday’s episode revealed that Durston decided Terrance Higgins, a 47-year-old city bus operator, and Michael Bruner, a 28-year-old attorney and self-described “'Big Brother' superfan,” would be the two nominees.
That sums up all the major developments that have happened on the long-running CBS competition series. But, diehard fans know that the real drama, strategizing and bonding happens on the 24/7 live feeds. Fans who purchase the live feeds on Paramount+ are able to see the players in real time before the events happen on the show.
In just five days, “Big Brother” feed watchers have flooded the “BB24” hashtag on Twitter with snippets of a majority of the Season 24 houseguests ostracizing contestant Hale. (One Twitter user compiled an entire thread of racist incidents.)
Hale was bullied by other houseguests almost immediately
The verbal bashing of Hale seemed to begin almost immediately as the feeds started on Wednesday night. A Twitter user captured a conversation between Alyssa Snider, a 24-year-old customer service rep and marketing agent, and Paloma Aguilar, a 22-year-old home remodeler (who has already been trending on Twitter for her comments) early Thursday morning.
The two repeatedly referred to Hale, who was crowned Miss Michigan USA 2021, as “pageant girl.”
“Another thing is with pageant girl like we need to also get in good with the guys. Like (Hale) cannot dominate being like the seductress of the guys.”
Later in the day, another fan uploaded a video of Aguilar and Jasmine Davis, a 29-year-old entrepreneur, mocking and imitating Hale’s walk.
Online, viewers have pointed out the unconscious (or conscious) bias some of the houseguests seem to be displaying through microaggressions and digs about Hale’s personality.
On Saturday, Hale modeled some of the outfits she brought to the “Big Brother” house and said she hoped to wear one dress on finale night.
Following the fashion show, Durston called Hale’s comment “aggressive” in a clip posted by longtime “Big Brother” fan Mel Brown.
Monte Taylor, a 27-year-old personal trainer, chimed in and said “That connection of how that comes off to people — I think is just missing for her.”
He continued, “I think there’s been a lot of examples of that that I’ve seen. Especially for a strong Black woman who is doing her thing in life — it is nowhere near personal — but from a game perspective what I look at is … I’m thinking about how can I trust whatever you are saying?”
Spoilers for Wednesday’s episode ahead…Feed watchers learned on Saturday that Bruner had won the golden power of veto, meaning he can remove himself from the block and force Durston to nominate another houseguest for eviction.
Hale’s name was thrown out by multiple cast members who spoke to Durston about who should be nominated. Some speculated how Hale would handle possibly being evicted.
Joe “Pooch” Pucciarelli, a 23-year-old football coach, said in a video posted on Twitter, “I also think (Hale) is going to show more of her true colors.”
He added, “Whoever puts her up, it’s going to be a loud week,” during a conversation with Kyle Capener, a 29-year-old tech salesman.
Ameerah Jones, a 31-year-old content designer, Davis and Taylor implied that Hale’s mother would not approve of how she was behaving in the house in another Twitter clip.
The night before the veto ceremony, one Twitter user uploaded a (now deleted) video of Aguilar discussing the goodbye message — which contestants see after they are evicted — she would leave for Hale.
“I heard you’re talking s--- behind my back. I can’t trust you. Doesn’t matter if you’re white, Black, an alien…” Aguilar said before cameras switched to another conversation.
Durston recently revealed that he did not like Hale from the moment he met her.
“The minute I saw her I knew it was going to be bad news,” he told fellow houseguest Nicole Layog, a 41-year-old private chef, in a Twitter clip. “I toured for 10 years and I’ve met every race and culture possible in America that I could live with on buses and everything. And I know when I see someone’s eyes what’s up.”
Spoilers for Wednesday’s episode ahead…On Monday, Durston decided to nominate Hale to replace Bruner on the block.
Cameras captured Hale sobbing alone after the veto ceremony.
This is the latest in a history of racist incidents on 'Big Brother'
Unfortunately, viewers know that BIPOC houseguests are frequently targeted or shunned in the “Big Brother” house. Season 15 made headlines throughout the summer of 2013 after countless racist comments from contestants like runner-up GinaMarie Zimmerman and Aaryn Gries.
Zimmerman used the N-word and said if she punched Korean-American housemate Helen Kim in the face, “Maybe it’ll make her eyes straight.”
Gries stereotypically mocked Black contestant Candice Stewart’s voice and warned an ally to avoid speaking about Stewart in the dark because she “might not be able to see the b----.”
Although fans post clips of offensive moments from the feeds on social media, they are rarely shown on CBS. So, the network initially avoided airing the derogatory comments before finally showing some of the racist remarks. Host Julie Chen played a few clips for Gries when she was evicted. At the time, Gries said she could not recall making bigoted comments.
That was just the beginning of seasons plagued with controversy. During Season 19, runner-up Paul Abrahamian (who uses they/him pronouns according to Twitter) planned to put on a black mask, that they referred to as “black face,” to rattle Black contestant Dominique Cooper.
The following season, contestants Rachel Swindler and Angela Rummans were comparing their tans on the live feeds. Swindler referenced fellow Season 20 houseguest Bayleigh Dayton, who is Black, and said, “My stomach is as dark as Bay.” Rummans, who currently appears on CBS’ “The Challenge: USA,” replied, “I’m looking ghetto here with the skin coloration.”
More recently, Season 21 in 2019 was deemed problematic after the first three houseguests voted out — whom are all people of color — were a part of the show’s “Camp Comeback” twist.
In a change to the show’s format, evicted houseguests Kemi Fakunle, Ovi Kabir and David Alexander remained in the house and lived in a separate room. They also were required to wear special “Camp Comeback” outfits. At one point, contestant Jack Matthews requested that none of the contestants still in the game strategize with the “Camp Comeback” participants.
Matthews also said he wanted to “stomp a mud hole through (Fakunle’s) chest” and called contestant Isabella Wang, who is Asian American, “rice pudding.”
After his eviction, Matthews told Chen he was sorry for his remark about Fakunle and claimed “rice pudding” had “nothing to do with (Wang’s) ethnicity whatsoever.”
In 2020, CBS announced that it was requiring at least 50 percent of its reality show cast members to be Black, indigenous and people of color. The requirement led to six Black contestants being a part of the Season 23 cast compared to previous seasons that typically had only one or two Black houseguests.
Recognizing that a Black contestant had never won the show in 22 seasons, the six Black contestants last year — Xavier Prather, Azäh Awasum, Hannah Chaddha, Derek Frazier, Tiffany Mitchell and Kyland Young — formed an alliance called “The Cookout.”
“The Cookout” became the most successful alliance in “Big Brother” history and managed to keep all six members in the game up until the final six. The season ended with Prather being named the first and only Black winner of “Big Brother.”
After seeing Hale’s experience so far on Season 24, Prather penned a heartfelt message on Twitter on Sunday calling for change.
“The treatment of Taylor in #BB24 is a prime example of why The Cookout was formed,” he began. “Members of the Black community (especially Black women) and other people of color stand no chance in the Big Brother House due to the perpetuation of micro-aggression and unconscious biases which plague our society.”
Prather, who currently appears on “The Challenge: USA,” acknowledged that he also made mistakes as a contestant and feels “partially responsible for some of the reprehensible behavior I see being exhibited from current houseguests who consider me one of their ‘favorites.’”
He apologized for being an “accessory” to the issue before lending support to Hale.
“Change is a MUST! United then, I know my fellow Michigander will keep her head high and stand tall like the Queen that she is,” he concluded.
Fellow “Cookout” member Chaddha called the constant gossiping about Hale “unsettling” on Twitter.
Awasum, fellow “The Challenge: USA” contestant, tweeted, “I made a cognizant effort to ‘dial back’ in the house for these exact reasons. Dark skinned women always have this in the back of our heads.”
She alluded to CBS’ racial bias training and said, “CBS teaches about racial microaggressions but a section on colorism would be beneficial. Taylor’s light will shine outside this house.”
“Big Brother” fans have also come together to defend Hale.
A call to action – which was originally posted by Twitter user @alle2real — is being shared on social media along with the hashtag #blackwomencantwin.
The letter, which was addressed to the “Big Brother” production team, said, “The houseguests have not made this about game and it is clear that there is a bias in the house.”
At the end of the initiative, fans were asked to cancel their live feeds subscriptions to show solidarity.
CBS has not responded to TODAY’s request for a comment.