'Big Brother' Producers and CBS Respond After Season 21 Cast Is Accused of Racism

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Producers of the popular reality show Big Brother as well as its network, CBS, are addressing the controversy surrounding season 21.

A number of viewers have been calling out the show on social media, accusing some of the contestants of being racist. One recent incident that occurred on the live feed inside the Big Brother house this week involved houseguest Jack Matthews, who made a joke about "rice pudding" when referring to fellow houseguest Isabella Wang, who is Asian.  

"The proof is in the pudding," houseguest Tommy Bracco said in a conversation about Isabella with a few of his fellow houseguests -- who are all white -- to which Jack cracked, "the rice pudding."

In addition, last week, three contestants of color -- David Alexander, Ovi Kabir and Kemi Fakunle -- were the first to be evicted. Jack was also criticized by fans when he mimicked a monkey when referring to David, the only black male houseguest.

In a joint statement from CBS and Big Brother producers obtained by ET on Thursday, producers and the network acknowledged that they "share some of the viewers' concerns." They also noted that producers have addressed certain incidents with the houseguests involved.

"Big Brother is a multi-platform reality competition show about a group of people who live in a house for several months with no contact from the outside world," the statement reads. "The audience is able to view the show during the multiple weekly broadcasts as well as on the 24/7 live, online stream, which captures unedited content of the contestants' unfiltered moments in the House. At times, the Houseguests say things that we do not condone. We share some of the viewers’ concerns about inappropriate behavior and offensive comments, and producers have addressed specific incidents with the Houseguests involved. However, there is absolutely no truth that the casting of the show is racially motivated, that the Houseguests’ behavior is predetermined or that the outcome is controlled in any way."

It appeared producers stepped in after the rice pudding comment, as later, Jack is seen on the feed referring to his joke as "misconstrued." Tommy and houseguest Christie Murphy also later somberly address the incident, and claim to not have understood the joke at the time it was said.

Earlier this month, Kemi tweeted that she was "extremely disappointed and disgusted by the behavior" that she was being made aware of in the Big Brother house.

"The degrading and threatening comments made by some houseguests and laughed at by others are outrageous and hard to see," she wrote, in part. "I am saddened to be associated with such a negative display of human character and am horrified that this is now a part of my life story."

"While I appreciate the support, I do ask that the negative comments that have been made in my defense stop," she continued. "I do not want to perpetuate the same negativity that I received in the house."

Nevertheless, viewers have been outraged on social media over the houseguests' behavior.

"The first 3 people voted out of Big Brother were people of color," one tweet reads. "This says so much about the show and society in general. The way some houseguests have acted towards these three has been vile. Let’s call it what it is, racism. #BB21."

For more on season 21 of Big Brother, watch the video below:

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