10 Controversies From ‘Big Brother’s First 20 Years (VIDEO)
Big Brother is always watching … and capturing a lot of abhorrent behavior.
The CBS reality series — which debuted 20 years ago, on July 5, 2000 — has hardly gone one season without controversy. Turns out, when you turn surveillance cameras on contestants trapped together in a house 24/7, you glimpse humanity at its worst!
In fact, Big Brother producers and CBS had to go on the defensive last summer amid widespread backlash Season 21. “At times, the Houseguests say things that we do not condone,” the producers and CBS said in a joint statement. “We share some of the viewers’ concerns about inappropriate behavior and offensive comments, and producers have addressed specific incidents with the Houseguests involved.”
From contestants’ threats of violence to their many racist moments, these are 10 of the biggest scandals and PR nightmares from Big Brother’s first 20 years.
George Orwell’s estate sues
In September 2000, a lawyer who owned the TV and film rights to the George Orwell novel 1984 sued CBS, Viacom, and the production company behind Big Brother for copyright infringement. The parties settled a year later.
Justin Sebik holds a knife to Krista Stegall’s throat
In Season 2, contestant Justin Sebik held a knife to Krista Stegall’s throat, asking her, “Would you get mad if I killed you?” Sebik later told Big Brother host Julie Chen that anyone who saw that action as an act of violence a threat was an “idiot,” but he was still ejected from the house.
Amber Siyavus calls Jewish people “selfish”
During Season 8, Amber Siyavus was caught disparaging Jewish people on Showtime’s after-hours Big Brother feed. “The majority of people I know from New York are Jewish, and the majority of Jewish people I know, my gosh, so many are so selfish,” she said. Her comments drew a rebuke from Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who told TMZ, “I want CBS to understand they are facilitating anti-Semitism.”
Adam Jasinski uses the r-word
Adam Jasinski, who claimed he worked with the United Autism Foundation, said on-camera during Season 9 that he wanted to “open a hair salon for kids with special needs so the retards can get it together and get their hair done.” He was fired from his job while he was still in the Big Brother house.
Braden Bacha uses a racial slur against Kevin Campbell
During an argument with houseguest Kevin Campbell in Season 11, Braden Bacha dropped a racial slur, saying, “What the f**k are you? You’re a f**king Mexican from San Diego … I don’t f**king care. You’re a fucking b*****r. Go home.” Bacha was the season’s first evictee.
Season 15 contestants spew racism
Season 15 houseguest Aaryn Gries called Asian people “squinty-eyed”; referred to Candice Stewart, a Black woman, as “Aunt Jemima”; and told Helen Kim, a Korean-American woman, to “go make some rice.” But the same season also saw Amanda Zuckerman implying that Puerto Ricans don’t shower and GinaMarie Zimmerman calling welfare “n****r insurance.”
Frank Eudy harasses Da’Vonne Rogers
In Season 18, Frank Eudy slapped fellow houseguest Da’Vonne Rogers’ butt and called her a slut. “I don’t want my daughter to see that and think it’s OK for guys to hit girls on their butts and guys to call girls sluts,” a tearful Rogers later said in the Diary Room. One fan launched a Change.org petition to “Expel Frank Eudy from BB18” in response to his actions.
Jason Dent laughs about rape
Season 19 contestant Jason Dent joked that he would have sex with fellow houseguest Kevin Schlehuber’s wife and tie up Schlehuber’s daughters so they’d have to watch. Days later, contestant Alex Ow alleged that Dent said he once told cops he was on his way to a nursing home to rape women.
JC Mounduix wields an ice cream scooper
In Season 20, JC Mounduix spurred sexual harassment accusations online after trying to put an ice cream scooper on the genitals of fellow houseguests Kaitlyn Herman and Kaycee Clark. He also asked contestant Rachel Swindler if she was transgender.
Jack Matthews threatens violence
Season 21 houseguest Jack Matthews said he wanted to “stomp a mud hole through” the chest of contestant Kemi Fakunle and called her “dogs**t.” Later, he made a comment about “rice pudding” in reference to contestant Isabella Wang, who is Chinese-American.