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A reality show about activism starring rich and famous celebs? ‘No one asked for this’

A split image of a man, a woman and a woman staring at the camera
Usher, from left, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Julianne Hough have been tapped to host a new reality series called “The Activist.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Clendenin; Jason Kempin / Getty Images for Netflix)

We are in hell.

That pretty much sums up the consensus on Twitter Thursday after CBS, Global Citizen and Live Nation tapped Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Julianne Hough to lead a new reality series about activism.

“The Activist” — hosted by Usher and cohosted by Chopra Jonas and Hough (whatever that means) — will see six activist contestants compete “to bring meaningful change to one of three urgent universal causes: health, education and the environment,” according to CBS’ widely criticized press release.

After reading up on the controversial cast and the show’s premise, an onslaught of skeptical Twitter users had several questions. Mainly: Who asked for this? And why?

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The ‘White Tiger’ actress also has a book releasing next week. Still ahead? More roles, producing and maybe even a family with husband Nick Jonas.

“Fighting for issues is tough enough without having to dance and sing for a bunch of millionaires while they decide who’s worthy of their crumbs,” tweeted activist and former Georgia congressional candidate Nabilah Islam. “Who ever thought this was a good idea should take a f— seat.”

“Today in ‘Literally F— No One Asked For This,’” tweeted activist and gamer @pleasantlytwstd. “I want to know who ‘proposed’ the idea of making activism in to a competitive sport. Also: all three of these hosts could just open their purse to three charities,food shelters, or useful causes. Girl....”

According to the network’s plot description, “The Activist” will see participants “go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input.”

In a new Netflix series, rapper T-Pain said singer Usher’s disparaging comments about his influence spurred a four-year battle with depression.

Finalists will attend the G-20 summit scheduled for Oct. 30-31 in Italy and “meet with world leaders in the hope of securing funding and awareness for their causes.” (And before you ask: No, this project is not billed as a satire.)

“In order to prevent global warming, you must first seek counsel from wise R&B singer Usher on how to create a killer TikTok that will garner enough online engagement to knock out your chief rival, that b— who wants to eradicate malaria,” joked Twitter user @Halalcoholism.

“the real winner of this show is the person who gets the studio to kill it before it airs,” quipped rapper Donwill.

Julianne Hough is dancing to a wider Hollywood tune

Others couldn’t help but point out the irony of a show about activism starring “Dancing With the Stars” breakout Hough, who once wore blackface for Halloween, and Indian actor Chopra Jonas, who infamously told a Pakistani activist accusing her of “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan” not to “yell” at her.

By the end of Thursday, the upcoming series had been deemed “gross,” “incredibly corny,” “dreadful,” “literal performance activism” and “everything that is wrong with society.”

“Combining philanthropy and entertainment, ‘The Activist’ is a groundbreaking series poised to inspire viewers,” said CBS executive Jack Sussman in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have Usher, Priyanka and Julianne as part of the series, guiding our CBS audience through the journeys of passionate change makers from around the world.”

“The Activist,” which will also feature appearances from musicians and “notable activists,” premieres Oct. 22 on CBS.

Reps for the network did not immediately respond Friday to The Times’ request for comment.


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