“Big Brother” is about to have its first transgender houseguest, but that news may have come out a little sooner than CBS would have liked.
Audrey Middleton, a 25-year-old digital consultant from Georgia, was named this week to the roster of new contestants for the reality show, which has its season premiere June 24.
What the initial press material did not mention, however, were some salient facts about Middleton. She was born Adam and underwent a difficult journey toward transitioning into a female.
That news was broken by TMZ on Tuesday morning as the houseguests were doing media interviews to promote the season premiere. According to the website Zap2It, the network then stopped Middleton from talking with reporters.
In a statement released after the background about Middleton had been published, CBS said that Middleton was a “superfan” who applied online to be on the show and was “open about her transition in the application process.”
“Audrey plans to discuss her story with the houseguests in her own words during the premiere episode,” the statement added.
In other words, CBS seems to have been hoping to keep Middleton’s transgender status a secret until the premiere, where it could be used as a “reveal” that would raise viewer curiosity for subsequent episodes. The early news break seems to have eroded a bit of that drama.
CBS representatives did not immediately respond to phone and email inquiries about the situation.
The reaction of other houseguests will be closely watched. Previous “Big Brother” contestants have landed in hot water for making racist and homophobic comments that were caught on camera.
Middleton has arrived in the house just as transgender people are having a cultural moment. Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist whose transition was captured in a recent Vanity Fair cover story, will have an E! reality show, “I Am Cait,” premiering July 26.