‘Big Brother’ alliance known as ‘The Cookout’ makes Black history on CBS series
The show's final six contestants, a group of African Americans who united to form The Cookout, guarantee its first-ever Black winner.
On the CBS reality show Big Brother, alliances are the strongest way to make it to the end. Usually formed in duos, trios or small groups, these union-member contestants take themselves further into the game by winning competitions and staying safe together.
This season — the 23rd of the famed competition reality show — the final six contestants are a group of African Americans who connected as an alliance known as The Cookout.
Azah Awasum, Derek Frazier, Hannah Chaddha, Kyland Young, Tiffany Mitchell and Xavier Prather joined to protect themselves — and each other — to get to the Final Six, and they eliminated every other alliance and outside threat.
Now that they have reached the end of Big Brother, the game will become an “every soul for self” competition.
The Cookout was formed just four days into the competition, led by Mitchell, who fans predict may eventually take home the show’s ultimate prize of $750,000.
Mitchell’s plan was for every member of The Cookout to have an ally outside of the group; other competitors would then see them as pairs that would need to be broken up. But the ingenious twist was that if the duo was nominated to be sent home, The Cookout comrade would always have the back of their fellow member — thus eliminating their outside “ally.”
“In a way,” wrote ScreenRant early last month, “Tiffany’s plan is quite genius. It ensures safety for all of her allies while also evicting outsiders week after week. In addition to this, the Cookout alliance members will not have to worry if they find themselves on the block, as the group will have the numbers to keep them safe.”
The Cookout, whose metaphorical name is inspired by festive Black summer gatherings, has guaranteed that season 23 will see Big Brother result in its first Black victor.
Former Big Brother winner Andy Herren went on record to declare The Cookout the best alliance in the reality show’s history.
The Season 15 champion wrote on Twitter, “The Cookout is the best alliance in Big Brother history and I’m glad it is now official. I know I sound like a broken record but you all don’t respect them enough. It has been FASCINATING watching them outplay everyone.”
“History has been made,” Herren added. “The Cookout achieved their goal and we will be getting our first black winner. And that winner needs to be Tiffany or Hannah.”
Season 23 featured the most diverse cast in history after longtime criticism of how the show failed to be representative.
A recent article in The Los Angeles Times shared that not every Big Brother viewer is excited by The Cookout, noting that some have called the alliance “reverse racism.”
“If this were an all-white alliance, CBS would be breaking it up,” one viewer wrote, according to the article.
Andy Dehnart, a reality TV critic told The Times he was not surprised by the reaction.
“There’s certainly a lot of racism expressed by ‘Big Brother’ fans over the years, so to see them respond in this way is not surprising,” he said. “It’s disappointing. Over the course of 23 seasons, this show has had more than its share of all-white alliances.”
A veteran viewer of Big Brother, Thane Montgomery, who is white, echoed the sentiment, saying, “People are upset, and honestly, I kind of love it.”
“It’s people who have never had this opportunity before,” he said, “banding together to do what the white houseguests have been doing for years.”
Longtime Big Brother host Julie Chen-Moonves also recently weighed in on critics of The Cookout’s all-Black alliance.
“I have heard some call the formation of the Cookout a form of racism,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “In my humble opinion, it is not.” Chen-Moonves said she found it “impressive” that in a game known for backstabbing for a grand prize of $500,000 (this year’s winner will take home a record $750,000), the group of six managed to stay loyal to one another to the end.