Big Brother, Gender Stereotypes, Women in the workplace, Psychology, Reality TV, Women

#BB20: Julie Chen MOONVES, the “player” who stole the show

With Len Moonves recently ousted as CBS Chairman, die-hard Big Brother fans (who often cannot be bothered by distractions while this all-consuming, annual televised challenge plays out) have kept their peripheral vision on host Julie Chen.

Julie had a career before she married Les, but his reign over the network certainly helped her star rise at CBS. Annually, she has hosted Big Brother with its myriad of mental and physical competitions, and she interviews each eliminated contestant in front of an audience for the weekly live portions of the popular, longstanding show.

Julie (who has always gone by “Julie Chen”) is also a cohost of The Talk, where the other cohosts (all women, including Sharon Osbourne who is married to rocker Ozzy) discuss hot topics and news items. The show features a wide variety of guests that join its panel for conversations.

Last night, while BB20’s power player Tyler Crispen made a bold and shrewd last-minute decision to put up one of the strongest players for eviction, Julie had her own “game play” in mind.

The news about her husband’s unwanted sexual advances towards women had been making the rounds since reporter Ronan Farrow exposed the indiscretions. After six women raised new assault and harassment claims – according to The New Yorker – Moonves “negotiated his exit.”

Many fans wondered how her husband’s departure would impact Julie Chen’s fate as Big Brother host. As the players were planning, strategizing and hypothesizing correctly about a double-eviction ahead, Julie was internally fixated on her own game plan during last night’s live show.

She kept her cool throughout the hour, but perhaps betrayed that notably robotic, eerily calm exterior when she referred to the second evicted houseguest as “Brent” rather than Brett.

Astute to every move and guffaw around them because the game requires it, I have to wonder what BB20 contestant Brett Robison thought of that out-of-character slip of tongue…

and how Julie signed off to signify she was standing by her man:

“I’m Julie Chen Moonves, Goodnight.”

It was a subtle statement to CBS by a woman who has never used her married name on air. Fans have taken to social media to comment on Julie Chen’s gameplay, with some in support of a woman “standing by her man” and others disgusted that she isn’t standing up for victims of sexual harassment and assault.

Ironically, what’s been going on inside the house is a mini-metaphor for the drama outside of it. Big Brother fans who constantly watch the live feeds witnessed Sexually inappropriate behavior from houseguest JC Mounduix. Following fan outcry, JC was admonished by producers who questioned other cast mates about whether or not they felt uncomfortable with him in the house.

No one complained about JC (certainly not Tyler who slept right through his own fondling a la Mounduix), so JC was allowed to remain on the show.

Some fans have written me that it is understandable for a wife not to want to believe the worst about her husband. Others have speculated that Julie wants to present a united front until she’s absolutely certain Les did something wrong.

Avid Big Brother viewers have been tweeting about Julie Chen’s potential replacement, while others argue that it would be unfair for her to lose or abdicate a position that has, seemingly, suited her perfectly for years. I feel that no woman deserves to be punished for her partner’s errant ways, but I’m also unfamiliar with the inner workings of CBS and how a company deals with its ex honcho’s spouse…who likely has a massive grudge to bear with the network. If Julie were to separate from Les Moonves, it would be a whole different story. Right now, the future is uncertain.

Do you think Julie Chen…er, Moonves will continue to host Big Brother next season? If not, who do you foresee as her replacement?

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