Months after Meghan Markle claimed she was treated like a “bimbo” on the set of Deal or No Deal, the game show in which she starred as a “briefcase model” for one season, a top executive has denied accusations that the series “objectifies” women.
Lucas Green – the chief content officer at Banijay, which owns the Deal or No Deal format – has hit back at claims that the game show demeaned women in an interview with Variety. On 24 May, Green explained that he disagreed with Meghan’s assessment because he said the company is always “modernising” the game show format.
“We are constantly evolving the format so that it isn’t the same show it was 15 plus years ago,” he said. “A lot of work goes into modernising our formats to ensure they represent our values as a company and wider society.”
While the future Duchess of Sussex starred on the US version of Deal or No Deal on NBC from 2006 to 2007, there are more than 60 versions worldwide. “The UK version, for example, will continue to use members of the public from all walks of life to open the boxes,” Green added, instead of the famous “briefcase models” used in the US iteration.
Meghan made headlines in October 2022 when she shared details about her experience on the widely popular game show, which involves contestants opening up to 26 cases, each containing randomly assigned sums of money up to $1m.
In an episode of her Spotify podcast, Archetypes, Meghan said she was treated like a “bimbo” on Deal or No Deal and didn’t like how the show made her feel, which was “not smart”.
“I didn’t like feeling forced to be all looks,” she said of the show. “And little substance. And that’s how it felt for me at the time being reduced to this specific archetype – the word bimbo.”
She also revealed that the models were forced to “line up” for beauty treatments. “We were even given spray-tan vouchers each week because there was a very cookie cutter idea of precisely what we should look like. It was solely about our beauty,” she said. “I was surrounded by smart women on that stage with me, but that wasn’t the focus of why we were there and I would end up leaving with this pit in my stomach.
“Like I said, I was thankful for the job but not for how it made me feel, which was not smart.”
During the podcast, Meghan added that she wants her and Prince Harry’s one-year-old daughter Lilibet Diana to “aspire to be slightly higher.”
“Yeah, I want my Lili to want to be educated and want to be smart and to pride herself on those things,” she explained.
However, Meghan’s comments about being treated like a “bimbo” on Deal or No Deal received backlash from her fellow cast members who appeared on the show. Model Claudia Jordan called out the duchess for her remarks, saying that the show “never treated them like bimbos” and that it instead helped provide “so many opportunities”.
“For clarity – yes getting a modelling gig on a game show isn’t necessarily about your intellect, but every show the executive producers picked five models with the most outgoing and fun personalities to place mics on, who they knew would engage with the contestants,” the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star wrote on social media.
“And Deal or No Deal never treated us like bimbos. We got so many opportunities because of that show.”
Lisa Gleave, who co-starred with Meghan during her time on Deal or No Deal, also branded the royal’s “bimbo” comments “insulting”. She insisted Meghan was “not treated like [a bimbo]” and praised the show for giving its “briefcase girls” a chance to secure other opportunities in the entertainment industry.
Meanwhile, Hollywood star and The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg said that Meghan’s remarks could make other women “feel bad”.
“Okay, I just want to say that on that show, you had a suitcase, and they wanted to know, is this the deal you want, or this is not the deal you want,” Goldberg told the audience in an episode of The View. “I don’t know if the people who are sitting there are thinking about you like that. They’re thinking: ‘I want the money.’”
“The objectification might be coming from you and how you felt about how these women were being portrayed,” she said.
“I get it because, I’ve never said this before, but they had this pyramid of 26 beautiful, intelligent women standing there just staring at me like I was a piece of meat,” the TV host explained. “I was in the centre, just dressed up in a suit and I felt like I am more than this. And they would just look at me and I had to do nothing.”
He went on to note that was just saying “what was going on in her mind” throughout her own time on Deal or No Deal. “I’ve never really heard anybody complain and I don’t think Meghan is complaining,” Mandel continued. “I think Meghan just said she wanted to do more. It wasn’t fulfilling for her.”
The America’s Got Talent judge added that he didn’t understand why Meghan was facing backlash, and emphasised that he could relate to her feelings: “So I don’t know why there is a big hoopla, except I have to say that me standing there with 26 women staring at me made me feel like a bimbo.”