It’s been two weeks since Season 21 of Big Brother came to an end. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very good one, which seems to be a trend in recent years. But I won’t stop watching. Why? Uhh….I’d like a lawyer if this line of questioning is going to continue.
Sorry, I’ve been watching too many crime shows lately.
Anyway, as someone who has watched Big Brother since its second season, way back in 2001, I can’t help but feel like the game has lost its edge.
For the uninitiated, Big Brother is a reality TV game show where 16 strangers (most of the time) are locked in a house without access to the outside world for three months. Each week, they have a competition to crown a Head of Household (HOH). The HOH then nominates two people for eviction. There is then a Power of Veto (POV) competition where the winner can remove one of the nominees from eviction, forcing the HOH to nominate someone else. And then someone is voted out at the end of the week. Last one standing wins $500,000 (in the US version, at least).
I don’t even know where to start in regards to how the show that tells us to, “Expect The Unexpected” has slowly lost touch with what it is. I guess it starts with the tone.
Back in the early seasons, the show was promoted as this house that is isolated from the outside world and a group of people must strategically plot to eliminate each other from the house.
The show felt ominous, dark, secluded, and raw.
Maybe a lot of that can be attributed to the “production value” of the early 2000s when reality TV was on the rise and people were so excited to watch “regular people” compete for money.
Somewhere along the way, the show transitioned into a, “we’re going to cast young people and make it seem like a party”.
It’s no longer ominous. It’s cookie-cutter, clean, and pristine.
You can see in the way the intro video has evolved since the beginning. Feel free to skip Season 1 – everyone tries to forget about it and sees Big Brother 2 as the real first season. The intro for Season 2 (:23 mark) is what I grew up with. Hmm maybe that’s why I have a fondness for the sound of violins…
For about the first 10-12 years of the show, it truly felt like the contestants were there to do anything to win. Everyone had a strategy. Everyone was lying. Alliances were broken. There were surprise evictions. It was great pandemonium.
Now, it just feels like they’re casting people who look good with their shirt off. They’re casting people who have never watched the show (more on that in a minute), and don’t have the first clue as to how to play the game.
Every year, there is an “old person” in the cast because I guess it’s funny to look in a room full of young people and see one person who looks like their parent?
Maybe it’s because I was a kid, but the earlier seasons felt like they had a wider age range. It wasn’t just a group of 20-somethings and an old guy. It was a mix of real adults and some young pups.
Twenty-somethings seemed so much more mature fifteen years ago. What happened?
I don’t care to see people on this show, who are only there to collect Instagram followers so they can post sponsored content. I already watch The Bachelor for that, thank you.
I mentioned that they cast people who have never seen the show. I think the excuse behind that is, “If they’ve never seen the show, they’ll be more likely to make moves that an experienced viewer would consider wreckless. Therefore, ENTERTAINMENT AND CHAOS!”
No. Just the opposite.
You get people who don’t know what they’re doing and just do what someone else tells them. They are basically furniture. It is infuriating.
You don’t see Survivor casting people who aren’t fans of the show. And what happens? Every week someone gets blindsided by their eviction because the players actually want to make moves.
The cast of Big Brother does a series of one-on-one interviews before entering the house, that can be found on YouTube. You can always tell who has never seen the show because when they’re asked who their favourite players are, they reply with whoever did well in the previous season.
Why is that their answer? Because before they enter the house, they sit in a hotel room for about a week, all by themselves. They’re in sequester. And the show provides them with DVDs of the last couple of seasons, so they can watch, kill time, and get an idea for what the game is about.
This is paralyzing the game, if you ask me. In recent years, we’ve seen a large alliance form within the first few days and it’s all the “cool kids”.
The only thing I hate more than large alliances is when they evict someone on the first day. That needs to stop.
This season, there was an alliance of eight. EIGHT. They called themselves, “Gr8ful”, while Twitter called them “H8ful” because they were bullies.
Last season, there was an alliance of six controlling things.
It’s just so many people. There are only 16 people in the house, so if you feel the need to get into an 8-person alliance in the first week, that tells me you’re really insecure about your chances of forming bonds and getting people to like you enough to not vote you out.
And because the 8 people not in the alliance couldn’t bond over their own “cool kid” vibe, they were kind of just there as leftovers, not really knowing what was going on.
When half the house is in an alliance, it makes for very boring and predictable gameplay.
You have HOHs who are too scared to ruffle any feathers, so they go with “what the house wants” and nominate two people who aren’t threats to win anything, just so they don’t have “blood on their hands”.
I hate that so much.
All season, they talked about not wanting to get blood on their hands. Hello? This is Big Brother! You’re supposed to get blood on your hands! You’re supposed to betray others! You’re supposed to lie!
But since they’ve only watched last season, which was all kumbaya, they don’t understand they’re in an environment where being ruthless is encouraged. Hence, they take everything as a personal attack.
I hate when houseguests get on their high horse and say, “I didn’t lie, I stayed true to myself” in their final speech, right before they’re evicted. Yeah, that’s why you’re evicted. See ya.
I also hate when they start their speech by thanking CBS for the opportunity, saying hi to their family, and telling the houseguests they had a great time and want to keep playing. STOP. Give a proper speech, built on reasons why they should keep you. It may not work, but at least try!
Somewhere along the way, the eviction speech lost its meaning and most of them think it’s an opportunity for them to give thanks and say goodbye.
If you’re not going on this show and trying to win, stay home. Do not occupy my life, three times a week, with your non-committal self. Play the game.
I don’t even know what the biggest game move of the season was this year. There wasn’t one. On top of that, the cast was so unlikable and they didn’t even know it.
There were some good people in the cast, like Ovi and Nicole, but most of the rest were just impossible to root for.
I miss what Big Brother was. I miss what it is supposed to be.
Production of the show has changed over the years, too. Small things, like getting rid of the key wheel at nomination ceremonies.
There was this wheel, it was like a Lazy Susan on steroids, that held every houseguests key, except for the HOH and whoever they nominated. The HOH would pull out the first key and say, “_____, you are safe.” Then that person would pull out the next key and so on.
It was so dramatic and built anticipation. Plus, you could play some psychological warfare by having someone pull out the key of their enemy and forcing them to tell them they are safe.
Now, there’s a “nomination block” with two keys. The HOH turns each one and their face appears on a wall to show they are nominated. It’s very lazy, I don’t care if it saves them time in the episode.
I miss how the host, Julie Chen, would interview the HOH in the HOH room on eviction night.
I miss food competitions, where they could only eat the foods they win.
I miss multiple competitions that have been gone for far too long.
There was one where they had to lay down outside, and whenever they thought one hour had passed, they had to ring a bell or something. Whoever was closest to being right would be the winner.
Maybe it wasn’t flashy enough for TV, but I loved it. Imagine trying to pass time in your head and guessing when an hour was up.
There was also one where you had to complete a certain task if you wanted to stay in a competition. Maybe you had to shave your head, or allow someone burn a piece of your clothing, or agree to be a “Have-Not” for the rest of the summer.
It was a competition that forced you to decide how bad you wanted to win and imposed real punishments on you.
Now, “punishments” are having to wear a costume for a week, or baking cookies whenever a noise goes off, or something else that isn’t so much a “punishment” as it is something to do in a house with nothing to do.
This show has a few endurance competitions every year, where they force the houseguests to hold on to something for as long as they can. Lately, it’s gotten repetitive, to the point where the contestants know what’s coming.
There’s always a competition where they stand on the side of a wall, but they just change the look of it based on the theme of the season.
There’s also one where they hold a rope and swing in a circle, as something hits them as they pass a certain section.
And all these competitions include having them doused in cold water, or paint, or something else that is meant to shock viewers. Those competitions go for an hour or two, which is far less compared to how long endurance competitions used to go.
I get it, the producers need time to edit it all together for the next episode and don’t want 10 hours of footage from one competition. But still.
I think my favourite competition in the history of the show is, “Pressure Cooker”. It hasn’t been around in a while, maybe since Big Brother 6. Until I looked it up, I thought it was called, “The Box”.
Essentially, everyone is inside the box holding onto a button. If you let go, you’re out, and must open one of the prize boxes which may contain a reward, or a punishment. However, you can only leave the box is groups of three. So if you’re the first or second person eliminated, you have to stay in there until the next person is out.
Here’s a look at it:
I think that competition went for 14 hours. Imagine that. And imagine being eliminated but being held hostage in there because you must exit as a group of three. I’m sure bladders were working overtime for that competition.
THAT competition is what Big Brother is to me. You want to be HOH? Let’s see how bad you want it. A simple task made difficult. Just hold a button for as long as you can.
It’s like an old school, “Last person touching the car, wins it” contest, but with higher stakes.
In recent seasons, the show has tried to implement twists by awarding players with secrets powers. They’ve all been a bust. The players tell someone they have a power and then get evicted before they can use it.
Or, the opportunity never arises (or they’re too chicken) for them to use their power, so it expires. As a viewer, it’s deflating when that happens.
It’s a reflection of timid gameplay where no one wants to make a big move because they assume they’ll be the next person voted out.
And then we get a season full of unanimous evictions and people just doing what the rest of the house does.
I want players to draw lines in the sand and I want the show to encourage that based on competitions and twists.
On the second season of Big Brother Canada, Ika had to decide between $5000 or giving the rest of the house letters from home. She made her decision in private (or so she thought) and took the money.
THEN SHE PROCEEDED TO BERATE THEM AND SHRED THEIR LETTERS WHILE THEY WERE WATCHING FROM INSIDE (unbeknownst to her).
It was an iconic moment and made her a legend of the game. You need to watch it.
I’d love to see a situation like that be forced upon the houseguests of the US version. Because as of right now, it feels like the show has gotten complacent and doesn’t really know what else to do.
They’re relying on the same formula every year and it’s not working.
I could keep writing forever about things like “jury management” and how a bitter jury is just proof that the players can’t acknowledge that lying and being deceitful is a part of the game.
I’ll end this by saying that Dan Gheesling and Britney Haynes are two of my favourite players to ever play. Dan was just brilliant and used every minute in the house to his advantage. He also staged his own funeral, which saved his game and is the best moment in Big Brother history.
Britney was really smart and knew how to navigate her way through the game. She was also hilarious in her Diary Room sessions, which I enjoyed because a lot of people are robotic in there and sound scripted.
Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say. Thank you, YouTube, for having all these moments available for me to add in here.
Not to sound like a high school essay, but…in conclusion, I will always love this show and be a fan of great strategic gameplay, as well as players who can be funny and entertaining.
Here’s hoping Big Brother 22 will bring a house full of people who want to win and aren’t afraid to make big/any moves.
Thanks for reading!