I am ready to admit to the world (or the 100 people who regularly read this blog) that I have been watching Big Brother since season 1 and I continue to watch it to this day. It’s pretty tough to talk about–it’s a TERRIBLE show and none of my friends watch it.
If you want to know the rules, read the Wiki page, it’s like an incredibly convoluted Survivor but with a dumber catchphrase (“expect the unexpected”) and an emphasis on “twists” (they’ve done twins who change places, people who secretly knew each other, America’s player, and this year is an MVP voted by America who chooses a third nominee for eviction).
This season just started and if you’re thinking you need some non-Kardashian, non-AGT reality candy to rot your brain 3+ hours a week (I will get to that “+” later), I highly recommend this summer crap fest.
So why do I love BB? Let me count the ways..
Julie Chen is an American treasure. First, she is the longest-running host of BB in any country. YAY Jules! She is married to Les Moonves, the president of CBS, and cohosts The Talk, a show notable for both being a ripoff of The View and the place where BB contestants go after they are eliminated. Julie only shows up on the Thursday live shows but I wish she would quit all the other CBS shit she does for her husband and just do BB full time. She is so into it, too–if she wasn’t a fan I couldn’t trust her.
I used to read tvgasm (RIP) all the time in 2006-ish & the writers were obsessed with Julie Chen and the way she said “but first” the same every time. This led to her nickname “Chenbot” AKA Julie Chen is a robot.
She also wears some really weird outfits. I thought about documenting them for a future blog post. She favors brightly colored dresses with weird folds and ruching. Her pregnancy a few years ago yielded some amazing outfits like this one:
But when I think of the Chenbot on BB, only one thing come to mind:
2. Crazy online community
I don’t pay for the feeds–I don’t need to since there are blogs that tell me every single thing that happens on the live feeds. These people are warriors–this is their TIME, you know?! The live feed bloggers were partly responsible for the story about the racist houseguests getting out.
Anyway, these sites are great for learning about every move in the house and what these people do in their spare time (shockingly, it’s nap, eat, exercise, fight and have shomances). You also learn more about “big brother,” the voice that speaks to people and tells them what to do. If someone talks about a specific thing that happened that day the disembodied voice might say “no talking about production.” When a contestant sings a copyrighted song, the feeds go to “fishbowl” or switch to someone else. Ditto if someone reveals too much about themselves or someone not affiliated with the show. It’s as fascinating as the highly edited show itself and even more addictive.
3. The contestants
I will say I block this show from my memory every fall so it’s very hard for me to remember specific past challenges, the contestants’ names and/or faces but I will do my best to come up with examples. I don’t think I remember anyone before season 10 except Marcellas & Dr. Will.
Every year there are at least 3 contestants like this year’s David, the first to be eliminated:
Pretty and dumb with no clue how to play the game because they were found at open castings vs BB fanatics who sent their tapes in. Mostly these people are just hilarious and entertaining and they don’t have any sense of BB history so I kind of hate them. They usually don’t get really far because they don’t know what they are doing. By contrast, many BB superfans get so overly excited to be a part of this game they’re obsessed with that they blow up and do some dumb shit.
One example of that is Ronnie. Boy, what a doofus:
However, Ian, a sweet and dorky engineer who loved the game and got to play with his BB idol Mike Boogie (good lord that dude is THE WORST), actually WON last year. It was victory for all of us at home players:
Ragan was my favorite from season 12 and I was so stoked to discover his blog AND find out that he’s an academic and wrote a peer-reviewed paper on the systematic homophobia of the show! What a nerd. LOVE.
One of the reasons I read the blogs is because CBS rarely shows the bad side of people, so I need some guidance sometimes on how to pick favorites. But generally my faves end up being the quippiest, the nerdiest or the weirdest.
His shtick gets a little old but once a season the Zingbot shows up and tells jokes straight out of the Borscht Belt directed at each contestant and it is FABULOUS. TV writers are huge fans of this because Zingy says all the shit they want to about the shallow, racist, sexist contestants.
5. The Gameplay
Endurance challenges don’t always play well on TV, but when CBS gets the chance to properly edit them, they’re pretty enjoyable, especially in the last 30 seconds when people are making crazy deals. This is how it works: two contestants remain hanging on giant wieners, with “ketchup” and “mustard” being constantly squirted at them. Physically exhausted, both want to quit, so contestant 1 says, “Let me win HOH (head of household, duh) this time and I won’t put you up.” Contestant 2 thinks about it and since he/she doesn’t want to hang on the giant wiener any more, he/she agrees, but only on a random other condition (don’t put up my showmance, let’s go after this one asshole, etc.). Contestant 1 becomes HOH and somehow backdoors contestant 2 after the veto competition because he/she was seen as a “threat” because of their 2nd place standing in the HOH comp.
Some of the other challenges have led to hilarious results, like when Jeff (half of the Jeff and Jordan showmance power couple) tried to spell “TECHNOTRONICS” (umm, not a word) and was deemed a lousy competitor (he actually fared well and placed 5th; Jordan won that season).
Another great thing is that BB contestants form alliances 30 seconds after they get into the house and they rarely last due to shifting allegiances and showmances (seriously this show is SO into showmances). I think watching the alliances and admiring contestants’ “social game” (ie, how they “play” people in the house) are two of the main reasons this show continues to be so popular.
6. Memorable moments
Like these (gif-ing of BB didn’t really happen until two seasons ago):
floater: contestants who “float” from alliance to alliance and don’t win any challenges. It seems that people try to get out the strongest players that aren’t in their alliances first, then go after these floaters who they believe are not playing the game. As you can see, Rachel really hated them.
If you think too hard about any of the following, the show will not be enjoyable to you: the lack of minorities (and showmances involving minorities of any kind); the fact that an idiot will win $500,000 at the end of this; CBS’ insistence on bringing back the same contestants every season for exciting “twists”; the phrase “expect the unexpected” and the notion that we are in the 15th season of this shitcycle. FIFTEENTH.