The beginning of the summer solstice symbolizes a number of things: we’re in the sports dead period, where the only thing going on right now is baseball. The days are super long, which means plenty more time in the sun or with daylight so you can wait until like 8pm to close your blinds, and CBS is about to unleash the 3-month long power struggle that is Big Brother.
That’s right, there are people still out there who watch this show, I’m one of them, and today I’m going to break down why you should too.
A little introduction to the program. So what is Big Brother?
Well first and foremost, it is the origin of this gif:
and this one
or this one (DaVonne is probably most known for being memeworthy):
Big Brother started overseas in the UK in 1997 as a social experiment. Contestants, called Houseguests, were placed in isolation inside a house that was cutoff from the outside world. No phones, no internet, no cable, nothing. They are completely oblivious of the world surrounding them and only source of entertainment and companionship is with each other. Each week, each houseguest would nominate two fellow houseguests for eviction. The two houseguests with the most votes would officially be nominated for eviction, leaving America to vote on who would leave that week. After a few successful seasons, CBS tried to jump on board in the US and introduced the first US Season of Big Brother with a similar format. Houseguests would work together to win luxury prizes (a jacuzzi, spa, movie premiere in the house, a one-day vacation somewhere) and could be observed 24/7 via live feeds (initially on RealPLayer…yeah). The main problem, as you might guess, is that the most entertaining characters were voted off early and the game got stale, leaving a predictable season and a tank in ratings.
Come 2001, the Big Brother US crew decided to switch things up. The houseguests would still be isolated and still would work together to earn luxuries, but rather than a collective nomination process, they introduced the role of Head of Household, a position that the houseguests would compete for every week. The HoH would be safe for the week and possess the ability to nominate two houseguests for eviction (no one could win HoH two weeks in a row until the Final 3). At the end of the week, the non-nominated houseguests would vote to evict one of the two nominees and the one with the most votes would go home. At the end, the evicted Houseguests would come back to vote on who they believed should win the game and the $500,000 reward (2nd place got $50,000). This format would change after the 3rd season. The show saw a spike in ratings due to the additional competition element added to it and the development of various strategies to make it to the end. This rendition of the show saw arguably the greatest player to ever play the game in Dr. Will Kirby.
On Big Brother 3, they introduced the Power of Veto, an item the houseguests could compete for that would give them the opportunity to remove one of the nominees from the chopping block, forcing the HoH to nominate another houseguest in their place. The main catch was that if you won the Power of Veto and were nominated for eviction, you could not remove yourself. This was changed after a twist later in the season allowed a nominated houseguest to remove themselves from the block if they won it. We’ll also get to that in a later post.
Since then the program has played on the theme of “Expect the Unexpected”, introducing various twists that impacted anywhere from several weeks in a respective season to the game as a whole. For example, starting in Season 4, Big Brother introduced a jury house that would keep the houseguests who placed from 9th to 3rd in isolation from the outside world at a different location. This was due to the fact that a Season 3 finalist had people vote against her because they saw her diary room entries where she tended to vent about them. The show has continued to gain in popularity over the last decade or so, and even though some may argue that it’s not as good as it used to be, it’s still a very fun game to watch and analyze. Technically there are no rules to Big Brother other than: don’t harm another houseguest, don’t threaten another houseguest with violence. Players have been expelled before for various reasons. It’s fun to see how people react and clique up when placed in certain situations? Do alliances always last the whole way through? What happens when people hook up and fall in love on the show? How do you react when you’re being filmed 24/7?
I, personally, break the show down into 3 eras:
The OG run (BB2 – 7) – If you came into BB during the later seasons, these early episodes can seem primitive to you. The early seasons had more of a social experiment/diary feel. However, they lay the very foundation for what the game is today. Specifically seasons 2, 3, 6 and 7. Hell. All of them have something major happens that changes gameplay for later seasons.
Early Grodner era (BB8-14) – Allison Grodner is the executive producer of the program. She is mostly known for having character archetypes that she tends to cast from year to year. Early on she didn’t play into this as much and tried to switch things up a little bit. These initial seasons are very entertaining, but Season 10 takes the cake by far. It’s a return to norm of sorts for the program, a back to basics style format that removes a lot of the excess twists that had come to the front during the last few seasons, but man is it GOOD. Also features the oldest houseguest ever (he was 75). All these are worth watching, yes, even 9.
Twist after Twisted Twist era (BB15-onward) – These later seasons feel like the production team just started throwing whatever they could at a wall to see if it would stick. twist-wise. Some worked, some didn’t. 15 is the most infamous due to it featuring a house full of racists, it’s still hard for me to watch, but towards the end the gameplay is phenomenal. Also features one of the most underrated winners ever in my book. 16 is only worth watching if you want to see an all-time great steamroll through the house. 17 is something I highly recommend and 18 only if you get super bored.
Over the next few days I’ll be continuing the hype train for #BB19 by discussing a few aspects of the game and breaking down how I think the new group of contestants will do. I’ll also touch on the best and worst moments in show history and the best and worst houseguests in show history along with, you guessed it, the best and worst moves in show history. Hopefully by Wednesday, I’ll have reeled in a few interesting eyes to watch the show with me this season!
EDIT: Don’t watch 19. Just don’t. Go catch up on 20.
Big Brother 19 starts on Wednesday, June 28th at 8p ET/7p CT