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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Be A Fly On The Wall Of The Big Brother Blog Entry!

It seems a bit of a stretch to bring up a book that I read in high school English class and tie it to a popular reality program that I myself admit to being shamefully addicted to.  This time, is an exception.

Has anyone heard of the George Orwell book Nineteen Eighty-Four?  It's a book that is set in a dystopian future where an entity known as 'Big Brother' can spy on the dictatorship he has created through people's television sets.  The people of the world had to be sure to mind their P's and Q's at all times, because as the slogan of the book stated, 'Big Brother Is Always Watching'.

In 1997, a group of Dutch producers and showrunners were in a brainstorming session at an independent section of the Endemol television production company, and the idea for a reality show came into place.  Loosely based on the Orwell novel, the idea was to take a group of complete strangers, lock them inside a house filled with dozens of cameras and compete for the chance to win money.

The television show debuted in 1999 in the Netherlands, and immediately became a huge hit in the country.  Other countries would soon follow suit with their own versions, including Britain, Australia, Brazil, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. 

When the first season of the American version of Big Brother premiered on July 5, 2000, it came in with mixed reactions.  In the year 2000, reality television was a fairly new trend.  MTV's The Real World was well established, and Survivor had premiered a little over a month earlier to huge ratings.  Hosted by CBS news personality Julie Chen, Big Brother hoped to have similar success as Survivor, but it took a while for it to get there.

It almost seems like a whole different show, doesn't it?  That's because in the first season of the show, there were no bells and whistles, no food competitions, not much of anything other than ten people in a house.  Each of the houseguests were locked away inside a house with cameras on them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for three months.  Depending on how well the houseguests got along with each other, the three months could fly by quickly, or they could be a living nightmare.

During the first season, houseguests were nominated for eviction (or banishment as it was called the first season), and home viewers could phone in their votes to evict someone from the house.  It was the way that most of the current seasons of Big Brother perform their eviction ceremonies, and it seemed a good idea in theory, except that due to the public vote, the more colourful personalities were banished first, leaving the dull as dishwater houseguests remaining.

As a result of this, Big Brother's ratings weren't as strong as they really should have been.  Beginning in the summer of 2001, when the second season of Big Brother premiered, there were some major changes, and by season seven, you had what was pretty much the game that American viewers are seeing now, with a few twists along the way, which has helped the show make it to its thirteenth season.  A season that is currently on the air right now.

So, what were these changes?

Beginning with season two, the game added the Head of Household room (abbreviated HoH).  There would be a competition after each eviction to determine who would be the head of household each week.  With the position came a lot of perks.  They could have their own private room, a whole bunch of goodies, letters and photos from home, and they were guaranteed safe for the week.  However, they were also responsible for choosing two houseguests for eviction.  Unlike the first season, where the houseguests were voted off by America, the houseguests themselves got to decide who was going to go home.  In earlier seasons, the votes were pre-recorded, but later on, the votes were made on live television.

The very next year, in 2002, the show introduced the Power Of Veto.  A competition was held for this advantage as well, and the winner could choose to take someone who was nominated off of the block while guaranteeing their own safety (Veto holders could not replace people who they removed off the block).  Later on, the veto power would become golden, which meant that nominees could take THEMSELVES off of the block.  Either way, the HoH would have no choice but to put up a replacement nominee.

Another change over the years have been to the food competitions.  In season one, the houseguests had to win money for food by competing in challenges.  By season two, the rules were changed.  Sometimes, you'd have situations where the houseguests were divided up into two teams, and the winning team would get food for the week.  Or, sometimes, houseguests would play for foods for each of the seven days, and if they missed it, they would not get food for that day.

Instead of getting food, losers would be subjected to a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches up until season seven.  Beginning with season seven, the PB&J was replaced with the often vile concoction known as Big Brother slop.  And when season eleven premiered, the food competitions became Have/Have Not competitions where losers would be eating slop, sleeping in discomfort, and taking chilled showers.

There's been a lot of seasons of Big Brother over the years, and it seemed like with each season came a new twist.  Big Brother 4, for example, reunited people with their ex-lovers.  Big Brother 6 had secret partnerships.  Big Brother 11 divided people into stereotypical high school cliques.  And last season was the Summer Of Sabotage, where we had not one, but two saboteurs wreaking havoc in the Big Brother house.

I'm not exactly sure why I got so addicted to this show.  I've watched every season since season one, and each year definitely has high points and low points.  I guess maybe it's because it allows us to really peep into the souls of others, and I think maybe we get to see what makes people the way they are.  Through the show that airs thrice weekly, as well as the live webcam feeds that people who have a lot of money and/or free time can engage in, we really get to know the people inside.  Unlike a lot of reality shows which seem scripted, Big Brother is the ultimate in realism, and it's difficult to hide who you really are in front of all those cameras.

Would I want to do Big Brother?  Absolutely.  Television cameras don't freak me out in the slightest, and I could totally play the game to win.  If only I weren't Canadian, I'd gladly send in an audition tape.  For now, I'll just have to write about it here.

Of course, I can't end this blog on Big Brother without talking about some of the people I loved (or hated) on the show's history.  Some of the people were ones that I could relate to, and who I would have loved to have seen win (and in the case of a couple, they did).  Others were incredibly stupid and annoying, and just plain evil.

So, let's meet some of these contestants over the years who I liked...and some who I disliked.

LOVED:  Big Brother 2's Dr. Will

You can't really have a Big Brother entry without mentioning one of the greatest players of all time.  Dr. Will Kirby appeared on season two of the series (as well as the All-Stars season five years later), and immediately, his gameplay was that of being a smooth operator.  He lied to people's faces, and he used his charm to make people vote the way that he wanted people to vote.  Early in the game, he formed the Chilltown alliance with Mike Boogie and Shannon Dragoo, and when the alliance was mostly voted out, Dr. Will changed his strategy.  He purposely made himself the most annoying person in the whole house, and purposely told people he was going to lie to their faces.  Why?  Because he had the idea that it would get him to the final two, because he made everyone in the house believe that if they took him to the final two, they would automatically win.  He purposely never won HoH because he wanted others to do his dirty work for him.  In the end, Will was in the final two with Nicole.  Because Nicole played the game far too emotionally, and screwed up her answers to the jury in the final episode, Will ended up winning the whole game.  He tried to employ this strategy in All-Stars, and it almost worked, but he ended up coming in fourth.  But nobody can match the success that Will had in the game, and I doubt anyone else will.

DESPISE:  Big Brother 2's Justin

Remember Justin Sebik from Big Brother 2?  No?  Well, he ended up being the first person kicked off of the second season, but not by the houseguests.  He was expelled from the game by producers.

During the first week of the show, Justin's behaviour was very erratic.  He threatened to kick houseguests, and punch female houseguests in the stomach.  Class act, he was.  The final straw came during a late night conversation that he was having with Krista Stegall.  For some reason unbeknownst to anyone, Justin picked up a knife, held it to Krista's throat and asked her if she would still love him if he killed her.

Not the smartest thing to do in front of dozens of camera's.  Justin was called to the diary room, and was expelled on the spot.  Meanwhile, Krista launched a lawsuit against CBS for what Justin did (even though she seemed to go along with it, causing her stock to fall with me as well).

Justin was the first person to be expelled from the game...but certainly not the last.

LOVED:  Big Brother 3's Danielle

During season three, before the jury was sequestered in a separate house, the jury members got to go home and watch the diary room feeds by the final two.  Unfortunately, Danielle was incredibly mouthy in her diary room confessions, outrightly making fun of houseguests and calling them stupid.  It ultimately landed Danielle the second place position in the competition because the jury saw Lisa as more personable.

So, why do I still love Danielle?  Because she made it to the final two in what could be considered to be the show's best secret alliance.  Before The 4 Horsemen and the Brigade alliance, Danielle formed an alliance with Jason.  Over millions of games of chess, they stuck together, bringing people in to give them votes and cast them aside once they were done.  Not one houseguest suspected Danielle and Jason working together until the very end.  Danielle spearheaded the alliance, and rode it all the way to the final two.  Although Jason ended up being the only one who voted for her to win, it was still a valiant effort.  She also appeared on the All-Stars season.

FACEPALM MOMENT:  Marcellas REFUSES to use the Veto to save himself

Did you know that the Golden Power of Veto made its debut the same season as the Power of Veto?  The very first golden power of veto appeared at the very end of season three.  As I said before, the person who held the power could take himself/herself off of the block.  Marcellas was on the block with Amy, courtesy of then HoH, Jason.  As it so happened, Marcellas ended up winning the Golden Power of Veto.  It was perfect.  He could use it to take himself off the block, Jason would be forced to put up Lisa (since he would never put up Danielle), and either Lisa or Amy would be going home.


Marcellas mistakenly believed that he was being used as the decoy by Jason to ensure Amy's ouster.  He believed this so much that he felt as though he didn't need the veto.  As a result of this, Jason't decision was made easy, and Marcellas was kicked out of the house.

After witnessing that act of stupidity, let's move on to an act of brilliance:

THUMBS-UP MOMENT:  Nakomis' 6-Finger Plan

Upon first glance, Nakomis doesn't really seem all that threatening, greenish yellow hair aside.  She actually looks like someone that you'd want to know.  But, she implemented one of the greatest plans ever during the week she won HoH on season five of the show.

One of Nakomis' biggest threats in the game was Jase.  Jase was in a strong alliance (one that included her long lost brother Michael 'Cowboy'), and he had won the Power of Veto twice, saving himself and his showmance Holly from the chopping block.  Because of these wins, his attitude and ego grew to the point where he was becoming a nuisance, and Nakomis had enough. 

Because Nakomis won the HoH power shortly after, she knew that she had to make two decoy nominations so that when the veto was used, she could instead put Jase up, ensuring his exit.  The very first case of backdooring someone successfully, if all went well.

She had an alliance with six people.  Karen, Will, Diane, twins Natalie and Adria, and Drew (who had been floating between Nakomis' alliance and Jase's alliance).  Jase was on the other side with Michael.  Marvin was a wild card, so Nakomis decided to make him one of the nominations, with Diane being the other one.

Diane was pulled off the block by Veto winner, Drew (since Drew was in a showmance with Diane), and Nakomis wasted no time in putting Jase up.  Jase was shocked, but figured he was safe since he assumed Marvin was the target.  Instead, Jase got the shock of his life when Nakomis' alliance kicked him out instead.

It was a risky plan, and it wasn't exactly foolproof, but it got Nakomis' biggest threat out, and it was brilliance the way it went off.

WORST ALLIANCE EVER:  Season 6's Friendship Alliance

Now, I won't go on to say that the entire Friendship alliance was all that bad, at least in my opinion.  I liked Maggie (the eventual winner of BB6), and Beau was funny as hell to watch.  But, the way the alliance came together was pretty much a disaster, and the level of gameplay was so ridiculous that is it any wonder why people didn't like them?  Sure, Maggie won the game, but at least she made some moves that got her farther in the game.  Ivette was an emotional basketcase, April got into a war of words with Howie and Janelle, and Jennifer betrayed Kaysar by putting him up after promising him that she would keep him safe.  The biggest joke of all?  The alliance had hoped to prove that by building friendships, they could survive the game.  Nice idea in theory, but only one person can win the prize.  Maggie ended up winning because she kept her cool and stayed calm under pressure, while April, Ivette, Beau, and Jennifer buckled under pressure, got into fights with people who could have awarded them the money, and even turned on each other!  Still friends?

LOVED:  Big Brother 6's Janelle and Rachel (no...not THAT Rachel)

There's really not that much to say about Janelle.  At first, I really wasn't all that fond of her, mainly because I found her to be somewhat on the abrasive side.  But as my disgust for the Friendship alliance rose, so did my respect for Janelle.  She won more individual competitions on Big Brother 6 than any other houseguest, and she ended up winning several 'America's Choice' competitions based on sheer popularity.  Part of the reason for her popularity was that unlike some of the other houseguests in the house, she never let friendships cloud her judgment.  She had her eye on the prize, and she ALMOST succeeded in getting it.

But, I also liked a lesser-known houseguest from Big Brother 6.  Rachel was actually my favourite BB6 houseguest.  She was beautiful, intelligent, and she had to have a lot of patience if she agreed to bring Howie as her secret partner!  But, what immediately drew me in to rooting for Rachel was how clever she was.  She won the first HoH, and she was also the one who found the secret room in the Big Brother house, and was often the voice of reason when it came to the various bad blood between the houseguests.  Unlike Howie and Janelle, Rachel didn't get involved in the house drama as much, and when she was evicted, even most of the Friendship alliance (save for Ivette) had positive things to say about her.  I really wish she could have gone farther, because Rachel was definitely a breath of fresh air.

WORST CAST EVER:  Big Brother 9

This was in my opinion, the WORST CAST EVER.  Let's see...of all the houseguests I actually LIKED...well...Sharon wasn't too horrible.  Sheila could have her moments, but I wasn't as annoyed by her.  Amanda was a bit annoying with the bueno thing, but I grew to admire her by the end.  And, well...that's it.  Here's some info for you.

The winner of BB9, Adam is now in jail for drug trafficking.  Another houseguest, Matt, was his accomplice, who is also in jail.
Joshuah was probably one of the meanest S.O.B.'s in the history of the show, doing and saying some rather disgusting things to Amanda and Natalie.
Chelsia had a mini-breakdown, and James had a meltdown, and Natalie was just insane.
It just was a terrible, terrible season.

BEST CAST EVER:  Big Brother 10

Compare the cast that appeared after Big Brother 9's cast of criminals and insane asylum patients, and well...there is no comparison.  With a couple of exceptions, Big Brother 10 was one of my favourite casts to appear on the show.  The casting was so diverse, ranging in age from 22 to 75 years of age.  The cast of characters were quite fantastic.  Memphis and Dan ended up making it to the final two, and had the best game strategies out of all the previous players, and Dan ended up winning it all.  Memorable contestants included sweet Keesha, sassy Libra, adorable Renny, and...well...the guy below, who entertained me for all the wrong reasons...

DO NOT EVER WANT TO SEE AGAIN:  BB10's Jessie and BB11's Chima

My first impression of Jessie when he appeared on Big Brother 10 was 'whoa...what muscles he his head!!!'

Normally, I'm not one to make wisecracks like that, and honestly, I'm not one to make judgment calls on looks.  Certainly, Jessie was proud of his body, and it showed.  But his attitude was incredibly immature and juvenile.  He claimed to be 23, but in reality, he acted like he was a spoiled eight-year-old child.  He threw temper tantrums when he didn't get what he wanted, and he acted like he was God's gift to women.

He was invited to join the cast of Big Brother 11, and when he was evicted, his harem of women (Chima, Natalie, and Lydia) reacted like this.

Good riddance.  And, since I brought up Chima, I may as well include her here too.  Remember how I said that Justin wasn't the only houseguest to be kicked out of the Big Brother game?  Watch Chima's self-destruction below.

Note to all of you out there...if you ever appear on Big Brother, don't destroy their property.

BEST BIG BROTHER ROMANCE:  Jeff and Jordan from Big Brother 11

There's really very little to say about Jeff and Jordan.  They were one of three couples brought back to play on Big Brother 13, but their relationship actually began on season 11.  Unlike most showmances which fizzled out, this couple has been together for almost two years.  They fell in love, developed a relationship, and ended up competing on The Amazing Race together.  Part of the reason this couple works is because neither one of them let their relationship affect their gameplay (and vice versa).  They love each other, and they respect each other, and aren't threatened by other people, which is why I think their relationship will last longer than...

WORST BIG BROTHER ROMANCE:  Brenchel from Big Brother 12

Sadly, these two (Brendon and Rachel) were brought back to season 13 after a tumultuous Season 12.  They ended up developing a romance in the Big Brother house, only they were nowhere near as cute as Jeff and Jordan.  Rachel and Brendon strike me as being perfect for each other but for all the wrong reasons.  They're both insecure.  They both pitch fits when they don't get what they want.  They're jealous of other people interfering with them (Rachel accused all the people who were evicted of getting in between her and her man as the reason behind why she wanted them out). 

The only plus they both have is that they are very good at competitions, and can usually pull off a win when their backs are against the wall.  Unfortunately, their 'devotion' to each other often rubbed others the wrong way, and often, their tendency to play the game emotionally lead to hurt feelings and angry confrontations.

Just ask Ragan from season 12.

As of this writing, Rachel and Brendon are now on the block together after they ganged up on Daniele (who originally appeared on Big Brother 8 with her estranged father, Evel Dick), and Daniele took the opportunity to bust up Brenchel for the second time.

Guess in the end, Daniele got in between her and her man.  :D

So, there you have it.  Highs and lows of Big Brother.  Agree with the list?  Disagree?  I'd love to hear from other Big Brother addicts on your thoughts!

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