‘Big Brother’: The “Perfect” Summer Show

‘Big Brother’ is a lot like Summer. It comes around the same time each year, it’s mostly boring, albeit with some sporadic high points spread throughout, and it’s over before you know it. ‘Big Brother’ is the perfect Summer show for both good and bad reasons that echoes its strengths, but also it’s tedium.

I’m a huge ‘Big Brother’ fan, although not as BIG as I once was, now that I’ve had the live feeds for the past few seasons, my fandom is back on an upswing. I’ve been watching ‘Big Brother’ ever since the fourth edition way back in 2003, and looking back I can’t believe I’ve been watching this show for almost a decade. Not even too sure why I started watching in the first place, besides being a intrigued by the conceit of putting a bunch of strangers in a house and not letting them out. I think coming out of the reality boon in the early 2000’s being sick of ‘Survivor’ after the first three seasons, ‘Big Brother’ seemed more up my alley. Still a lot of what drives my passion for the game is my arrogance of how well I would do inside the ‘Big Brother’ house, which would be no doubt shot down quickly if I ever did manage to make it on the show.

As I grow older and social media expands, there’s more opportunity for me to engage in the show and follow it like I previously never have. My Twitter feed this time of year is completely filled with live updates and such (So, basically my Twitter feed = mid-September to June, 100% filled with hockey tweets, and July to mid-September, 100% filled with ‘Big Brother’ tweets). Now that I have actual money I can purchase the live feeds, which seemed like the holy grail when I was younger, “You mean I could actually watch this 24/7!?!?!?”. That’s what’s so great about ‘Big Brother’, it’s going on right as I type this and you maybe read this. No tape delay, and thus creates a more engaging online experience and connection to the game and show. It’s such an interesting and platform rich show that you can interact with it on two wholly different levels, depending on your commitment. There are fantastic sites like hamsterwatch.com and jokersupdates.com which provide fan hubs to talk and follow the show as well as providing constant update on the goings on of the house. You could solely watch it on TV, ignore the internet and enjoy the show just as well, or hate it just as much. Or you could follow every Twitter feed, watch the live feeds, read daily recaps, visit fan sites, read forums, know what’s happening before the TV broadcast AND watch the tri-weekly shows. It’s two different shows, one that’s guided by a network and shaped for your viewing and other where you can engage how you like and watch the show and cast unfiltered. Let’s make this clear though, you see about 90% of the actual show on TV than actually happens. The editing CBS does is incredible and all the gameplay and drama you don’t see on TV that actually happens without you being the wiser unless you follow online is staggering. You think people go back and forth in alliances and liking and hating people on the show, it’s about 150x that in actuality.

I like to think that CBS airs ‘Big Brother’ only in the Summer and at the same time each year because they know exactly what they have. ‘Big Brother’ is like the Hollywood movie system in the Summer, they release all the big fluffy, dumb popcorn movies in the Summer, and all the Oscar pictures in September – November. That’s what ‘Big Brother’ is, a big, fluffy, dumb show with bickering instead of action. People just want cheap entertainment in the Summer, and ‘Big Brother’ provides it in spades. Just like as in the movie industry, all the outcast, dumb shows are in the Summer, while in the fall comes the legitimate good shows, a place where ‘Big Brother’ doesn’t. Of course, we’re speaking in generalities where there is some good shows/movies in the summer and bad in the fall, but you get my point. Interestingly enough though the casts and the show have been going downhill ever since the writer’s strike induced ‘Big Brother 9’ which premiered in February of 2008. I don’t know what that means, except that ‘Big Brother’ should probably just stay where it belongs in the Summer.  Sure, CBS could put ‘Big Brother’ year round like ‘Survivior’, it gets pretty decent enough ratings and all, but I think they believe ‘Big Brother’ to be some sort of “event” like TV to put in the Summer, just like big Hollywood action movies.

‘Big Brother’ is somehow simultaneously the best and worst show at the same time. It’s premise and scale of engagement is unlike any other and provides a framework where some great TV and can be created from. But, as most recently the cast members are pretty awful and dumb and reluctant to make game moves that would make the show interesting. It’s just like Summer, long droughts of boredom and tedium, that randomly pick up through some interesting event, then dies back down into a familiar pattern. It’s never been perfect, far from it, but it’s a break from the normal and something to look forward to each year. It can be both loud and quiet, penduluming from great highs to great lows. It provides a break from the seriousness of everything else and allows you to enjoy it at your own pace through whichever avenue you’d like. I forgot, was I talking about Summer or ‘Big Brother’?