Big Brother 9: “But first…”

February 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

The legions of devoted shut-in and convicts who flock to Pop Geek each morning for the latest reality show reviews and grey-area illegal music must be shocked–shocked, I tell you!–that I’ve not yet written about Big Brother 9, or Big Brother: Till Death Do You Part.

Believe it or not, it took me about a week to get caught up on the season, and then it’s taken me about a week to digest a sad, simple fact: This season of Big Brother is honestly…not that good.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a total waste of time, although it’s often pretty lousy. It’s definitely extremely weird, seeing as we’re only two weeks in and we’ve already had the big twist ruined, one houseguest who just up and left for weird personal reasons, and two other houseguests who have been rushed to the hospital for allergic reactions to food.

I have the strangest feeling that CBS and the show’s producers didn’t quite know what to expect from a winter Big Brother, which explains a couple of the show’s biggest weaknesses this season:

The casting is lousy. My wife and I were discussing this last night, and we figure that either one of two things happened: The season was cast incredibly quickly and using primarily sessions from NY and LA, and/or former rejects were hastily assembled from the almost-made-it pile to try out again and join this cast. Whatever the reason, the houseguests this time around are universally stupid, breathtakingly inept at playing the game, frequently annoying, and foolishly governed by misplaced anger and fruitless emotion. The Allison/Sheila “fake lesbians” gambit is by itself perhaps the dumbest thing ever done in the BB house, and yes, I remember how Kaysar trusted Jennifer and let her win HOH that one time.

The gimmick is lame. I can see how the whole “play as couples” may have made sense on paper, but all it really does is shackle those with a little bit of common sense with really bad players, resulting in the few potentially interesting contestants hung out to dry by the most clueless idiots. Alex and Amanda are a perfect example; Alex may have a bit of smarts when it comes to the game, but he’s got no opportunity to actually make any strategic plays because he’s shackled with a gossipy airhead (and if she’s a paralegal, I’m the secret president of everything). Besides which, the whole mechanism makes alliances and deals that much harder to execute, which is why there hasn’t been any true successful attempt by anyone to execute any game strategy to any significant degree. It seems clear to me at least that the couples gimmick was cooked up to provide an ideal “out” in the event of a concluded writer’s strike; now the series only has to last eight or nine weeks, but if the strike had dragged on into the spring and summer, the cast could have been split into singles again to stretch out the season. That’s smart programming, but shoddy television.

Evil Dick has left his mark. Even the most die-hard reality fanatics will probably think I’m nuts, but I sincerely believe that Big Brother has in the past come closest of all reality shows to realizing the genre’s full potential as a window into humanity, a true social experiment in which the extreme living conditions and the speed with which the show is edited and aired combine to eliminate so many of the filters that usually turn reality series into unscripted fiction. Since last season and Evil Dick, however, it’s clear anyone wanting to get into the Big Brother house has learned the true secret: Be loud, and say obnoxious things. Sure, we’ve only had one “epic” dust-up so far (Amanda vs. Joshuah), but not for lack of trying, as Sheila has spent every spare minute since day one badmouthing her partner Adam, and early evictee Jacob didn’t even let his pillow get dented before he himself made an idiotic, obnoxious strategic gambit. In the case of the Amanda vs. Joshuah fight, the producers didn’t even attempt to place the conflict in any context within the cast or the happenings in the house; it was just, “OHEMGEE FIGHT FIGHT BIG BROTHER HISTORY BUT FIRST” on the part of the Chenbot.

So I probably won’t stop watching Big Brother–let’s be honest; I’m a sucker for this shit–but I’m a very disappointed hamster watcher right now.

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Entry filed under: Reality. Tags: , , .

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