“Big Brother” is a mental, emotional and physical game of manipulation. Essentially “The Lord of the Flies” of reality television, you need a little bit of everything in order to win the dog-eat-dog game. Each summer, 16 houseguests move into the “Big Brother” house, and spend (up to) three months trying to evict each other. They struggle for power, compete and eat “slop” to keep themselves off the block. If you’re not secretive, slick and social, you don’t stand a chance.
How you decide to go about getting houseguests evicted will determine whether or not you’re a strong enough player to win the game. In addition to bragging rights, the first place winner snags a $500,000 check, while the second place winner gets $50,000—all the more reason to lie your ass off and break promises to get to the end. “Big Brother” 18 premiered Wednesday, June 22nd, and I’m officially obsessed. Here is a recap of this season’s alliances, twists and controversies so far.
How, after 16 years, does “Big Brother” continue to garner millions of views per episode and not fade into the background? The fan base is solid as cement, but production still constantly breaks the rules, and twists never fail to make the game more interesting.
First, 4 of the 16 houseguests competing to win this summer are former “Big Brother” players, and 2 of the 12 haven’t played the game before but are related to people who have. What I like about the 4 return players is that none of them went very far in their original seasons. It’d be unfair to bring back four winners, expecting them not to dominate the game, or players who made final five and beyond.
As far as the sibling twist, it’s been hard for the players to shake their siblings’ identities—they’re both constantly being compared. I expected them to team up and use the “my family knows the game” secret to bond, and although they tried to at first, they no longer trust each other in the game—not much of a twist.
The 12 “newbies,” as they’re referred to on the show, immediately wanted to target all four “veterans” and get them evicted—they already played, so why let them play again? But to throw the newbies a curve ball, “Big Brother” production made each of the four veterans captains, and they chose newbies to be a part of their teams. When competing in Head of Household (HOH) competitions, to win the power to nominate houseguests for eviction, if the HOH is on your team, you’re safe for the week.
I don’t like the team twist. If the house comes together and decides to target one person, they won’t be eligible for nomination if someone on their team has HOH. Fortunately, I don’t see the team twist lasting much longer, which means anyone (excluding the HOH) will be fair game for eviction.
Another new twist is the “BB Roadkill Competition.” The winner of BB Roadkill gets to anonymously nominate a third nominee for eviction—typically, there are only two nominees fighting for their lives to stay in the house. I like BB Roadkill because you don’t know who wins unless they decide to tell people, and even still, all someone has to do is lie about who won to put a target on the wrong person’s back.
“Big Brother” follows a formula when casting people to participate in the game. For example, there’s always a college athlete, “skater” dude, “Big Brother super fan,” at least one openly gay person, someone over the age of 50, etc. “Big Brother” 18 is following the formula per usual, nothing new to see here. I do like the differences between all the houseguests, though because the alliances formed within the house exhibit its diversity of personality, looks, age, gender identity, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation.
Houseguests are compared to hamsters in a cage because they’re watched by live-feeders every hour of every day—eating, sleeping and sometimes making out with other houseguests. And now onto this season’s “showmances.” Season 18 is the season of the showmance—classic “Big Brother” terminology. When there’s a romance on the show between two houseguests, they’re officially in a showmance. “Big Brother” fans know showmances are deadly to the “Big Brother” house dynamic. Nobody wants to align with two people who are romantically involved because they’ll almost always pick each other over the third ally. Working with a showmance is third-wheeling, but with the added risk of throwing away $500,000 because the two love birds screw you over.
You’re surrounded by people who hate you, don’t understand you and lie to get you evicted.
There are three prominent showmances thus far, and the houseguests have only been in the house playing the game for roughly four weeks. If the happy couples really don’t think somebody will put them on the block together and tear them apart, they’ve lost focus, officially blinded by love. It’s not a question of if people will target them, it’s who and when. Although the showmances this season are fucking adorable, $500,000 is beautiful too, and don’t forget—the money is what they’re playing for.
There’s also plenty of racism, sexism and homophobia to go around. In a house full of strangers, cameras everywhere including awkward shower angles—boobs have accidentally been broadcast live to millions of feeders—there’s no way to avoid mean-spirited comments and controversies. The houseguests don’t think about what they’re saying, and sometimes what they say is part of their strategy. Living in a house with people who are actively plotting your demise makes you a more paranoid, anxious and on-edge person, but where do you go to breathe? Nowhere. You can’t leave the house. You’re surrounded by people who hate you, don’t understand you and lie to get you evicted.
Some of the houseguests have openly discussed their political views, claiming to be in support of Donald Trump’s wall. There’s an Asian houseguest, and comments made about him include, “I want to send his ass back to Hong Kong, or wherever he’s from,” and “I fucking hate that little Korean man.” There’s a girl with breast implants, and some of the men in the house have made fun of her for them, calling her “fake” and “disposable.”
The biggest scandal of the season as of now involves a houseguest spanking women’s asses, calling one a “slut,” and another “fat.” Unfortunately, the meanness is part of the game; but, if threats of violence are made, or the hate goes too far, houseguests will be evicted via production.
Clearly, choosing a winner right now is impossible. Alliances made the first week have already crumbled, and the veterans who promised to align and stay together have all turned on each other. I have favorites, but what makes “Big Brother” hard to watch is having to live with your favorites getting evicted. Truthfully, who you like best rarely wins. Sometimes, the people who deserve to win don’t, and the riskiest targets are taken out early.
Important to remember, considering players and viewers tend to forget, “Big Brother” is a game, but not a game of kindness. You can’t be loyal to, honest or genuine with everyone in the house. You have to constantly be thinking of ways to stay off the block without blowing up your game. Align with the right people, use them to get yourself further in the game and do whatever it takes to get to final two. Go for the gold, and use your prize money to buy drinks for yourself and everybody you backstabbed along the way.