Big Brother
"Big Brother" is finally turning a critical eye toward its problematic houseguests. (Image via Instagram)

The ‘Big Brother’ Finale Takes a Moment for Self-Reflection

The long-running reality show’s season finale — which finally looked at some of its problematic issues — was actually good.

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Big Brother

The long-running reality show’s season finale — which finally looked at some of its problematic issues — was actually good.

The recent finale of the 21st season of “Big Brother” was unlike any finale in recent years. As the show host Julie Chen-Moonves always says, “Expect the unexpected.”

For years, the show has had issues with cast members’ problematic speech. Practically every year (or at least every year since Season 15, when I started watching the show), TMZ writes article after article about the racist, homophobic or sexist attitudes exhibited by the houseguests. This season was particularly problematic, evoking responses from Cosmopolitan and Oprah magazine. Houseguests always try to play it off, claiming that they didn’t know better, that the house made them crazy or that they don’t remember saying those things.

Living in the “Big Brother” house would definitely make people crazy. Completely cut off from the outside world, 16 strangers enter a house with no technology, no books, no forms of entertainment besides their roommates. On top of this, the houseguests are constantly competing for power and safety.

Every week there is a “Head of Household” (HOH) who puts two people on the “chopping block,” nominating them for eviction. From there, houseguests compete in a “Power of Veto” (POV) competition to try to either take someone off the block or to keep nominations the same. Then, on Thursdays, the cast votes live to evict someone from the house. This happens every week until only two people remain. The first five to be evicted are sent home. The rest of the evicted houseguests get sent to the “jury house.” These houseguests return on finale night to vote for a winner. Second place earns $50,000 while first place earns $500,000.

The stress of competition has made many houseguests lose their minds, but that isn’t an excuse for their poor behavior. Plenty of people enter the “Big Brother” house and refrain from using slurs and attacking minorities. Yet, every season, there is a (relatively) large group of people that team up and immediately target the minorities. Usually, this group is full of conventionally attractive and fit people, the people with the best chance of winning the game anyway. Despite their exceptional odds, they continue to attack the people that pose the least threat to their victory.

Fans have called out this strange phenomenon season after season, but no changes have been made. Finally, this year, CBS took action. When each houseguest is evicted, they have the chance to be interviewed by Julie Chen-Moonves. For the first time since Season 15, Chen-Moonves called out the racist and sexist behaviors by houseguest Jack Matthews.

Fans were delighted with this response; finally, some action had been taken against how terribly he treated the other houseguests. However, CBS surprised viewers again during the finale, letting the jury and guests evicted pre-jury ask questions to the final two.

Kemi Fakunle received some of the harshest treatment in the house. She was the only black girl in the house (though not the only woman of color), and houseguests would find issues with her every move. One of the most severe examples was when Jack Matthews yelled at Fakunle for leaving her water bottle in the fridge. He went on an angry rant because she simply left one bottle in the fridge.

Additionally, houseguests continued to mock her throughout the entire season, long after she had been evicted and was therefore in no possible way a threat. On finale night, she was able to ask these houseguests that had been bullying her all season long why they had treated her like this. They all claimed to not think it was offensive and were stunned to think that anyone would find their actions racially motivated.

Most stunned was “Big Brother 21” winner Jackson Michie. He was easily the most powerful player this entire game, having 10 competition wins under his belt. However, he used every single moment in power to evict either a person of color or an LGBTQA+ houseguest: David Alexander, Analyse Talavera, Jessica Milagros and Tommy Bracco.

When he wasn’t in power, he was campaigning against these minority houseguests, claiming them to be threats when they were actually the weakest players in the game. Though Alexander was only allowed to play in one, neither him nor Talavera won any competitions, and Milagros and Bracco won two and three respectively. Those numbers pale in comparison to Michie’s 10 wins.

Additionally, Michie was repeatedly called out in the house for his treatment of women. He made multiple women break down because of how he yelled at them. No one was safe from his wrath, not even his “showmance,” Holly Allen. The two got together early in the season ─ after he essentially ghosted Kathryn Dunn ─ and expressed their love for each other often, yet he still reduced her to tears.

Finale night was retribution for his actions. With each question asked and accusation made, Michie’s face turned more red. He was so upset that when it was announced that he won, he didn’t even smile. He walked out of the “Big Brother” house to cheers and confetti, but that was met with a red face and dead expression.

For fans that have hated Michie the whole season, this finale was practically perfect. Sure, he won the money, but he is easily the most hated winner of all time. He’s likely one of the most hated players of all time as well.

To add to the excitement, during the last few minutes of the finale, America’s Favorite Player (AFP) was announced. Fans voted for their favorite houseguest of the season. Nicole Anthony won by a landslide, winning over one million votes.

In the beginning of the season, she was often bullied, and the only one who stood up to the tirade against the minorities. Even Michie, who hated her at the start, became charmed by her by the end of the season. Anthony took home the $25,000 AFP prize as well as everyone’s hearts.

“Big Brother” has already been confirmed for a 22nd season. Hopefully, CBS will continue to acknowledge uncomfortable issues that occur in the house in later seasons.

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