Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reality TV is still TV

I don't like stating the obvious, but Big Brother is a TV show. It's not a professional sport. It's main credo is to make money from sponsors by getting ratings. Their mandate is to keep things exciting and fans tuning in. "Expect the Unexpected" is a pass for production to manipulate and attempt to change the course of the game in order to please the fans. Not all fans, but the majority. Their twists are designed to help the house guests that the majority of fans love or love to hate. It's unscripted in that they cannot possibly know the outcome of competitions or the way the house guests will react but is it manipulated? Indeed it is to enhance the drama and the struggle. So what? WWF is totally staged, yet many enjoy and support it.

Every time there's a twist with fan involvement, there is a faction of fans who protest in outrage that it's rigged or unfair or whatever. But let's examine some of the most contentious twists in order to see if this in fact is true.

During BB8, Eric Stein was "America's Player". He became instrumental in the nomination and eviction of several house guests including Joe, Jenn, Dustin and Amber. This was one of the most intrusive twists ever, but since the public was involved in evicting some of their least favorites, it paid off for the show. It didn't help Eric's or those evicted house guests' game but it helped get the then fan faves, Daniele and Dick Donato, to the end. Was their win rigged? Of course it wasn't. The way they played the game and competed had a huge part in that win.

During BB9, the fans were given the opportunity to vote someone back in the game. The house guests were given the option of bringing back someone the fans wanted (Alex Coladonato) to return or newly-evicted James Zinkland. They chose James. Production had no way of knowing which the HGs would choose but it was a win-win situation for them. Alex was a fan fave but James also brought in fans because of his sheer moxy and drive to win. Rigged? No. Manipulated. Yes. It's the name of the game.

In BB11, Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Llyod were decidedly the fan faves. Their innocent showmance/love story and their underdog status in the house caused a vast majority of fans to root for them. When Chima was HoH and was clearly targeting them, production reintroduced the Coup D'Etat in the game. It was previously used in BB7 All Stars in a competition which Mike 'Boogie" Malin won. He never used it. In BB11, this power was voted on by the fans and of course it went to Jeff who used it, reversing the nominations and succeeding in getting Jesse Godderz (not a fan fave) evicted. Was this vote rigged? No. Jeff was indeed the fan fave, Did production know that this is how it would go down? Sure they did. They were banking on it.

In BB13, two twists were introduced that cause a lot of controversy mostly because it involved two house guests that were polarizing the fans: Rachel Riley and Brendon Villegas. One was when fans were asked to vote a previously evicted house guest to compete with whomever was recently evicted to get back in the game. Brendon was voted back in over fan darlings Dominic Briones and Cassi Colvin. This sparked a storm of rigging accusations, but the vote makes sense. Brendon and Rachel were closely allied with Jeff and Jordan, uniting their enormous fan base with Rachel's growing fan base to trump the Dominic/Cassi fans. Did production know this would happen? Of course they did.

The second twist in the same season was the "Couples Twist" that was unleashed when Porsche Briggs opened Pandora's Box. This allowed the house guests to pair up with another house guest, being both saved by the PoV. This sparked outrage from some fans, saying that the twist was introduced to save the vulnerable Jordan and Rachel. Of course it was! But there were too many factors in play that production could not control. Porsche could have chosen to listen to her alliance and not open Pandora's Box. Rachel could have not won PoV which she did. Were the majority of fans pleased that "Jorchel" were saved? Yes they were! Was this production's goal. You betcha!

This season, the MVP twist was introduced and Elissa Slater (Rachel's sister and the only HG related to a vet) came into the game with it. Was this a fair advantage, given that Rachel rallied the troops to vote for Elissa? Sure. It was also cancelled out by the distinct disadvantage of Elissa being the chief target for eviction for the first two weeks of the game. She and her alliance used this advantage to their benefit by turning the tables on the alliance that was in power and terrorizing the house. Many have accused that the MVP results have been rigged. But have they? Sure the Riley army has had a big hand in these results; but the vast majority of fans have been outraged by the bigotry of those targeting Elissa who has proven to be a very likable and smart player. The MVP twist has not kept Elissa safe, her and her alliance's use of this twist has done so.

Bottom line, yes this is a manipulated show. Their credo is to keep the drama high, feature the good versus bad struggle and give the fans what they want. I am not a fan of this production but I do have to give credit to the fact that they know how please the majority of their fans.

If some people want this show to be a fair, untampered competition, they need to watch reruns of the Olympics. This isn't the show for them.

Stay tuned.