Sunday, August 24, 2014

BB16: The Downfall of Big Brother.

I'm not naive. Even when I was a TV only, I knew that foremost Big Brother was a TV show and like all "reality" TV, that reality was relative. The producers of reality TV aim to make money based on story lines that the public most love: the victory of an underdog, heroes versus villains, love triangles, unrequited love, romance, family struggles, friendship, loyalty, strategy and redemption.

Like all reality TV, CBS and Fly on the Wall Productions have cast, manipulated and edited the show to enhance these story lines that naturally and artificially occur when people are stuck in a house together, vying for a 500K prize. And these story lines were developed in all the seasons, more successfully in some than others.

Season 2 was when the show changed to its current format, but more importantly. it was the season of Dr. Will. He, unwittingly became the prototype of the charming villain who captured the hearts of the public not only with his aggressively honest game play, but by throwing competitions and being part of one of the most popular alliances in BB history - Chill Town.  Many have subsequently tried to copy his game but without success.

Season 4 - The X Factor- brought us another villain (and my hero), Jun Song who developed what was to be called the "Floater's Strategy" which entails strategically switching alliances, manipulating whoever is in power and winning competitions when necessary. Her cutthroat game might have won her some haters, but it also won her much respect and the season.

Season 5 was the first year only 6 people could play for the Veto, prompting Nakomis to enact the legendary 6 finger plan or the backdoor strategy, nominating alliance members, Marvin and Diane, as pawns, having the target not play for PoV and bringing in all the Veto players on the plan. This intricate scenario was based on alliance loyalty and the ability to bring in side-alliances in order to achieve a goal. And they did.  Jase was completely blindsided.

Season 6 brought to the forefront the struggle of heroes versus villains - The Sovereign Six versus The Friendship Alliance, with the latter gaining the upper hand when Maggie convinced Howie that James Rhine was playing both sides, causing him to nominate his alliance members, James and Sarah, thereby spelling the end of the six. Though Maggie won the season and most of her alliance made it to the end, they were one of the most hated alliances in the viewers' eyes.

Season 8 brought us the popular supervillain - Evel Dick and production manipulation in the form of America's Player - Eric Stein. Despite Evel's extremely aggressive game play, his struggle and bond with his daughter, his crazy moves such as using the PoV on her, made him a "villain" that many rooted for. Eric Stein, however became the casualty of the twist that crippled his game. This was glossed over because the driving story for the season and production was Dick and his relationship with Dani.

Season 10, the season of the Dan probably had the most likable characters and eventual alliances in Dan, Memphis, Renny and Keesha. The puppets and pranks outweighed the nastiness that came from people like Jerry whose edit on the show was the exact opposite of what he was in reality. For me, that was the last time I was glued to the feeds just listening to the Fab 4 chat and interact playfully with each other. It was also the season where the underdog rose to the top and won the season.

Season 11 brought romance to Big Brother in the form of Jeff and Jordan, one of the most popular BB couples to come out of this show. Their interaction and loyalty for one another won the hearts of many viewers, and though he was evicted, she went on to win the season. This is when production most blatantly interfered to save this duo by bringing in the Coup d'etat ending Jesse Godderz' game and resulting in Chima's epic breakdown and expulsion.

Season 12 brought the legendary Brigade Alliance, the polarizing Rachel Riley, the constant battles between her and fellow HGs, Brenchel and one of the funniest players in Big Brother history - Britney Haynes. This season highlighted interpersonal struggles, loyalty and betrayal. as well as one of the most effective and popular alliances in Big Brother history, crowing one of its own the winner.

Season 13 was the Golden Key season, one largely manipulated by production to help the vets to last longer than they would have, crippling the newbies' games. It was also the season of redemption and the unlikely, but popular, alliance of Jordan and Rachel. Rachel was able to redeem her public image to a large portion of the viewing audience after Brendon was evicted, prompting production to help her and Jordan with a Pandora's Twist that allowed them both to be saved with Rachel's PoV win. leading to Rachel's eventual crowning of the season.

In season 14, the Coaches Twist, brought even more production interference that protected the vets and then brought them in the game. It was also the season of the Quack Pack alliance of Dan, Britney, Ian, Shane and Danielle. This was a cover alliance for Dan, who masterfully manipulated everyone, climaxing in his ultimate con - Dan's funeral. His villainous game play, however, did not serve him in the end as he lost to Ian by a landslide.

I didn't mean to turn this into a Big Brother history post, but bear with me. There's purpose to my rambling.

Production interference through strategically placed twists has been making appearances more and more blatantly, but more often than not, they were placed to further players that the fans were rooting for at the time. I mean, why else interfere but to encourage the viewing public to watch their favorite story lines? Right?

What happened in season 15 and 16 though? It's simple. Bad casting and production favorites that do not coincide with fan favorites.

Both seasons were plagued by unfortunate casting based on a formula whose motivation is to repeat the successful story lines of the past. The problem is, you can't cast a show based on stereotypes without extensive interviews of these people. One can easily portray someone who they aren't in a video and certainly in a bar from which they are recruited. The other problem is, you can't cast people to fit a story line that might or might not happen, and you certainly cannot force them to be what you want them to be.

Both seasons were also plagued by production's stubborn insistence to control the outcome of these storylines, ignoring the "reality" of the situation and the fans' favorites. Simply put, the twists did not help the victims of racism and bullying in BB15 and the victims of misogyny and bullying in BB16. As we watched each of our favorites get evicted, we lost all faith or interest in the show. There was no real romance, no victory of the heroes, no redemption, no satisfaction.

Big Brother is a TV show and like all TV shows, it's scripted and manipulated. That's a fact. But, what's the point if the manipulation only brings the lowest common denominator to the end? And really, who gives an eff if they win?

Donny will more than likely be voted out on Thursday, and since he's the last person I really care about or have been rooting for, I'm done. Sure there's more game to play, but it's Derrick's game that will round off a season of incredible bashing, horrific personalities, no power shifts, and a stupid off off off off off off off off Broadway show starring wannabe Fakie J Shot for the ridiculous "Team America" task. No thanks. Bye Felicia.