5 Pitches to Improve Big Brother 23
Saying 2020 was a bad year would be quite an understatement. Amidst all the darkness, there was a glimmer of hope early in the Summer with the rumors and announcement of Big Brother 22 being All-Stars 2; CBS would finally give us the long-awaited second All-Star installment after over a decade and a half. Then the season aired, and a pre-game alliance annihilated most of the early fan favorites. The gameplay of Big Brother 22 displayed all the flaws of modern Big Brother to the tenth degree. It portrayed the problems with the lack of diversity casting, the way that that the giant opening game alliance of 6+ people leads to droll and predictable gameplay, and the fact that so many come on this show to boost their followings rather than playing to win the game.
At this point, a solid Big Brother season feels more like an outlier than the standard. Part of it is we as fans have to understand that the world has changed drastically since Big Brother originally came out. While there were people who went on the show back in the ’00s with the dream of getting famous, that felt more like the minority. In this era with Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, Patreon, and OnlyFans, there are so many avenues for an individual to go on Big Brother and then monetize the rest of their life. It’s a different world now, and Big Brother production needs to shake things up dramatically because the show that currently exists is slowly dying. As someone who surfs the Big Brother social medias, usually, there’s a massive difference between what gets said on FB, Reddit, and Twitter. After last season, there is a collective voice saying, “I’m not sure how much of this shit I can put up with anymore.”
Thus, I decided to try my hand at some fantasy formatting/booking suggestions to improve Big Brother in the modern era. Some are small nit-picks. Others are giant leaps. Also, my #1 would have been adding more diversity/POC, but if you didn’t know, there was a new initiative to ensure that 50% of Survivor/Big Brother casts will be POC which is a great starting point! Let’s go!
5 Faster Pace + Less Overall Days
Since 2013, every main season of Big Brother has hit 90 or more days in length, excluding the most recent Big Brother 22 (All-Stars 2), which was 85 days (DURING A PANDEMIC). For a television show that makes you watch three episodes a week, that is too many days, especially with episode spoilers being so prevalent. In the past, only those who kept up with live feeds/forums would know the episode spoilers, except in the age of social media with daily threads on Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, YT, and Facebook, most fans know who is getting evicted right after the HOH competition. While the slow pace of early Big Brother was a trademark that benefited the franchise’s overall growth, it’s not working out as well anymore, and adapting to a faster pace could clean up some of the inherent flaws they create with modern casting.
Big Brother 7 and Big Brother 10 are the two of the most highly regarded seasons, and each sits at 72 and 71 days, respectively. Yes, there were fewer cast members then, but the overall number of days is closer to what modern Big Brother should shoot for. Survivor has done a great job of speeding up the game, and while their game has become a little bit too twist oriented when it comes to idols and advantages, it has evolved in a necessary way for a show that’s been running for two decades. For Big Brother, adding more double evictions, removing any comeback twists, or merely having abbreviated weeks will keep fans more engaged and create urgency. The triple eviction (which was lackluster) from Big Brother 22 was the most-watched episode of the season. In the modern era of streaming services with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and TikTok, Big Brother needs to push the pace and create some agency for viewers; it’s not like in 2006 when this show would come on in the Summer, and there wasn’t much else to watch.
4 An Actual Fun Environment
Whenever I watch clips of Big Brother Canada, the players look like they have way more genuine fun and chaos than the US version. Part of me thinks when players have more space to be wild and have fun leads to overall better gameplay. More recent seasons where they limit alcohol to 2 bottles of wine a week (less than 1 glass a person) and restrict their amount of days with the backyard puts the players under an even smaller bubble than they already exist and further exacerbates the issues that come with big cult-like alliances that have been dominating the show.
We need a new bigger Big Brother house, or they need to create some expansions on the house and give them more air to breathe. A second backyard would be helpful. Plus, more alcohol wouldn’t hurt. Not a dangerous amount, just enough to get us some good fights and maybe a surprise hookup. As a reality fan, I want some authentic messiness and for the players to look like they are enjoying their experiences.
3 New HOH and Veto Competitions
Is it just me, or is the over-repetition of some competitions over the years beginning to drain on you? While I do want to see certain games like OTEV and the spelling veto come back every year, there are others where I wouldn’t mind them taking a break from (especially Wall Comps). When they work under time restraints for Double Evictions, I do not mind them doing simple trivia or marble mazes since you have to crown a winner as fast as possible. However, I do think they need to re-evaluate the comps they are using. Big Brother now more than ever feels like a game that’s being dominated by physicality and that you need to have this resume of HOH and Veto wins. Which is acceptable in some ways as I mentioned above, the game of Big Brother needs to adapt, and that in some ways is adaption, but it hasn’t been an adaptation that has created a positive buzz with fans.
Fans want competitions where everyone has a somewhat fair shot where being intelligent or athletic or strong socially gives you a slight advantage, not ones where the competition itself only allows for those upper-level players to have a chance of winning.
2 Better Casting (More Game Players and More Average-looking People)
I’m thrilled over CBS’s new initiative that 50% of Big Brother and Survivor casting will be people of color. It’s something that is desperately needed and that I’ve written about in the past. However, I feel a bit of trepidation where even though we will get more representation, part of me feels it is not necessarily going to be the best representation. For example, they finally cast a plus-sized Latin woman with Jessica Milagros on Big Brother 21. However, to cast a plus-sized woman, she had to work professionally as a model and get recruited. The same goes for Analyse Talavera, where she was a college soccer player with model looks. Don’t get me wrong; I follow them on Instagram because they are hot, yet, when they were on my television and I’m watching them play an aimless game, for the most part, I want to change the channel. For men, it’s similar; Fessy and Swaggy C were college athletes. It feels as though the standards for minorities to get cast are you have to be an ex-college athlete or a model; meanwhile, your everyday white dork or cop can jump on the show and get an edit where they get treated as a mastermind.
They have got to limit the number of recruitment players as well. I’d legitimately say to keep to a maximum of 2 recruits a season. These players come on for fame for the most part, and people should be coming on this show to win. Sequester does such an excellent job of creating a diverse cast of people who want to play a game. It shouldn’t be that hard for Big Brother. At the end of the day, it comes down to the same people who have been casting this show forever, and they probably don’t care and will likely make all 8 POC casts from Texas A & M University. I suppose they worry that regular people aren’t the most attractive and won’t attract superficial/casual fans. In that case, I say watch Survivor because that show consistently has average looking people who I become deeply attracted to based on personality and gameplay, whereas, with Big Brother, my preseason crushes always become crushed once they open their mouths.
1 Split Houses/Separate Tribes
You can skip this one entirely if you want; it’s easily my most outrageous suggestion. I think modern American Big Brother has fallen into a hole when it comes to the big alliance/cult-like gameplay that is impossible to avoid. You either accept this and hope that the minority alliances win key HOH’s and don’t mess up like FOUTTE/The Hive did on BB20, or you shake up the entire format. My suggestion is that you cast 20 people, split them 10 and 10 into their own separate houses, and have each play their own game of Big Brother. After the first four evictions in each house, you merge the remaining 12 players into one house and then start the real game with the jury beginning at Final 9.
This format is a bit of a slap in the face to Big Brother purists as a player could get dealt a raw hand based on whatever opening house they get sorted into and so on, and to those people, I apologize. At the same time, I’m not sure if this show could handle another big alliance dominating the entire game, with each week of the show being a slog. Yes, 6 person alliances will form in these houses of 10 because that’s symptomatic of realty competitions based on votes. However, once a player in a minority alliance wins an HOH in a smaller house, then the game will get spicy, and those alliance members will actually have friction, and then we might see some actual Big Brother gameplay!!! How the players will merge is also a point of interest because if someone is in the minority of their original house, we might see them jump into the opposite house’s alliance or vice-versa. I’ve participated and followed Online Reality Game versions of Big Brother that had a similar format, and it’s worked out exceptionally for them (the well-run ones at least).
Big Brother is one of my favorite Summer experiences, yet, in the year 2021, as the show currently stands, I’m not going to recommend the show to friends because I don’t think it’s been putting out a good product. Things need to change.