If you’ve never watched CBS’s Big Brother before, and it would be safe to assume that you haven’t, you should start right now (see photo above for incentive). And you should watch all 18 seasons of it because this creative genius-ery of a show is filled with both life lessons and trashy drama, and there’s really nothing better than that combo.
Here’s a quick rundown of the game show-turned reality series. The season starts with sixteen strangers entering a house with everything being hosted by the infamous Julie Chen. The premise is to be the last one standing at the end of the game, which consists of mental and endurance competitions, weekly evictions staged by the housemates based on social strategy and alliances, and lots and lots of tears. This goes on for three long months and the housemates usually become completely and utterly paranoid, each one wondering if they will be the next one out. At the end of the summer, the last seven people to be evicted cast their votes for who, of the final two, they believe played the best game. The person with the most votes receives $500K and is crowned the winner of their season. The shit-show ensues, as the excitement builds off the dimensions of shifting power.
Beyond the entertainment aspect though, this type of social experiment tells us a lot about the nature of human emotion and relationships. Anyone who knows anything about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four will understand the modern symbolism behind the term “Big Brother”, making this show all the more appealing for creepy people-watchers like myself. The players are being filmed 24/7 by 65 cameras hidden throughout the house, and we have the ability to see their every move during three weekly episodes and the BB Live Feeds, giving viewers a whole new perspective on the sociological concept of Panopticism. The players have absolutely no contact with the outside world and as I’m sure you can imagine, this type of setup leads to some cringe-worthy brawls and, conversely, fairytale love stories. The 18th season is already almost over, but it has been one of intense romantic showmances* and borderline stalkerish bromances*.
I’m sure I speak for all BB fans when I say that each season there’s a slight moment of panic, wondering if these crazed people will all make it out alive. And this season is no different. An entertaining example of sheer erratic behavior can be examined through one cast member this season, Paulie. He’s the big brother (lol) of former BB16 runner-up, Cody Calafiore, and therefore everyone assumed Paulie would be the social game expert making it to the end. However, it seems Paulie is unfortunately nothing like his younger brother and more of a narcissistic, misogynistic, asshole. When he first entered the house and created a short-lived showmance with fellow player, Z, I felt this deja vu immediately, wondering if we’ll be watching another Calafiore brother flirt his way to the end. But it seems Paulie is much less charming than his brother...and way worse at keeping his cool. After playing a hand in the first few evictions this season, the house started realizing what a douchebag this kid is, and also how dangerous he is in the game. Not only has he been manipulating everyone, making him one of the biggest social threats, but he’s also pretty jacked, which makes him a competition beast. Paulie caught on to his housemates distancing themselves from him and, when he was nominated for eviction, pretty much begged for sympathy for the rest of the week. He cried. A lot. And Paulie continued to dig himself deep, telling others that his psychiatrist warned him he was playing with fire coming into the BB house, thus pushing everyone to finally give him the boot.
When it comes down to it, this game is really all about “friendship”. You will hear this word no less than three times per episode this season, all thanks to houseguest Paul (not crazy Paulie from above), which makes him probably the most likely to win this season. Paul used the idea of friendship as a way to secure his safety in the house week after week, making everyone feel like an Evil Dick (BB season 8 reference) if they somehow betray America’s bestie. Betrayal is inevitable in that house, however, and it’s interesting to hear the players repetition of the saying “it’s just a game” to each other. I would imagine that this serves the great purpose of reminding themselves that, in the end, money may not be more important than your own sanity.
*showmance - widely used term in the BB world, meaning a romantic relationship has formed on the show and creates an everlasting alliance. This season’s strongest showmance was clearly Natalie and James and their love for each other seems so genuine that, for a moment, it might even make you question your own relationship (sorry, babe). But that quickly fades once you realize they’re not yet in the real world and Natalie will surely be a hot commodity out there.
*bromance - you all know what this is and, if you don’t, please watch BB18 and the beginning of P&P’s so-called “friendship” where Paul and Paulie (yep, can’t make this up) bond over...nothing except having the same name. We quickly found out that Paulie wanted more “samesies” moments with Paul and began wearing the same.exact.outifts as him, shaving his hair in the same.exact.way as him, and also using the same.exact.vocabulary as him.