Changing The Game Forever


ABOVE: Justin Sebik becomes the first houseguest disqualified from Big Brother in 2001.  I’m just glad he had a steady hand holding that knife.

I sort of liked BB1, but I wasn’t really thrilled with all the changes made to Big Brother 2.  Seemed to be too radical a transition for me at first.  I didn’t really see why the game needed to be change at that point.  And it’s not like a spokesperson for CBS told us during BB1 that if we kept making bad choices, the game would be changed next year.

So enter Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner to change the face of the game to the form we all know it to exist now.  But back then, once the selected house spokesperson, better known as the Head Of Household, made his or her two selections, that was it.  One of those two persons was going home that week.  No Power of Veto, no twists, no jury house.  The game ended for that person until the finale at the end of the year.

Another changed I really didn’t like and wasn’t aware of until right before BB2 started was the live feeds.  In the first Big Brother, the feeds were free of charge.  Anyone wanting to see them could.  I remember a lot of the fans being upset with all of this and flooded CBS with e-mails.  Now, I don’t remember word for word what CBS exec Nancy Tellem said in response, but the general gist of the message seemed to be: stuff it, this is what we’re doing.

I still haven’t ever bought a feed, all these seasons later. (Something I’ve relaxed on beginning with BB15 in 2013…gotta do my research.)

BB2 had a fair share of controversy inside the house, starting with a night of drunken debauchery a couple of nights before the first eviction.  It ended with Justin Sebik holding a knife to Kristin Stegall’s throat in a bizarre act of courting.  Sebik was immediately summoned to the diary right, never to return.  He’d gotten into trouble with the producers for continued misconduct, and obviously, that had to be the last straw.  If Sebik had followed through and slashed Stegall’s throat, the show probably would have ended right then and there.  Murder on TV, even on Internet feed, is a definite no-no.

But here’s the thing: if Justin wouldn’t have been disqualified and if his knife antics didn’t happen, someone else probably would have, namely Shannon Dragoo.  What gets lost in “Knifegate” is that there was also “Toothbrushgate.”  When Shannon didn’t like being laughed at by Hardy Hill, Shannon takes his electric toothbrush and cleans the toilet out with it.  Needless to say, quite unsanitary.  The house would take care of the matter themselves the following week, evicting her unanimously.

BB2 was full of strange incidents, really.  Hardy Hill and Kent Blackwelder getting into a famous screaming match at a house meeting in the fifth HOH cycle.  Kent’s rather interesting exit interview with Julie Chen after being evicted.  The events that led to Krista’s eviction that all started with a simple banner.  Nicole’s erratic behavior at the end of the game, and how everyone seemed to avoid voting her out.  And that are just those I can remember off the top off my head.

Then there was 9/11.  Truth be told, I wished the game had come to a halt, and that the remaining three players would have split the 500K three ways.  The game seemed pale in comparison to a national tragedy the world have never seen the likes of in recent memory.  But at the same time, getting back to routines would help the country heal.

Dr. Will Kirby ended up winning the second season, and deservedly so.  He has clearly been the best BB player ever before or since, probably one of the best reality contestants of all-time.  He had scheme upon scheme, level upon level of deception, and in this game, that’s exactly what was needed to win.

The second season was a transition year for the BB series.  As I’ll talk about Tuesday, the third season was, well, expansive.

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