What I Learned This Season

As predicted, Andy Herren became the first LGBT winner of a Big Brother season.

As predicted, Andy Herren became the first LGBT winner of a Big Brother season.

To the surprise of a very few followers, Andy Herren won the $500,000 on Wednesday as he bested Ginamarie Zimmerman 7-2 in the final vote amongst the nine jurors. Spencer Clawson, who now goes down into the show record books with a whopping nine eviction, finished in third place.

It was the longest season of show history, and probably the most controversial, much to the combined chagrin and joy of show and CBS executives. The show left me with several thoughts, so as I did last year, let me share the five most pertinent thoughts with all of you.

Race Hatred And Ugly Behavior Is (Unfortunately) Ratings Gold: First and foremost, I found the whole series of episodes of racism, homophobia, and the like disgusting. I still contend the show was stunt-casted that way to make sure Elissa Slater didn’t go out the door so early (the one thing “Hailey Jones” did get right although her Amanda predictions were completely incorrect), keeping the Brenchel Army’s boisterous fans around, which some believed was pure corruption. What is still confusing to me is that the show confronted Aaryn Gries on her behavior, but everyone else got a pass. We also had the sad spectacle of Amanda correcting Aaryn early in July when Amanda herself in fact turned out just as bad.

This may be the year that will be remembered as the year the show “lost it’s soul” in the name of keeping respectable ratings. How the show deals with this in coming years is an important issue, and I hope they go to more of a BB UK set of rules to where being racist and making disparaging remarks is unacceptable.

It may be just the excuse for an all-star BB16 next season, or another season loaded with re-runners. Of course, that assumes that we were to blame for it all for reacting how we did. Of course, WE didn’t put the houseguests in there, CBS and show producers did. But I digress.

The Moonves/Chen/Grodner Axis Is Here To Stay: I don’t believe all the recent hype that Allison Grodner is going to be removed as the show’s executive producer. I think Julie Chen and her hubby Les Moonves (who happens to be the CEO of CBS) wouldn’t allow it. Yes, there are some open questions about whether or not the voting is rigged on some of these choices “America” makes, mainly because the media won’t touch that idea due to conflicts of interest. Other networks run their own reality shows, so why would they?

Secondly, once the anti-Aaryn protests went to early July went to the show sponsors, the oust Aaryn movement fell FLAT ON ITS FACE with a solid thud. Unlike the other international versions of the show, protestors could not drive a wedge between the show and their sponsors.

The series has already been renewed for 2014, and I don’t see the show slowing down any time soon, unless one of those three “power players” want it to, or unless there is an incident on a future show (think Krista-Justin from BB2, or some kind of tragic accident in a competition), the show goes on.

If you want that to change, don’t watch the show. It’s that simple. Of course, if you do that, the show likely goes away. And no one will say that with at least 16 seasons, the show didn’t have a good run. It’s already outlasted some of the greatest shows in TV history. It’s kind of like reality TV’s version of “The Producers” in that with “Survivor” as the network’s signature reality show, it does not have to be a ratings winner. So think of the Moonves/Chen/Grodner trio as a three-headed Max Bialystock. What’s good is bad, and what’s bad is very good.

A Rabid Show Is Producing Rabid Fans: Social media was pretty outspoken over the various BB15 outrages, and after an incident where contestant Amanda Zuckerman threatened to stab her own allies if they did something she didn’t want, I stopped watching the live feeds. I relied on Twitter and Hamsterwatch the rest of the way. I do fear that the day is coming where a past, present, or future houseguest (or the spouse, mother, father, or sibling of one) is attacked based on his or her days in that studio lot in California disguised as a house.

To a certain degree, I think the lack of rules and the double standards on rule enforcement encourage rabid and overzealous fans. But let me be clear, there is no excuse, NONE, for bullying these people whatsoever. There is a line somewhere out there, and when the rabid fans out there cross it, it makes us ALL look bad. Take up a hobby, and check back in sometime in June, okay?

When The Show Promises A Twist To Eliminate A Certain Strategy, That Strategy Will Dominate The Season: BB15 will probably be remembered as the “Year Of The Rat” with Andy Herren winning, but I will remember it as the “Year Of The Floater” with the final three houseguests not really being in a strong alliance most of the way. I like watching the game for the strategies the houseguests employ, and I like good strategic players like Dan Gheesling and Dr. Will Kirby. This was not a year that favored stratagems by any means. Players with potential such as Nick Uhas and Jeremy McGuire were aced early. It seems as if anyone wanted to play the game, it made them a target.

Of course, the ill-fated MVP/three nominee twist had a lot to do with that, as BB15 was the third season in a row to have a “false front” twist before the game moved on to how it is conventionally played.

Longer Is Not Better: As frequently noted, this was the longest season in show history, and I don’t really understand why the need to make what’s usually around a 75 day season one that lasted 90 days. It didn’t begin well ratings wise with lackluster numbers before the 4th of July, and ended flat with a less than promising finale.

Personally, I’d love to see Big Brother go 60 days, from roughly the 4th of July to around Labor Day. Have more double evictions and maybe (if they ever bring back the three-nominee idea) have the first ever triple eviction with two houseguests going out the door at the same time. Maybe have a three-way final vote like Survivor has recently added, and have “America” break any tie?

Then again, that opens up another can of worms with “America” voting.  Ugh.

(By the way, what would they do if a Survivor final vote ever went to a 3-3-3 tie? Would Jeff Probst conduct a three-way live duel or something?)

So BB15 leaves fans at a crossroads. Should we celebrate that the show is alive and somewhat well, or be concerned about the misrepresentations that were abundant this season? I suppose it depends on your viewpoint.

With the show over, I go back to posting on a monthly basis, then back to a weekly basis for the second season of Big Brother Canada. Stay tuned.

Send In The Man!

Dr. Will Kirby is set to make a guest appearance for the finale of BB15 on September 18th.

Dr. Will Kirby is set to make a guest appearance for the finale of BB15 on September 18th.

The longest season in show history (at least here in the United States) is now a few days away from being over. Judd Daugherty made his re-exit and McCrae Olson departed, leaving the game down to the remaining three that will stay in the house until the last day. Over the past few days, the HOH competition raged on, which as usual is a quasi double-elimination tournament with winners of the first two parts meeting in a final showdown. Ginamarie won the first part, and Andy won part two late last night.

Either Ginamarie Zimmerman becomes the first houseguest to win their respective season after being the first to enter, Spencer becomes the most nominated houseguest ever to win (after claiming the all-time title with nine nominations counting the one he’ll get by default on Wednesday), or Andy Herren becomes the first ever LGBT winner in show history.

Regardless of how it goes, I think even CBS realizes the finale will be a stinker. They’re bringing Will Kirby back (or as I sometimes call him, Lord William of Chilltown) for a special guest appearance during the grand finale Wednesday. Show host Julie Chen also revealed last week that during her news career, she had surgery to look less ethnic and more (how do I say this) Americanized to get more prominent roles in the field. Funny this was revealed THIS week, of all weeks.

Can we just get this over with?

Next Sunday, I’ll share what I learned this season.

The Tying Up Of Loose Ends

Could Andy Herren become the first LGBT winner of a US Big Brother season?

Could Andy Herren become the first LGBT winner of a US Big Brother season?

Alas, Hailey Jones was wrong after all.

The tension grabbing double eviction claimed two prominent victims this Thursday past. Amanda Zuckerman got to stepping first, losing on a vote that required HOH Ginamarie Zimmerman to break a 2-2 deadlock, the first tie we’ve seen since BB13 when Jeff Schroeder took his leave after Kalia Booker broke up a similar tie.

In the one hour eviction cycle proceeding Amanda’s exodus, McCrae Olson won HOH, nominating Elissa Slater and Ginamarie Zimmerman. The nominations were kept the same after Judd Daugherty won the veto, and Elissa Slater was unanimously sent packing to Juryland.

In eviction cycle number thirteen, Spencer Clawson won his first HOH reign of the season, nominating McCrae and Ginamarie, who were chained to each other for 24 hours in an HOH competition penalty. Yesterday, McCrae punched his ticket into the game’s final four round with his third POV win. The most likely scenario has Judd going up as the replacement nominee, with Judd (I think) going out in fifth place, although Ginamarie could be gotten rid of just as easily.

The problem with conspiracy theories is twofold: one, they rarely come through as the exact truth, and secondly they are often used as a shortcut to prevent us the fans from doing our own research. A lazy way out if you will. In the case of Hailey Jones, it should be noted that she did get one part of her “prophecy” exactly right: that Elissa Slater would not win, proving to be a “distraction” to the eventual winner which now appears to be Andy Herren.

Also, it should be noted that everyone who said in the house that the game was rigged for Elissa was evicted before she was, right up to Amanda Zuckerman a few minutes before the departure of Rachel Reilly’s now famed sister,

Why did the script change so that Amanda got the proverbial axe? I don’t think the axis of Les Moonves, Julie Chen, and Allison Grodner are dummies, nor have they been the driving force of this show by sitting back and being lazy. They probably knew that Zuckerman would prove an unpopular victor from gauging the show’s unfavorable reviews on social media, thus it is my belief they went to a Plan B. The show has never had a LGBT winner in its fifteen seasons on the air, and with Andy Herren making some game winning moves during the double eviction that fooled the other contestants, he seems the logical choice to take the $500,000 in a week and a half. Plus, with all the toxic and negative publicity that has surrounded the season, it would send the show off until 2014 on a high note.

But could I be wrong? Could there be another plan in the works? Absolutely. Stay tuned.

Not So Fast, My Friends

bb15hashtag

Thanks to those who keep tweeting BB15…

So on Tuesday, I announced that I am shutting it down for the rest of season fifteen. I haven’t watched any of the live feeds or any of the TV shows. I have decided, however, to continue doing blog entries for the remainder of the season by following Twitter, listening to the Big Brother Gossip podcast and reading Hamsterwatch. Kind of like Paul Newman in The Color of Money, I invest in excellence, and these sites are the best in covering the ongoing season, and I give them my full endorsement.

For those of you harassing the contestants on the show, or giving out their addresses, do me a favor? STOP IT! You are ruining things for all of us doing that, ruining the chances of live feeds for a subsequent season down the road. I would agree that the show has abandoned their role with houseguests bullying other houseguests, but apparently none of you have ever heard that two wrongs don’t make one right.

The much ballyhooed clash of titans took place Thursday night when four-time HOH winner Aaryn Gries was evicted with an 8th place finish, the lowest finish for a contestant claiming that many reigns. But I had no interest in Julie Chen and her mini-Spanish inquisition of Aaryn. I didn’t need Chen’s seal of approval that Aaryn was a racist, I had seen and heard it for myself. However, the calling out of Aaryn’s racism is historically inconsistent, Ivette Corredero wasn’t called out by Julie for calling Kaysar Ridha a “sand n****r” in season six, for instance.

(A commenter pointed out to me that he/she was pretty sure Ivette never called Kaysar that.  OK, another example then. How about Amber in season eight making Anti-Semitic remarks? Or Jeff in season eleven going on an anti-gay rant against Dumbledore? Is that better for you, sir or madam?  By the way, I got my information here. Note that the article is still there eight years later. If it wasn’t said, perhaps it would not be there. You’re welcome.)

So why do so now? In my opinion, CBS desperately wants the racist, sexist, and misogynist talk in the house to have ONE face, not four or five or whatever the number of contestants are that have engaged in the foul talk. I also think it goes back to the stunt casting of Elissa Slater, with the execution of Gries now giving her a nice, shiny game résumé. Hopefully, the US version of Big Brother implements rules similar to the other international versions of the show, where race, gender, and sexual preference slurring and bashing are not tolerated. But with the current production regime led by Allison Grodner, I doubt it. Controversy creates cash, as wrestling promoter and performer Eric Bischoff said in his autobiography, and that’s the way the world works. I get that.

Then we had the spectacle of Amanda Zuckerman and McCrae Olson going up as the most recent batch of nominees and Zuckerman crying foul to Head of Household Ginamarie Zimmerman quite loudly. Zuckerman then threatened, as many have done before her, to execute her right to DOR (Drop Out Request) and leave the game. Oddly enough, no one has executed a DOR in the history of the game. There have contestants that have left because of expulsion, or because of family emergencies with only “Evel” Dick Donato has ever been mentioned on the show again, the rest have been excommunicated from the universe of CBS and the media in general. I’m sure that Zuckerman has since been reminded about the perils of quitting on her terms and not the show’s terms, and hence the quick change of heart.

Somebody should put up a small bounty ($10,000 or so) to get someone to DOR in a future season. I want to see it happen.

Finally, we get to what is MY problem with the show, really. After Amanda Zuckerman went into hellcat mode in the house, she was in the storage room and thought Elissa was overhearing her conversation with Andy Herren (or was it Spencer Clawson), if I remember what I read on Twitter correctly. Amanda slammed the storage room door, using it as a weapon in hopes it would slam into her. Lucky for Amanda, Elissa was nowhere near the door when Amanda chose to do that.

I did not expect Amanda to be expelled for slamming the door, but apparently the attempted assault went totally ignored. Last season, it was Willie Hantz butting heads with Joe Arvin, and Willie was expelled for that. That flew in the face of a similar incident in season six when Janelle Pierzina and Beau Beasley did the exact same thing with no ejections. So violence or near-violence is okay in some seasons, but not okay on other seasons. And apparently, if you attempt assault, it’s no harm and no foul if it does not succeed.

I just grow tired of the double standards the show represents sometimes. I’m sure some of you feel likewise.