BB18, Days 94-99 And Epilogue: Nicole Beats The Odds


Nicole (on the right) has now, amazingly, joined the list of Big Brother winners.

Recapping the last few events of the 18th season:

  • In the last HOH competitions of the season, Paul won the first part. Nicole then won the second part Friday night, making James one of the two technical nominees. Last night, Paul won the final part, which was the annual “guess what the juror said” competition with 4 correct answers to Nicole’s 3.
  • Paul then evicted James, who finishes in 3rd place.
  • In the jury vote, Nicole won 5-4 in a stunning upset.
  • Victor won the $25,000 as America’s Favorite Player.

Many people thought Paul had the season won when he won the last HOH competition. Many, including myself, were dead wrong. Somehow, someway, 24 year old Nicole Franzel, who two seasons ago was just a “superfan” like the rest of us, won the 18th season of Big Brother in her second attempt, and the $500,000 that goes with it. In doing so, she becomes the first woman to win a BB season in five years, the first to beat a man in the final vote, and only the third returnee in show history to win beyond her first attempt.

A year ago, I was sad to see BB17 draw to a close. There was no such sadness this year, as I checked out of BB18 before Labor Day. The heavy-handedness and frequent interference of production was easily traceable in the words and deeds of the houseguests as you saw them on the feeds. In fact, if you took somebody who primarily saw the feeds and put them in a conversation with someone who exclusively watched the TV show, it almost seems like each person was watching a different show from what the other person may have seen. The feedsters would probably have been fans of Michelle, Victor or Paul, while the TV fan probably enjoyed the two showmances that dominated the summer season. This season, more than others recently, it was a tale of two audiences.

The finale began with a similar but not identical set of circumstances as was encountered a year ago. Whoever won the last part of the HOH competition would be the winner, unless Nicole won and made the error of not taking fellow vet James to the final two. If Paul won, it seemed that it really didn’t matter who he took, as it seemed he would win either scenario. As we now know, Paul took Nicole to the final two and ditched James. Nicole did a Ginamarie from three years ago in her summation by seemingly being ineffective, removing any doubt she was a deserving winner.

Or so I thought.

Or so many thought.

The jury had other plans for Nicole by giving her the 5-4 victory, the first one vote margin since the jury went to nine members three years ago. Natalie, Corey, Paulie, Zakiyah, and Da’Vonne (another surprise) voted for Nicole to win, the others picked Paul.

Do I think the vote was rigged? Who knows. If they rigged it, it’s not illegal under the rules reality shows are governed by. Thus, a non-issue.  Other networks, that have their own reality shows and their own secrets to keep under lock, are unlikely to call out CBS and their producers for shenanigans. Plus, the structure of the season has favored and protected the vets all along, so why should the end of the season be any different?

I predicted big things for Paul back on Day 4, thinking he’d do the best among the men. I picked him finishing 3rd, but despite the seemingly boneheaded move of evicting James and not Nicole, he did one spot better than I thought he would.

Nicole’s luck (or help she got from production) ran good all season. It ran better than the wildest dreams of most last night. (I did have a dream that she would win Tuesday night, though Colette Lala over at the BB Gossip podcast had a similar and earlier vision.) I will be a good sport and congratulate her, though I will wonder eternally what she did on her own to win, other than lay in bed and canoodle with Corey most of the season. Many fans will likely think in the days and weeks ahead that she’ll be one of the overrated winners in show history, and I cannot say I disagree with the assessment.

In six days, BB’s first ever fall season begins. It is officially considered a spin-off of the Big Brother series, and not the 19th season of the main series. Since the show was announced while BB18 was going on back in July, I will not be covering the first “Over The Top” season. If there’s a second fall season in 2017, that may change.

The next season I plan to cover is BB19 in June of 2017. Until then, I’m taking a bit of a BB blogging break.

BB18, Days 83-87: Screw Your Neighbor


The “Jatalie” showmance/friendship came to an end last night.

The facts and figures as of today were as follows:

  • Ratings: The show pulled in 5.15 million viewers Sunday (up against a wild Notre Dame-Texas shootout on ABC to open each team’s season). Wednesday’s show did better, getting 5.97 million.
  • On Monday (Day 83), Corey did not use his veto, locking the possible evictees in as either being James or Natalie.
  • On Thursday (Day 86), Natalie was evicted 3-0 to finish 6th.
  • The HOH competition was still going on as the show left the air. Later, Corey won the annual “fill a bowl walking on a slippery surface” comp to win his 2nd HOH.

Boredom continued to reign supreme in the house. First, the gang got dominoes, then production had the better idea of giving the six remaining contestants cards to play with. They played the usual games such as Poker, the appropriately named B***s**t, and Gin Rummy, passing along the time. Everyone seems to know everyone else’s strategy, so there’s very little left to talk about.

Last night was the first of three evictions in six days, and by next Wednesday, this year’s game will be down to the final three who will survive until the first-ever 99th day in show history, which will also be the last day of the season. James and Nicole already have moved into second and third place, respectively, in terms of spending the most days in the house in BB history. In fact, if James makes it to the final three, he will tie Janelle Pierzina’s record of being in the house for 177 days, despite only being on for two seasons to Janelle’s three.

As stated previously, Nicole could be the first contestant ever not to be nominated at all, should no one put her up in the final five, then the final four, then if she wins the last HOH competition on September 21st. She could also do all of that, and only win $50,000. Victor could be the first houseguest ever to be evicted to come back and win, not to mention the first houseguest evicted twice to win.

That’s the one thing the end of the season has going for it as it winds down: we may see things that have never been seen on this particular reality show before. It may be the only thing keeping viewers from abandoning ship in droves.

I’ll be back on Thursday the 15th with more.

BB18, Days 78-80: Grand Theft Pablo, Studio City

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Corey looking amorous, Nicole looking uncomfortable…

Here’s the latest news:

  • Wednesday’s CBS show: 6.20 million viewers.
  • Corey’s “BB Bribe” as part of this week’s final America’s Care Package has gone to Victor. In exchange, Victor will be required to vote out Michelle.
  • BB’s spin-off fall season now has a name. Big Brother: Over The Top will begin shortly after BB18’s finale on September 21st and will have a few new “bells and whistles” to it. The biggest wrinkles being that all competitions scheduled to take place live, and that the winner will win $250,000, not $500,000.
  • Michelle was evicted 3-2 when, as HOH, Nicole was needed to break a 2-2 tie. Victor and Corey voted Michelle, James and Natalie voted out Paul.
  • Victor won HOH in the annual “move eggs around a chicken wire” competition.

First, some thoughts about the fall season: I’m not impressed. The reasons why I won’t be blogging about it this fall were well defined by yesterday’s roll-out: it isn’t truly Big Brother with a lower prize and more interactive opportunities. While they do throw us the bone of letting us watch comps, the increased interaction only will increase production’s interference. It will be an all new cast, but hell, that’s what the show SHOULD be doing. Thus, I think BBOTT it’s a Trojan horse.

The show continues to do well in the ratings, probably due to the showmances. But, if you watch the live feeds, each relationship has significant chinks in its armor. I don’t expect either couple to last in the outside world too long.

Michelle went out with a bang, but you all knew she would, right? It gave Nicole the chance to play “avenging angel” but couldn’t even do that well, quickly playing the victim card once more, as that’s all she seems to know. If Big Meech had waited a few years to do the show, I have no doubt she would have been a legend. Her lack of filter and blindness at times to what was going on around her made her very entertaining in the house. I also don’t think production liked her all that much, so I wouldn’t count on a return in a future season, and that was before she had to be bleeped on the way out the door.

James threw the HOH comp that Victor won, which made no sense because he’s going to need to win something outside of endurance sooner or later. Natalie then promised to used the veto on him if they’re on the block together, so their collective game is a comedy of errors.

I’ll be back with more on Sunday. Right now, I have to keep watching and make sure this lady named Hermine is totally evicted from the Gulf of Mexico.

BB18, Days 76-77: Valley Of The Doll


A female sex doll was dropped into the house by drone on Sunday afternoon, and that’s what was written on its belly. I have no idea what it means.

News of the past couple of days:

  • Ratings continue to improve after being in a slump most of the year, as the Sunday show got 6.81 million viewers, which did better than the Cincinnati-Jacksonille NFL preseason game on NBC.
  • POV and HOH winner Nicole kept nominations the same, so either Paul or Michelle will finish in 7th place on Thursday night on the 79th day.

The biggest event in the house these past couple of the days was the unplanned visit of a drone, dropping a sex doll into the house. Everyone speculated what it all meant, with several houseguests coming up with all kinds of different possible answers and perceptions.

We’ve sunk pretty far when that serves as excitement.

Michelle looks done for, and I don’t think there will be an 11th hour miracle to save her as was the case during the double eviction a few weeks ago. Nicole keeping Victor around, a proven competitions winner, is in my mind a big mistake. Then again, Nicole was never going to be known as a great in-game tactician.

The ratings continue to rise over the past week. The show will probably average downward from the 6.18 they had last year, but not the 5.5 I predicted early this season. Could the boost in ratings be due to 4 of the 7 survivors (and soon 4 of the 6) are so-called “couples” in the house? Bold prediction: the fall BB spin-off will be couples related, ala BB9 in 2008. Why? CBS loves to spin new seasons as something new, when in fact it’s just a different spin of stuff we’ve seen before. It’s what they do.

Back Friday with more, sooner in the unlikely event things change dramatically, though I don’t see that happening. Let’s put it this way: this season can’t end fast enough for me.

BB18, Days 74-75: Great TV, But Terrible Feeds

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Corey and Nicole early on Day 74.

The latest developments:

  • 6.10 million viewers for the live show Thursday night.
  • Over in the UK, BB16 fifth placer Frankie Grande went to the end of the 18th Celebrity Big Brother or Friday, but finished in 6th place in their season-ending mass eviction. Stephen Bear, a British reality star, won.
  • Corey won the America’s Care Package: $5,000 for any houseguest to take any action within the game that Corey wants (as in voting a certain way, vetoes, etc. If a houseguest accepts the $5K, they must take the action desired, they cannot back off from it.)
  • Paul and Michelle are the current nominees.
  • Corey and Victor are this week’s Have Nots. They get to eat seaweed and squid to go with their slop.
  • Everyone but Natalie plays in the POV competition, which Nicole won.

The current setup of the house might be great for the TV audience, but I’m finding things continuously monotonous on the feeds. Guess which audience production is going to cater to? Hint: it won’t be the feedsters. Last year we had the ongoing Vanessa Rousso drama of whether or not she can hold her psyche together to the end and win. This year, it’s Michelle, and it looks likely at this point that she’ll get picked off before she can get to the end.

I’m pretty sure at this point either Nicole or Natalie win the big money at the end, possibly maybe finishing 1st and 2nd together. The blond Michigander has been savaged on social media, and for reasons I understand. Her game did not improve from two seasons ago, as I find her more catty than she was back in 2014. The opposition deteriorated: no Derrick, no Christine, no Frankie to play off of, all three of whom may be better players than what’s left this year. At least Frank tried to play the game this season, and Da’Vonne served the season well as an early going agent provocateur.

Andy Dehnart wrote a brilliant piece on Reality Blurred about the show and the problems it’s been having now for many years, or at least it seems that way to me. The meat-headed, misogynistic men. The wishy-washy young women who can’t get along, always finding ways to divide themselves and rarely work together. Andy believes the show has potential, and so do I. But it never lives up to what it could be, always settling for, as I said to Dingo over at Hamsterwatch before the season again, being an economy sized car in the CBS reality lineup. (Which, I guess, makes Survivor the Cadillac and The Amazing Race the Mini-Cooper.)

With Nicole doubling down her power by winning the veto yesterday, it looks like Michelle is either done for, or will have to prove herself a great player by flipping a vote that seems set in stone against her. That America’s Care Package that made her co-HOH last week seems to have done her in, but she never really lived up to the preseason hype many saw in her, at least in my view.

More on Tuesday when the nominations are locked in.

BB18, Days 71-73: In, Out, In Again, Out Again, In Again

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A random quad from Day 71…

In case you missed it, here’s what you missed:

  • Wednesday’s CBS show received 6.40 million viewers, one of the highest ratings they’ve had this season.
  • Victor was evicted 2-1.
  • Victor then did the best among the returning jurors to win yet another return trip to the house. He’s the first contestant in show history to return twice within a season.
  • Nicole won HOH for the 2nd time this season.

The past three days leading up to the eviction and revival of one of the houseguests have been one of the more dullest stretches outside of the final week of a season that I can remember in the five seasons I’ve been doing this blog. There was a total lack of mystique surrounding the eviction itself, as everyone’s position was quite clear leading up to the vote, despite the theatrics on Wednesday. At least with the return of Victor (again!) there were nothing but questions and…dare I say…scenarios for us to figure out.

Going into the live show, the battle lines were clearly drawn. Whoever did return wasn’t going to change group dynamics all that much, or so I thought. It was still going to be the couples (Nicole, James, Natalie, and Corey) against the uncoupled (Paul, Michelle, and whoever came back) probably to the point where one side was vanquished. The odds would favor against either side pulling off a clean sweep, or the uncoupled side getting rid of the couples without taking a few casualties.

Right before the live show began, I found myself asking a significant question, which was, “Why do I care?” The revelations of production deciding that the James/Natalie showmance should work with the Nicole/Corey pairing, then the word of James and Nicole each wanting to bribe the houseguests to ensure a better standing in the game, I can’t lie and say that hasn’t changed my opinion on why I should care. So, I missed the live show, on purpose. Guess you could say it was a boycott of sorts.

But since I have started covering this season, I should probably finish doing so. I have no intentions on covering the online fall season, and I’ll have to think about whether or not I continue to do this when June of 2017 comes around. Until then, I’ll be back Sunday with more stuff.

BB18, Days 69-70: Sunday Shenanigans


Friendship and cheers at last week’s carnival…

Here’s the latest news:

  • As the POV winner, Paul took himself off of the block.
  • As the co-HOH who placed Paul up for eviction, Michelle named Corey as the replacement nominee. Either Corey or Victor will be evicted and will be the fifth participant in the jury buyback.
  • Sunday’s ratings: 5.92 for the CBS show that went up against the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympics.

It has become quite apparent now that the case of HOH-itis Paulie had in his 65 day stint (with a 1 in 5 chance to re-enter Thursday) is now contagious, and that former New York Jets cheerleader Natalie came down with the disease. She went from being one of the most popular houseguests this season on social media to one of the most despised in a matter of a few days, as many of us thought they would go after Nicole and Corey. Instead, they went at Paul and Victor with unexpected relish.

The conspiratorial chatter continued on Sunday. In a few days, the America’s Care Package winner will get $5,000 to give away as an in-game bribe in exchange for whatever action the ACP winner desires. However, James and Nicole spoke of doing exactly that, but with their winnings, not with money BB is giving them, thus against long-standing show rules. Both vets were reprimanded by production for doing so, with James getting the more severe reprimand according to a few published accounts on Sunday night.

Also on Sunday, this gem was overheard by Twitter poster @PollCourier which caught my focus more than the bribery:

Over the years BB has been on, I’ve always wondered about the “showmances” and how legitimate they were. While the show has had a few marriages over the years as a result, there’s usually about 5 “bad showmances” for every good one, and that is probably a kind estimate. Therefore, a show that can arrange for certain “groups” to work together who never have during the course of the game wouldn’t be beyond arranging relationships.

Who’s leaving Thursday seems given, but yet could wind up in the air with how wishy-washy James can be, and he’ll likely be the deciding vote. I still think production wants Victor gone, but who knows. Production might double back off of that just to throw all of us on social media off of the scent of a conspiracy, not to mention punish some of the “leakers” they’ve had recently. To that end, note how Paul and Victor suddenly don’t trust James. How much did the illegal bribery attempt have to do with that?

Shenanigans aside, it’s a good time to watch the show. The more competitive and greedy players are going for competition wins, while the more social players have to maneuver more to stay in the game.

More by Friday, sooner if anything develops.