12 days of reality: Five golden vetoes

My love/hate relationship with Big Brother is well-documented. Compared to Survivor, which blew regular TV out of the water with its stunningly produced first season, the other CBS reality series was a complete disaster its first season, and has always remained the ugly runt of CBS’ flock. But its obsessive fans still love it.

The show was resuscitated when new producers took over in season two and changed everything except Julie Chen, introducing a new format, including, in season three, the ridiculously named golden power of veto (if you’re a houseguest, you’re required to pronounce that “vito”). That at least made the game play potentially more interesting, even though its production values still never aspire to much beyond what came out of the series of trailers in a parking lot that served as the house the first season. (Another gift: This year, TV critics toured the house during season 12, and I learned a lot about the complexity of the production, and also gained insight when I interviewed its producers.)

While Big Brother does not belong in the same category as day four’s selection, The Mole, it’s worth celebrating for the occasional, stupid entertainment it provides, and especially for the one season when everything worked, from the twist to the game play to the absurdity to the fights to the utter delusion: Big Brother 6. When I criticize the show, I do it out of love for that season, because I want it to once again reach that bar it set for itself.

The 12 Days of Reality TV (introduction)

  1. Richard Hatch it a tree
  2. Two dog bites in the vagina
  3. Three people fighting on Real World, and “it wasn’t not funny”
  4. Four seasons of The Mole
  5. Five golden vetoes
  6. Six Deadliest Catch seasons
  7. Charla and Mirna race around the world
  8. Joe Millionaire’s slurps, Joe Schmo’s schmo
  9. Bands running on VH1’s Bands on the Run give birth to Magical Elves
  10. Osbournes ham-throwing
  11. Regifting 11 years of reality blurred end-of-year recaps
  12. 12 reader suggestions, from Erik giving up immunity to The Real World’s Pedro

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.