Big Brother: I am thoroughly surprised at how much I like this shit

After the first two episodes of Big Brother, I’m horrified, but not for the usual reasons. Instead, the show has actually managed to surprise me.

Perhaps that’s because my expectations were at zero, and it’s easy to improve on that. (Contrast that with my expectations for The Glass House, which were at least a 75, meaning the first episode was a big disappointment, though it really improved. Or with The Amazing Race, which used to be an A and is now a C and I just can’t accept that C because it’s still capable of being an A.)

It began as the same show as always: The ridiculous, badly acted fake discovery of the invitations and introductions; Julie Chen’s choreographed and rigid movements across the set; the cheesy, immature production design. Even new stuff, such as Hantz bullshit about running the game, was familiar. The modified theme song was amusing, if only because at first I thought their 11-year-old CD was skipping, not that it’d been edited to be all dubsteppy.

Yet Big Brother has a soul and a personality that permeates the entire show. Sure, it’s a dysfunctional and crappy one, but there it is. And there’s something about the formula that’s comfortable and easy to fall into and watch, even if it has been produced by Mad Lib.

In two episodes, we’ve actually had two decent challenges (and no ejaculation!) and also some playful, ridiculous fun: Ian weirdly prowling around the house in his underwear while others watched from the HOH room.

What really intrigues me, though, is the change-up in the game thanks to the addition of coaches. It’s the first Big Brother twist since season six that I haven’t thought was fundamentally unfair–and as a bonus, it didn’t cause me to throw up my hands and say, “For fuck’s sake, you morons.”

I’m not yet sure what I think about the power they’ve been given to make major decisions: sending someone home, in episode one, or giving someone immunity. Because their teams are so small, I’m concerned about what that will look like after a few eliminations. But assuming the veto remains, and the HOH still gets to make decisions independently (not that they will), the dual game is intriguing. And I can’t believe I just wrote that word about CBS’ Big Brother.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.