The Big Brother twist we all expected comes with unimaginable stupidity and unfairness

There has been a lot of colossal stupidity on the part of the Big Brother producers in the past 13 seasons, but nothing comes close to the bullshit they pulled tonight: saving two nominated players, erasing an HOH’s critical and actually interesting moves, and giving people who’ve had four weeks of immunity and the chance to affect the game in numerous ways a chance to play that game, all but guaranteeing one of the coaches will win.

This is stupid. Such amazing potential–in the show, the game, even this season–all squandered. The producers pretended this was a “reset,” but what they did was throw the Nintendo into the street and start playing kickball with it.

It’s one thing to return the coaches to the game. Say what you will about the fairness of returning players to Survivor every season: at least they start off on the field. Here, the coaches have sent people home, given others immunity, and have themselves had immunity for more than a third of the game, and now they are playing alongside everyone else who’s actually had to, you know, play. It’s like allowing an Olympic swimmer to dive in and join a race in progress.

Of course viewers “voted” for this to happen, and although I think this was an inevitable twist, I’m also not surprised the masses voted for this to happen. Julie Chen revealed this and vomited up a bunch of crazy possibilities, including that, if at least one coach didn’t opt to join the game, next week an unspecified number of evicted houseguests would return to the game so it can continue until Sept. 19 instead of going off the air and putting us all out of our misery right now.

Let’s not forget the coaches were tipped off so they’ve been making deals and prepping, and although Boogie didn’t press the reset button the prop department made (without the use of a tap light–impressive!), he seemed clearly aware that the others would. So all of this seemed like a foregone conclusion.

But the really damning thing that caused me to react emotionally was that CBS and the producers went much further than that. Perhaps because of their shortage of players, they decided that if the coaches re-entered the game–and only one had to agree to do that to make it happen–there would be no vote this week. This is where they really messed up. The actually interesting strategy and drama of the past 1.2 episodes–with Shane vetoing his own nomination to nominate his pretend friend Frank and try to get him out of the house–was all been wiped away, and Frank was saved by the producers, period.

Executive producer Allison Grodner could have elbowed her way through the studio audience, pushed Julie Chen aside, and cast 10 votes to evict Joe, and it would have been less obvious than what happened. It’s ridiculous.

After all that happened, everyone, including Shane, participated in the HOH competition, which was an endurance competition that’s been used before, although with a different theme. Snore. (However, it did last for a long time, so at least there’s that tiny thing to cling to.)

You cannot ask viewers to invest their time in a game that has no rules or structure. And this is probably one of the reasons why the show has dropped around 1.5 million viewers compared to last year. It’s not just that they’ve been producing the show like Mad Libs for years now, nor that there’s been virtually no creativity involved in any decisions.

But having introduced a moderately interesting twist at the start of the season, one that was finally beginning to return dividends, the people who make decisions should have at least had the courage of their convictions–and respect for those who both play the game and invest their time watching it–to let it unfold without absurd amounts of interference.

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.