Big Brother ratings are up; my interest is down

Big Brother 15‘s ratings reached series lows as the show got increasing attention in the media for its cast members’ awful statements, but ratings have rebounded to season highs, and the show keeps easily winning its timeslot and/or night. That’s probably all that matters to the network, which said in an announcement this morning that Sunday’s episode “delivered summer-high ratings for the second consecutive broadcast.” About 6.84 million people ware watching.

While I was happy to see the show actually broadcast one of its cast members’ bigoted comments and awful behavior, my interest has nearly fallen off a cliff, and not just because the editing that has made the easiest–though most deserving–target, Aaryn, the scapegoat. I had to force myself to watch last week’s episodes, which now come with a “viewer discretion is advised” disclaimer.

I know, I know: The show finally does (a little bit of) what I wanted and now I’m complaining again. I’m impossible to satisfy! But I think what’s really turned me off is that the show is still the same old unfulfilled promise: a great concept badly executed.

There’s the usual bullshit: an HOH competition that was essentially guessing, like the final round of the final HOH (how could they possibly know what viewers think based on manipulated editing?), and the twist just going away, with the producers instead letting viewers who want to go online or spend $1 per text to select the third nominee. (Oh, Glass House, how I miss you.)

It’s also frustrating that the editing, social media, and on-screen promotion focuses on the lamest things possible: the food punishment, the have-not nonsense, what McCrae’s family thinks about his son’s “showmance” with Amanda. With all due respect: Who the fuck cares?

Apparently, more people care than I do, at least judging by things like tweets and post-show interviews that focus on the trivial instead of the consequential.

Still, I can’t believe that there’s time for all that nonsense with McCrae’s family but not for Julie Chen to ask Jeremy about his horrible comments. How is that Jeremy, who used words such as “kikes” and “Jewed” along with gay slurs, was instead asked about his cockiness by Julie Chen.

Not that Julie Chen had exceptional credibility as a host before, but she was so aggrieved by Aaryn’s comments but frustratingly just seems to be responding to the televised version of the show (even though she at least used to watch live feeds). Even if she’s just limiting her interviewing to what’s aired on TV, she had the opportunity Thursday to address the racist language and behavior with the entire cast, yet instead just asked Candice about “a heated exchange” instead of, you know, actually asking Aaryn and GinaMarie about their racist statements.

In the wake of all that, it’s hard to find the stupid fun goofy things to be entertaining, never mind stuff like the houseguests bullying GinaMarie. She’s awful but watching someone suffer isn’t entertaining.

And I think that’s the problem: What others perceive as entertaining isn’t for me. That may change, and in fact, I have a feeling that this season will be very much like Survivor Caramoan, in that a lot of early ugliness will be forgotten.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.