Is Big Brother turning into Survivor?

The question in the headline is, of course, rhetorical–for many reasons, Big Brother and Survivor will never be the same show, thankfully. But the new twists announced yesterday for CBS’ second-oldest reality competition suggest that it is borrowing from its older, more well-respected, better-produced sibling.

First, photos of the house reveal that the memory wall has been replaced with “two 65-inch LCD HD screens with keyholes running down each side.”

There are eight keyholes on each screen, and combining that with yesterday’s information that there will be two Heads of Household each week, that suggests two teams (tribes!) competing against each other.

The Battle of the Block competition would essentially be like Survivor‘s immunity challenge, though its name suggests only those people up for eviction would be battling, not the whole team. The nominees who win are immune, while the other team’s nominees would be the only two people to possibly go home. Whether or not there will be a POV as part of this is still up in the air, but unless it replaces the reward/have-have not challenge, I’d guess not, since the format only allows for three competitions a week.

The house’s design supports the theory that there will be just two people ultimately up for eviction each week: the living room has two nominee chairs.

Although that format borrows from Survivor, it also brings it somewhat back to typical Big Brother, with two people up for eviction. Also, BB always bails on its twist after about a month, and that would make structural sense here; just call it the merge.

Of course, all of this is just an educated guess, and there are other theories and possibilities, all made possible by the tiny bit of information we have now.

Later today, the cast will be announced. Some people have even speculated that former Survivor cast members will play this season, since the house has an outdoor theme and the game seems to be structured similarly. I doubt that very much, though having one crossover cast member wouldn’t be surprising.

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.