Big Brother didn’t become Survivor, it became more of Big Brother

Any fear/hope that Big Brother was turning into and/or borrowing from Survivor‘s game was put to rest during last night’s episode. While the cast is the best the show has had in years and minor production changes have improved the episodes, it remains Big Brother, for better or for worse. But as of right not, it’s definitely better, especially compared to the last few dreadful seasons.

The two HOH thing simply adds another step in the game; everything else remains exactly the same as always. I suppose there’s potential for the losing HOH’s nominations to come back and bite him or her, so perhaps it’ll yield dramatic dividends, but it did not this week.

Thus, all of the speculation about how this new game would unfold based on the little bit of information CBS revealed before the season started turned out to be wrong but oddly prescient, in that it mirrored the delusional fantasies that several of the houseguests are having.

Witness Devin and Caleb deciding that Donny was a super-secret ex-military man. Then, as at other moments, there was really fine and fun editing, such as a cut to Donny lifting a small weight in the back yard. Caleb insisted, “I ain’t stupid.”

Speaking of Caleb, there was no broadcast at all of his delusional crush on Amber, which has drawn the attention of someone who doesn’t want their byline on a story that essentially gathers dumb tweets to try to make an argument. On the live feeds last night, that crush appeared to have some resolution, so perhaps it’s already over and will never be on TV.

Back to Devin, because once again, he was the star of the arrogantly stupid assumptions, and along with a few others, is getting most of the screen time. First he insisted, “I have a huge influence on a lot of people in this house with my charm and my charisma. I think I’m the perfect guy to hold this group together.” That’s like saying tape is the perfect thing to hold a wing on a plane.

Then, when Donny’s failure to win immunity in the competition left him in tears because of the compassion he got from other players (“it’s ya’ll that’s makin’ me cry–my friends … It touches my heart”), Devin insisted that was Donny “vying for my sympathy. … I’m gonna call BS on that one. I think he’s a great actor.” Devin thinking Donny is a great actor is like thinking a tomato is a Snickers in disguise–and then throwing the tomato away because it’s such a liar.

There was a moment in the Diary Room when Devin scrunched up his face and appeared to struggle with the disparity between reality and the version of it he has in his mind. But then Donny went and won the (reused, familiar) POV competition; by actually spelling a word with several letters, he provided incontrovertible evince that he’s an undercover spy, too. How else could there be someone so smart in the Big Brother house?

Meanwhile, Nicole was “100 percent sure that there is one living in the fire room.” By “one,” she meant a ghost. She confidently believes that ghosts exist and inhabit a soundstage on CBS’ Radford lot. This gave Christine doubts about a season-long alliance, because aligning with someone who insists invisible things are real is probably a bad idea.

Perhaps the most frustrating moment came with Joey’s attempt to create an all-girl’s alliance. Although her instincts about another big alliance were correct, she’s stuck with people who are too naive, arrogant, or stupid to go along with it, never mind that she pitched it to a member of the men’s alliance, Amber. That led to Devin making faces at Joey because of her alleged stupidity, and Caleb insisting that Joey was stupid for forming an alliance this early even though he’s a member of an early alliance that will likely implode in a week or two.

Most likely, Joey exits tonight, after being voted the first member of Team America. Big Brother twists imploding on themselves: fuck yeah.

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.