Social media erupts over Big Brother’s “RenomRule”

Big Brother 16Overnight, #RenomRule was trending worldwide on Twitter, and that’s thanks to reaction to events in the Big Brother 16 house.

It was an eventful evening, in part because the Team America thievery task actually paid off, creating paranoia, comedy, and even an excuse to nominate someone. (Because these events unfolded after the veto competition, this story discusses what will be revealed on future episodes, so stop reading now, stay off Twitter, and shut off power to your home if you don’t want to know.)

Hamsterwatch summarizes several hours of chaos, which started when Cody realized his hat was missing. During this time, people pointed fingers at Zach, with others presenting reasons why he’d be a saboteur. Amazingly, that led Zach to actually confess.

This fed into and led into HOH and veto-holder Frankie’s plans to nominate Zach. Zach confronted Frankie about his suspicions that he’d be nominated and evicted, and Frankie confirmed them.

Those who love Zach and want him saved quickly started #RenomRule trending on Twitter, and as of 9 a.m. ET, it still is in the U.S.; at one point, it was the number-one term on Twitter worldwide, which is kind of insane when you think about everything of real consequence that’s happening in the world today.

The hashtag references a Big Brother rule that replacement nominees cannot be told before the veto meeting, so enforcing it would mean Zach couldn’t be nominated. That rule appears to have been enforced during season 12, when Brendon told Britney she’d be nominated and was apparently forced by producers to choose new nominees.

Fans wanting Zach saved from Frankie’s plans found a perhaps unlikely ally in Ariana Grande and others who speculate Frankie knows that rule and broke it in order to save Zach, which is the kind of revisionist spin we’d expect to hear from Frankie.

As happens with a show fueled by conspiracy theories and circular online discussion, there’s a lot of misinformation about this rule, starting with some people quoting Big Brother UK rules, which are noticeably not the ones for the CBS version because they call the players “housemates” and not “houseguests.” For an overview of the reactions, wild speculation, and insane conspiracy theories, browse Tumblr posts referencing “renomrule”

However, we do know for sure that the rules say that no one can be told about nominations. Earlier this summer, Amber read from the rulebook that the HOH can’t “confirm” or “reveal” nominees to anyone, whether it’s a replacement nominee or an original nominee. That’s rather clear.

The problem is that, this season, as in previous seasons, this broader rule has been completely ignored because such reveals happen all the time. Discussions of nominees have even broadcast on television, including on last night’s show, when the alliance drew pawns using Skittles and later told Donny he’d been nominated yet again.

Thus, that rule and/or the renom rule will probably not be enforced, though we’ll know later today when the veto meeting is held. As Hamsterwatch pointed out, though, “Zach will LOVE” all the chaos he created.

Update: Frankie vetoed one of his nominations and nominated Zach; unsurprisingly, it’s clear he had no plan to get his own nomination voided and also clear that the producers aren’t just going to start enforcing a rule now that hasn’t been enforced all season.

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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.