HOH competition uses a trick question, unfair questions

Watching the latest Big Brother 9 elimination, I was struck once again by how little I cared about what happened to anyone, and how unbelievable it is that the show is still marching onward. Thinking about my extreme boredom with this season, I realized that there’s something else missing this season that usually gets me riled up: producer manipulation and/or incompetence, which used to be a mainstay of the series. Perhaps it’s been going on and I’ve been too unconcerned to pay attention, but at least I didn’t have to wait long for the show’s producers to prove they don’t really belong in the prime-time reality TV world.

That came during the HOH competition, which was another pop quiz. Sharon was on her way to winning, ahead of Ryan by one point. Then Julie Chen asked the final question: “Fact or fiction: Everyone knows Jacob and Sharon, and Ryan and Jen, were two pre-existing relationships in the Big Brother house, but there is a third pre-existing relationship still in the house.”

Sharon said fiction (as did Adam, but he was out of the competition by that point), and Ryan said fact. “The correct answer,” Julie Chen said, and then paused for an excruciatingly long time before revealing that the statement was true. “There is one other pre-existing relationship still in the house,” she said.

Because this was so obviously incorrect, the producers decided to explain the answer to us on screen, but they did not tell the houseguests the answer. That relationship is between “(The Guinea Pigs).” Seriously. I suppose this just qualifies as a trick question, and executive producer Allison Grodner probably wet her pants with excitement when it caught Sharon and forced a tiebreaker, but that’s pretty lame. (The producers also got some artificial conflict, as the houseguests started accusing one another and/or insisting they knew who the last remaining couple is, even though such a couple does not exist.)

Perhaps more egregiously, the questions that preceded that final question were largely questions with impossible-to-know answers; many were statements that even educated guesses couldn’t really help with. For example, how are the houseguests supposed to know if James and Chelsia aren’t speaking in the jury house?

The other annoying part was that this competition was similar to the final HOH competition, which similarly gives the contestants questions they cannot answer using any skill or knowledge. They simply have to guess, since they’re asked what members of the jury answered to certain questions. Competitions like these aren’t realy competitions; they’re rolls of the dice, and represent just another one of the ways in which the producers of this crap-ass show kill their credibility and their chance at producing entertainment with some actual value as a fair competition. Then again, they’re not even providing lowbrow, trashy fun entertainment right now, so I’m not quite sure why I would ever expect more.

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