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Why I stopped watching Big Brother 19

Paul Abrahamian, who ruined Big Brother 19 along with the producers and network that brought him back and gave him crazy power. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

After July 4, I took a brief trip, mostly for a family reunion in the midwest. When I was gone, television piled up on my DVR, including Big Brother 19 episodes, and tweets went by unnoticed. Since I’ve returned, I’ve caught up to BB19, but I’ve stopped watching.

Here’s the thing with Big Brother for me: it has all the momentum and excitement of a toy car being played with by a toddler. That toy car is crazy—flying through the air, smashing things, running over people and freaking out household pets. But when the kid drops the car, it’s just an empty metal shell that’s easy to ignore.

It’s usually sometime in mid-August that the show switches from exciting to boring for me, and I dip back in for the finale but mostly let it go for another year.

I do, however, continue to pay attention to what’s happening, mostly via Twitter—my eternal gratitude goes to @hamsterwatch and other feed watchers—and this season, learned about everything from Christmas’ sidelining injury to Paul’s blackface plan/stupidity.

But not watching for a week, and not even following the feeds, meant that my interest evaporated. I deleted those episodes without a second thought.

Even though I’m not watching or writing about episodes—I’m enjoying other summer shows—I will cover any major events or breaking news, and I already have more Big Brother coverage planned—including for tomorrow, when I’ll publish a story about how these particular houseguests affect viewers emotionally.

Paul, and the production, ruined BB19

When I caught up on the events of Big Brother 19, what stood out the most was that Paul Abrahamian’s presence in the house has created yet another season with the returnee controlling the game. As Hamsterwatch wrote, “Everything about this season is problematic, from the one vet dynamic and related three weeks safety to the multiple showmances, injuries, and goofs tally.”

That it’s just one annoying returnee instead of a gaggle of them is even worse. Dominque, who figured this out, pointed it out, and was targeted for eviction, told THR that “Everyone in the house is playing his game and I’m surprised they can’t see it.”

She said Paul “instilled fear into the hearts of other house guests such that any association with me would create suspense and jeopardize their safety in the game,” and added, “I don’t know if anyone has the courage to take him out.”

That’s frustrating, but understandable: He’s not only a quasi-celebrity to the other houseguests, but he has all the advantages associated with being a returning player—primarily that he knows how everything works, and thus can focus on the game instead of the production, while everyone else struggles with that learning curve.

I don’t know if CBS—and while executive producer Allison Grodner gets the blame when Big Brother goes wrong, that’s not entirely fair, because the network plays a major, major role in decision-making—has the courage to trust its format and casting.

A potentially strong cast on paper and decent twist has given way to a season that is dominated by one player. Paul was literally handed a month of immunity as a result of producers’ choices, which was the most predictable thing ever. Of course he’d win the first temptation, which was chosen by TV viewers who recognize and know him and didn’t yet know or care about the others.

Once again, Big Brother wrecked something good. And the show has no incentive to change because people are watching on TV.

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