Big Brother houseguests are mostly 20-somethings: 81 percent of the BB20 cast is under 30, and the three people who aren’t in their 20s are just 30, 34, and 40.
This cast’s average age is 25.6, almost four years younger than the season-one cast, and almost eight years younger than the oldest cast in season 10. That follows the trend: Over time, the cast has been getting younger.
Why do CBS and Big Brother keep finding a group of younger and younger people to play the game? Host Julie Chen has an answer.
In this weekend’s Parade magazine, as part of an extensive interview, Julie tells Walter Scott:
“You need people that you think are not going to get along. We’ve found that the majority of the group being in their 20s works nicely, especially since it’s summer and everyone’s in bathing suits trying to impress. Also, there’s a level of immaturity in your 20s; you’re still hotheaded and not that wise, so you’re going to act up and be more interesting to watch.”
Okay, let’s recap. Julie says that young people in their 20s are:
- more attractive
That does seem like a fairly accurate description of some previous houseguests, but I don’t think it’s fair to say these attributes are common in younger people.
Perhaps they are common in the young people who apply to a show that with a history of bad behavior, and will edit their outbursts into sanitized, advertiser-friendly versions of reality?
I’m mostly curious, though, if Julie’s answer applies to other CBS reality TV—especially Survivor.
Its cast was typically older than Big Brother’s, but has been getting younger and younger. (Survivor Ghost Island was a young cast, but its average age was 28—still considerably older than Big Brother.)
Is CBS’ general strategy to cast young people because they think they’re more attractive, immature, stubborn, dumb, and/or volatile?
Robyn Kass had a different answer three years ago
Interestingly, Julie’s answer is very different than the one Big Brother casting director Robyn Kass gave three years ago to a similar question.
After CBS CEO Les Moonves—Julie Chen’s husband—criticized the cast, Kass was asked about the age of the cast, and she insisted the network didn’t want to cast only young people, and suggested that they were simply casting the best characters available.
Ultimately, though, they had fewer older applicants and that’s why they weren’t being cast. She said:
“And if you consider only 1 out of 100 people move forward, the question is: do we put someone older in just because they’re mature — or do you put someone in that is younger because they’re a better character? It’s a back-and-forth discussion. And some older people don’t apply because they think we won’t cast them. That’s the problem. It’s a supply-and-demand issue — and it happens all over reality TV.”
Robyn Kass added:
“Next season, if we have amazing people in their 50s or 60s apply, bring it.”
It makes sense that, for various reasons, people who are older and who may have families or established jobs might not be able to take three months off of work to go into a house where everything they say all day will be broadcast on the Internet and they’ll get fired from those jobs when they inevitably say racist things.
Also, people tend apply to shows where they see people who are similar to themselves. So the more they cast young people, the fewer older applicants they’re going to get.
Diverse casts make for better reality TV, and that includes