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A look back at BB25’s twists and comps: what worked and what did not

A look back at BB25’s twists and comps: what worked and what did not
BB25's houseguests participate in a challenge on CBS's Radford Lot, outside of the normal Big Brother soundstage house (Image from Big Brother via CBS)

Hamsterwatch returns with another look at Big Brother 25, expanding on the “number of things about the season overall that were peculiar to say the least, including the game twists and how they were executed, the more than usual number of athletic-based competitions.”

When I worked up my piece about Cirie Fields’ Big Brother game, I was reminded of the many odd and peculiar twists that production plopped into this season, and I ended up with enough content for a second post here at reality blurred. I hadn’t expected this to be a two-parter, but here we are. Thanks once more to Andy Dehnart for the invitation and opportunity to share my thoughts here!

This milestone 25th Big Brother season kicked off with a special effects-laden video/skit with BB alumni Danielle Reyes, Britney Haynes, and Frankie Grande supposedly breaking the BB cosmos.

That launched the season’s theme of the BB Multiverse—although it was really a quadriverse comprised of Scrambleverse, Comicverse, Scaryverse, and Humiliverse.

To the show’s credit, they stuck with the Multiverse theme all season, something they haven’t always done in the past. But now it’s done, so maybe Danielle, Britney, and Frankie will show up again to put everything back to rights.

Three people holding on to a metal structure with six nozzles on it
BB25’s twist was teased by Big Brother alumni Danielle Reyes, Britney (Haynes) Godwin, and Frankie Grande in a cheesy sketch, where they activated this “time laser.” (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

One anomaly before the show even started was in Julie’s traditional house tour, where she strongly hinted the cast might be separated into two different sides by pointing out the kitchen decor and dining table were divided into two distinct sections.

Some other countries’ Big Brother franchises have split their houses before, with half the cast living in less than adequate conditions, and it can be fun.

BB USA did it last year with the Big Brochella/Dyre Fest division, but that didn’t work out so well, not least because they did it so late in the season.

But nothing ever materialized from those hints by Julie this year, other than the Multiverse theme, which she also teased.

Why did BB25’s Nether Region exist?

A person lying on the ground with their arms in front of them; a large, fake gray hand is behind them, grabbing their leg
Cory, the other BB25 houseguest related to a Survivor cast member, lost the challenge and just kind lay there like, What happens now? (Image from Big Brother via CBS)

On the season premiere, the cast of 16 was split into four groups of four, each of them competing in a different Multiverse themed comp to determine the initial nominations. (This was before Cirie joined the cast as the 17th houseguest.)

At the end of the episode, Cory Wurtenberger, who’d competed in the Scaryverse comp, was “dragged away” into the Nether Region.

Other than questioning why they’d use the term Nether Region (really?), there was no explanation to the cast or viewers about what it meant to be sent there, if it held any power or advantage game-wise, or what it was about.

As it turned out, it meant nothing, except it made Cory miss the moment revealing Cirie’s presence—and he was a big fan of hers. He also missed most of the conversation when the cast first sat down to introduce themselves to each other.

In Week 2, three more hamsters were sent to the Nether Region individually, for a period of eight to twelve hours each.

Jared Fields was sent there as a competition consequence. When he returned to the house, he picked Jag Bains to go next, and Jag selected Bowie Jane for the final trip.

As a result, Jag was given immunity from nominations that week, and Bowie was unable to play in that week’s veto comp. Cory and Jared got nothing for their Nether stints, other than a break from the house.

The whole thing was weird and vague.

This season saw the legendary Pressure Cooker endurance competition come back, something viewers have begged for years to see again since its only appearance in Season 6. That year it lasted 13 hours, 53 minutes. This season’s Revenge of the Pressure Cooker remarkably lasted for almost the exact same length at 13 hours, 49 minutes.

In Season 6, Pressure Cooker winner Jennifer Vasquez famously double-crossed runner-up Kaysar Ridha, and he was evicted the following week.

This year’s winner Cameron Hardin kept the deal he made with runner-up America Lopez, and he did not put her on the nomination block, instead targeting Jag Bains, who was evicted.

But that eviction was cancelled when Jag’s friend and ally Matt Klotz invoked the Power of Invincibility he’d previously and secretly won, which he used to save Jag and keep him in the game.

That meant Cameron stood in a freezing and mostly dark room with his hand on a button for nearly 14 hours for nothing.

Week 6 was Humiliweek, which kicked off with an HOH Q&A comp based on short videos of themselves with multicolored fart clouds erupting out of them. Really.

That week’s veto comp resulted in Cameron and Izzy Gleicher wearing pink piggie suits, Matt as a Josh Duhamel superfan carrying around a life-size cardboard version of Josh everywhere he went, and Cirie Fields and Felicia Cannon spent 48 hours as tandem kayakers, complete with helmets, vests, and a step-in kayak they had to walk around with.

I think costume week is usually fun in Big Brother, as it lends an air of ridiculousness to the game which they all treat as life-or-death while they’re playing it, and the oh-so-serious game talks become comical when they’re wearing silly costumes.

But BB also tried to inject toilet humor into Humiliweek, and toilet humor is always just that: toilet humor.

Stink-O-Meter ratings were randomly announced to the house when people used the toilet, ranging from 1 to 10. Whenever anyone scored a 10, everyone had to put on multicolor gas masks until the coast was clear again. Yep, really.

But that wasn’t even the worst part of Humiliweek. Everyone except Head of Household Cameron was put on slop and cold showers.

Slop needed to end years ago, but it’s still with us, bringing with it lethargy, constant complaints, and digestion issues. I guess they figured it would make a farty week even fartier, but instead it just drained the life out of the hamsters, and us, as slop always does.

BB25’s worst twist

A person in a red dress holding a light blue card that has the Big Brother logo on it
Julie Chen Moonves and her ever-present cards on Big Brother 25 episode 19, which aired Sept. 14, 2023 (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

The worst twist was Week 11, Scary Week.

It started with a double eviction live show. Those are always exciting, fast-paced, and unpredictable for viewers. Jared and Cameron were evicted, but then Julie sent both right back into the house as “zombies” for a week.

There was no HOH and no veto that week, thus effectively no game, so the entire mid-season momentum ground to a halt.

And there was nothing scary all week (other than two evictees being back among them, of course), but at one point they all got gift bags full of goodies. Ooh, so scary. At the end of the week, Cameron won a competition between the two zombies and stayed in the game, and Jared went home.

Week 11 introduced the Power of Invisibility, where the Head of Household’s identity was secret. Jag won that HOH, but because there was no requirement to keep it secret, he didn’t.

By the end of the week, everyone knew it was him, so there was no real point to it. And unlike similar powers from previous seasons, Jag was allowed to compete for the following HOH, which he won. Again.

BB25 gets messy

Green slime sprays out of a giant fake nose onto a person's head; text on the wall says Snot a Winner
Felicia gets snot slimed on BB25’s episode 8 HOH challenge (Image from Big Brother by CBS)

This season had some new comps, which is always refreshing, and quite a few recycled from prior seasons, which is always expected.

But they also recycled several comps within the season. They had multiple comps about busy, detailed pictures the contestants were allowed to study for a few seconds and then answer questions about them.

And worse, they did basically the same veto comp in both double eviction shows!

That one has to be fast, but they’ve done several different things in the past they could have used again, but for some reason didn’t. The one they did use—be the fastest to run down a lane and dig through a ball pit to find items, then run those items back—was won by professional athlete Matt both times.

This year had no shortage of messy comps or gross themes.

Messy competitions where players get slime, paint, or water thrown at them aren’t new in Big Brother USA, but they are overdone. Slime was big on Nickelodeon kids’ shows in the 1980s and 1990s and BB didn’t even start til 2000, but they’re still sliming their casts regularly.

Along with a lot of stuff thrown at players during endurance comps, and a couple spinning-til-dizzy and pukey comps, we also had the Snot-a-Winner HOH comp with “snot” shooting out of oversize prop noses and the Sweaty Scrimmage veto comp where players had to catch buckets of “sweat” spraying out of oversize prop feet. Does anyone over ten years old really find this stuff amusing or entertaining?

And finally, the comps this year were definitely out of whack, whether by coincidence or design.

Out of 15 Head of Household comps (not counting the final three-part one that will be finalized on Thursday’s live finale), only five were won by women.

Three of those were Bowie, so only three women won HOH comps all season. And of the six men who won the rest, Cameron, Jared, and Jag had repeat wins.

But worse, of 16 veto competitions this season, only one was won by a woman. One! Blue Kim won a secondary veto in Week 11, where she had the closest guess to a number based on the primary veto comp they’d just finished.

BB25’s refreshing changes

A colorful cartoon-like cake with a BB25 topper in an otherwise bland kitchen
A faux cake sits in the Big Brother 25 kitchen, an apt metaphor for the lifeless and tasteless season premiere (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Did the show do anything right this year? Of course.

First and foremost, it returned and the feeds along with it.

Most countries, including Canada, have eliminated live feeds from their franchises, even though the ability to watch things unfold in real time, unedited, was the initial lure that first set BB apart from all the other reality shows. And it still is.

They held several competitions in an alternate indoor space they’ve used for a few years now, rather than holding them all in the BB backyard.

Even better, three comps were held on the streets/sets outside the BB “house” which is actually a soundstage at the CBS Radford Studio compound.

That brought a fresh change that was fun and welcome, but was probably only possible because the ongoing strikes meant neighboring productions were not underway.

And we had some fun and unique characters in this cast, along with some pretty good (and some pretty bad) players.

Thursday’s live finale will wrap up this very long season and award $750,000 to Bowie, Jag, or Matt, along with $75,000 to the runner-up, and $50,000 to the viewer-voted favorite player.

And we may find out Thursday there’s yet another season already scheduled for the upcoming months to fill the ongoing lack of scripted programming.

I’ve followed the feeds from start to finish again this season, and posted daily recaps of them, as I have since Big Brother 5–too long! Those dailies can be found at for this season for anyone who wants to go back and review, relive, or rehash.

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About the author

  • Hamsterwatch

    Barbara, as she's known to her friends and family, is known as "Dingo" in the Big Brother online community, and thinks "the distinction between hamsters and hamsterwatcher is an important one." She has been webmaster for a major record label; managed a punk rock club and punk bands; and has worked in editing, accounting, and corporate finance.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

To share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space, I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to those rules.

Happy discussing!

Teresa Stark

Friday 10th of November 2023

To much talk , not game play. Make them work for the money like clue around the house to get the head of the house key.


Thursday 9th of November 2023

I think you summed up this watered-down season perfectly. I so hoped for something special from season 25, but never got it. Hope the show comes back and returns closer to its roots.

I've been diggin Hamsterwatch's BB coverage since BB8. Thanks Dingo!


Thursday 9th of November 2023

Thanks for the recap. The season has gone on so long (but I didn't mind) I forgot about some of this stuff. The nether region, and the gas bubbles, the nose hose and wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Hisam. I voted for Cameron for America's favorite. I want Jag to win but won't be upset if Bowie Jane or Matt win. The bitter jury will be unpleasant to watch but they are who they are.