As Big Brother 25 approaches its end, legendary feed watcher Hamsterwatch reports on how this season went, and how legendary Survivor and The Traitors star Cirie Fields did on CBS’s other long-running competition.
As we head towards the finale of the longest Big Brother season so far (100 days!), Andy has kindly asked me to provide some final thoughts about the season, and Survivor legend Cirie Fields’ place in it.
First and foremost: 100 days is too long.
Seasons 16 through 21 ranged between 97 and 99 days, so this wasn’t unprecedented, but feeds didn’t start for several days to a week in those prior long seasons. Now they kick off on premiere night after the houseguests move in, so this season was definitely the longest feeds run. For those of us who watch the feeds every day, it was a lot.
Of course, this season started late and was scheduled to run long because of the lack of fall TV programming due to the now-settled WGA television writers’ strike and the ongoing SAG/AFTRA actors’ strike, but understanding that didn’t make it any easier to endure the eventual and ongoing fatigue, especially for those of us with a commitment to follow the feeds and update them on a daily basis, like I do at Hamsterwatch.com and on Twitter.
Regardless of who wins the money on Thursday, the face of this season was Cirie Fields.
I’d guess I’m unlike the majority of reality blurred readers in that I don’t watch Survivor, and I hadn’t seen The Traitors or Snake in the Grass either, so I didn’t know what to expect other than repeatedly hearing what a legend she is. It didn’t take long for me to become a convert.
One of the biggest early criticisms about Cirie and the season in general was the unfairness of having her son Jared in the house with her and playing the game. It was definitely an unfair advantage (or was it? I’ll get to that shortly), but it was far from a unique situation.
Over the years, Big Brother has cast many people with previously-existing relationships in various seasons ranging, sometimes openly and sometimes secretly.
Those relationships have included dating couples, ex couples, a father/daughter, siblings, identical twins secretly switching places (twice), real-life friends, and returning players alongside others, often from the same alliances in the same seasons.
Viewers often expect fairness in the game, but the reality is Big Brother is literally unfair by definition. The Oxford Languages dictionary defines the phrase Big Brother as “a person or organization exercising total control over people’s lives,” from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
And despite many fans’ misconceptions, Big Brother the TV show is classified as entertainment rather than a game show, so it’s not subject to the famous game show laws.
So tossing aside the valid but irrelevant “unfair” accusation, the Fields’ secret was blown open immediately on the premiere episode when the cast entered the house after completing their first set of competitions and found Cirie inside waiting for them.
(Again for the “unfair” tally, she didn’t compete in those initial comps, which decided the first week’s nominees, so she effectively had Week 1 immunity.)
But while a few of them recognized Cirie right off the bat, it was Izzy Gleicher who immediately realized Jared was her son.
As it turned out, she was a huge fan of Cirie so rather than outing their secret to everyone else, she only let the two of them know that she knew, and she kept that secret for the duration of her time in the house. (And incidentally, Izzy developed very close friendships and what looks like will be lifelong bonds with both Cirie and Jared.)
As the second Head of Household, Hisam Goueli spearheaded a movement for the older hamsters to ally together, calling themselves The Professors. (I call them hamsters because watching live feeds is like watching hamsters in a cage, and occasionally poking at them a little.)
They set a goal of having an older person win the season rather than the typical youthful, athletic and/or pretty type, saying “we’ll take these kids to school.”
Most of the younger hamsters had already tentatively joined forces under first HOH Reilly Smedley’s reign, so it became something of a natural divide very early on.
Cirie told Jared at the start to always be open to new alliances, and she and Jared intentionally developed ties and alliances on opposite sides.
That worked out perfectly for the older versus younger setup, and they had semi-regular check-ins to let each other know what each side was thinking. And they had Izzy running back and forth gathering intel and dropping seeds with the other side.
But then things began to unravel.
Izzy’s and Jared’s games were messy. Izzy was so active, animated, and chaotic, several of them were just exhausted by her, and Jared said and did too much and actually became a handicap for Cirie, although she was unaware of that at the time. So they were targeted by others and evicted fifth and sixth respectively, both of them going home before the jury phase began.
Jared was so messy, he strongly hinted to his showmance Blue Kim that he had a big secret, and he soon told her his mother was also in the house.
It remains unclear whether he specified at that time if it was Cirie or Felicia, but Blue was eventually either told it was Cirie or she figured it out from conversational tidbits.
Blue stayed in the house until Day 86 and like Izzy, she never outed that secret to anyone else.
Alliances were also messy all season, with most of them in multiple alliances with different people in interwoven, multi-layered arrangements, causing many of them to realize they’d painted themselves into corners when they had to make nomination or eviction decisions.
But Cirie aligned herself so well within those complex arrangements, almost everyone believed she was their ally. This was evidenced “on paper” throughout the season, but @Dolffica’s Day 17 alliance map spelled it out clearly and cleverly: nearly the entire cast revolved around Cirie for the first weeks.
Cirie escaped any blowback from the chaos caused by Izzy and Jared before and after their evictions. She was well-liked by pretty much everyone, and while she didn’t win any competitions (thus power), she remained in good standing until the very end of the game.
How? Her social game. She formed individual relationships with people that were genuine, or at least they appeared to be genuine, both to those individuals and to us viewers.
Cirie listened to her fellow hamsters’ complaints, in-game conspiracy theories, gossip and tattling (which was often about and against her own son!), she showed compassion and understanding, and she also laughed and joked around a lot with everyone.
And she never made things about her when others came to her to gripe about this or that.
Cirie compares Big Brother to Survivor
Cirie did, however, complain a lot about the length of the season and the tremendous amount of downtime and sheer boredom Big Brother players suffer.
If you only watch the CBS episodes, you might not realize each week’s HOH comp, nominations, and veto comp are completed by Saturday, and the rest of the week is pretty much static until the Thursday evictions.
Others complained about those things too, and we feedsters complain about all that continuously.
Cirie often said Survivor was so much shorter—and faster-paced—that overall wasn’t as difficult as Big Brother, even including the hunger and lack of general facilities that Survivors have to deal with.
She was a walking, talking demonstration of the saying that people may not remember what you said to them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel, and Cirie made them feel good. She made people feel heard and cared about—even people she’d later gripe about to us or to her confidantes in the house.
Cirie wasn’t targeted until Week 14, when the end-season power trio of Jag Bains, Matt Klotz, and Bowie Jane realized Cirie’s social game was so strong, any of them would have a hard time getting enough jury votes to win the game if they sat next to her in the two finalist chairs.
And so she finally went out, 93 long days after moving in.
Cirie’s Big Brother mistakes
Did Cirie make mistakes? Absolutely.
While she kept her and Jared’s relationship a secret, Izzy was extremely vocal about how close she was with Cirie, both in-game and personally, and Cirie didn’t do much to quiet her about that.
When her roomie, ally, and friend Felicia Cannon won the HOH after Hisam’s, he became the house target because of the arrogant attitude he’d had when in power the prior week (something we feedsters call HOHitis).
That was fine with the other side of the house, since Hisam had won an HOH comp and the first two veto comps, and they didn’t need to face such a strong competitor every week. And so Hisam was the third evicted, the Professors scrambled, and the older versus younger dynamic was over.
Cirie made a further error when she and Felicia pretty much cut their roomie and ally-for-numbers Bowie out.
They’d both grown tired of her personally, and made fun of her behind her back. Bowie caught on to that vibe and pointed out how they and others would stop talking or simply leave if she entered a room.
Then in Week 5, Jared as HOH nominated Red Utley and Cameron Hardin for eviction, a pair of very close allies who’d each already shown themselves to be good at competitions. Cameron won the veto that week, and Red was evicted.
But Cirie and her group blindsided Bowie about the vote because she’d become close with Red and Cameron by that point. Bowie never forgot or forgave that, and she joined forces with Cameron, who’d also been blindsided by that vote.
And BB besties Cirie and Felicia had a falling-out when Felicia approached Jared for a Final Two deal. She and Cirie already had an F2 deal, and Cirie and Jared obviously did as well.
I don’t know if that was legit or a backup deal for Felicia, but when Jared reported it to Cirie, it put a definite wedge between her and Felicia.
They still got along and joked around a lot, but game-wise their rift lasted for several weeks and arguably allowed for more of their mutual allies to be evicted.
Still, Cirie lasted to nearly the end of the season, which was remarkable considering, again, she’d never been in a position of power.
But she had a lot of influence with most who did hold power, and weekly results were often the ones she wanted and worked toward.
And she laughed a lot, with herself and with others, and especially with her on-again/off-again BB bestie Felicia.
When the feeds become so tedious with endless gametalk and sheer boredom, laughter is a very valuable commodity for feeds watchers—well, for me anyway. I’ve always valued the entertainment factor of BB feeds above all, since I have no stake in the game otherwise.
Cirie brought that entertainment regularly, along with Felicia, Izzy, Mecole “Meme” Hayes, Cory Wurtenberger, and America Lopez.
I’m very glad I got to “know” her (as much as we can in this setting anyway), and to watch her play this game.
Those who only watched the TV episodes didn’t see a lot of her gameplay because it was so subtle and most of it happened in short conversations that weren’t compelling enough to include in the show edits, but she was absolutely a force to be reckoned with. And a pleasure to watch.
There were a 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, the edits and Diary Room sessions that were put on the air, along with various other questionable production decisions, but itemizing those would fill up another lengthy post, so I’ll wrap this up without going into all that.
As we head into Thursday’s finale with Bowie, Jag, and Matt each hoping to be crowned the winner of Big Brother 25 and taking home the $750,000 prize, I can’t say it was a great season overall.
But it had its moments, as every season does, and it had some memorable players, including Cirie Fields.
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 Hamsterwatch.com for this season for anyone who wants to go back and review, relive, or rehash.