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Big Brother 3: New and Improved?by Susan Schechter -- 07/10/2002
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“Dear Susan, What do you make of this year’s house?” This was an e-mail I received the other day. I also received e-mails in a similar vein from several other writers.
I don’t know. Sorry. On one hand, the house itself is new and improved over last year. It’s nicer. The backyard is WAY nicer. The chairs they have in the back – the wickery-rattanny things – are gorgeous and I want a set for my apartment. (Where did they get them? Pier One?) Amy, one of the contestants in the house, made the comment, “[We’re] a better looking group than last year.”
Hmm. There were some pretty good looking people in last year’s house too. So I don’t really buy that argument. But compared to the first year’s house… absolutely.
I even like the lizards, and the bathroom is to die for. The private bedroom (an oxymoron if I ever heard one, since there is absolutely no privacy in the house) and the HoH room look like something you would find in the poshest of hotels.
Julie Chen seems new and improved as well. She is dressing like a high school girl, but still looks young enough to pull it off without too many complaints. She seems to have studied the last two seasons and is actually doing a GREAT job this year as hostess. Keep this up, and Julie, you are destined for greatness in the CBS presenting pantheon.
Now what about the houseguests? And what about the show? Is it better than the previous two seasons?
Here is my dilemma. Right now it is. But it’s making me think I am watching a train wreck. Hear me out.
The episodes CBS has shown are tighter. The editing is top notch this year, along the lines of Survivor. They kept the cute little musical introduction – well, the one from the first series stunk. They have the nice little montage like they had from last year’s series. So far so good. It’s flowing smoothly between scenes and has been attention-grabbing enough to keep viewers on their sofas.
But then the show always rocks when the house is full, in every BB series I have ever seen from what ever country I have been fortunate enough to see tapes from.
So right now, the show has potential to be the best American series yet. Way to go CBS and U.S. Endemol.
At least this is what CBS is showing us. Check out the live feeds.
It is like CBS realized that as of May, 2002, the only two Big Brother houses worldwide that had NEVER had any sex (only a couple of long snogs/French kisses) were the U.S. and the UK houses, so they decided to liven up the show by making SURE the U.S. house would be de-virginated. Since then, the UK house has seen its share of sexual activity.
It’s like they have been building up to this for three seasons now. First you had Brittany and Josh – the virgin and the stud. They talked about sex and cuddled, but the viewer knew Brittany was going to leave the house in the same state she entered. And the viewer knew that Jordan, the stripper, wasn’t going to get anything from Josh either.
Last year, we saw a kiss from Will and Shannon and the house had graduated to snogging. But none of the other guests really engaged in any mild sex play. The closest to sex play was a swing with Hoover and a knife by Justin. Well, maybe he thought the way to get inside Krista’s panties would be to hold a knife to her throat. Who knows?
In the UK house, Paul and Helen exchanged some mild kisses and held hands. There was some stuff that went on under a blanket, but my feeling on this, as well as other people who saw that house, was that they didn’t do anything but mild petting. And we will never know until they open up and tell us what they were doing under the duvet.
Now this year, the UK house had PJ getting a BJ. That is just for starters. I think the U.S. house is going to have similar actions soon as well. Give it a week.
According to Kent Blackwelder, former houseguest, “It didn't take much time in the house for sex to become a favorite topic of this group of randy and raucous houseguests.”
Now there is a difference between talking about it and engaging in it. Nicole had a rather steamy conversation last year with, I believe, Bunky about oral sex with her husband. But she never engaged in it on the show (and definitely not with Bunky!). Shannon made a comment to Nicole that “if she swung that way, she would do her.” But alas for the male audience, this didn’t come to fruition.
But this year’s house is becoming more and more like a house of ill repute. Reading Kent’s article reminds me of one of Caligula’s orgies. Yeah, it hasn’t happened yet, but the houseguests seem to want it to.
Gone are the days where Brittany and Will Mega talked about civil rights. Gone are the days when Karen shocked in disclosing that she wanted to leave her husband. The show was called “Big Brother Boring” and one critic said it was “as interesting as watching the grass grow.”
In fact, most people only remember that one of the contestants from the first season dyed her hair green, and have forgotten that Eddie McGee, the guy with one leg, won.
Fast forward to last summer. Big Brother needed to get the ratings that other CBS shows were bringing in, like Survivor. So Head of Household (HoH) was invented. To make sure that there would be no rigging of audience votes, the votes were taken out of the audiences’ hands and into the hands of the constants. More backstabbing! Goody! Whereas the first U.S. house was conflicted with the first nominations, and contestants would cry in the Big Brother confessional, “I don’t want to vote this person out, but…” the idea was to let ONE contestant pick which two get nominated and the remaining houseguests can vote. All of a sudden, it’s like watching a bunch of politicians making campaign promises, but instead of kissing babies, they were kissing each other’s derrières.
All this because during the first season, Mrs. George lobbied her whole town to vote against Brittany, so her husband could stay in the house and have a better chance to win the money.
Call me a Big Brother purist, but HoH was never one of my favorite ideas last season. But then, if you didn’t have HoH, would you have had the drama, the conflicts, and “Chill Town”?
For season 3, we have a twist. A veto! We can move one of the candidates OUT! Brilliant! No, I am not being sarcastic, I am very happy about this turn of events. This makes it more interesting than last season.
So my conclusion? Any time a series goes on and on, it takes the chances that each episode may not be as fresh as it was in the beginning. I give you any TV series that has been on the air more than five years. Some shows rock and some from the same series are not up to par. So new characters are added and brought in to spice things up. In reality shows like Big Brother, you can’t just go with new character, but new ideas and new twists as well. The contestants this year know how to play the game. They are shrewd. They are the kind of people who know that in order to make it to the final two, you have to lie and backstab, but discretely. They have probably studied what errors people have made last year in playing and they each has his/her own agenda. Its not a Big Brother like the first season, where you stick people in a house with cameras and see what happens. Shows in other countries disqualify people or kick out contestants for discussing the voting process or how they will be voting. But in the U.S. house, voting strategies are discussed more often than anything else. And those are the discussions viewers are shown most often when the editors take days of material and condense it to a few hours each week (with sex being perhaps the only close competition, time-wise).
So series three has potential. It could very well be the best series yet. The people are interesting. I just hope it doesn’t deteriorate into one massive snogfest. It may be awesome to be participating in such activity, but it can get rather boring watching other people do it 24/7.
Susan as always can be reached at email@example.com. She will be on the Big Brother cruise, covering it and (hopefully) getting exclusive interviews for RNO and BB fans – when she is not by the pool working on her tan.
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