This season of Big Brother was the source of much controversy for a number of reasons. For those who hate the show, it was the racist words and actions of house guests like GinaMarie Zimmerman or Aaryn Gries that pushed you to your limit. For other haters, it was sexist (and worse) comments of house guest Spencer Clawson that led you to call for the show's cancellation. For those fan of the series, it was the creation of the MVP power to nominate a third house guest for eviction that allowed the "floaters" to rule the game that had you rushing to comment on the blogs and boards. For whatever reason, Big Brother 15 had everyone seeing red.
All except for CBS, that is. As we near the final week of Big Brother 15, lovers and haters of the series alike are asking themselves the same question for completely different reasons, "Will Big Brother return next summer?" The answer?
Today, a CBS press release confirmed that Big Brother will return for a sixteenth season next summer. Big Brother After Dark, the two hour companion piece providing a daily snippet of the the live feeds, will also return to TVGN.
That answer will, depending on where you fall on the "love it" or "hate it" scale, frustrate or invigorate you. But for fans of the show, it just brings hope. Hope that this season won't be the final taste of Big Brother left in your mouth. Hope that next season will be what we hoped that this season, and every season for that matter, would be,.. the best season ever.
Even amidst all of the controversy, the show thrived. As proof, the CBS press release also boasted that "Big Brother, which recently celebrated its 500th episode, premiered on CBS in 2000 and has since established itself as a summer staple with one of television’s most socially engaged fan bases. This summer, Big Brother is averaging 7.29 million viewers, 2.6 in adults 18-49 and 3.1 in adults 25-54. Compared to last year, Big Brother is up +11% in viewers, +8% in adults 18-49 and +7% in adults 25-54."
For my own personal bias, I feel it necessary to reveal I'm a fan of the show. There's some embarrassment in admitting it this particular season, but not for the reasons you'd think. I'm perfectly fine with the fact that I enjoy watching a group of strangers completely cut off from reality playing a game with school yard rules for my entertainment. Just losing a cell phone would push the average American over the edge. What I'm saying is, Big Brother is harder than it looks. This show has everything reality TV thrives on: conflict, romance, emotional meltdowns, feats of strength, displays of brilliance, and yes, displays of absolute stupidity. What's not to like?
What I am embarrassed about are the people calling for the show's cancellation after a number of house guests showed their true, racist, bigoted, sexist colors. What does cancellation solve? If we cancel Big Brother, are we cancelling racism, bigotry and sexism? Does not seeing that these people still exist mean they don't? No, it doesn't. Big Brother is a microcosm of the world we live in. The fact that two of the eight men were openly sexist is probably about right. And the fact that at least three of the sixteen people were openly racist or bigoted is also probably about right. Personally, I'm glad CBS didn't cower to alarmists who never want to solve the problem, but just see it disappear. The problems just aren't that cut and dry and seeing the real face of racism (and the heartbreaking and thought provoking moments captured when African American contestants Candice and Howard were forced to grin and bear it, which can be seen HERE) were an opportunity for us to learn and grow from, not ignore.
But, for those of you I'm talking about who were disappointed that the show wasn't immediately yanked off the air, you can at least console yourself in the knowledge that both Aaryn and GinaMarie were fired from their respective jobs and will face the steep uphill battle that many reality stars must after being portrayed as the villains of their seasons.
That said, the real disappointment this season was production. By that, I don't mean casting. I'm not in the camp of those who believe that casting is to blame for this season ultimately being a disappointment. If they'd asked Aaryn Gries if she considered herself to be racist in her casting interviews, her answer would have been a resounding, and believable, no. Just look at the shock she displayed when host Juliue Chen called her out after her eviction (a truly classy handling of things by the openly offended Chen.) The producers choices directly led to this season being boring. Their choices led to the heavy hitters being evicted early on. Their choices allowed the less active, often boring floaters to breeze through to the end. They chose to leave out Pandora's Box this season. They chose to repeat the same old competitions that have grown so stale (can we go a season without the Zingbot, please?) They're the ones who need to earn back the fans' trust, not the house guests.
And thankfully, we learned this week that they'll get that chance. And, being a fan, I believe they'll succeed. Or maybe I just hope...
The ninety minute season finale of Big Brother 15, where the remaining three house guests vie for the $500,000 prize, will air Wednesday, September 18, at 9:30pm, immediately following the season premiere of Survivor: Blood vs Water.