I have watched and followed every season and episode of “Big Brother” since its inception in 2000. The summer of 2023 designates 25 seasons! I can’t believe it’s been that long. Now don’t judge me. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. Look, I don’t get on you about some of that shit you watch! But if you, too, are a fan of this particular reality TV show, maybe you will understand and appreciate my comments about it. Anyway, due to my devotion, I have learned a few things about how to play the game.
First of all, let me tell you that I would not go on the show myself, if given the opportunity. So this is merely a theoretical assessment. I don’t relish that kind of exposure to so many people. Although I am an exhibitionist (but not so much anymore, since I‘ve gotten fat), and whereas I love interacting with people and sharing my wit and wisdom, I don’t want everybody seeing and knowing all my business. I need my alone time.
The rule that no one is allowed to sing in the House, because of copyright restrictions, would be a major deal breaker for me. I’m sorry, I have to sing! Other than for my own amusement, it would be my way of entertaining the houseguests on a regular basis. I don’t think they are allowed any radios or portable music players either. I could not abide not having any music to listen to, even my own, for however long I was in the House. I would consider it, however, if it were an unmonitored situation, without the cameras everywhere, but that would defeat their purpose, wouldn’t it? Instead, I would like to be able to talk to the contestants directly and give them my unsolicited advice and offer my opinions.
But if I were a contestant/houseguest on the show, I would attempt to use the unheard-of tactic of complete honesty with the other players. On the very first day in the House, I would lay out my game plan and tell the others exactly what to expect from me. I would never intentionally lie to anybody, and when they are convinced that I am always truthful, then they might tend to believe everything I say. Truth and honestly could be contagious if given the chance, but I suppose that would be too much to hope for.
Every season the new contestants come on claiming that they are big fans of the show and have watched it every season. Then why don’t they learn from past seasons how to play the game? The players are always forming alliances and promising each other that they will protect them and never nominate them for eviction. So they are already lying. Then they feel all betrayed when somebody that they trusted eventually turns on them, as they always do. As there can be only one winner, everyone will be put out eventually. They never seem to get that little fact. They act surprised and hurt when they catch somebody in a lie or when they go against their word. “He lied right to my face!“ Well, duh! You chose to believe him, so don’t blame him for telling you what you wanted to hear.
I would not want to be in any alliances with anybody. They’re only temporary anyway. One season the boys tried to establish an alliance with each other against the girls, but by the second week, a couple guys wanted out of it already. Another time, with only 15 people in the house, they tried to form an eight-person alliance. Now with two Heads of Household, who were both exempt, and four players being nominated each week for eviction (that‘s already six), that didn’t leave any extras to choose from. So, of course, that alliance didn’t last very long.
One woman formed a “secret” alliance with three other girls and laid out her plans on who she would be targeting for eviction once given the chance. One member of this group immediately went to the person in question and told him what had just transpired. Well, so much for that so-called alliance! I think that everyone should play for themself and not depend on other players to help them along.
That being said, however, an alliance could work if it is carefully orchestrated and everyone involved sticks to the plan. This was brilliantly exemplified one recent season when for the first time in the show’s history a black person was declared the winner of “Big Brother”! To honor the “Diversity Clause,” the producers always manage to get at least two non-Caucasian contestants to compete, but they always got voted out in due course. This time out, however, out of 14 players, half of them were Persons-of-Color. At the very beginning, the blacks were determined for one of them to win the game. So they formed their own secret alliance, unbeknownst to the others, and systematically got rid of all the white folks one by one, until there were only the six of them remaining! The seventh, a Japanese boy, was let go before any of them were. They successfully pulled it off by not divulging what they were doing to the targeted players. The clueless dupes didn’t know what had hit them until it was too late. By that time, the remaining houseguests didn’t much care who actually won, as they had at least accomplished their goal. So I guess an alliance can work if they keep it on the down-low. I had been against the alliance strategy until those guys actually pulled one off successfully. Now I see that they do provide interesting gameplay, due to the fact they usually don’t work out.
The word “trust” is always being thrown around the house. “I do trust you.” (Big mistake!) “I don’t know who to trust.” Exactly. Then don’t trust anybody! That word should be banned from the game. It has no validity and serves no good purpose at all. This game is not based on trust. There can’t be any trust in a competition where the goal is to get rid of everybody there. I don’t know why they don’t get that. I’m not making any deals with anyone, and I don’t trust anyone. That way I can’t be disappointed. You can be betrayed only by someone you trust. I have no loyalty to anybody either. Getting rid of the trust factor would make them all responsible for their own choices in their gameplay. They wouldn’t be able to blame anybody but themself for any mistakes they make.
Whenever a player goes against another’s wishes, they will immediately turn on you. So, you are my friend and on my side only as long as I do what you tell me to do? They will criticize and judge harshly the person who is playing only for themself and to hell with everybody else, when that is what they all should be doing. Some will get mad when they learn that a player is coming after them. Well, that’s the game, to go after each other. Don’t take it personally. Aren’t you doing the same thing, or should be if you’re not?
Invariably, most houseguests will team up with another player (a “showmance” or whatever) and then swear to each other that they will protect each other and never put them up on the eviction block or vote them out. Don’t be telling anybody that. That’s a promise that you can’t possibly keep, for it will eventually come the time when you won’t have a choice. They might be the only one left to nominate for eviction. Maybe these two “best friends” have to face off in a one-on-one competition. So now they will have to decide whether to honor their pact, sacrifice themselves by throwing the competition and letting the other one win, or decide that all bets are off, to hell with you, I want to stay. That has happened, in fact, more than a few times.
Ofttimes a player will be put on the eviction block as a “pawn,” telling them that the other nominee is the real target, and that they shouldn’t be worried. They don’t seem to realize that in the game of Chess it’s the pawns that are sacrificed first to get at the more powerful pieces. More often than not, these human pawns are the very ones to be evicted, even after being told that they were safe. One trusting idiot one season had the opportunity to take himself off the block, but instead decided not to do it, thinking that his “friends” would all save him. Of course, he was promptly dispatched. I guess he learned his lesson.
“Everybody is against me and are lying to me. I can’t trust anybody in this house.“ Oh, boo-hoo! Get over yourself! Nobody, me especially, is impressed by your crying and feeling sorry for yourself. You just reveal your weakness by doing that. It’s just a game. As Tom Hanks’ character says in A League of Their Own (1992), “There is no crying in baseball!“ My advice is to get it together, and don’t let the other players get your goat. If you can‘t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen! One paranoid girl on there kept going around the house asking everyone, “Are you all conspiring against me?” Well, they are not going to admit it if they are! “Oh, yes, Ms. Thing. We are all conspiring against you. What are you going to do about it?”
Players often base their decisions on what has not happened yet, rather than playing for the moment. “If he wins HoH, he swears he won’t put me up. I guess I’ll have to trust him.” “If Travis wins the Veto competition, he’ll take Claire off the block, and I know that Derek won’t be put up as a replacement. He wouldn‘t do that.” Are you sure? One player had the opportunity to use an earned privilege, which would have given him temporary immunity. But he decided to hold off for the bigger prize to be offered next week. Well, he didn’t make it to next week because he was backdoored and eliminated that week. They don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Don’t be concerned with “what if…?“ The situation is always changing. They need only to worry about today.
Also, some houseguests have not learned to keep their game plans to themselves and not to be so sharing. “If I win HoH, I am going after Kyle.” Then the person you just told goes right to Kyle and tells him that Taylor is gunning for him. So now she becomes Kyle’s target. And since she never got to be HoH, she has already doomed her fate. Again, they tend to make decisions based on what-if situations before the fact. Don’t tell these people all your business. They are not your friends!
Every week those on the Eviction Block get a chance to save themselves by winning a Veto Competition and taking themselves off the block, which requires them to be replaced by another player. Some HoHs choose to employ a “backdoor” tactic, where the replacement is another whom they want gone. The only way they can save themself then is to talk the other players into voting to keep them there. I would keep my backdoor plan to myself. Let it be a surprise to everybody. When they tell even one person what they plan to do, which they have done in the past, it always gets back to that person before the fact, so they are not blindsided when it happens and already has begun their campaign to sway the votes in their favor.
If I find out a secret about somebody, I won’t volunteer the information unless I am asked directly about it. So if you have a secret, keep it to yourself, because once you divulge it, it‘s not a secret anymore. “I’ll tell you something, if you promise not to tell anybody.“ The problem with that is, that’s the same thing that they say to everybody that they tell, until everybody knows about it! One season when a player figured out that a fellow houseguest had a secret twin sister in the house, and they were both playing unbeknownst to the other players, instead of keeping that knowledge to herself and using it to her advantage, she went and told other people, which did not help her game at all.
Players are always boasting or making the claim that they alone were responsible for getting somebody evicted or saved. No one can do that all by themself. Both of those are a group effort. You are only one vote out of many. Just because the Head of Household nominates somebody, doesn’t mean that they will be evicted right away. They have opportunities to save themselves. The HoH does not get a player evicted. All they did was nominate them. Then it’s out of their hands. They‘ve even been known to boast, “I‘m getting rid of her ass this week.” But that’s not up to you. You don’t get to vote. Or you are only one vote.
In the event that I get to be Head of Household and have to nominate somebody for eviction, don’t think that any of you are exempt. Don’t take it personally, because somebody has to go up, so why not you? You are no more special than anybody else there. As everyone gets the chance to save themselves every week, it does not necessarily mean the end of the line for them. So if you want to stay in the house, do what is required to guarantee your safety. There have been players who were nominated almost every time but managed to stay in the game until the very end.
So far, it was a few seasons ago, there has been only one player who did what I would do. When she got HoH, she made this announcement to the entire house. “None of you will be coming to my room to discuss who to nominate or who you want to leave. I am not sharing my strategy with anybody. I am the Head of Household and I am making my own decisions. You will know who I have chosen when the time comes.” I loved her for that. There was nothing they could say, because she wasn’t doing anything wrong or unethical. That’s what they all should do.
There is a player every season who tries to run and control the game. They will tell the HoH whom to nominate and then tell the other players whom to vote out. I don’t understand why so many of them go along with this guy and tend to do whatever they are told. Then when this “puppet master” eventually turns on one or more of them, they feel all betrayed and taken advantage of, when they are the ones who allowed themselves to be taken in by this person.
“I thought we all agreed to vote Ian out, but you went against the House.” ‘Well, first of all, I never agreed, and besides, I like Ian. I don’t want him to go yet.’ Don’t tell me whom to nominate or whom to vote for eviction. Whom I vote out is my decision alone. If you want a certain person to go up, then win HoH and you can nominate them yourself. Don’t ask me to do your dirty work for you. I would tend to nominate those whom I like the least, so to quote “Talking Tina” (the killer doll from a “Twilight Zone” episode), “You’d better be nice to me!”
I have heard players tell each other, “Everybody likes him, and he is a really good player. If we make it to the Final Two, I know that the Jury would pick him over me. So he has to go.” Well, if he is a good player and well-liked, I would think that he deserves to stay. If all of the better players are evicted, then that leaves only the tired ones there. So they would rather have a floater or someone who never wins any competitions to be a finalist instead of the better player whom everybody likes? If that’s their criterion, why even bother to play the game? Just sit around and bide your time until everybody else is voted out.
A case in point. There was a woman on there one season who merely coasted along the whole summer. She won no competitions and was put up for eviction almost every week, primarily as a pawn. But the other player up with her was the one that would get voted off every time. She was deemed as no threat to anybody, you see. So ironically the deemed worst player ended up in the Final Three and could possibly have won the game!
Looking at it another way, though, maybe that is a good strategy in itself. Just lay low for the whole game and don’t do anything. So the mere fact that they are not considered a threat by anybody is how they manage to stay in the game until the end, while all the other stronger players are being voted out around them. If they make to the end, by whatever means, that makes them a good player, doesn’t it? I’ve heard evicted houseguests complain, “She has floated through the entire game.“ Yeah, but she’s still there, isn’t she? And you’re not. She must be doing something right. My methods probably won’t get me to the end (but then again, they might), but I can leave the House with my head held high.