Ranking The Past 15 Seasons of Big Brother From Worst to First – PART ONE.
Good Evening America – I’m (Julie) Glenn and we’ve just reached that time of the year again where a bunch of Model/Actor/Bartenders from the Greater LA area have been set free from from the giant fake house where they spent their summer riding various phallic objects, all the while competing under the watchful eye of a wily, disinterested Chinese-American automaton known as The Chenbot. Ladies and Gentlemen – THIS IS BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG BROTHER!
After unveiling what seemed to be the most underwhelming cast since the dark, dark days of season nine, Big Brother 15 exploded into one of the most unexpectedly thrilling, thought-provoking and idiotically entertaining shows of the year. Who knew that, 15 years after purporting to investigate and celebrate seemingly ordinary Americans and the various ins and outs of human nature, it would end up finally doing just that (CONGRATULATIONS JULIE – YOU’RE A REAL JOURNALIST NOW). Whilst this season definitely benefitted from the first signs that Julie was actually Chenuinely (SEE WHAT WE DID THERE? SEEE?) engaged and aware of the program she was hosting, it was also bizarrely refreshing to see the program both address and haphazardly discuss the sorts of issues that it was actually designed to. Lets take a second to appreciate the irony that, by being one of the shows most ignorant houseguest of all time, Aaryn managed to force Summers most willfully shallow show to finally get smart (albeit inadvertently – and, as we we discuss later, somewhat undeservedly).
But First – where did it all begin? And where does this current crop of hamsters stand in grand scheme of BB History? Let’s take a look..
15 – SEASON NINE
WINNER – Adam Jasinski
ARBITRARY TWIST – “Till Death Do Us Part” aka the one where players competed in Producer predetermined ‘couples’ for no good reason except because apparently everyone in the Big Brother creative team are joyless assholes.
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – James, Sheila, Natalie.
Remember when CBS dragged Big Brother out from the dregs of Summer Programming and tried to launch it on to an unsuspecting Primetime? Yeah, neither do we. But it happened. And it was AWFUL. Apart from being responsible for Sheila, who yew kneewwww was the best older female contestant this show had ever seen (at least until the following season when The Grod deigned to gift us with Renny), this was the one where the most memorable contestant was Joshuah, who would stay up late telling tales of how he’s do blow off his boyriends butthole and then spend his days apparently trying to become the human embodiment of the word HIDEOUS. Or Adam – who was smart enough to know how to win, but not quite smart enough to know that referring repeatedly to disabled people as ‘retards’ might actually jeopardize his career as, you know, a Disabled Childrens Care Worker (also – not quite smart enough to guess that starting up a large prescription drug ring with his winnings might not be the best way to not be spending the next ten years of his life in jail right now). So, yeah, pretty much everyone on this season was THE WORST. And don’t even get us started on ‘Crazy’ James or the arbitrarily-partnered ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ twist either. And the less said about the CLEARLY RIGGED F4 tie-breaker question where you can all but hear the Producers deciding which contestant they wanted to win the tie-breaker before revealing the ‘answer’ on live TV, the better..
BEST MOMENT – None? Can we go with none? Although that time Natalie counted out the 27 letters of the ALPHABET was pretty neat we suppose..
14 – SEASON ONE
WINNER – Eddie McGee
ARBITRARY TWIST – Staying Faithful To The Original Format.
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Eddie; plus maybe Chicken George, who actually grew on us during All Stars (kinda like a chia pet).
And then here we are Ladies and Gentleman – right back to where it all began. Back in a day when Reality Television was just a vague idea in the back of a television executives mind and Julie Chen was still a Very. Serious. Reporter. Look – lets face it. Big Brother 1 was a mess. And not just because of the ridiculously Serious Face WWBN Casting (although, seriously – that DID NOT HELP AT ALL). But mostly because it showed us that, as a whole, the country of America CANNOT be trusted to systematically vote people out week to week from a personality driven game show format. Because, you know what you end up with? A limp, barely watchable nightly broadcast with all the charm and charisma of watered down Wal-Mart security footage, but with far less sassily dressed fat people. Watching America systematically vote out every single mildly interesting person (The Black Supremacist! The Stripper! The Menopausal Mom Mid-Mid Life Crisis!) was vaguely soul-destroying, especially considering none of these people were particularly interesting to begin with. The Season Two overhaul of the show was the best reinvention since Lana Del Rey discovered collagen and the joys of Vintage Stage Name Magnetic Poetry Kits.
BEST MOMENT – This HISTORIC Big Brother moment, courtesy of Julie Chen and her barely recognizable old face..
13 – SEASON TWELVE
WINNER – Hayden Moss
ARBITRARY TWIST – The SUMMER OF SABOTAGE.
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Rachel, Britney (although maybe not a third time just yet), Ragan, Enzo and Matt (and if you haven’t checked out his AWESOME Retrospective Podcast with Dom & Colin, listen to it HERE – it really made us appreciate his game A LOT more).
There are few feats as impressive in the Big Brother Game Move canon as managing to form a secret alliance Day One and then successfully carrying it all the way through to the end without detection. Unfortunately, there are also few things that are more boring to watch in said canon either, especially when said genius alliance is populated solely by blandoid self-satisfied bozos such as Hayden, Lane and Enzo (or The Animal, The Beast and The Meow-Meow as they inexplicably liked to be called. Seriously). Thank God we had Rachel, who played possibly the most physically dominant yet socially soundless (oh, THE IRONY) game Big Brother had ever seen. Britney’s constant wit and snark helped cut through much of the monotony (Click HERE for some MONTAGE ACTION), as did the welcome addition of the almighty Zingbot 3000, but strategically the season remained a snoozefest, albeit a perfectly watchable one. Bonus points for being home to The Summer of Sabotage aka The Single Least Successful Twist in Big Brother’s History (lets all light a candle for Poor Little Sabout-eurphan Annie).
BEST MOMENT – The EPIC drag out, knock down fight between a Pandoras Boxed Reilly and the tart-tongued Ragan. Not just for the amahzing bitchiness on display, but for the almost hypnotic disparity between her desperate and obvious attempts for camera time compared to the completely withering and soul-destroying barbs he just effortlessly (and deservedly) flings back. This literally could NOT have been scripted better. Ragan Fox? S-M-R-T!
12 – SEASON TWO
WINNER – Dr Will Kirby. You might have heard of him..
ARBITRARY TWIST – Pretty much EVERYTHING!
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Dr Will (all day, every day), Boogie (sadly – evidently the douchiest guy to ever stumble-fuck his way into a win is Big Brother royalty by osmosis); and maybe It’s M(awwwn)ica.
Then we have Season Two which, in a lot of ways, was less a reboot than a total gutting and reimagining of the lowly rated and even more lowly regarded first season. After swiftly acknowledging that NO ONE wanted to watch ten of the nations most boring people sit around and basically do, well, nothing, the producers looked to then ratings juggernaut Survivor for ways to spice up the format. Truth be told, it wasn’t until the following season (BB3) that they really got the formula right. But, if by substituting deathly boring people for tremendously unlikable ones didn’t always result in involving television, it did at least make for engagingly great trash. It also produced one of the shows best ever players – eventual winner Dr Will – who was so gleefully upfront about his pathological lying and malevolent deal-breaking that contestants couldn’t help but vote for him in the end. It was also memorable for filming during 9/11 and showing first hand the reactions of a particular castmate (Monica) with a relative missing in the aftermath. Equally notable was that it was home to the first time the show had to eject someone for violent behaviour after Justin held a knife to Krista’s neck (albeit in what appeared to be less a violent attack and more just some weird example of Deliverance-style Foreplay). And, for the record, Krista didn’t seem to mind it in the slightest, but it at least helped set precedent that future cursory criminal record checks mightn’t go astray (not that it managed to prevent the subsequent BB4 fiasco in the slightest)..
BEST MOMENT – Who could forget TOOTHBRUSH-GATE, which is exactly the kind trivial domestic incident that encapsulates everything that is both glorious and completely asinine about Big Brother, the whole world over.
11 – SEASON FOURTEEN
WINNER – Ian Terry
ARBITRARY TWIST – Coaches! Teams! Swivel Chairs!
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Ian is obviously a (welcome) dead cert and the same goes for both Frank (less welcome) and Dan (provided it’s a three-peat friendly format). Also, we’d make a case for Danielle who, despite quite possibly being both a pathological liar and borderline bat-shit insane, is exactly the kind of strong, social female competitor who can really make a season interesting (provided she doesn’t get cock blocked by a stupid twist on Day One). Plus there’s Poor, Poor Jodi – who promised to SERVE UP JUSTICE but instead got served one of the most ridiculously unfair production stunts we’ve ever seen. And Janelle and Britney are the kind of television gold that we’d let come back EVERY season, OBVI.
Every reality show has a season where they ‘jump the shark’ and, arguably, season 14 was Big Brothers official Fonzie moment. No longer content to just implement their own desperate twists, Groduction decided to steal wholesale from others shows, featuring twelve new houseguests PLUS the addition of four previous Hammies in the role of ‘Mentors’. Basically, CBS turned Season 14 into a low-rent Survivor-style knock off of The Voice. Seriously, Janelle, Dan, Boogie and Brittany were four sets of pivoting red swivel chairs away from being hosted by Carson Daly and being featured artists on iTunes. It also didn’t help that a good portion of the newbies cast were about as one-dimensional, substantial and interesting to watch as the one paragraph casting notices they apparently floated in on (Wil, Kara, Joe and Jenn in particular felt like Job Titles in search of even vaguely engaging personalities). Thankfully, what started as a predictable and boring chess game between the coaches – with contestants being used as blandly lifesized pawns – evolved into some seriously batshit crazy endgame, thanks in no small part to Dan’s deliriously cutthroat gameplay. Pair that with a handful of fascinating new players (Danielle, The Frank-etard), plus unexpected new shades to some familiar ones (Britney evolution into a serious strategic and social threat and Janelle basically turning into a blue-eyed, blonde-haired sociopath were both welcome additions) and then ending with the most likeable and deserving winner since, well, Dan himself. Luckily, BB14 peaked at just the right time and almost made you forget about the sins of the first six weeks. Though the less said about THE RESET BUTTON, the better…
BEST MOMENT – It’s really all about Dan’s Funeral, isn’t it? What started as a vaguely ham-fisted high school performance piece slowly revealed itself to be one of the most complex, domino-effect like moves in the shows history. (side note – as psychologically brilliant as this plan was, the fact Dan was ever so completely cornered in the first place to need to make it is always a Big Minus in our overall Winner ranking lists. DISCUSS, etc..)
10 – SEASON EIGHT
WINNER – ‘Evel’ Dick Donato
ARBITRARY TWIST – Bitter ‘Rivals’ Reunited, America’s Douche (ah, we mean Player, PLAYER).
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Dick’s mysterious early exit from BB13 makes him the only three-peater we’d happily accept back on a normal ASS season. Plus Jen Johnson and, even though he’s basically THE WORST as a human being (at least back during the feeds anyway), Eric Stein – who has more than earned the right to return and play on his own steam. Even though he’s THE WORST.
UGH. And then we have THIS one. What will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable seasons in BB History is also the one most overpopulated by an incredibly unlikeable cast. A game changer in a lot of ways, both in its blatant producer interference, overly misrepresentative editing and new willingness to glorify truly abhorrent behavior provided it produced ratings (eventual winner Dick was a CBS precursor to the bizarre current Hantz-Reilly Family dominance that seems to have now infected every single CBS reality show currently on air). Still, both major season twists were great ideas (albeit ones that could have been executed better), the controversies were delicious (who can forget Amber’s oblivious anti-semetic breakdown mid-season?) and, while the ‘estranged’ Father and Daughter Donato pair might be the most unlikeable Final 2 this side of Allison and Jun, there was no denying they both played major game – even if the former was almost violently misogynistic and the latter’s was obscured by near incessant whining about Every. Single. Little. Thing. Besides, this season gave us The Jenbot who, in our books, might just be the most blithely and entertainingly nonchalant character in BB History. JENIUS. JENSA. Long Live JENBOT!
BEST MOMENT – We’re hesitant to use the term ‘BEST’, but the EEEEE-PIC Jen Johnson nomination breakdown slash cigarette-fulled fued with the similarly alliterative Dick Donato (we refuse to call him ‘Evel’ because, you know, UGH, *eye roll*, grow up Mr Mom Jeans, etc etc..) is key. Not only was it one of the most misogynist and, frankly, Dick-ocritical moments of the whole season, but it was also pretty much the most intentional misleading and misrepresentatively edited moment in the shows history (to that point anyway). Anyone who had even cast a cursory glance at the Live Feeds that season was acutely aware of just how intense, prolonged and personal the Dick-tacks on Jen had been and, by the time said breakdown occurred, she had literally been the house pariah for weeks and weeks. Bullying is a buzzword all too carelessly thrown around in this day and age, but the treatment of Jen by pretty much the whole house is exactly the kind of thing that Kelly Killoren Bensimon INVENTED the term ‘Systematic Bullying’ for. Don’t get us wrong, we’re fully aware the woman could be vapidly absurd to the point of exasperation (I mean, who could forget THIS), but the way the Producers not only ignored, but condoned and eventually GLORIFIED this kind of behaviour is exactly the kind of invisible line the show has crossed ethically and seemingly never looked back. It makes our little gay gamer souls sad to watch.
09 – SEASON THIRTEEN
WINNER – Rachel Reilly
ARBITRARY TWIST – Dynamic Duos!
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Rachel Reilly is now basically a BB All-Time Great (whether you like it or not), as is Big Jeff. And Daniele is the kind of player that could be brought back every single season and bring something completely new to it. Of the newbies, Shelly is the most underrated and deserving of a second chance, and any contrived format that could give Dominic and/or Cassi another shot at the title (and our HEARTS) is alright by us!
Speaking of Blatant Producer Interference, here we have Big Brother 13 aka the Season Where Allison Grodner Reinvented Herself As The Invisible 15th Housemate To Ensure A Returnee Won The Game. Seriously, NEVER has Groducer Interference been as egregiously obvious as it was during those golden (keyed) summer months of 2011. Random Strangers paired as partners against ACTUAL Life Partners? Check. Evicted Houseguests being returned to the game based on a completely biased (towards former contestants with pre-existing fanbases) Telephone Poll? Check. Spur of the moment and completely unprecedented twists conveniently being introduced JUST IN TIME to save the only two remaining returning players the second the tides turned in a TV un-Friendly way – CHECK and MATE. Still, for all of these fundamental flaws (or, lesbehonest, probably because of them), season thirteen turned out to be one of the most genuinely exciting and enjoyable seasons in recent memory. Right from the entertainingly epic premiere (read about it HERE), Rachel Reilly’s (Groduction assisted) reincarnation as a complete challenge juggernaut was as entertaining to watch as Jordan’s charmingly endearing ability to remain, against all odds, exactly the damned same. And as hypocritical as WE KNOW it is, all the interfering was kind of bearable, if only for the fact it spared us from an inevitable Porsche/Adam Final Two, which would have been the only single thing that would be more threatening to the game’s integrity and purity than Allison Grodner’s sticky, sticky fingers. Still, it’s a shame the newbies got shafted so hard (worse than those the following season, if that’s even possible) as it really had the most promising crop of newcomers since BB10 (there’s an alternate timeline out there where Shelly, Cassi and Dominic DOMinated BB13 and, honestly, it might just be a happier place for us all). Still, any season that gives us Jordan swearing, Danielle Donato reinventing herself as a modern day Lady Macbeth and the epic sight of Rachel Reilly hysterically crying in a sea of fake plastic shrubbery (there’s a Radiohead song in there somewhere) is alright by us. Plus, you know, MOUSTURIZING!
BEST MOMENT – In a season full of great moments, the Week Three Kitchen Fight is probably it’s most memorable, not just for being a prime example of Brendon’s total douche-dom, but for the sublime way Daniele’s studied composure exasperatedly erupts into the brilliantly contemptuous “Rachel .. You’re, you’re an IDIOT”. Much like Julie Chen’s face, it just NEVER gets old…
Honorary mentions also go to Rachel’s week long Donato taunting (watch HERE) which is worth it just for Jordan’s adorably stern lecturing whilst dressed head to toe in the now infamous HUMILITARD. And the equally hilarious and heartbreaking Jordan vs Shelly meltdown is a must watch (see HERE). It’s not just the emotion on display, but it’s a prime example of how the public’s love of certain players can produce such blinding and undeserved vitriol towards others. The level of Shelly hate that transpired back then was truly saddening to observe (as we said back THEN).
Also, we could basically watch this clip of Rachel falling over on loop until the end of time. Like, they should show it to sick kids in hospital to cheer them up. And we say that as Rachel FANS.
Anyway peeps – THANKS FOR READING. Part 2/2 should be up sometime in the next 24 hours, so check back tomorrow! I don’t even have words to express how much I’m looking to being debated to death in the comments below. (But for real real – the post-blog conversation is the best part of these things, so feel free to rip me a new blog-hole as much as you want! I won’t even make you lube up first..)
PS – if you loved, liked or loathed this, check out the Survivor one I did earlier this year, evidently it’s officially Not A Bad Read.. (CLICK HERE, BE AMAZED, ETC ETC..)