Ranking The Past 15 Seasons of Big Brother From Worst to First – PART TWO
GOOD EVENING AMERICA – And WELCOME BACK to tonights thrilling final instalment in out epic two part countdown of all that is great about Summer’s best worst show. After last weeks episode eliminated the first seven contestants (relive all the highlights in black and white HERE), we make our way through the Final 8 after the break. Who will be voted out next? Who should be getting ready for their Chen-terview? And who have we very conclusively and scientifically proven deserves the honour of coming in (But) First? Let’s eavesdrop on the remaining houses…
08 – SEASON FIVE
WINNER – Drew Daniel
ARBITRARY TWIST – “Project DNA”. Which stood for “Do Not Assume”. And referred to NOT JUST a long-lost (and previously unknown!) half-brother and sister being reunited in the house, but also the revelation that housemate Adria was actually a set of identical twins who swapped places every other day (see clip below).
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Nakomis is really due for one last shot of glory after her pointless boot in BB7, and we also always had a soft (semi hard) spot for Wil. Plus Adria and or Natalie would be a nice tribute to one of the greatest BB twists that ever was.
In a lot of ways, season five is really where modern day Big Brother was truly born. S2 introduced us to basic strategy. S3 gave us well thought out and engaging casting. S4 is where Grodner first dipped her hands into the ether and delivered the first of many, many batshit insane twists to come. But it was Season Five where, for the first time, all of these key components of Big Brother life as we know it coalesced into one big compelling whole. And what a whole it was! From historic game-defining strategic firsts (Nakomis’s ‘Six Finger’ Plan – see HERE, Diane’s equally impressive but oft-overlooked plot to hijack the power from the Final Five Veto) to the delightfully bonkers twists (Long Lost Siblings! Identical Twins! Holly!), Season Five was one big joyride from start to finish. And while it set the precedent for blandly deserving winners (aka the proto-Hayden Drew), it’s overall cast is one of the strongest and most entertaining in the shows history, making for a consistently engaging run. Plus, Diane’s season long spiral into complete and utter Tanorexia basically INVENTED Jersey Shore, and means we basically can’t watch anything from the second half of this season without breaking out into Willy Wonka songs which, let’s face it, is an AWESOME problem to have.
BEST MOMENT – Lesbehonest, the Twin Twist is basically the GOAT moment of not just US Big Brother, but Big Brothers EVERYWHERE. Short of them both being played by Sheryl Lee, this could not have been more perfect.
07 – SEASON ELEVEN
WINNER – Jordan Lloyd.
ARBITRARY TWIST – The “Cliques” (Brains vs Athletes vs Outcasts vs Popular Kids aka some special school production of The Breakfast Club)
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Obviously Big Jeff is a dead cert from now til the end of time (even though we’d much rather see Jordan, to be perfectly honest with y’all), Russell, Michele. And maaaaaaaaybe Jessie, if only for the fact he seems to live permanently in the outer-reaches of the CBS Backlot these days from what we can tell…
Sometimes a great Big Brother season is defined by thrilling gameplay. Sometimes it’s the exciting twists. And, just sometimes, all it really needs is enough genuinely likeable people to make it to the end and some equally deplorable ones to give you something to root for and against. What should have been a thoroughly mediocre season (the ‘Cliques’ twist will not only remain one of the weakest and uninspiring of the series, but also it’s most ineffectual if not for the glorious seven day implosion of S12’s ill-fated Summer Of Sabotage) somehow evolved early on into the greatest battle of Heroes vs Villains seen outside a series of Survivor. Cooping up that many truly delusional people in one house might be unbearable if you’re an adorkably normal neuroscientist or a blithely innocent southern belle but, as a viewer, we’ll be damned if it didn’t make for great TV. The classic post-Jessie pity party of Natalie, Lydia and Chima mourning will forever make laughing at people okay, especially in light of the latter’s historic meltdown and subsequent producer expulsion (although we’ll always be kinda sad that it obscured her genuinely fascinating backstory). And the Jeff, Jordan, Michele and Russell group of misfits made for the most rootable against all odds alliance since the golden days of S6 (even if Big Jeff himself did his gosh darned homophobic best to almost ruin it). Jordan’s come from behind win at the last minute really helped to redeem it and showed that, whether in real life or Reality TV, sometimes, just sometimes, nice guys finish first. Plus, you know, who could forget the completely surreal sight of the HEAVILY PREGNANT CHENBOT!
BEST MOMENT – While Chima (Princess of Glower)’s epic evening of Production-baiting and eventual expulsion was a basically a Big Brother (But) First, we’ve always had a modicum (and only that) of sympathy for her considering the Coup D’etat is the Big Brother equivalent of being butt-fucked without warning or lube from a gameplay perspective (you can watch said player dry-fucking HERE). On the other hand, the gloriously absurd mock funeral the estrogenic trio of terror presided over the night before is everything that makes good Big Brother great – crying, hysteria and that special kind of spiralling group delusion that seems to thrive when already borderline personalities start catching crazy by forced osmosis. In short, it was AMAZING.
06 – SEASON FOUR
WINNER – (the criminally underrated) Jun Song.
ARBITRARY TWIST – The X Factor.
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Jun (in a All Winners Battle Royale, she’s be one of the few we’d put money on), Allison, JACK. Also Dave, who frequently stars in our mental spin off Big Brother 4 – The Spanky Bank Factor on a semi-regular basis.
And here we have it Folks – the ORIGINAL X-FACTOR. Often over-looked by fans on account of the monstrously menstrual Final 2 of Allison and Jun, it’s actually much more entertaining on rewatch than you remember. Unlike other conceptually sound twists that get abandoned too early (this seasons short-lived MVReilly twist comes to mind), Groduction let the genius idea of cooping bitter exes in a house play out right until the very end and was all the stronger for it. While Jun mostly gets remembered for pioneering the now-classic strategy of being a ‘Floater’, the actual finesse and subtle control of her gameplay is often overlooked. Most players who win Big Brother rarely do so with a strategy they played with and formulated right from the start of the game. By design, the summer is explicitly set up to be more of a rollercoaster ride, one where players are seemingly ejected by lottery and chance as much as they are by any intentional longterm gameplay. But Jun’s calculated, clinical and deliberate game is both one of the most masterful and most misunderstood in the shows history. Plus, Allison was just so hypnotically and unrepentantly AWFUL that you could barely look away, especially because she managed to be so gleefully goddamned BADASS doing it. Rarely has the show ever had such week to week to week power swings as this one did, with the amazingly tense relationship war playing out right until the very end. If you’re so inclined to revisit a past season and see where it all began, this one holds up both surprisingly and enjoyably well.
BEST MOMENT – We’re tempted to go with the historic Week One coupling of Amanda and Our Dave (aka the first time anyone has ever had the SEX Factor in the Big Brother House – WATCH HERE), but the initial introduction of the the twist is just so superbly edited in both a sensationalised yet totally humanistic way that it really deserves revisting. It also really goes to show you how much in tone and pace the show has evolved (devolved?) over the past ten years. Plus – you can already totally see in ten minutes flat why Jun was always destined to win that season, just in the awesome way she handles everything.
05 – SEASON FIFTEEN
WINNER – Andy Herren
ARBITRARY TWIST – “The MVP” aka “Most Valuable (sibling of a popular former) Player”
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – AMANDA. Also Judd, Elissa, Andy. Plus Helen, potentially a redemption arc-era Aaryn (if CBS aren’t so inclined to pretend Racist-gate never happened) and maybe even Jessie (you know, because all the girls hate her because she’s so hot and stuff).
Julie Chen called it ‘our most controversial season yet’. In reality, that was really Chenbot-speak for “after fifteen long years we’re being forced to actually deal with all the vast grey areas of human nature, just like they did in that show that we licensed but we’ve steadfastly refused to until now”. She also had to open up her Journalism 101 textbook for the first since, ummmm …. she had to open her Journalism 101 textbook for the first time. We toyed with ranking this a spot or two higher, but wanted to let it sit with us for a while and see how we feel then. Andy’s (MUCH DESERVED) win definitely saved it from being ranked several spots lower, as the last two weeks were basically rendered unwatchable after losing both our MVP and our MVDDs in one fell Double Eviction swoop (one internet commentator astutely pointed out that the final weeks almost felt like some sort of bad BB12 retread with Annie-dy performing double-duty as The Saboteur – and, by the way, THANKS A LOT FOR THAT ANDREW!). As we said earlier, all the greatest Big Brother seasons have clearly defined good and bad guys, but rarely have we seen a season where they are both played by one and the same, mostly courtesy of our beloved MVDDs herself Amanda, who not only managed to be the undisputed bandaid-aided STAR of the season, but ran a rollercoaster of several different editing extremes not seen since the likes of the great Rachel Reilly ‘Reality Villain to Big Brother Folk Hero’ reinvention of 2011. GinaMarie received almot the opposite, while the rest of the cast had their more abhorrent behaviour transposed via severely unbalanced editing onto Aaryn who, whilst deserving of her share of scorn, was neither the sole nor even the worst offender in the ignorant comments department. Thankfully, the combination of a truly enjoyable cast, some fascinatingly uncomfortable but thought-provoking controversies (watch things go from uncomfortable to UNCOMFORTABLE both HERE and HERE), a Top 5 winner (his first HOH Blog alone is both fucking HILARIOUS and exactly the kind of unfiltered, untainted proof of how astute and controlled his gameplay was all season – do yourself a favour as a fan and read it HERE) as well as some of the best IKEA on acid challenges we’ve seen in recent memory all add up to making this season an all time great.
HIGHLIGHT – Honestly, there are so many we could mention that we’re kind of struggling to choose. Sadly, despite seemingly containing millions upon millions of pointless compilations, not one single person has chosen to make a Drunk Elissa Highlight Reel as of yet. Thankfully, some clear JENIUS decided to make the below and the the world is truly a better place having it..
BEST MOMENTS – Anything involving Amanda basically (her outstanding comedy DRs and secret night long alliance with the Garbage Can deserve special mentions), Drunk Elissa, The complete clusterfuck of the hypnotic first live J-U-Double D-Eviction, The long overdue upgrade that was apparently run on The Chenbot’s Hosting Function between seasons (HERE is a great example), Darren Franich’s epic fictional EW-cap reimagining of Jessie, GinaMarie’s season long feud with the English Language (Mount Rose’s MOST SMARTEST right there Folks!), #BlameCandice, The Clownie-tard and, of course, BEARSHIRT.
WORST MOMENTS – The unbalanced editing of the great race debate (mainly Aaryn getting crucified but Jeremy and Spencer in particular getting off scot-free), Sober Elissa, The blatant Groducer interference, the moment where you realizes that GM’s season long Glenn Close impersonation was less funny than it was psychologically sad and uncomfortable, The fact that no matter how hard we try we will never be able to unlearn the term ‘meat wallet’ from our brains (FUCK YOU JEREMY), 73% of Andy’s Wardrobe, Elissa’s incessantly random Yoga-bombing of the feeds every time she seemed to sense a camera moving, enduring a final five that was the collectively unlikeable Final 5 since BB8 (at least), not to mention the outpouring of rank hypocrisy that came from previous contestants judging this seasons batch without even waiting to hear their side of the story.
HONORARY MENTION to the scene where Poor Aaryn accidentally drinks Nail Polish remover – not just for the unintentional irony of the poor girl’s subconscious trying to de-colour her own insides or for Spencer’s hilariously concerned repeated inquisitions as to “did she swallow”, but for the fact it broke new barriers for the show by literally ERASING recently evicted contestant Helen all in the sake of ‘continuity’.
04 – SEASON SEVEN
WINNER – Mike *shudders* Boogie
ARBITRARY TWIST – ALL STARZ BITCHES!
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Based on their repeat performances, Will, Janelle, Danielle, Howie, George, Nakomis and Allison are all welcome slash totally wanted back.
Remember when returning players was an actual big deal and not just something that happened on Every. Single. Season. Of. Every. Single. Reality. Show. besides the first? Yeahhhhhh, those were good times. Hot on the heels of Survivors epic (at least conceptually) eighth season All Star juggernaut, Big Brother attempted the same, but upped the ante by schlepping the cast across the country, allowing the public to actually vote in (some of) the contestants they most wanted to see match wit, skill and pelvises in the biggest arena that could possibly fit into the back of a cheaply decorated CBS soundstage. The casting was actually pretty spot on (albeit a little too season six heavy) and, unlike a lot of its contemporaries, pretty much every single contestant actually delivered the goods and played both hard as competitors and as entertainers (of all 14, only really Diane and Marcellus seemed less than enthused to be there). Whilst the at times uncomfortably misogynistic (seriously – go rewatch it, it’s much worse than you remember) Operation Double Date made viewing awkward, there was no denying how scarily effective Chilltown were as a duo, even if the severely inferior of the two ended up taking home the giant cardboard novelty cheque (not to mention Rosie O’Donnell’s delicious, delicious scorn). In fact, it ended up playing out almost the complete inverse of Survivor, where the strongest players pretty much all ended up making it to the end (undeserving winner aside) meaning it was thrilling television all the way through to finale night. And it was nice to see a season not tarnish the legacy of some old favorites (Big Brother’s ever-reigning King and Queen Janelle and Will in particular managed to, if anything, strengthen theirs), plus the nods to previous seasons all game long gave the endeavour a whiff of wistful nostalgia and proved to be a fitting tribute to a Trash TV great.
BEST MOMENT – Pretty much the whole season. Does the whole season count (Winner nonwithstanding, OBVI)? Janelle’s “Who’s the Bunny now, BITCH?” is basically the GOAT of Big Brother quotes for us always and forever (you can watch and bask and watch it in all its Donna Lewis gloriousness HERE), but it was the immediately previous eviction of Dr Will that is the S7 Go To moment. From representing a shocking turning point in the game as a viewer, to being a great encapsulation of both Janie’s sass and Erika’s total underestimation (by both the contestants and, quite honestly, most fans) as a sharp and dangerous player, it also is just a perfect example of the effortless charm, smarm and innate skill that Will Kirby has as a player. If you want to see why he really is probably the single greatest player of all time, you need to look no further. Heck, even The Chenbot herself is putty in his pasty white hands – I mean, she’s basically pregnant by the end of that four minute interview alone!
Bonus shout out must be made to the BB Challenge Department, who truly pulled out all stops this season both creatively and visually. Relive the glory of highlights like the Torture Challenge (HERE), the truly FUCKING AMAZING Haunting of The All Star House (HERE) and the GOAT of All Punishment Vetoes (HERE). They get made fun of a lot, but in Season 7, the Challenge Department deserves ALL the Gold Stars.
03 – SEASON TEN
WINNER – Dan Gheesling – (The Man, The Legend, The Guy So Good He Beat MEMPHIS)
ARBITRARY TWIST – NONE!
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Literally every single contestant this season could be brought back and we’d be happy. Even Mr PECTACULARZ himself. But Dan and Renny in particular are just THE BEST and should be brought back always, with Keesha, April and Libra and their vaginas of power not far behind.
For as long as we can remember, Big Brother has been defined by an increasingly insane (inane?) series of twists – Former Couples! Long Lost Siblings! Secret Partners! – but, for one near perfect summer in 2008, Groduction pulled off what might have been it’s most audacious twist to date – One House, Seventy One Days and Thirteen (13!) TOTAL STRANGERS. That’s right, after a series of increasingly desperate twists , BB10 went back to the most basic of basics and produced one of their most enjoyable and genuinely thrilling seasons to date. By having Casting, well, cast a much larger net (both geographically and demographically) to include a wider range of both backgrounds and ages, it managed to produce some the greatest genuine conflicts and unlikely bonds the show had seen in years. Renny and Keesha’s May/December Boobs Alliance will always hold a soft spot in our hearts just as April and Ollie’s sexual shennanigans hold an evener specialer place in our collective mental barf bags. Plus there’s Dans (much deserved) win, which still sees him regarded as the greatest BB player since the OG Dr Will. Whilst we’d argue that, based on actual skill and gameplay, Dan only really ranks maybe 6th or 7th in the list of all time Big Brother greats when you *objectively* break down his game, after the near-catastrophic fiasco that was BB9, he was just what the Doctor (Will) ordered…
BEST MOMENT – There are so many classics that it’s difficult to pick one. Picking a favorite BB10 moment is JUST LIKE Sophies Choice. Except actually, you know, hard. That being said, it’s difficult to go past the EPIC Keesha Birthday Party Fight Night, not just for the absurd juxtaposition of the knock down, drag out, crazy town fighting that erupts, but for the deliciously awkward way it all comes to a temporary standstill for what might be the saddest rendition of Happy Birthday every committed to screen. It’s also a fascinating psychological study into the way one throwaway comment can cause a group of relatively sane individuals to devolve into a complete, screaming mess like a set of brightly dressed, Type A dominoes. Seriously, by the end of the ten minutes, every single person in that house had fallen victim, with the sole except of quiet, Bible-reading Dan. It’s truly amazing to watch, plus Jessie’s Napping Strategy will always hold a special place in our hearts too. ANYBODY WANT CAKE?
HONORARY MENTION – If we’re completely honest, there is nothing better in life than BSideBlog’s AMAHZING montage of Renny and Jerry HONKING, LOCKING and MARY, ST JOSEPH-ing their way through the season. It’s, no joke, basically the whole entire reason God invented YouTube, as well as being a constant reminder as to Casting Executives why, no matter how many mactors CBS feels pressured to cast, the best TV moments will more often than not come from regular Joe’s (and Jerrys) like you and me. Ren & Jerry FTW!
02 – SEASON THREE
WINNER – Lisa Donahue
ARBITRARY TWIST – The “Power Of Veto”.
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Danielle, Lisa (who really was robbed of her rightful spot on All Stars), Jason, Roddy. And AMY (AMY AMY!)
And then we the season that truly showed that the (at the time) Frankenstein’s Monster-esque corpse of Big Brother could really work on American television. If season one was a poorly cast, blandly hosted, underproduced misfire and season two was three months of watching the televisual equivalent of every single trick in the reality book being haphazardly thrown at a wall to see what stuck, then it was season three – with it’s genuinely likeable cast, higher production values and more confident formatting – that was the moment where CBS’s execs probably collectively stopped worrying how to write off the millions they spent on purchasing the format in the first place. Honestly, we could have ranked this first. Heck, we still might.. Casting definitely played a big part and contained a dynamite mix of likeable people (Lisa, Jason) , strong players (Danielle, Roddy), delightful oddballs (Lori, Gerry, Marcellus and future poster child and spokeswoman for The United American Foundtion for Cheese AMY) and all the requisite skanks and man-skanks you love to hate (Tonya, Josh, CHI-WHOOOORA). Even better was how they managed to gel in a way that was always deliriously goofy fun to watch, even when it shouldn’t have been. The combination of some genuinely great moments – Returning Players! Peanut Butter and Lettuce Bikinis! Amy Getting Drunk In The Hammock and Basically Going To Third Base With a Block Of Brie! – and truly solid gameplay that still impresses to this day (Danielle and Jason’s season long secret alliance is still basically the official BB How To Guide on the subject; and Lisa essentially re-voting out her #1 ally in order to deflect attention from herself is criminally underrated these days as is her subtle but constant courting of both America’s favour and Jury Votes all season long) all help make Season Three as great a season as there ever was.
BEST MOMENT – Honorable mention goes to Danielle’s AMAZING (but deservedly game losing Diary Room sessions – watch HERE), but the real classic moment of the season is boneheaded Marcellus’s boneheaded move not to save himself (because he’s THE WORST) with the Golden Shower Of Veto. Bonus Points for being the first time Julie Chen assaults a contestant slash displays real emotions on national television.
01 – SEASON SIX
WINNER – Maggie Ausburn
ARBITRARY TWIST – “Summer of Secrets” aka Super Top Secret Partners.
HOUSEGUESTS WE’D MOST LIKELY EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN – Janelle, OBVI. Also, Howie and Ivette would be great. Plus maybe Kaysar (WHATTUP!) depending on how you feel about his technical status as the BB Fransesquatch aka the Worst Placed Player Ever.
And here we have it – the greatest of the great (or, rather, the greatest of a mediocre to quite very good bunch). So why is this exactly? Well, if seasons 2, 3, 4 and 5 were progressive building blocks in the Great Wall of Grodner, then season six was the moment when the show not so much peaked but launched itself into the national conversation. Others have come close, but THIS was the summer long battle of Good vs Evil that every reality show needs – even if (SPOILER ALERT), Evil totally won in the end (RIP Maggie Ausburn’s Career Prospects, 1978 – 2005). Never have we seen a house not only so totally divided, but ready made with such clearly defined ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys. And, unlike a lot of other heavily edited reality shows that choose to arbitrarily invent heroes and villains on a whim (BB15 Amanda or BB13-era Rachel Reilly both come to mind), the heroes of Big Brother 6 genuinely were likeable people. And, even better? The bad guys (or girls, gay and an overly aggressive midget for the most part) truly were just, well, THE WORST. Because, let’s be honest – whilst we enjoy good gameplay and moderately attractive blonde women getting drunk and calling each other names (Oh Janie – never change!), why we REALLY watch this kind of show is for the sanctimonious moral high ground it affords us. For three gloriously absurd months each summer, we can sit comfortably on our lounges and mock each new batch of contestants for being open enough and desperate enough to have the same bad habits, bigotries and assorted other surface traits as we all do, which allows us to channel our own inherent self-loathing onto them, all from the safety and comfort of our own living rooms. Heck, even Julie Chen (or, at the very least, her blatantly drunk and quite possibly blind stylist) gives us a perfect, dead-eyed vessel on which to rue every single awful sartorial choice we’ve ever made. By allowing us to laugh for, with and AT them, Big Brother provides us a space to laugh at ourselves, without ever having to break an intellectual sweat, much less an even mildly introspective one. And, when it all comes down to it, isn’t that what good TV is really ALL ABOUT?
BEST MOMENT – In a season that contained SO many epic fights – who could forget Hurricane Howie’s Busto-baiting? Or Michael vs Midget Eric? Or Maggie’s non-stop battle with trying not to be a completely horrible human being? – it was near impossible to choose. But in a show with 15 seasons of near constant ridiculous amazingness, Janelle’s hilariously wine-fuelled progressive tirade against the whole house is basically GOAT. Like, lets face it, you haven’t really LIVED in life until you’ve called someone a Gold-Digging Whore. Or a Polyester Haired Bitch!
Anyway peeps – THANKS FOR READING. I don’t even have words to express how much I’m looking to being debated to death in the comments below. (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)