Big Brother 18 Memory Wall Theory: Is Paul Destined to Win? >>>
Every Big Brother fan has their favorite seasons. Though it has been very hard for any season to top the highs that were Big Brother 10, Big Brother 13 and All-Stars (my personal top three), every year there is the hope that the new season will join the best of the best. Big Brother 18 is coming to a close and while it might just a case of something new being the shiniest thing around, the season (with all its up and downs) does seem to be in the upper echelon of Big Brother history.
It is time to take off the rose-colored glasses and really judge how Big Brother 18 stacks up against the competition. Rather than just rank all 18 seasons of Big Brother in order, which would be time-consuming, boring and aggravating, I am going to judge Big Brother 18 on three criteria. These criteria are what makes an excellent Big Brother season and we'll see how well Big Brother 18 can fill these roles. The factors are the cast, the gameplay and the impact that the season has on the future of Big Brother.
There are really two sub-factors that go into a good Big Brother cast. The cast has to be entertaining to watch and there has to be enough conflicting (or at least different) types of personalities that there is some kind of drama inside the house. On both fronts Big Brother 18 has done a good but maybe not quite excellent job.
While Big Brother 18 probably had the most diverse cast ever in terms of racial and geographical background, the ages were disappointingly similar. The oldest Big Brother 18 houseguests were Tiffany, James and Frank who are all 32. (Of course 50-year-old Glen was also on the season but he was barely in the house for more than day so he doesn't really count.) Most of the people in the house were under the age of 26 and that means the season was full of a lot of immature people.
This is especially true of some of the youngest houseguests -- Zakiyah, Nicole and Michelle -- who seemed more content to cry, whine or play other people's games for most of the season. The low median age of the houseguests probably explains why Big Brother 18 was full of so many unanimous votes because people were too afraid and not confident enough to rock the boat.
So while in one aspect the Big Brother 18 cast failed, the season has turned out more than a few memorable characters. Big Brother 13 remains a personal favorite because it saw the return of three "dynamic duos" from earlier seasons and each duo showed a new side to themselves in that season. The newbies also raised their game to become more interesting and compelling characters. A similar thing occurred in Big Brother 18.
Da'Vonne, Frank, James and even Nicole came into the house with clearly defined and expressive personalities. No one, with the exception of maybe Corey who remained as vanilla the day he entered the house as the day he left, was overshadowed by any of the returning players. If anything, the new players became much more likable and entertaining than the veterans.
Paul clearly went into the house wanting to be a character, but it worked and he could easily be brought back for another season. Victor is the true success story as he was a very early elimination that came back and became one of the most dominant competitors in Big Brother history. At the end of her game there was even something endearing about perpetually crying Michelle.
As mentioned before, Big Brother 18 saw the houseguests vote together for far too long. When they finally did start playing the game though, the results were explosive. There was the odd downtime when one person, and one person only, was seemingly controlling everything in the house. It was a particularly dark time in the season when Paulie was in ultimate control for two to three weeks but mostly the Big Brother 18 house was one of constantly shifting alliances.
Some of this aggressive gameplay can be attributed to the twists and we'll get to the many, many twists in a bit. Yet the most exciting moves of the season were because of the houseguests' own initiative and had little or nothing to do with twists. As soon as someone new was in power or in control, they were often dethroned and sometimes completely evicted. Big Brother 18 houseguests continually went from the highest highs to the lowest lows, often within just a week's time. Da'Vonne and Paulie both saw big victories the week before they were suddenly evicted.
In Big Brother 17 and Big Brother 16, one person was controlling the house for most of the season. In the case of Big Brother 16, the mastermind won with Derrick. In the case of Big Brother 17, Tiffany or Tiffany's allies were in control for most of the game and while Tiffany was an emotional roller coaster it was a bit boring to see her being in (relative) safety week in and week out. With the exception of the two to three weeks when Paulie had an iron grip on the house, nothing was ever that steady in Big Brother 18. It really was one of the most exciting seasons ever in that regard.
The Lasting Impact
Obviously, this is a bit hard to judge because Big Brother 18 is still ongoing. For the most part, though, you can tell if a Big Brother season is going to "matter" while it is happening. You don't need the benefit of hindsight. It was clear that when players like Rachel Reily, Dan Gheelsing and Dr. Will were inside the house that they were going to be remembered for seasons to come. Even certain twists have had a feeling of importance.
Big Brother 18 had a lot of new twists and since there were so many of them, a lot of them were flops. BB Roadkill was an adequate substitute for the awful Battle of the Block but it never really shook up the game. The Round Trip Ticket was never used and America's Care Package, which is just a slightly different change to an old twist, never really flipped the house in a meaningful way. James did use his Care Package advantage to surprise evict Zakiyah but Zakiyah was doing nothing in the game so it didn't really matter. Zakiyah's eviction just upset Paulie because it proved he was in control. While the Battle Back confirmed Victor's competition dominance, the sheer fact that Victor was the only one to benefit from the Battle Back makes the twist kind of useless.
All in all, none of the new twists would be mourned if they didn't come back in the future. This is a stark contrast to twists like the Coup d'Etat and America's Player/Team America/The Saboteur (all three are pretty much the same twist), which have seen repeated return trips to the Big Brother house.
Big Brother 18's impact will probably be found in some of its most memorable characters. When Big Brother All-Stars 2 does happen and it will eventually happen, it is going to be a shame if at least a few Big Brother 18 cast members aren't present. Victor has to be in the next All-Stars season after making it back into the house twice after being evicted. Da'Vonne and Paul are simply too loud not to demand return trips to Big Brother.
The End Result
Looking at everything in perspective, Big Brother 18 falls somewhere in the middle of the road. It is a big improvement over Big Brother 17 and Big Brother 16 but neither was a revolutionary season by any means. Big Brother 18 is a good season of the show, but it is not without some serious flaws. It is not a new gold standard or even a silver standard. At best Big Brother 18 would earn a bronze.
But what do you think? Is Big Brother 18 one of the best seasons of the show? Where would you rank it? Is it in your top five seasons? Top 10? Which seasons are your favorite?
(Images courtesy of CBS)