Andy Herren won Big Brother 15 in a 7-2 vote over GinaMarie Zimmerman. Many have called this the worst season ever because of the nonstop racism and mean-spirited bullying that went on in the house. And many are complaining that Andy is an undeserving rat who only won by default because his competition was so much worse.
Recap: Andy Wins Big Brother 15>>
I disagree. I think Andy deserved to win the game. Do I think he’s a better winner than the all-time greats like Dr. Will Kirby, Evel Dick Donato or Dan Gheesling? Of course not.
But I also think he’s far from the worst winner ever. I wrote extensively about how Rachel Reilly’s win had absolutely nothing to do with how she played the game. Jordan Lloyd won because Jeff Schroeder carried her to the end, and then she only had to beat the villain. And let’s not forget about season 9’s Adam Jasinski or the embarrassing wins of season 4’s Jun Song and season 6’s Maggie Ausburn. So there are five off the top of my head who were less deserving than Andy.
Andy played the game. You may not like the way he played it, but you should. Here are six reasons why I will defend Andy Herren as a completely deserving and very good winner, regardless of the season.
He Wasn’t a Real Floater
Everyone has a different definition of a floater, but for me, it’s someone who coasts to the end, never really working hard or playing the game, just relying on others to carry them through. In my opinion, players like Enzo Palumbo, Adam Poch and Jordan Lloyd are the best recent examples of floaters, people who just kicked back and relaxed all summer long as others did all the work.
That wasn’t Andy, no matter what some people, or the Zingbot, might think. Andy scrambled. He was kicking his feet the whole time, working hard to keep himself safe and throw others under the bus. Sure, he had other people doing his dirty work for him (mostly Amanda), but he wasn’t passive about it.
McCrae was passive. McCrae floated for most of the season, sleeping and letting Amanda carry him through the competition. He’s the real floater. Andy was running around the house, collecting information, using that information to benefit himself.
Floaters let the current carry them down the stream to the end of the game. Andy paddled every week, and he paddled hard. It only looked like floating.
He Was an Extraordinary Liar
Above all else, I respect people who come to play the game, people who will do anything to win. That’s especially true when it comes to lying. On Big Brother, I think people who say they want to play honestly and with integrity are fools.
Lying is good. And the ability to lie convincingly is an asset. Andy did that. There were many, many times when people in the house should’ve doubted him and turned on him. Helen should’ve figured out he was a rat who was more loyal to McCranda than he was to her long before she was on her way out, and McCranda’s belief that they had him wrapped around their fingers was laughable. But he pulled it off.
Andy convinced everyone he was a nice guy and they could trust him, even when it was obvious they couldn’t. He even made Elissa believe that McCrae voted out Amanda. That is a skill, and a great one for Big Brother.
Loyalty is overrated. Honesty is overrated. Self-interest is what matters. Everything Andy did, every lie he told, was designed to keep the target off his back and put it on someone else’s. That’s simply smart gameplay.
He Chose GinaMarie
At first, I was shocked that Andy chose to take GM to the end instead of Spencer. I thought Spencer was the obvious choice, easy to beat, while GM had allies and supporters in the house. Then I saw how the final interrogation went down, and I think Andy outsmarted us all with that decision.
He claimed it was because he promised her on the first night and wanted to prove he could be loyal to someone, but it was a much shrewder move than that.
Andy feared the jury would be bitter, so they might want to look for any excuse not to vote for him. Spencer played a game that was fairly similar to Andy’s, plus he’s pretty good at talking his way out of sticky situations (see: the end of the Moving Company or the fight with Candice).
By comparison, Spencer might’ve seemed like a plausible choice, someone who would give the bitter jurors a way not to vote for Andy. But sitting next to GM, it was a totally different story.
Andy is a professor of public speaking, so he knew getting the opportunity to explain himself was his secret weapon at the end. By picking GM, he ensured that there would be a stark difference and obvious choice to the jury. Every time GM opened her mouth, people laughed (see her first nomination speech to Candice and Jessie as HoH). Andy probably knew the jury wouldn’t take her seriously if she needed to use her words to explain herself.
And that’s what happened. When asked point blank what her best game move was other than getting rid of Amanda, GM said it was getting rid of Amanda. That moment, with GM totally confused and unable to properly answer the question, was when Andy won. He could bet on GM making a gaffe like that to make herself look like a moron, and by comparison, he would look like the smartest and best player ever.
Bringing GM to the end was the smartest move I didn’t think of, and I had the benefit of observing from the outside. Andy used his opponent’s weaknesses against them, a sign of a true champion.
He Was Only Nominated Once
Andy claimed that part of his strategy was making sure he was never a target, and he succeeded beautifully. He was only nominated once all season (as Elissa’s replacement), which ties the all-time record. Season 5’s Drew Daniel is the only other winner who only had one nomination.
However, Andy’s accomplishment is far more impressive. This season was the longest ever with more chances to be nominated. For the first six weeks there was a third nominee and the Power of Veto was used more times than ever before, meaning more replacement nominees.
Including replacement nominees and the final two who Andy had to decide between, there were 47 nominations this season, and Andy only had one of them. By comparison, there were only 31 nominations during Drew’s season and only 36 last season, which also had 16 HGs. Additionally, half the HGs this season were nominated at leas three times, including GM and six jury members. To only be nominated once this season is stunning..
He Won Competitions
At the end of the day, Andy won five competitions, three HoHs and two PoVs. Only 13 other people have ever won that many competitions, including Aaryn and McCrae this season. He won as many competitions as anyone else this season, and won more than the other two HGs in the Final 3 combined.
There are only five other winners who won five or more competitions during their seasons, so that puts him in good company, even if most of his wins came at the end against some incredibly weak competition.
Fun Fact: Andy won the last three competitions in a row (the last two HoHs and the last PoV). Only two other people have ever done that, season 12’s Hayden Moss and season 9’s Ryan Quicksall. In fact, Andy is one of only seven HGs who have ever won three competitions in a row.
He Wasn’t THAT Mean
This season got very ugly and personal, and sure, Andy certainly said some brutal things about some of the HGs behind their backs (most notably Elissa), but I genuinely believe that, the vast majority of the time, it wasn’t from a place of mean-spiritedness like it was for people like Aaryn, GinaMarie and Spencer, among others.
Basically, I give everyone in the house a free pass for almost anything they said about Elissa. She never deserved to be there, the only reason she was cast was because of her sister and she was handed the MVP on a silver platter. Everyone in the house knew she’d get it every week simply because of the Brenchel Army, not because she played the best game. She was a joke from the beginning, and the fact that she was the world’s worst liar and didn’t seem to understand the game made it even worse. If Helen hadn’t propped her up, she would’ve been a total disaster.
My point is that, for superfans who worked hard and auditioned to be on this show that they love, having Elissa get in simply by nepotism, then get rewarded with special powers, was a slap in the face. It made them mad and resentful, and that caused them to lash out. Sure, Andy stepped over the line criticizing Elissa’s kid’s artistic abilities, but his utter disdain for her as a fellow HG was, in my book, totally warranted. She never respected and loved the game as much as he did, or as much as many of the HGs (notably Spencer, Judd, McCrae and Helen) did.
Andy deserved to win. You may not like some of the things he said and you may not like his lies, but I understand and appreciate everything he did. He played the game hard. He played from the minute he walked in until the minute he left. He scrambled and worked overtime to ensure he wouldn’t become a target and that his strongest competition would turn on each other and go home. He made sure he went to the end with someone he knew he could beat.
Andy Herren played a terrific game of Big Brother, even if this was the worst season ever. As they say, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
(Image courtesy of CBS)