What Is

Prior to the first episode of Big Brother 15, I made a “scouting report” in which I ranked the houseguests. These prognostications were largely  hit-and-miss, but—going into this final three—I still had a shot at transcendence, the only prediction that matters, a prediction that would whitewash all of my previous misfires. Big Brother fans everywhere would praise me as a bona fide soothsayer. Songs would be written about me, speeches given in my honor. Julie Chen would give me a shoutout on The Talk. I would become a legend of the reality TV criticism community.

Okay, fine. That probably wouldn’t happen.

But it doesn’t matter anyway. I chose Spencer to win Big Brother 15 and, alas, he did not win. So on one hand, I’m kind of bummed out. But notwithstanding the stake I had in Spencer winning, I’m honestly happier with the result. Andy was the most dominant player on Big Brother 15. He deserved to win.[1] 

Despite being the best GinaMarie GinaMarie could possibly be, it was starting to become manifest that the jury shared my sentiments during the question round (and not just because Helen essentially revealed to Julie that Andy had the votes to win if he wasn’t evicted.) Extemporaneous speaking was never GinaMarie’s strong suit, and boy was it strident here. She repeatedly restated the questions to buy time and invoked Nick on multiple occasions. There is also a bizarre moment where GinaMarie appeared to bribe the jury. “If you do vote, you’ll get a nice parting gift from me,” she said punctuating the statement with a cryptic laugh.

Conversely, Andy (the public speaking teacher) was super articulate. He pandered in a subtle way and gave what sounded like honest and meaningful insight into his game. Andy said that he lied to people he was voting out because he was a “coward”; he said he wouldn’t vote for someone who backstabbed him, because he didn’t want to get backstabbed.

Best comment made during the final vote: “I’m hoping whoever wins is going to be buying drinks tonight.”—McCrae


What Could Have Been

As in the case of all of these finales, I think this conclusion could have been aided by additional time. They probably should have bumped this up to two hours, because there are a few things that were given short shrift. For one, Nick—the man who (thanks to GinaMarie) was a constant refrain in the Big Brother house even after he was evicted, the man who production initially sold to us as the mastermind of the season—wasn’t given an opportunity to talk at all. They somehow neglected to follow up on Nick and GinaMarie’s relationship.[2]

And then, of course, they didn’t seriously explore the issue that this season may very well be eclipsed by: the incendiary comments. The coverage mostly amounted to jokes that played on the houseguests’ lack of knowledge about how they are perceived in the real world, which is hardly helpful. I mean, this situation is rife with interesting discourse. Aaryn and Candice appeared to have made amends. Why not start a dialogue there?

I do like what Howard said about owning your statements and attempting to grow. It’s interesting, Howard always spoke of his smoldering temper, but we never once saw it. And it was the same here: He discussed this topic with the gravitas it warrants, yet he didn’t appear to be bitter. He was calm.

This calm tenor was missing in some of the more vocal viewers pushing for these people to be permanently blacklisted. Ironically, many people, outraged by the hatred/ignorance contained in certain statements made by certain houseguests, fired back with their own ad hominem barbs drenched in more hatred. But this hatred is directed toward people who are acting mean so that makes it okay I guess, right?


Take a cue from Howard. No doubt, these people should be held responsible for the things they say on national television. But we must also give them the opportunity to grow, or else we are just part of the problem.

Alright, now that we’ve gotten past the chicken in the room, there is one last complaint, and it is so obvious I scarcely need to even utter the words. It is something that we were callously teased with and were never granted. You know what I’m talking about: Julie Chen did not wear Judd’s bear shirt.

Actually, I'm not done yet. My final complaint is about Elissa winning Fan Favorite. It is admittedly questionable to be upset over something as subjective as Fan Favorite, but Elissa’s advantage (being related to Rachel Reilly) here was egregious. And she certainly doesn't need the money. The ethics of this vote get compromised when they do these types of twists. I think the best solution would be for CBS to only bring back returning/related players during an all-star season. I don’t like these half-measures.


What Becomes

So now that all is said and done, what are we to make of this controversial season? Amanda may not be dull but the ebb and flow of this season sure was.[3] Watching Big Brother 15, I was reminded of the words of Mick Jagger: “I am waiting…waiting for someone to come out of somewhere.” I was waiting for something momentous to happen, waiting for some kind of eruption.

But it never really came to pass. Every promising explosion turned out to be a dud (see Helen vs. Amanda.) When Andy finally made his power play to turn on Amanda, it was exhilarating, but it happened too late in the game to savor; the corollaries weren’t particularly fascinating.

So yeah, it may have not been a great season of Big Brother. But the ending sure was fantastic. Andy is one of the better Big Brother winners we’ve had in years.

[1] If you didn't read my assessment of Andy's game from two weeks ago, here's a link.

[2] They could have checked in on McCrae and Amanda also. It seemed to me that McCrae was making an effort to distance himself from Amanda (e.g. telling her he wouldn’t take her to final two.)

[3] I want to stress that I still love this show. The competition may not always be a nail-biter, but it’s still a social experiment. And that’s primarily what Big Brother is about anyway.