A Survivor fan looks at Big Brother 6
Can Big Brother tell us anything about Survivor?
by VikingBear, Wednesday September 21, 2005

If you're a fan of Big Brother, you should first ask your doctor whether this essay is right for you. This essay's really about Survivor!

Big Brother was a great season this summer, or so I'm told. I was underwhelmed... Why? What did I miss? And then, because the world really *does* revolve around Survivor, I got to wondering... can my reaction to Big Brother tell me anything about our Survivor Guatemala season in progress?

Yes, it can!

On Big Brother 6, I didn't see any evidence of brilliant strategy. What I saw was two armed camps sniping at each other back and forth. Nothing shifted, nothing changed. This week, payback. Next week, payback for the payback. The next week, payback for the payback for the payback.

From my perspective, one of the few redeeming features was the ending. Both of the finalists were from the same camp, and therefore the jury was prevented from voting along party lines.

Obviously, I missed the whole point! Whenever I peeked in on the Big Brother Discussion forum, there was a degree of emotional involvement that I've never before seen there. That shows me what I missed, and shows me the producers knew what they were doing when they chose the cast. Easy on the eyes, prone to take clothing off, superficial and petty.

That worked! The most devoted of audiences, at the biggest and best of the Big Brother forums, became highly emotionally involved. That (mostly) kept me away, but there's much to be learned from the fact that it *worked*. It's surely the emotional involvement, and the chance to watch all those buff people, that made the season such a success.

So. Can this experience tell us anything about Survivor?

Certainly! That emotional involvement is key to a great season. We all enjoyed Rupert the Pirate of Pearl Islands. Sandra had a flaming fit when he was voted off. (Has any other Survivor destroyed their own camp in a fit of temper, before or since?) Perhaps partly because of Sandra's loyalty to Rupert, we were happy to see her win.

We've been set up for similar emotional involvement with Stephanie. She was NOT a great player strategically, but the guys enjoy watching her, and her determination is inspiring. Judging from the earliest posts on the Survivor forum, Bobby Jon would seem to be a similar treat for the ladies. To then see his eyes rolling up like that... emotional involvement.

Looking back to Pearl Islands and the finalists Sandra and Lil, we were also offended at the possibility of Lil winning. She had been voted out, was brought back in, and made the final two. That's not fair!

Unfairness makes for emotional involvement. Is it fair for Stephanie and Bobby Jon to be brought back for a second chance at the million dollars? Sure... playing that out should make for an interesting season. In my view, we have two persons who showed themselves poor strategists last time around, but have the advantage of the prior season's hindsight. They have advantages... and the strong possibility of being sloughed off early. For them, the intensity factor is a bit higher, and intensity makes for a more interesting season.

What else makes for a great season?

Palau, at first blush, was a poor season with its inevitable predictability. What we saw was the "strong" style of play like it's never been played before. In the past, strong players such as Sarge are sent home. Boston Rob played a similarly powerful game on Survivor All Stars. But in the end, he took second, and he wasn't universally loved when it was over. We're *glad* Tom won, and any of us would be proud to know him.

What made Palau a poor season, in spite of its being unprecedented in so many ways? It became predictable. It does look like Burnett has learned from that. He did the picking of the tribes and the setting. He stacked the deck to his own taste.

I have a feeling he stacked the strength with Bobby Jon's tribe, and he stacked the compatibility with Stephanie's tribe. If that's true, Bobby Jon's tribe is doomed to be another Ulong. I can only hope there's a master strategist hidden somewhere in Nakum. I suspect there is *not*, or they wouldn't already be in such trouble.

I'll be verrryyyy disappointed if Burnett created another Ulong. Buff and brawn with insufficient brainpower, with Margaret taking the role of Ulong's Stephanie, nurturing and persevering through insurmountable odds. Fortunately, I highly doubt that Burnett would set himself up for that on purpose. He's *far* more slippery than that!

What else makes for a great season? A sudden overwhelming shift, such as happened in Vanuatu, and normally happens time and again in Big Brother (but not this time). Sarge was sent home by the unbreakable womens' alliance. Chris was doomed... and then he won. Scout made the final three with an unusable knee, and I'm *still* not sure how she managed that.

We already have our roster of disabled persons. Disabled males tend to get sent home. Physically useless females tend to make the final three. Will we see the same pattern this time around? Should be interesting!

Leaders get sent home early... unless they're Tom and Ian.

Leaders get sent home early... unless the tribe has no leaders at all. In that case, the entire tribe gets sent home!

Strategically, the reward challenges mean nothing... except as a means of strengthening the tribe to win the immunity challenge. The individual rewards, after the merge, are another thing entirely. Win the reward, lose the alliance.

The elements are there; the players are in motion. The potential is there, I think, for a great season of Survivor!

Next Time, On Survivor - VikingBear's essays
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