Big Brother (U.S. TV series)
Big Brother is a television reality game show based on an originally Dutch TV series of the same name created by producer John de Mol in 1997. The series follows a diverse group of contestants, known as HouseGuests, who are living together in a custom-built home under constant surveillance. The HouseGuests are completely isolated from the outside world and can have no communication with those not in the house. The contestants are competing for a $500,000 grand prize, with weekly competitions and evictions determining who will win the show. The series takes its name from the character in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The series launched on July 5, 2000 to a successful start, though ratings and critical reaction continued to grow increasingly negative. This led to the second season being a revamp of the show, featuring a more competition-based challenge. The series has since continued to be a hit for CBS, and is the second longest-running adaptation of the series to date, after the Spanish adaptation.
The series currently has two spin-offs: Big Brother: Over the Top, which was the first reality game show to air exclusively on a streaming platform airing in Fall 2016 on CBS's streaming service, CBS All Access; and Celebrity Big Brother, which aired on CBS in February 2018.
- 1 History
- 2 Format
- 3 Broadcast
- 4 Competitions
- 5 Series details and viewership
- 6 Controversy and criticism
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The series was bought by CBS in early 2000 for an estimated $20 million. The United States version of the series officially premiered on July 5, 2000 when the original ten housemates entered the house. Since its inception, the show has been hosted by television personality Julie Chen. It is produced by Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan for Fly on the Wall Entertainment and Endemol Shine North America (formerly Endemol USA). The success of the series has spawned several spin-offs. The series airs once a year, during the summer, with the exception of the ninth season which aired in spring of 2008 and the Over the Top spinoff series broadcasting in fall 2016. Currently, 19 seasons of the show have aired, along with one digital season. The show has aired a total of 545 episodes since it premiered, with the September 5, 2013 airing marking the 500th episode. To date, there have been a total of 253 HouseGuests compete in the series. Upon entering the house, the HouseGuests who leave the house without permission are not allowed to return. Should a HouseGuest break the rules set in the house, they can be expelled from the house. To date, three HouseGuests have self-evicted for personal matters, while four HouseGuests were expelled from the house because of acts of violence and/or rule-breaking.
Since its premiere, there have been numerous companion programs to the show. In 2004, the web series House Calls: The Big Brother Talk Show (2004–08) began airing. The series, which lasted for thirty minutes and aired on weeknights, allowed fans to call in and discuss the events of the game. This made House Calls the first live Internet talk show produced exclusively for a television network. The series was initially hosted by Gretchen Massey and Big Brother 3 (2002) HouseGuest Marcellas Reynolds during its first two seasons. Beginning with the show's third season, a new co-host was featured on the series each day, with some returning more than once. During the show's fifth and sixth seasons, each co-host was given a designated day of the week to host alongside Gretchen. Following the show's sixth season, it was confirmed that it would not be renewed.
Big Brother: After Dark, a second companion series, was debuted in 2007 and aired on Showtime Too nightly from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern Time. The series continued this schedule until 2013, when it was moved to TVGN (now Pop).
Former HouseGuest Jeff Schroeder began hosting the Big Brother: Live Chat online discussion show in 2012, where he interviewed the HouseGuests both before they enter the house and following their evictions. He also performed post-finale backyard interviews with the cast. On August 10, 2017, Schroeder announced that he was moving to Colorado and would no longer be able to do the interviews.
For Big Brother 20, the "Live Chat" was replaced by Off the Block with Ross and Marissa. Hosted by former Celebrity HouseGuests Marissa Jaret Winokur and Ross Mathews, the show is set to air on Fridays on Facebook following the live eviction.
There have been two spin-off editions of Big Brother. In October 2016, CBS premiered a spin-off web series, Big Brother: Over the Top, as an original series for CBS All Access. Unlike the flagship, television version, it was broadcast exclusively online with a shorter, 10-week season.
Though not an actual spin-off, the Canadian edition of the series is the first and currently only series to adopt the American format of Big Brother. However, other franchises such as Big Brother Brasil soon adopted the Veto Competition, Have/Have-Nots, and Head of Household into their format while still incorporating the international public vote format.[better source needed]
Big Brother is a game show in which a group of contestants, referred to as HouseGuests, live in a custom-built "house" (actually a set built on a CBS stage in Los Angeles, Stage 18 since season 6), constantly under video surveillance. While in the house, the contestants are completely isolated from the outside world, meaning no phone, television, Internet, magazines, newspaper, or contact with those not in the house. This rule could be broken, however, in the event of a medical injury, a family emergency, or death. The format of the series is mainly seen as a social experiment, and requires HouseGuests to interact with others who may have differing ideals, beliefs, and prejudices. While a competition, the series allows viewers to witness the relationships formed in the house and the behavior of the HouseGuests. Though locked in the house, the HouseGuests are free to quit the game, though will not be allowed entry back into the house. Should a HouseGuest break the rules of the game, they could be expelled from the house, and unable to return. The contestants compete for a grand prize of $500,000.
The premiere season used the original format of the series, which originated in the Netherlands. HouseGuests were required to nominate two of their fellow contestants for potential banishment, and the two with the most votes would be nominated. Should multiple HouseGuests receive the most nominations, then more than two HouseGuests were marked for banishment. This process was mandatory for all HouseGuests, and failure to comply could result in expulsion from the house. The HouseGuests in these seasons were forbidden from discussing nominations, and doing so could result in punishment. The public, through a vote conducted by phone, would vote to banish one of the nominated HouseGuests from the house, and the HouseGuest with the most votes from the viewers would be banished from the house. When only three HouseGuests remained, the viewers would vote for which of them should win the series, and the HouseGuest with the most votes would become the winner. The format, during that season, was plagued with a negative reception from both critics and viewers.
Having spent millions on the series, CBS issued a second season of the series and announced that various changes would occur with the format. The current format of the series is focused more on competition and strategy than the original series, which makes resemblance to the format from another CBS show, Survivor. At the start of each week in the house, the HouseGuests compete for the title of Head of Household. The Head of Household for each week is given luxuries such as their own personal bedroom and free laundry service, but is responsible for nominating two HouseGuests for eviction. The Head of Household would not be able to compete in the following week's Head of Household competition, meaning that a HouseGuest could not hold the title for two weeks in a row, except for the final week or other stated circumstances. All HouseGuests excluding the Head of Household and nominees later vote to determine which of the two nominees should be evicted, and the nominated HouseGuest who received the most votes is evicted during a live episode. If there is a tie in the voting, the reigning Head of Household is required to make the tie-breaker decision. Unlike other versions of Big Brother, the HouseGuests may discuss the nomination and eviction process openly and freely. The HouseGuests also competed in Have-Not competitions, in which the losers were required to solely eat slop for the rest of the week, as well as sleep in a special bedroom. Upon reaching a point in the game, the evicted HouseGuests go on to become members of the Jury; the Jury is responsible for choosing who wins the series. The members of the Jury are not shown any Diary Room interviews or any footage that may include strategy or details regarding nominations. Once only two HouseGuests remain, the members of the Jury cast their votes for who should win the series.
To keep the series intriguing, each season typically features a new twist to change the format of the game. This began with Big Brother 3 (2002) and the "Expect the Unexpected" twist. Other seasons feature smaller twists that have a smaller impact on the game, usually affecting that sole week. The most notable example of this is Pandora's Box, a twist that originated in Big Brother 11 (2009). The twist sees the current Head of Household for that week being tempted by the box, and can choose to either open the box or leave it. Should a HouseGuest choose to open Pandora's Box, both good and bad consequences could be unleashed into the house; these can affect not only the Head of Household but the other housemates. Similar formats are applied in later seasons, for example, the Den of Temptation introduced in season 19. Secret powers have also appeared in the past. Mike Malin was the first HouseGuest to receive a secret power, earning the Coup d'État during Big Brother: All-Stars (2006). The Coup d'État allowed the holder to remove one or both nominees from the block on eviction night, as well as choose who is nominated in their place. Malin chose not to use the power, and it subsequently returned during Big Brother 11 (2009) when Jeff Schroeder was given the power by the viewers. Matt Hoffman was given a Diamond Power of Veto during Big Brother 12 (2010), which allowed him to remove one HouseGuest from the block and choose the replacement nominee. During Big Brother 14 (2012), HouseGuest Ian Terry won a second Power of Veto, which could be used the same as the normal Power of Veto.
Many seasons have featured twists in which evicted HouseGuests can win reentry into the house, either by public vote or competition. Normally this involves sequestering each eliminated contestant individually or in the jury house (depending on whether the twist occurred pre-jury or post-jury respectively). Contestants who 'self-evict' (quit the game voluntarily) are ineligible to return in these twists. Examples of the twists employed in various seasons are listed below.
In Big Brother 3, the first four evictees were asked what they would give up to re-enter the house and the two that listed the most faced a public vote. In Big Brother 6, the first four evictees faced a public vote. InBig Brother 9, the first six evictees faced a public vote, before facing a house vote on whether to bring back the most recent evictee or the "mystery HouseGuest" chosen by America, In Big Brother 13, the first four evictees faced a public vote, before the winner competed against the most recent, fifth evictee for reentry. Each Season from Big Brother 15 until Big Brother 18, the first four jurors competed alongside the remaining HouseGuests in the following HoH competition, with the winner eligible for HoH. In Big Brother 18 and Big Brother 19 the first five evictees competed in a series of knockout competitions until the one final HouseGuest won reentry. In Big Brother 20, one of the Power Apps granted a contestant a chance at reentry upon eviction.
Jessie Godderz has made the most Big Brother appearances in the show's history, appearing in seasons 10 and 11 as a HouseGuest and in seasons 12–14 and 17–20 as well as the Celebrity edition in a special guest appearance.
Victor Arroyo is the only HouseGuest to be evicted three times in the same season, having won a competition to gain reentry into the house twice.
Dan Gheesling and Paul Abrahamian are the only players that have lasted until the Final 2 in two separate seasons and face a jury vote. However, Abrahamian was unable to win in either of his two appearances and holds the distinction of first HouseGuest to do so.
Since its launch in the United States, Big Brother has aired on CBS. The show is simulcast in Canada on Global. The fourth and ninth seasons have both aired in the United Kingdom, the latter airing in the Spring season. The first season featured a total of six episodes per week, though all future installments would air three nights per week. Of these three episodes, the weekly eviction episode is the only one that is live; this is the only episode to feature host Julie Chen. This show generally airs on Thursdays. To date, there have been a total of 558 episodes of the series to air. With the exception of the ninth season, the series typically airs once a year during the Summer season. The first fifteen seasons aired in standard definition, with the sixteenth season being the first to be produced in HD. Before the series made the transfer, it was the last remaining regularly scheduled Primetime series to remain in standard definition. CBS released the entire third season as a nine-disc set on Region 1 DVD. This made it the first season to receive an official release, and has since become a rare item to find. The fourth season saw the release of a two-disc highlights DVD, featuring previously unseen footage deemed too racy for the main broadcast. To date, these are the only seasons to see a physical release. Beginning with the seventh season, all future seasons are available for purchase on digital retail sites. With the fifteenth season, TVGN (now Pop) began airing re-runs of the series at later dates, making it the first season to be aired following its premiere; this continued with the sixteenth season.
Subscribers to CBS All Access are able to stream the complete run of Big Brother, including the differently-formatted first season, and an episode of Big Brother 2 that did not air in most markets due to ongoing coverage of the September 11 attacks.
One of the main aspects of the series is the live feeds, in which viewers can view inside the house at any time. The live feeds have been a part of the series since its inception, initially being offered as a free service during the first season. From the second season onward, a subscription to the live feeds has been required, with the price ranging each year. The first season's feeds were available on the show's official site, hosted by AOL. From the second season to the fourteenth season, the feeds were available through RealNetworks either as a subscription or as a free addition for Gold members. With the fifteenth season onward, the live feeds have aired on the official CBS website, again requiring a subscription from users. Though advertised as being available at any time, the feeds are shut off during the weekly nomination ceremony, Power of Veto ceremony, and the competitions and evictions for that week; this is to provide suspense for the series. Slanderous statements and singing of copyrighted music are also blocked for legal reasons.
CBS aired the spin-off series Celebrity Big Brother from February 7–25, 2018. It was the first spin-off to air on the broadcast network, and the second season overall to air in the winter television season. The celebrity edition aired in a concentrated run with fewer episodes, but with multiple episodes each week.
Head of Household (HOH)
The Head of Household competition is held at the beginning of each week, and is most often performed on the live eviction episode. Most often, the first Head of Household competition will require HouseGuests to participate either in pairs or in teams. While the fourth, fifth, and eighth seasons had the HouseGuests competing in pairs, the sixth, seventh, eleventh, twelfth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth editions all saw HouseGuests competing as part of a group. The live Head of Household competitions are typically question based, and will see HouseGuests eliminated each round. Competitions such as "Majority Rules" have been used numerous times, with the game being played in the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth seasons; a variation of the competition was used in the seventh season. Some competitions will attempt to cause drama in the house, such as the "En Garde" Head of Household competition in which the winner of each round selected the next two to face off against one another. This competition was later used in the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth seasons. Various competitions throughout the season will be endurance, requiring HouseGuests to be the last one remaining in the competition. Endurance competitions are often held after game changing announcements, such as when a previously evicted HouseGuest returns. Various endurance competitions may have punished or reward contestants who either fall off first or last. Skill based competitions also appear frequently throughout the season, some of which may last for numerous hours. Skill competitions, such as the thirteenth season's "Big Brother Open", are finished during the live eviction broadcast. The final Head of Household competition of each season features three rounds; the first is endurance, the second is skill, and the final is question based. The record for most Head of Household competitions won in a single season is four (4). The record has been held by Drew Daniel, Janelle Pierzina, Hayden Moss, Rachel Reilly, Ian Terry, Aaryn Gries, Caleb Reynolds, Vanessa Rousso and Steve Moses in terms of reigns. Frankie Grande won HOH 5 times the sixteenth season, however he was dethroned twice due to the dual HoH twist that was in play during his season, and third reign was rewound due to the rewind button twist. This leaves Frankie with just two full reigns as HoH. Ian Terry has the record for most consecutive Head of Household wins, with four (winning at the Final 9, 7, 5 and 3 rounds) . One of the Head of Household's duties is to nominate 2 people for eviction. Victoria from the sixteenth season holds the record for most times being nominated with nine.
Power of Veto (POV)
The Power of Veto is a power first introduced in Big Brother 3. During its first season, it did not allow a nominated HouseGuest to use it on themselves. The final Power of Veto that season was the Golden Power of Veto, and allowed a nominated HouseGuest to remove themself from the block. Following this, the Golden Power of Veto was used in all subsequent seasons. The Diamond Power of Veto, used in Big Brother 12 allowed one HouseGuest to remove themselves from the block, as well as choose the replacement nominee only moments before the live eviction. Power of Veto competitions differ drastically from the Head of Household competition, with PoV competitions being more skill based in nature. Competitions such as the "Pop Goes the Veto!" competition, which required HouseGuest to find letter tiles and spell the longest word, have been used in numerous consecutive seasons. Competitions such as the "Big Brother Boardwalk" competition see HouseGuests attempting to guess how much of an item there is; this is one of various competitions that do not require HouseGuests to compete in a physical based competition. The "How Bad Do You Want It?" Power of Veto competition, first introduced in the seventh season, saw HouseGuests taking punishments in exchange for advancing in the competition. Variations of this competition have been used in numerous subsequent seasons. HouseGuests Janelle Pierzina, Daniele Donato & Paul Abrahamian currently hold the record for most Power of Veto wins in a single season, with five wins each. HouseGuests James Zinkand, Frank Eudy, Shane Meaney, and Kaycee Clark all hold the record for most consecutive Power of Veto wins, with three each.
Food and luxury
Food and luxury competitions have been a part of the series since it first premiered. In early seasons, the losers of the food competition would be placed on a peanut butter and jelly diet, and would not be permitted to eat any other foods. Beginning with Big Brother 7, the losers of the Have-Not competition were required to eat "Big Brother Slop" for food, sleep in the Have-Not bedroom, and take cold showers for the week. Slop has proven to be an issue for some HouseGuests; Hypoglycemic HouseGuest Amanda Hansen fainted and had a seizure after only a few days of being on the slop diet, while HouseGuest Allison Nichols had an allergic reaction to the slop (both of these cases occurred in Big Brother 9). Both women were medically evacuated from the house, though they returned the following morning. HouseGuests who choose to break the slop rule are punished by Big Brother. HouseGuest Jen Johnson from Big Brother 8 was the first HouseGuest to break the food restriction rules, and earned a penalty eviction vote for doing so; she was ultimately evicted that week. Audrey Middleton from Big Brother 17 and Matt Clines from Big Brother 19 also broke the rules and earned a penalty vote and ultimately evicted. HouseGuests Jeff Schroeder and Kevin Campbell of Big Brother 11 also broke the rules, to a lesser degree, and earned an extra day on the slop diet. The HouseGuests also frequently compete in luxury competitions during their time in the house. Most frequently, HouseGuests will compete for the right to watch a film or television show in the house. When competitions for films or television shows occur, an actor or actress from the series may enter the house to host the competition or speak with the HouseGuests. Actors such as Jeremy Piven, David Hasselhoff, and Neil Patrick Harris have all entered the house to participate in luxury competitions or rewards.
Battle of the Block
The Battle of the Block was first introduced during Big Brother 16, and was reintroduced during the premiere of Big Brother 17. Instead of the normal singular Head of Household (HOH), two HOHs were named for that week. Each would then nominate a pair of nominees. These two pairs of nominees would compete against each other in a competition. The winning pair was safe from eviction and dethroned the HOH that nominated, allowing for the other HOH to remain in power for the rest of the week. While the winning pair was safe from eviction for the rest of the week, the dethroned HOH was not. There were eight Battle of the Block competitions in season 16 and five in season 17.
The Battle Back Competition allows an evicted house guest to return into the house and play as if they had never left. This competition was first introduced in Season 18 and returned to play a role in both Season 19 and 20 as well.
During Season 18, the first two evicted house guests battled one on one, and the winner went on to compete against the third. The winner of that matchup would face the next evicted HouseGuest, and the winner of the final match-up re-entered the game. Victor Arroyo was the winner. Also that season, jury members competed alongside the HouseGuests still in the game. The last HouseGuest standing became the new HoH while the last Jury member standing returned to the game. Victor won this Battle Back making him the first HouseGuest in Big Brother history to reenter the game in the same season for a third time. This version of the Battle Back did not return for season 19.
During Season 19, the four evicted house guests played against each other in one competition. The top two then played head-to-head, and the winner then had to face off against a member inside the house. If the evicted house guest won, they would re-enter the game. However, if the non-evicted house guest won, no one would re-enter the game and all four evicted house guests would be permanently eliminated. Cody Nickson beat Paul Abrahamian in the final round and re-entered the game.
During Season 20, the first four evicted jury members played against each other in one competition. Scottie Salton beat out his competitors Bayleigh Dayton, Angie "Rockstar" Lantry and Faysal Shafaat and re-entered the game.
Series details and viewership
|Season||Launch date||Finale date||Days||HouseGuests||Winner||Runner-Up||Final Vote||Average
|1||July 5, 2000||September 29, 2000||88||10||Eddie McGee||Josh Souza||59–27–14%1||9.10||70|
|2||July 5, 2001||September 20, 2001||82||12||Will Kirby||Nicole Schaffrich||5–2||7.90||30|
|3||July 10, 2002||September 25, 2002||Lisa Donahue||Danielle Reyes||9–1||8.70||33|
|4||July 8, 2003||September 24, 2003||13||Jun Song||Alison Irwin||6–1||8.80||33|
|5||July 6, 2004||September 21, 2004||142||Drew Daniel||Michael "Cowboy" Ellis||4–3||8.30||31|
|6||July 7, 2005||September 20, 2005||80||14||Maggie Ausburn||Ivette Corredro||7.24||30|
|7||July 6, 2006||September 12, 2006||72||14 (All Returnees)3||Mike "Boogie" Malin||Erika Landin||6–1||7.56||28|
|8||July 5, 2007||September 18, 2007||81||14||"Evel" Dick Donato||Daniele Donato||5–2||7.52||33|
|9||February 12, 2008||April 27, 2008||16||Adam Jasinski||Ryan Quicksall||6–1||6.56||33|
|10||July 13, 2008||September 16, 2008||71||13||Dan Gheesling||Robert "Memphis" Garrett||7–0||6.72||29|
|11||July 9, 2009||September 15, 2009||73||13 (1 Returnee)4||Jordan Lloyd||Natalie Martinez||5–25||7.19||30|
|12||July 8, 2010||September 15, 2010||75||13||Hayden Moss||Lane Elenburg||4–3||7.76||30|
|13||July 7, 2011||September 14, 2011||14 (6 Returnees)||Rachel Reilly||Porsche Briggs||7.95||29|
|14||July 12, 2012||September 19, 2012||16 (4 Returnees)||Ian Terry||Dan Gheesling||6–1||6.79||30|
|15||June 26, 2013||September 18, 2013||90||16||Andy Herren||GinaMarie Zimmerman||7-2||6.47||36|
|16||June 25, 2014||September 24, 2014||97||Derrick Levasseur||Cody Calafiore||6.41||40|
|17||June 24, 2015||September 23, 2015||98||176||Steve Moses||Liz Nolan||6–3||6.18||40|
|18||June 22, 2016||September 21, 2016||99||16 (4 Returnees)||Nicole Franzel||Paul Abrahamian||5–4||5.78||42|
|19||June 28, 2017||September 20, 2017||92||17 (1 Returnee)7||Josh Martinez||6.06||39|
|20||June 27, 2018||September 26, 2018||99||16||TBA||40|
|Season||Launch date||Finale date||Days||HouseGuests||Winner||Runner-Up||Final Vote||Average
|1||February 7, 2018||February 25, 2018||26||11||Marissa Jaret Winokur||Ross Mathews||6-3||5.04||13|
|Season||Launch date||Finale date||Days||HouseGuests||Winner||Runner-Up||Final Vote||Average
|Over the Top||September 28, 2016||December 1, 2016||65||138||Morgan Willett||Jason Roy||America's Vote1||N/A||10|
^1 For the first season of the main edition and Over the Top, the public voted to determine the winner between the three finalists. However, the voting percentages were not revealed for Over the Top.
^2 Thirteen HouseGuests were originally announced with a set of identical twins secretly playing as one HouseGuest. After surviving the first four evictions, the twins were allowed to compete as individuals.
^3 The 14 returning HouseGuests were chosen among 20 candidates—eight through public vote, and six by the producers.
^4 The returning HouseGuest was chosen among four candidates, determined by a competition.
^5 One of the HouseGuests was expelled from the house during the season. Due to this, their vote was instead decided by the American public.
^6 Sixteen HouseGuests were originally announced with a set of identical twins secretly playing as one HouseGuest. After surviving the first five evictions, the twins were allowed to compete as individuals.
^7 The returning HouseGuest entered the house as a result of an opening night twist.
^8 A returning HouseGuest from the main edition was chosen among two candidates, determined by public vote. The candidates were from the main edition.
Controversy and criticism
Since its inception, Big Brother has been criticized following reports of "HIB" (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying), violence in the house, obscene language, breach of integrity, and the physical and mental strain of appearing on the series.
On September 13th, 2018, during the 20th season, Julie Chen closed out the show, saying, "From outside the Big Brother house... I'm Julie Chen Moonves, good night." It was the first time in her entire television career she used her married name. It is believed she was standing in solidarity with her husband, Les Moonves, who had just been ousted as President of CBS the week before. 
- Big Brother franchise
- List of Big Brother U.S. HouseGuests
- Big Brother Canada
- The Glass House
- Bigg Boss India
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