Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Guilty Pleasure

Okay, I'm taking a deep breath and admitting something out loud here and now to you, dear readers - I'm a fan of the reality TV show called Big Brother. Tonight is the start of season 12 and I'm pretty excited about that.

Normally, I don't watch reality shows. I don't care who's dancing with the stars or wants to be the next singing sensation or how amazing the race might be, you couldn't pay me to sit and watch any of those shows. However, I will admit that I have watched a few seasons of Survivor but usually only when there are really cute boys involved, like Colby and Ethan. We had a pool going at work a few years ago so I watched that year because there was money involved. But if I missed a year or an episode, it was no big deal.

But one summer, when there was nothing else on TV, a friend of mine told me about BB, I watched an episode and I was hooked. I started watching with season 3 in 2002 (hard to believe I've been watching that long!?) and I haven't missed a session since then.

The concept is that about a dozen people are placed in a house and forced to live together, without leaving that house or having any contact with the outside world, for about 3 months. Three episodes air each week and the housemates vote someone out every Thursday night. During the week, they compete in contests to win food or a chance to be "head of the household" for the week. HOH gets a private bedroom and bathroom, a letter from home, lots of food treats and the opportunity to nominate two of their fellow housemates to be voted off the show.

The name of the show comes from the George Orwell classic novel, 1984, in which the concept of being watched by "Big Brother" was introduced. In the case of the TV show, every move the housemates make is filmed by one of the several cameras positioned around the house and the good stuff is shown to the TV audience - hence, the name. Or, if you want, you can pay a fee and have access to the 24/7 live feed. (No, I'm not that big of a fan but I do know someone who tried it and said it was pretty interesting to see what they can't show you on television!)

I find it's a bit like watching a lab experiment. It's fascinating to me to watch how complete strangers interact with one another when they have no outside stimulation and they are confined together in one place. Usually, the worst parts of human nature are the norm - people are greedy, selfish, mean and backstabbing. Did I mention that the last one standing wins half a million dollars? As they say, money tends to bring out the worst in people. Every once in a while, someone does a nice thing and there have been a couple of genuine romances (and several "showmances") over the years but mostly, everyone is out for themselves to win the money and they don't care who they lie to or betray to get it.

According to Wikipedia, the show started in the Netherlands and has now spread to 70 countries around the world. Yes, you read that right - seventy countries. It even has its own network, Clearly, I'm not the only one who finds this stuff interesting!
So, I'm about to settle down in front of the TV for an hour to be introduced to this season's players. Care to join me?

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