Wednesday, July 13, 2016

From My P.O.V: BB18 Needs Endearment (Week 3)

It's difficult for me to criticize Big Brother. Its a game I love and follow with great passion, and have for a very long time. I don't mean criticism of players, or even some production moves, that comes more easily for me. In fact, if you read my last two columns, you’ll find a fair amount of criticism littered throughout. What's difficult for me is to criticize Big Brother as an institution - to say the show isn't good, or that I am not into it, etcetera and so forth. I preface the following column with this statement of inability in regards to a criticism of Big Brother at its core so that you know I do not take it lightly.

All that being said, to me, Big Brother 18 just hasn't been… “good”. The statement is blasphemous, and I don't like saying it, but I feel obligated to share my true opinion on this season with you thus far.

I’ve tried to hang in there, and I have tried desperately to seek out the “good”, and I am having a lot of trouble. I think there are many things that can make a Big Brother season good, or even great. To list just a few components of a good Big Brother season (to me) - Implementation of advanced and intelligent strategies, endearing players, a front runner and an underdog, humor and camaraderie. My problem with Big Brother 18 thus far is that we’ve seen almost none of these components.

The players are, to put it bluntly, inexperienced messes. Even our returnees weren't the most worthy we’ve ever seen, and are making rookie mistakes. The cast is overrun by recruit players who are doing their best to learn as they progress through the game but (with the exception of Maybe Paul) are struggling mightily and frankly could only be equated to chickens running around with their heads cut off. They never really stood a chance against these veterans, who aren't even the best group CBS could have scraped together. There is very little upper level strategy going on - all of the divisions in the house have been very superficial. There's been some talk of long term game, but for the most part the targets are shifting week to week and people are playing a very personal, emotional game. Frank wants to target Tiffany because of their personal feud, Da’Vonne and Frank are on the outs after their whole fiasco - all of the moves being made or talked about aren't impressive, mind blowing strategy… they're just emotional, personal moves being made by a cast who almost doesn't seem to understand what makes this game great.

Aside from a lack of strategic acumen from nearly everyone on the show, Big Brother 18 is sorely lacking a hero. America needs someone to root for, and that player just hasn't emerged yet. I think Paul has the best chance of being that player, but even he has a ways to go. Its a pretty simple formula, to be invested in the show you need someone to root for and to put your investment behind. The person can be endearing, the person can be a strategic mastermind, but if you're just basically feeling “meh” towards every houseguest and don't feel as though you have a horse in the race, why bother tuning in?

Piggy-backing on that point, Big Brother 18 is desperately in need of an endearing character. There are some that are close to fitting the bill, Paulie with his New Jersey charm and intense loyalty and Paul with his humor and the fact that he's playing from an underdog position, but they just aren't it yet. Any great season of Big Brother has a player who really, truly endears themselves to you. Someone whose story you love, someone who motivates you, someone who (even if you know they don't stand a shot at the 500K) you watch the show for. To give a recent example (I hope I don't lose anyone here because its an International example) Joel Leferve of BBCan4 is the quintessential example of an endearing player. Joel was funny, quirky, loyal, and someone you loved to love. He didn't have the gravitas or the sex appeal of some of the Big Brother greats, and that's exactly why you loved him. He was unabashedly himself, and that self was someone you could get behind. Big Brother 18 is in urgent need of their Joel Leferve before people start turning off their television sets because they simply don't care to root for a single person on the show.

I’ll use this point to segue into who I think is in the best position to be our ‘Joel’, and who is emerging as the only person I care for at all, Paul.

Let me be the first to say how surprised I am by this. In his preseason interviews he was cocky, arrogant, rude, and proved he didn't know a lick about the game. In our BB Insider “First Impressions” article, I labeled him as the “pre-jury villain” of the season, and basically said he would bad mouth his way out the door. I was wrong.

Paul is learning on the fly, and is proving to be hysterical in the DR. He's picking up on the subtle nuances of the game - to go with the flow, to appease and hear out the people in power, to understand which eggs to put your baskets in, to be kind to people. For a recruit, Paul is picking up the game at a pace I think is probably unprecedented.

I tweeted after Sunday nights episode that, crazily enough, even if Frank maneuvers himself out of this Da’Vonne conundrum, he has become so unlikable that if he made it to the end he would almost definitely not have the jury votes to win. On the flip side, with Paul’s humor and likability in the house, if he can play it cool as he has been and sneak his way to the end, he could genuinely win it all.

Paul, you're our best chance at a Joel, and as baffled as I am to say it - I am rooting for you.

I am going to conclude this column talking about what a disastrous game I think the vets have devolved into. Because they have. For people who are supposed to be experienced and lead the way, they're really on the precipice of blowing it.

I know you might look at the numbers and wonder how I could say that they're blowing it. If they're in power, they cant be doing that bad of a job, can they? Yes, they can. And they are.

I don't feel the need to talk about what happened between Frank and Da’vonne. I think the situation speaks for itself. I don't think Frank’s actions were malicious or sexually driven, I think they were ignorant. But ignorance is not an excuse. No man should ever put his hands on a woman who doesn't welcome it, even if they do it to their Nana, too. Its that plain and simple for me. I don't think Frank is a horrible person because of it, but I do think it was a terrible, terrible mistake and my heart goes out to Da’Vonne for being put into a situation where she felt so violated and uncomfortable.

Aside from his actions towards Da’Vonne, Frank really, really let his game crumble. My article last week was GLOWING with Frank praise. He was doing a masterful job at manipulating the newbies while staying in the 8-Pack’s favor. Then he got cocky, started “bopping butts”, punching Nicole, calling Natalie fat, and it all went downhill from there. Franks errors serve as a reminder that Big Brother is not just a strategic and competition based game, its a social one, too. It doesn't matter if you're a legendary comp beast and are pulling strategic strings, if you aren't well liked you're as good as dead in the water, which is what is happening to Frank at this very moment. He was in an amazing position, and “frankly” blew it.

Nicole is blowing it, too. I’ve seen some outcry that Nicole is the vet playing the best game, but for those touting that theory I think you are having some trouble seeing the forest through the trees. Nicole vowed she wouldn't get into another showmance that would cost her the game, and she absolutely is doing exactly that. She wanted to play Big Brother, and not “Let Big Brother Play her”. She's already doe-eyed over Corey, to the point that she admits that he's “so good looking she sometimes doesn't even hear what hes saying”. Nicole is making the literal same mistake she did in BB16, which is unfortunate because Nicole, like Frank, was set up nicely after week one to go far in this game.

Da’Vonne isn't playing a good game, either. I know its risky to be hard on Da’Vonne after what she's been through in the last week, but what she went through doesn't mean she's playing a good game. I do GREATLY praise her for her handling of the Frank situation. She didn't fly off the handle like BB17 Day would have, and instead vented in the DR and carried on. The problem with Da'Vonne’s game isn't the Frank situation, its her lack of strategic awareness and self restraint. She's constantly, non-stop, talking game. She has a new target almost daily, and it is causing her own alliance to grow weary of her in fear that they will be her next target at any given moment. She’s improved slightly over last year in her ability to keep her mouth shut, but her erratic game play is undoubtedly going to prevent her from sitting in the final two, mark my words.

I never, ever thought I would say this - but James is playing the best game of the veteran players. He's set himself up nicely with the all-girls alliance, and isn't a target of anyone in the 8-Pack. He's not making any waves. He's laying low. And in this jumbled mess of a house where everyone is flying off their rocker, playing low is the best thing you can do. He's annoyed a few people with his pranks, but Frank’s antics have taken the spot light off of him in that regard. My concern with James is that he's going to try to do something heroic at some point and sacrifice his game for Natalie, but that is yet to be seen.

Pretty sad that the least strategic player of the returnees is the only one who isn't totally blowing it.

In all, I think Big Brother 18 needs to shake things up, and fast. I have a gut feeling viewership is on the verge of taking on heck of a hit. We don't have anyone to root for, and theres no immensely strategic game being played. The only conflict we are seeing in the house has nothing to do with Big Brother itself, but rather just personal grudges. I am honestly saddened by it. I love this game more than I could tell you, and so far this season just isn't doing it for me. I’ll still tune in every Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday out of pure devotion to the game, but my fingers are crossed for bigger and better things soon.

Until next week -


Make sure to follow Matthew on Twitter - @JYABBSuperfan

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