December 5, 2023

Well, color me surprised.

When I saw who had won Celebrity Big Brother Sunday night, my first reaction was that the jury got it wrong. So wrong.

However, by definition, in this game, the jury never gets it wrong because they hold the power. Each season, they come up with different reasons for how they vote, and one of the things house guests have to do is convince those going out that they deserve their votes.

With that said, Ross Mathews got hosed. He 100 billion percent deserved to win Celebrity Big Brother, and while I love how gracious he’s been, I feel for the guy. It’s not about the money for many of the celebrities; it’s about the game. Many of these folks are genuinely living out a reality TV geek’s dream in playing Big Brother.

On ET tonight, winner Marissa Jaret Winokur theorized that while she played Celebrity Big Brother, Ross played actual Big Brother. And while I love that soundbite, the truth is that the jury’s vote reminded me a lot of both of Paul’s losses as well as Dan’s loss to Ian a few seasons back.

Well, except for the fact that Josh totally deserved to win last season.

As an aside, I didn’t root for Josh at all during Big Brother 19. I found him to be annoying, overly-emotional, periodically unstable — and by the time the game ended, an amazing Big Brother player. Once my favorite is eliminated, and once we get to a Final 2 or 3, I’m all about wanting the best player to win.

Most Big Brother ‘superfans’ are the same way.

I’ve got nothing but love for Marissa, who is incredibly likeable, but she genuinely played a ‘Friendship’ strategy, as opposed to Paul Abrahamian, who schemed under the cover of ‘friendship.” Lowercase ‘f’.

In fact, I think we could safely say that Marissa might be the nicest Big Brother winner ever.

Julie Chen told Entertainment Weekly that Winokur won because of the “mom vote,” a conspiring of votes from other house guests, presumably female. The only votes Ross got were from Metta World Peace, who basically flipped a coin and randomly chose a key, Mark McGrath and Brandi Glanville.

Juries can vote however they’d like; however, I’m especially disappointed in Shannon Elizabeth and Omarosa, both of whom knew better. I get that Keisha Knight Pulliam and Ariadna Gutierrez, whom I liked quite a bit, might not have a clue about how Big Brother worked. But Shannon was a superfan, who in this case played the role of the bitter juror.

EW’s writer and Survivor finalist, Aubry Bracco, put it brilliantly, so brilliantly that I shall not even try to write it myself. She wrote:

As someone who went to the end of Survivor, only to come up short, I’ve got to be candid — my heart broke when Ross asked if he was the bad guy. I waited over a year to hear the result I knew was coming at the end of my season. I dreamed about Survivor every single night. I convinced myself I was a terrible person to my fellow tribemates. I’ve come to terms with it, and that’s a whole other thesis, but man, I felt for Ross.

Ross played, and he didn’t do it in an overly vindictive manner like Paul. He didn’t just go on his favorite show in the world to inflate his ego. He went to play the game he loves. Was he a bit messy in the process? Sure, but sometimes that’s life, and that’s certainly the fun of competition reality. When his back was up against the wall, he found a way to save himself, and he built a resume of wins in the process. Most upsetting to me is the fact that many players said they saw Ross as a huge threat and sang his praises when they were evicted. I underestimated just how fragile these celebrity egos could be — bring Ross back in a season of average Joes. I’m pretty sure he’d slay.

Maybe I’m a little too serious about this, but it disappoints me as someone who’s given up weeks of my life to play a game I love. By awarding Marissa the win, it sends the message that when you give up your life to entertain American television viewers for free, the best strategy is to be a follower. That sucks.

Read all of Aubry’s piece here.

Celebrity Big Brother will be back.

The best news of all is that Celebrity Big Brother was a ratings hit. It fared well against the Olympics, and Chen says it “definitely” should be back next year. My hope is that they’ll turn it into a two-month affair, just like regular Big Brother. My other suggestion would be to vet celebrities a bit further to make sure none of them will bolt from the house early a la Keisha and Metta.

I understand why they left, but I think a lot of that could have been discovered before casting them.

My other suggestion would be to increase the winnings from $250,000 to $500,000 with a full-season run. If they could make it $1 million, I think you’d get a great cast and fantastic season, fantastic in a Big Brother fan sort of way.

Who benefited from Celebrity Big Brother?

Even in this inaugural season of #CBBUS, there are winners and losers beyond the Top 2. For example, I think Ariadna Gutierrez benefited immensely from her appearance. Nobody knew who she was beyond being the victim of Steve Harvey’s gaffe at Miss Universe.

Turned out that Ariadna was a fun and competitive house guest, who I thought stood a real chance to win toward the end. The #HashItOut game doomed her.

In my opinion, and I might be the only person who thinks this, but I thought Brandi Glanville got a big PR boost from being on Celebrity Big Brother. I thought she was awesome, funny and genuine and I particularly liked how she was especially vulnerable with Julie upon eviction, noting that despite her Teflon-like exterior, stuff gets to her.

To Big Brother superfans, Ross Mathews has earned ton of respect, while Shannon Elizabeth might get a bit of undeserved scorn. I say “undeserved” only because I genuinely think she’s a superfan who, in the end, voted out of revenge.

It’s been done before.

Mark McGrath played a quintessential floater’s game, and I think, in the end came off as well as he entered — although for a guy who’s only two years older than me and who sang rock songs not that long ago, he sure does seem old.

Or maybe I’m old, too. Mark, I’m rockin’ the Metamucil right there with you.

However, as a superfan, I have to say: respect to McGrath. Being a floater is absolutely a legitimate Big Brother strategy. It’s not my favorite, but for some folks who might not be as good competitively as others, it’s their only shot.

Omarosa is as clever and sly as ever, a villain’s villain. She’d make any reality competition worth watching. The fact that “Dancing With The Stars” hasn’t scooped her up is stunning and, frankly, silly.

Metta World Peace came off as genuine and sweet and goofy, nothing like the Ron Artest that got caught up in that Malice at the Palace incident from 2004. That kid was only 25. Metta is a grown-ass man who loves his girlfriend, Maya Ford, to the point of tears.

Who’s ready for Big Brother 20 (#BB20) this summer?

I have no idea what the twist might be, although I do have some thoughts as to who might get re-cast into this summer’s season. The thought had been that either Cody Nickson or Jessica Graf might re-enter the house.

Despite how ‘The Amazing Race’ ended for them, I suspect it’s still a possibility. They’re competitive, and they were terrific for ratings.

The other house guest that could return, in my estimation, if any do, is Christmas Abbott, the fitness instructor who played well but was hobbled by a foot injury that kept her limited competitively. She still almost won.

And then how about Paul Abrahamian? Third time’s the charm?

Look, Big Brother doesn’t re-cast house guests every season, so there are no guarantees that anybody is being let back into the house. Our summer guilty pleasure returns in June, and so shall I with updates and columns, and probably some other Big Brother tidbits between now and then.


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