Tonight marks one of the saddest moments of the year: It’s the night that Big Brother airs its season finale. I understand that the very virtue of being sad about this makes me a sad person, but I can’t help it. My name is Kate Ward, and I’m a Big Brother addict. (My only cure is the sight of a stranger wearing some form of embarrassing spandex costume.) And I can’t avoid being down, even though BB13 was a pretty horrible season full of uninspiring twists and ho-hum characters. So, to cheer myself up, I prepared for tonight’s finale by entering into a spirited chat with my fellow Big Brother recapper, Darren Franich. Read on for our picks for the best and worst move of BB13, who should win the whole shebang, and which Monopoly pieces each player represents. Then join the discussion in the comments below!
KATE WARD: The finale of Big Brother 13 is upon us, Darren. How do we feel about this season, with its returning vets, inane gameplay, and incredibly uninteresting new players? Oh wait, do I sound biased?
DARREN FRANICH: Twist! We’re both biased. Double-twist: I actually think the new cast had potential, but this season was instantly hampered by the decision to throw a million new wrinkles into the gameplay. Thanks to the season premiere’s one-two-three triple twist combo — Duos! Returning veterans! Golden Keys! — the first few weeks basically felt like a wash. I thank the TV gods every day that Daniele decided to make her crazypants assault on Team Veteran after the first three weeks. I like how, in her last speech, she seemed pretty much as bored by the season as us viewers did. Can we start the petition for a twist-free BB14 now?
KW: Please! It’s exactly the reason why BB10 was such an awesome season — it was completely twist-free (with the exception of “America’s Player” being used a few weeks), allowing us to enjoy Big Brother for what it is: A fascinating sociological study of human interaction. Who the heck needs Golden Whats-Its to intervene? But perhaps the most infuriating thing about BB13 was how the show used its twists. They were biased in favor of the returning players. Incoming newbies were forced to play with people they had never met before, and therefore, could not necessarily trust. The vets were playing with love interests and family members, and therefore, boasted at least one surefire alliance going in. And then Big Brother chose to revive the duos twist later in the season — but only when it would most benefit the veterans (Rachel and Jordan). Sure, Porsche didn’t have to open Pandora’s Box, but why should hers release a twist detrimental to her gameplay, and Rachel’s release a fun shopping spree for future jury members?
DF: The veteran bias was a double-edged sword. On one hand, as you point out, it completely ruined the chances of several potential newbie power players. (I’m still convinced that there’s an alternate universe where Cassi turned out to be a Big Brother mastermind.) But, on the other hand, the veterans were just so much more interesting than the newer players. Looking back over this season, most of my favorite running storylines involved the returning players: The weird Kennedy/Nixon dichotomy between Golden Couple Jorff and Gollum Couple Brenchel; Daniele’s overeager attempts to prove that she was a better player than her father; Brendon’s Single White Female-esque obsession with Jeff; and, of course, the slow emergence of Rachel as this season’s by-default heroine. Did any newbies do anything nearly as interesting, besides Shelly? Maybe the way forward for Big Brother is to switch off between different “leagues”: An all-star season and a newbie season. Mixing the two just makes things predictable.