Mark Harris says their dopey characters should end up on the big screen

By Mark Harris
Updated July 29, 2000 at 12:00 PM EDT

”Survivor” and ”Big Brother” would make great movies

You know, coming up with a subject for my Hot Topic column is really hard, and I really don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings because I like everybody, so I’ve decided on a system that I’m going to stick with: My Hot Topics will now be alphabetical. Today, we’re going to talk about aardvarks.

Oh. I’m sorry. For a moment I must have been possessed by the spirit of Sean, ”Survivor”’s doofus of the week, the neurologist (remind me not to have an aneurysm in HIS office), whose ”system” of voting castaways off the island in alphabetical order resulted in the expulsion of Jenna, and, to his apparent slack-jawed amazement, yet another triumph for Richard’s satanic cabal. (Wednesday night was particularly rich for the dark forces — we got to see Rudy for the complete ”homophobic nut bag slash lesbian conspiracy theorist” that he is and Susan for the walking shot put of hatred that she is. The only thing that would have made it better is if Kelly had found someone on the island from whom to borrow a credit card.)

But back to the matter at hand. Sean. Doctor. DUDE. Is there anybody in there? Did they not teach you how to COUNT in med school? When you said you were confident that you wouldn’t be the swing vote that booted Jenna (which, by the way, you WERE, in case you’re still puzzling that out), what was going on upstairs? Did that nipple piercing sever an artery to your brain? I know you claim to not have a malicious bone in your body, but it’s okay to have a SPINE. As ”Big Brother”’s Eddie might put it, you ignorant dumb f—.

One of the reasons we’re all still talking about ”Survivor” and ”Big Brother” here, aside from that giant sucking sound you’re hearing at the local multiplex, is that the shows reveal characters we see all the time in life but never in the movies. Aside from Sean and his ”Big Brother” corollary, the baby-voiced beauty pageant casualty Jamie (”I rolled the dice… is that okay?” Yes, honey. Now go rest your weary head), we’re meeting all kinds of folks that the movies should exploit. With so many fortysomething actresses complaining that there are no good roles for them, surely someone will want to take on ”Big Brother”’s Karen, the maternal faux do-gooder, her claw permanently curled around a Bic lighter, who spits venom and backstabs anytime she has a cigarette break (which is apparently about 60 times a day). John Goodman in his prime could do wonders with the teddy bear of sanctimony and manipulation that is ”Big Brother”’s George. And as for Britney, well, you don’t have to look too hard past her name for ideal casting.

The other reason for our collective obsession is that the two shows explore group dynamics in a much more profound way than most movies ever get to. All those rope courses on ”Survivor” and idiotic ”set up these dominos” group activities on ”Big Brother” are just red herrings, distractions from the riveting ”rats at the bottom of an airshaft” quality of their collective interactions. And the acid can spray in such surprising directions. Wednesday night, for instance, ”Big Brother”’s Curtis led all housemates with six eviction votes. Apparently, his crime is that unlike Cassandra, he hasn’t been playing his intelligence close enough to the vest, and some of the lower-wattage housemates feel condescended to. But does America hate him more than the disgruntled man trap wannabe Jordan? Have fun at ”Nutty Professor II”, and let me know how it is. I’ll be watching this play out.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

  • TV Show
  • 22
  • TV-14
  • CBS
stream service