Fixing 'Big Brother' — EW offers some tips for fixing CBS's often dull reality series

By Josh Wolk
Updated August 11, 2000 at 12:00 PM EDT

Here’s a dose of reality for CBS: After four weeks on the air, Big Brother is already having trouble mustering dramatic tension — and there’s two months of voyeuring left. The show still could be a survivor, though, if they’re open to a few of EW’s camera-ready suggestions.

— Tell the whole story. Mega accused Eddie of cheating on the ”Tour de Big Brother” bike race, a transgression we never saw. Eddie does an impression of Jordan by mocking her love of tuna fish, leaving viewers to ask, ”She loves tuna?” Instead of making us struggle to fill in the plot holes, Brother producers need to make room for some exposition. It’s easy to find time: Simply ditch George’s comedy-free improv cooking skits and the flat-line-inducing montages of the housemates washing their faces.

— No more live broadcasts. Sure, anything can happen — including dead air. After the latest nominations, producers aired six minutes of the gang preparing dinner, with a ”LIVE” logo reminding us we were being bored in real time. This isn’t Super Bowl Sunday: We only need the highlights. And the interview-impaired Julie Chen (”What do you make of all this cuddling?”) should be grateful if her screen time is trimmed.

— Make the challenges, um, challenging. Constructing plaster face masks? Building a domino chain? Do the producers get their ideas from handbooks on rainy-day games for children? Not only are these tasks unoriginal (a ”rub your tummy/pat your head” endurance test isn’t far off), they’re entirely too unifying. Why not have them compete against each other to see who can stay awake the longest, with the winner getting more grocery money than the others? Mix competition and crushing fatigue and we’ll see how quickly they stop claiming they’re ”family.”

— Come to think of it, just have a housemate transfusion. Note to Brother‘s misguided producers: Just because an ”extreme” virgin has fuchsia hair and a middle-aged roofer has a beer gut, it doesn’t guarantee compelling conflict. The remaining residents (save the calculating Jordan) are so interchangeably innocuous that they have little motivation to nominate each other for ”banishment.” The solution? Have the audience pick only one housemate to stay; then allow The Real World‘s producers to stage a casting coup and restock the house. Lock Ruthie and Puck inside and watch the dominoes really fly.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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