'Big Brother 13' season finale: Remembering the season of Twists
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.
NEXT: Who made the best move in BB13? The worst?
KW: But that’s exactly my point: We weren’t even given the chance to see whether or not the newbies were interesting. Imagine a world where Keith, Cassi, and Dominic all survived past week 3 — surely, these personalities would have produced some fascinating gameplay. Or would have least done more than the likes of Porsche and Adam. (Is it possible to type the name “Adam” without wanting to plant your face on your desk?) But that was the problem with the new players: The least interesting survived. But you also have to factor in that they were stacked up against giant personalities like Jeff, Rachel, and Daniele. You’re going to appear boring no matter what you do when you’re compared to the crazy lady with more emotional angst than a 12-year-old furiously scribbling in her Lisa Frank notebook. If Big Brother can take away anything from this season, it’s that, as you said, famous players should never be brought back to compete with their fans. But, whether or not we enjoyed it, we have to confront the fact that this season did happen. So let’s talk about it. Who executed the best move in BB13? Who executed the worst? (And let’s exempt Lawon’s self-eviction from the latter question, since we all know that move was so moronic, it could be sewn into fabric and used to replace the Humilitard next season.)
DF: My favorite memory of the season is still the moment when Lawon said, “I have a 99 percent chance of returning with super powers.” LAWON! I think the best game move this season, without question, was Shelly’s Judas-goat backstabbery of Jeff. I actually think Shelly played pretty smart all season — she was never in charge, but she kind of made herself everyone’s Grand Vizier, to the point that even her worst enemies seemed to respect her. And she made the right move against Jeff at the exact right time. If Porsche hadn’t opened Pandora’s Box, I’m betting Shelly would’ve found her way into the top 3. As for worst move: I’d go with Dominic’s terrible, terrible decision to throw the veto competition in week 3. It was such a comedy of errors: He made a deal with Brenchel, but didn’t realize that his partner Adam had also made a deal with Brenchel; he was depending on Daniele to keep the veterans on his side, but that was right when Daniele was getting on the veterans’ bad side. Actually, let’s also throw onto the pile Dominic’s decision to form “The Regulators,” surely the least successful alliance in Big Brother history.
KW: Personally, my favorite moment of the season was when the veterans began a yelling match against Kalia and Daniele, and, out of nowhere, Lawon interrupted everyone and said, “All I know is I am going to PLAY THIS GAME.” Cut to: Lawon’s unceremonious exit just days later. Lawon was like the Nikki and Paulo of Big Brother: We knew he was there, but why?! Anyway, Dominic was one of the only newbies to take this game seriously, so I simply cannot bring myself to say his move was the worst. Instead, I’m going to go with Kalia putting Jeff on the block — only to root for him during the veto competition (while refusing to win it herself). You can’t backpedal in Big Brother, even if you make a decision you later deem unwise. She would have been far more likely to win the respect of the house had she stuck to her guns the way she sticks to her Sex and the City DVD set. As far as the best move of the season, I’m going to have to agree with you about Shelly — but I have a real problem with the way she dealt with the Jeff aftermath. This was a woman far too tied to her “morals” to play slyly. Granted, she was forced to eat crow once Pandora’s Box was released, but had she attempted to convince Rachel to keep her based on her big game move, rather than attempt to bribe her into letting her stay with a faux diamond ring, she might have had a chance to stick around longer than Adam. After all, Rachel hates floaters. Speaking of floaters — or should I say coasters? — before we get to the subject of who should win the game, let’s talk perennial fan favorite Jordan. After winning BB11, the Southern belle became an American sweetheart. But this season, we saw a slightly different side of Jordan and boyfriend Jeff. Though many would call them two of the best social players in Big Brother history, I simply saw a pair of bullies this season. The way they antagonized Kalia and Shelly — even as the latter entered the jury house, when tempers have usually softened — for making moves against them seemed bitter and, frankly, unattractive. Haven’t they ever listened to the Rolling Stones? What say you, Darren?
NEXT: It’s all about The Rachel.
DF: Jeff is a great Big Brother player. Jordan is just the cutest li’l paperweight ever. But I’m with you: They didn’t come off too well this season. Maybe it’s just because the first few weeks of the season were just so easy for them: They had players like Adam and Shelly begging to be in an alliance, they were running the competitions, and Rachel and Brendon absorbed most/all of the anti-veteran sentiment in the house. Then, the second things started going even a tiny bit badly for them, they freaked out. When Kalia nominated him for eviction, Jeff acted like he’d never heard of a “pawn” before. The low point was probably when Jordan, after spending almost two months doing nothing, started complaining that the other houseguests were doing nothing. I mean, Brendon and Rachel can be annoying, but at least they’re aggressively, passionately annoying, and they both love the game. Jeff and Jordan just seemed miffed whenever people didn’t roll out the red carpet for them. That’s why I wasn’t too sad to see Jordan go… and also why I’m totally Team Rachel tonight. What about you, Kate? Are you rooting for Porsche or Adam? Yeesh, Monopoly pieces have more personality than those two.
KW: If Porsche is the car (naturally) in Monopoly, then what is Adam? Since he does nothing but sit around and breathe hot air, he’s gotta be the iron, right? The very fact that Rachel absorbed all the anti-vet hate like a sponge who cries in the bushes under the sea — and, yet, is still left standing — is the very reason why she should win this whole shebang. As we outlined here, she’s also one of the only players who consistently wins competitions. She’s bagged three Head of Household competitions out of nine weeks — pretty damn good when you consider that she was ineligible to play for three of those nine weeks. And the fact that she’s become somewhat well-liked in the house, just one year after being labeled a “vile devil child”? I dare anyone to try to convince that she should lose against the human version of this and a woman not quite good enough to be named Lamborghini.
DF: To complete the metaphor: In Monopoly, Rachel is the cannon, Jeff is the wheelbarrow, Julie Chen is Uncle Moneybags, and Adam is terrible. You’re right about the Redheaded Wonder, Kate. In a generally dull season filled with Porsches and Adams and Jordans floating along like happy bubbles, we yearned to feel something, anything — frustration, annoyance, anger, sadness, joy, excitement — and Rachel produced all that and more. If she wins, she’ll have completed her transformation from a Terminator 1-style horrible unstoppable villain to a Terminator 2-style horrible unstoppable heroes. And by god, this world needs more horrible heroes. Come on, Rachel!
Now it’s your turn, PopWatchers: Who do you think should win? Who made the best and worst decisions this season? And what twist — if any — would you like to see on BB14?