Big Brother season 19 has had its fair share of “bad behavior,” as host Julie Chen put it, but it hasn’t necessarily been worse than previous installments on the hit CBS reality show.
“I think there are summers in the past where the behavior has been worse,” Chen, who also cohosts the CBS daytime talk show The Talk, told EW during a Facebook Live interview Wednesday. “Part of the game is that we don’t interfere with what’s happening. Anyone who we feel like is getting bullied, they don’t necessarily feel like it; they’re just living Big Brother. If they’re in the Diary Room saying, ‘I can’t take it, this is abuse,’ that’s a different thing. No one has come forward and said that.”
The current season has the same high-drama blowouts audiences have come to expect on any season of Big Brother, but this year arguably seemed to feel like more houseguests were being specifically, socially targeted. Certain contestants’ lives were purposefully made living hells, sometimes for silly annoyance (thanks to Josh Martinez and his pot-and-pan banging) but other times for vicious torment. Megan Lowder left the house just days after the season 19 premiere following the Head of Household competition when Josh called her a “snake” and “bully,” later accusing her of “disgusting” game play.
Chen worries that viewers — herself included — may be looking at everything with a more incriminating eye than necessary, though.
“We also see after a day a lot of self-correction; there’s so much activity in the house that things always settle down,” she said. “Sometimes when I’ve interviewed evicted houseguests about x, y, and z they’re like, ‘Oh no, we were kidding, we’re good. I’m going to be best friends with these people.’ So sometimes it’s us making a bigger deal not knowing what it’s like to be in that person’s shoes. It’s Big Brother.”
There’s no mistaking, however, that this season is unlike most others — though not for its bad behavior. Chen pointed to one person for changing the way the game has been played.
“The general feeling I have about this season is that it’s not Big Brother, it’s Big Paul. Paul is running the house. Paul is the puppet master and everyone inside the house is happy to be led by him, and that to me is amazing that he’s got them all fooled,” she told EW. “He’s like the Big Bad Wolf and at the end he’s going to take off the cloak and take that check away from you.”
Big Brother airs Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET, and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET. Watch more of Chen and her cohosts on The Talk — season 8 premieres Monday, Sept. 11, on CBS stations — in the video above.