THREE GUYS AND… REALITY TV
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“TRAINWRECK: BIG BROTHER 2000”
written by Dominick Cappello
– Julie Chen
I had watched the very first episode of the first season of the U.S. version of Big Brother so that I would be well-informed when I listened to the Rob Cesternino (Survivor: The Amazon and Survivor: All Stars) and Eric Stein (Big Brother 8) podcast which was recorded not long after the premiere of Big Brother 17, celebrating the fifteen year anniversary of the reality show. Their podcast focused almost entirely on the first episode, which was essentially an hour long preview, so I didn’t bother to watch anything else from season one. Heck, with the odd exception of Chicken George, nothing from season one was acknowledged by CBS after the fact, so it seemed unnecessary. I enjoyed the podcast and all was well. However, curiosity got the better of me a year later and I actually binge watched the entire first season.
Honestly, it doesn’t seem like a show could be as fundamentally flawed as it was without it being intentional. Almost as if the cranky network owner from Weird Al Yankovic’s classic film “UHF” had created a show which was sure to bomb just to torment the viewers.
For the record, I’m not here to take potshots at any of the houseguests. All my qualms are with the horrendous format of the show. Nothing of interest occurred in episodes 2, 3, or 4 save for the houseguests bonding over an injured chicken. I was holding out hope that episode 5, the first live episode where houseguests were marked for banishment, would be an improvement. I was rewarded for my fortitude as it turned out be some phenomenal TV, but for all the wrong reasons. Host Julie Chen said that it was time to eavesdrop on the houseguests, who were sitting in the living room and looking bored out of their minds. They even yawned in unison. Then, Julie interviewed a Las Vegas handicapper. He predicted that (spoiler alert) Eddie would win the $500,000.
Julie interacting with the houseguests for the first time was accompanied by her microphone screeching like I always remember happening during elementary school recitals. One startled houseguest hollered “Holy shit!” much to the delight of the censor. After Julie signed off and we went back to eavesdropping, the houseguests played a game of “Who’s On First?” in regards to Julie Chen. Who was that? Julie Chen? Who’s Julie Chen? What does she do? Is she the host of the show? Was she who we met before we went into the house? They were all so clueless. It seemed like such a mom & pop operation. Even the saxophone theme music sounded like something a lower tier mid-card wrestler would have used in the WWF during the late 1980s.
Did anyone visit bigbrother2000.com way back in Y2K? Because I sure as heck didn’t. I avoided the internet as much as possible back in those dreaded days of dial-up. How long did it take to log on? Two hours? I had also forgotten that back in 2000 everyone was obsessed with being real and keeping it real. Who cares about being real? Thanks the heavens that Dr. Will realized in season two that you need to lie to make it far in the game and for it to be an entertaining show. Watching the houseguests eat dinner in total silence as we did in season one didn’t make for riveting TV. Will Mega was the focal point early on in season one. He had several arguments with rainbow haired Brittany, who I totally would have been crushing on if I was watching at the time. Binge watching season one wasn’t too bad, but I can’t imagine that anyone was truly captivated by the unbearably slow pace of the show when it initially aired.
Having relatives of the houseguests marked for banishment being interviewed by Julie Chen during the live shows was somewhat awkward. Also, after the first few banishments, the other houseguests casually strolled outside and waved to the crowd. I was astonished to see them leave the house. The whole point was that they couldn’t leave. Did they not understand the rules? No contact with the outside world. Another oddity were pre-taped segments with the houseguests who were already banished from the house. I guess it was interesting to see what life was like on the outside for people who had been isolated for most of the summer, but there was no real gameplay to speak of. Eventually winner Eddie once mentioned a potential final four with his closest friends while in the Red Room (not the Diary Room), but nothing much came of that. Who was marked for banishment seemed to be based solely on who was sleeping late and not helping with the chores.
Dr. Drew Pinsky dropped by once a week to analyze the behavior of the houseguests such as cuddling. Yeah, I don’t need a doctor to explain cuddling. I think I get the gist. One thing I liked about Eddie was how protective he was of Chicken George. However, the viewing public wasn’t enthralled with the houseguests because they were given a pug named Chiquita who instantly became the star of the show. Was the cuteness of Chiquita meant to boost ratings? Could she have been in the running to win the $500,000? Things finally became intriguing when Brittany was banished because Chicken George’s family had allegedly stuffed the ballots to get her out of the house. Then, the houseguests were offered $50,000 to leave the house. If any of them had accepted the offer, they would have been replaced by some random woman named Beth, who I guess was supposed to up the sex appeal. This was the episode that I was most looking forward to after listening to Rob Cesternino and Eric Stein discuss the absurdity of CBS adding a random person in a painfully desperate attempt to salvage the season.
And guess what? None of the houseguests took CBS up on their offer. Fare thee well, Beth. We hardly knew ye. Seriously, what the heck was wrong with these people? Had they lost their minds? I totally would have taken the money. I would have realized that there were at least four houseguests who I could never beat in the finals and taken the money because $50,000 isn’t a bad consolation prize, but these dummies decided that the experience was more important than the money. Are you kidding me? The experience? There were only three weeks left in the season! Three weeks! You traded $50,000 for three more weeks of cleaning up chicken droppings in the backyard! If I was watching this live I would have thrown a bowling ball at my TV!
Jordan Parhar (Big Brother Canada 3) and the #RHAP live feed correspondents were correct to rank this as the worst season. You would think it deserves a pass, but the show couldn’t even adhere to its own premise. For some inane reason, Brittany was allowed to communicate with Josh and warn him that Jamie was not to be trusted and that Chicken George’s family was campaigning for him to win. Seriously? What happened to no contact with the outside world? Josh thought that it wouldn’t be fair to use this information to make George a target because these houseguests naively believed that the viewers wanted everyone to play nice and never cause drama. Oh, how wrong they were.
I’ve heard the story of Chicken George trying to lead a revolt, but what I didn’t know was how the houseguests tried to convince themselves that it would be more admirable to leave before the season was over and forfeit the money rather than staying to crown the winner. If any of you really wanted to leave prematurely, then why didn’t anybody leave when CBS offered you $50,000 to take a hike the week before? To tell you the truth, George was getting on my nerves by the time he was banished. He finished in 5th place just like he would on All Stars. That’s an eerie bit of foreshadowing unless you count Chiquita as having finished in 5th because that’s when she was banished. I was genuinely bummed to see her go, so you know it’s not a great season when a dog trumped the people. What was most interesting as the season wound down was the banner planes which were constantly flying over the backyard. The pilot even got his own pre-taped segment.
The seven banished houseguests returned for the finale. Chicken George was proudly dressed like a chicken. I consider this akin to when Bruce Wayne dawned the cape and cowl of Batman for the first time. You’ve got to love a good origin story. Something I was also aware despite not having watched the season before was Will Mega informing Julie Chen that CBS President Les Moonves (Julie’s future husband) admitted to the mega man that the show pretty much went downhill following his banishment.
The final three houseguests were all guaranteed to leave with cash prizes, so it didn’t make for a particularly suspenseful finale. Curtis finished in 3rd place with $50,000, Josh finished in second place with $100,000, and Eddie won the grand prize of $500,000. The Las Vegas handicapper knew what he was talking about. Julie Chen even went into the house to announce Eddie as the winner. Okay, it wasn’t wild, but still better than Glass House or dare I remind anyone of Utopia. Binge watching Big Brother 2000 was more like visiting The Hall of Presidents than riding a roller coaster, but I’m glad I did it at least once. Now let us never speak of it again.
Coming soon… “REDEMPTION: BIG BROTHER 2”