Initially there was a show called Big Brother which sprouted up in the Netherlands, and that is where our current Big Brother first got inspired. The reality game show was created by John de Mol. It should come as no surprise to those who love George Orwell’s classic 1984 that the book also had some influence in the making of the TV franchise. Endemol is the distributor. In English speaking countries, such as the United States, the series is commonly called “BB” for Big Brother.
A group of contestants, also called “housemates” or “houseguests” are thrown together in a large house. During the period of time that they live together in this house they are cut off from the outside world and unable to access electronic devices. They are constantly watched by cameras and personal audio microphones over the course of about three months. The goal of the game is to go on throughout the show without being evicted and their reward is a cash prize. These evictions are generally held every week. In some ways the series somewhat resembles other game shows, like Survivor.
The idea for Big Brother was born in 1997, and two years later, in 1999, the very first version was released on Veronica in the Netherlands. Of course the TV show did not stay contained to that area and now it has become worldwide with a variety of different versions of the franchise.
Even though there are numerous versions, each one follows the same basic principle and format, but some have slightly different rules or traditions. In all cases the contestants live in a specially-designed house and they are constantly surveilled. In many counties the contestants are simply called “housemates” but in the United States and Canada that norm has somewhat altered and contestants are instead known as “houseguests.” As many know already, the term “Big Brother” comes from George Orwell’s book 1984, and that is obviously due to the mutual meaning of the term “Big Brother” for a presence which sees and watches all. There are a few other major components which are the primary glue to the TV show. Aside from being ever watched, contestants live off of the mere basics; there are competitions and certain tasks which Big Brother gives the housemates; a “Diary or Confession Room” where contestants may vent and uncover who they are voting for to be evicted; and of course the evictions themselves. Evictions are a primary part of Big Brother and contestants must vote out one of their housemates. The evictions were once only held every two weeks, but since the UK started doing weekly evictions most of the world has followed suit.
Although sometimes housemates make their nominations for who they wish to be evicted privately, there are other times during the course of the show in which they declare their choice publicly. Those who watch the show are also free to vote on who they want to be evicted and they can do this through phone and social media—but those who watch from the United States and Canada do not have the option to submit their votes, only the housemates. Those housemates who receive the highest number of votes are announced and the person with the most votes—in some cases it is two people if it is a double eviction—must leave the house. There have been some rare cases where all housemates are safe and no one gets evicted. The winner of the game is the last one standing who has not been evicted, and they receive prizes such as a large sum of money and sometimes a vacation, car, or even a home.
In the beginning many first seasons of Big Brother had a rather crude layout in only a very basic home. With only a select portion of rationed food and the bare essentials like furniture and running water there was a much higher level of tension which was aimed to bring more viewers to the show. This is no longer quite the case, however, and now many housemates enjoy a sauna, jacuzzi, loft, and many other various luxuries. Housemates must work together to do assigned tasks and housework by Big Brother. These tasks are there to pose a challenge to housemates and to exemplify or test teamwork. They are also given a weekly allowance for their necessities such as food, and in some countries this allowance depends on how well the housemates perform tasks.
There is an interesting psychological aspect of Big Brother which delves into human behavior when people must step outside of their comfort zone and into close quarters with others. Viewers are given an intimate glimpse into the smallest and most delicate details of the people’s lives both through their self- expression in the Diary Room and from observation through cameras and microphones. In many countries viewers have the ability to watch a continuous feed from several different cameras viewing the home of the contestants.
Reviews are somewhat mixed in regards to Big Brother. IMDb gives the series 5.3/10 stars, while TV.com gives it 8.1/10 stars. The biggest thing to keep in mind is the fact that different countries will receive their own version of Big Brother differently. Also, while one person may like one season due to the contestants and the outcomes, they may not like another. Although the principles are generally the same throughout, each season is entirely unique because the housemates themselves essentially drive each episode forward. Sign up for one of the special offers with Time Warner Cable and keep up to date with this television series.
Many people don’t like the series for its overall motive and format. Some say that because there is no driving force like there is in other reality TV shows all of the contestants end up showing their worst sides. Others may say that the housemates are out to start drama and are not really very good people, or for that matter, genuine. Of course, other people love Big Brother for all of its drama and the fact that all walls of privacy come crashing down. How well-liked and popular the show is has become a matter of culture and personal opinion.