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TWoP 10: How to Fix Big Brother

by Angel Cohn August 28, 2009 6:00 am
TWoP 10: How to Fix <i>Big Brother</i>

The UK version of Big Brother got canceled this week (its final season on Channel 4 will air next year), and while the American version on CBS is doing pretty well ratings-wise, its been a mostly boring/predictable summer with just a few bright spots. We've got some ideas on how producers should liven up our summer guilty pleasure so that it's much more enjoyable for us fans -- and hopefully will boost their ratings.

1. Stop casting boring people
Let's hope they block off the entrance to whatever underground layer they dipped into to find neuroscientist Michelle because she's a snooze-inducing houseguest who hasn't used her brain or made any moves in this game. Cast some feistier people who do something besides sleep all day long. And with all the reality dating shows out there able to find girls willing to make out with practical strangers in the dark or in front of 15other girls, there has to be a surplus of exhibitionists willing to engage in some showmance action (more than just kisses on the cheek, Jordan!) in order to make this show a little more juicy. The Showtime After Dark ratings would go through the roof!

2. Break the mold
They need to be OK with changing the format when necessary. This show is so stringently attached to its Thursday eviction/HoH crowning, Sunday nomination, Tuesday veto competition schedule, that sometimes it seems like they forget they need to make a show that people actually want to watch! This past week was a perfect example: when Jeff put Russell up on the block, the battling began, but all that good shouting got squeezed into Thursday's overstuffed live episode. No one out there will be mad that you did the veto ceremony in the middle of the episode, especially if it's content that feed viewers got to see four days prior. Trust us.

3. More twists, more fun!
For years the Chenbot has been telling us to expect the unexpected, but this season (aside from the coup d'etat) there have been very, very few surprises. Where is the America's Player? Even if they rotated it to different people, it would still be fun. Throwing kinks in the road messes up alliances, gets people riled up and keeps anyone from getting too comfy. Producers need to put those brains to work to think up some new demented ways to mess with the houseguests' minds.

4. Pick a theme and stick to it
They've done secret alliances, they've done secret twins, they tried high school cliques, but all the players (and the viewing public) know by now that these gimmicks won't last more than a few weeks. Instead, stick with the themes longer, if not throughout the entire run of the summer. Imagine if Jeff and Jessie were stuck working together for an entire three months? Fireworks! At least then there would be some consequences to these random set-ups.

5. Let's get ready to rumble
As devotees to the feeds (and blogs that follow the feeds) we're up on the happenings in the house, so we always hear about these fabulous-sounding screamfests that involve multiple houseguests and can rage on for hours. But all we get to see on the live show is a severely edited version, cut down to about four minutes. It would have been awesome to see more of the fight where Braden was a racist, or Chima just throwing more tantrums. Watching people lounge around ogling other people is not all that exciting -- bring on the action!

6. Some diversity, please
It's true that every season needs a dimwitted blonde (or brunette) who doesn't understand the concept of time zones or knowledge of world politics, but that doesn't mean the entire show should be filled with just pretty people. Some of the most interesting players have been like the unconventional-looking Nakomis or Lydia, but they should have more than one funky-type person a season... and more than one older person, and more than one person from a minority ethnic group or sexual persuasion. What we wouldn't give for a gay showmance between a younger and older guy, where the pair are different minority groups and both covered in tattoos.

7. More challenges
The beginning of the season always starts out interestingly enough, with food competitions, veto competitions, luxury competitions, head of household competitions -- all kinds of competitions. But by the middle of August, there are rarely food comps (as that seems to be assigned as part of the HoH trial) and it's just the HoH and Veto, so the house guests just lay around and sleep the day away. Make them work more for their food, or the privilege to lay outside in the sun. The person who logs the most treadmill hours wins immunity for a week. Anything to keep them active.

8. Let the public pick a nominee
Again, aside from voting on the coup d'etat this summer, the viewer's home voting options have been primarily limited to what kind of bizarre foods we'd like the stuck-on-slop folks to eat. Choosing sauerkraut over knackwurst has very little bearing on the game. Let us actually do something important, like pick a nominee, or save a person from nomination for a week, or chose the new HoH. Something!

9. For the love of the game
Chess and cards are not enough to keep these folks entertained in this digital society, but since they can't exactly talk with fans on Facebook (although this season the HoH does have a one-way Twitter -- though most of them can't figure out how to use it), at least give them more games to play. We're sure anyone from Monopoly to Wii would be happy to let them use their products to keep them amused. I'd much rather see Jordan play Operation or Hungry, Hungry Hippos (or another game more on her level) than watch her try and struggle at chess or poker.

10. Bring on the bad
When casting for diversity, don't forget to find a few villains for the mix, because everyone trying to play a nice and honest game is just insufferable. No one wants to be considered the mastermind, and that's because it gets them voted out, but Evel Dick and Dr. Will were so compelling to watch (and hate). It's a reality show, the nice guy doesn't always finish last.

Your thoughts on how to fix the show? Leave 'em below.

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