Channel Surfing 8-19-11

Lies, games and dirty dishes

I have admitted it here before, and I’m not ashamed to say it again for those unaware: I spend my summers watching CBS’ “Big Brother.”
Anyone who has followed the summer reality series knows it takes a commitment to understand and keep up with it. With three hour-long episodes a week – airing Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – you have to devote a big portion of your time to the show.
In these episodes you get the bare minimum of content: competitions, “diary room” sessions, nominations, evictions and montages of snoring, dancing and blonde moments.
It doesn’t sound like the bare minimum and yet it is. With live feeds streaming nearly 24/7 the game can change at any minute.
The houseguest you expect to go home stays while your favorite player is suddenly in danger. If they survive they could easily be on top next week. These power shifts keep the game interesting while keeping hardcore viewers on their toes.
Those who don’t pay for the subscription-based live feeds can follow updates transcribed by feed-watchers. These include the highlights: who is talking game, who is saying offensive stuff and what the current drama is.
This season the producers brought back six former players to compete against the eight “newbies.”
All of the houseguests competed in pairs since the veterans had previously established relationships: a father-daughter pair and two couples who met on the show.
Clearly the newbies had a disadvantage from the beginning.  While they were trying to get used to the cameras, the rules and talking to Julie Chen, the veterans were unphased by this new environment. They had been there, done that. They could focus 100 percent on the competitions, and so for the first three weeks the vets dominated.
It made for a boring season and while there have since been alliance splits and power shifts I find it hard to care as much about this season as I have previously.
Part of that comes down to what is shown on the TV edits. This season has focused on the drama of one of the pairs, Brendon and Rachel, who were universally hated during their time in the house last season. Episodes are almost entirely devoted to Rachel crying and Brendon trying to play the hero.
It’s boring. It’s vomit-inducing.
I watch “Big Brother” for the gameplay. I want to see who is manipulating others to do their bidding, not who is whining about losing this week.
Because of the feeds I know which houseguests have been pulling strings, making multiple deals and sliding under the radar. If I didn’t pay attention to the feeds I probably wouldn’t even know these houseguests exist.
I think at some point, if the series continues in the direction they have headed the past few years, I might have to give up my fascination and borderline obsession with “Big Brother.”
The worst part of that is if that happens I’ll have to find three new hours of summer television to watch a week. I mean, you don’t expect me to not watch TV during that time, right?
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