My Big Brother 21 Finale Reaction — Buckle Up

Anyone who has met me is unfortunate enough to hear me talk way too much about Big Brother.

Big Brother is a U.S. reality competition show on CBS since its premiere in 2000, and has various editions that air in different countries around the world.  Houseguests (contestants) on Big Brother are average people from all around America who are essentially trapped in a house together for 99 days competing for a prize of $500,000 under 24/7 surveillance by dozens of cameras located in each room of the house. They have absolutely no access to any information about the outside world, or anyway to connect with anyone besides their fellow houseguests.  Describing this as a wild experience would probably be an understatement.

I’m not an avid television watcher, but this show has been one of my favorite things in the world since I was about 12 or 13. On Sept. 25, season 21 of Big Brother met its end with an incredibly interesting live finale episode. As a fan, I have some mixed feelings about this season, but these feelings just reminded me once again why I love this game so much.  

Almost every season, the show comes under some sort of scandal relating to the problematic behavior of one, or many, of the houseguests. For many years, I was furious at the casting directors for allowing people like this on the show, until I realized that my anger was totally misplaced. Of course, the true colors of these houseguests do not become clear until they have spent some time in the house, so casting can not really be blamed for their inability to predict the behavior of someone they only have a surface-level knowledge of. 

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The main reason Big Brother is so prone to controversy, however, is simply because it is a microcosm of the society around it. And it should be. The houseguests who make news headlines for hateful comments or actions are normal people, and I’m sure we all know tens of people just like them. As long as racist, sexist, and hateful ideas perpetuate in American society, they will also be unfortunately present in this show. 

Big Brother 21 has been especially noteworthy for its public scandals due to the behavior of many houseguests, probably shying in comparison only to Big Brother 15.  Since the season began in June, many houseguests seemed to hold openly racist and sexist beliefs, often targeting other houseguests in private rants. 

Given the final three, my ranking for who I wanted to win was Nicole, then Holly, then almost anyone else who's ever stepped foot in the house, then Jackson. But of course, Jackson had to win. I’ll admit that Jackson played a smart game and was clearly a competition beast, but I literally can’t stand him. Not only did he make several hateful and disgusting comments throughout the season, but he cheated on slop as a have-not (which he never received a penalty for) and admitted that he was helped over the loudspeaker during the final veto comp of the summer. As a fan of the game, watching someone get rewarded for disrespecting the game is infuriating.

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The episode was not completely disappointing, however. Many of the evicted houseguests were willing to have a discussion confronting the many controversies surrounding this season. Those who were wronged were able to call out houseguests who treated them badly, and some of these houseguests actually gave genuine apologies for their behavior. I was honestly a bit surprised that Jack seemed to genuinely care about the fact that he hurt Kemi’s feelings, and I hope he can use this season as a learning experience, as I hope all of the houseguests can.  It was very refreshing for me to see an open discussion about the frequent misogyny and racism showcased in the house, and I commend Julie Chen and CBS for finally bringing the show’s issues to light.

As someone who had to endure watching Jackson recieve a tasteful edit of his character all season, while knowing about all of the terrible things he had been saying in the house, it was very relieving to see him finally being confronted about his problematic behavior. I’ll admit that seeing Jackson walk out of the house, half a million dollars richer, but miserable over the fact that his reputation was essentially destroyed was incredibly satisfying for me. Of course I wish him the best and truly do hope he learns from his actions, but he deserved to be confronted for the price of a celebration. While the end of the episode felt very anticlimactic, it was also the most hopeful I’ve felt for the future of the show in a long while.

And on top of all of this, Nicole won America’s Favorite Player, which was incredibly deserved and prompted some tears from me. Watching someone so deserving get rewarded, and her genuine disbelief and shock after finding out that she was adored by Big Brother fans, was one of the sweetest moments this entire season, competing only with the moment she first saw her family in the audience about an hour prior to this.

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This episode, and season, came with the good and the bad for sure. There’s a lot to celebrate and a lot to be mad about, but that’s Big Brother, and I can’t wait to tune in again next summer.  For now, I’ll go catch up on all the sleep this show has cost me. Goodnight. 

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