What Makes Big Brother Still So Compelling (And why Pinoy Big Brother is anything but)

This is compelling TV... I promise.

It’s Summer. So of course, that means Summer TV. And that means another season of Big Brother on CBS.

The reality-competition program that locks average, yet mostly good looking people into a house filled with cameras and microphones and streams the video live 24/7 online and gets edited into tightly packaged hour-long episodes three times a week.

Now in its 13th season, the American Big Brother continues to do relatively well, or very well compared to everything else on CBS in the summer and even compared to its European predecessors who struggle to even find a home these days.

CBS and Big Brother US deserve much credit for being able to save the American franchise from being one and done after the format that worked so well around the world to huge results just didn’t catch on in the US when it first premiered.

CBS took basically a hamster popularity contest and turned it into a twisted game of strategy and paranoia.

Originally seen as the trashy sibling of the other two reality trailblazers Survivor and The Amazing Race, Big Brother is now very far from being the bottom of the reality barrel.

Sure there are hook ups and verbal smackdowns, but the glut of cable reality has made Big Brother look Oscar worthy in comparison.

But the cleverly edited TV broadcasts highlight the competition and strategic aspect of the Americanized format that helps make the series more accessible and appealing to an American audience. Even the unique charms of the one and only Julie “Chenbot” Chen contribute to the appeal of Big Brother US.

And this is all in contrast to the Philippine Big Brother franchise that is none of these things.

Pinoy Big Brother premiered in 2005 on ABS-CBN and propelled a house full of contestants into showbiz. Which is basically the sole purpose of the Filipino take on the format.

ABS-CBN and the show’s producers have repeatedly, half the time unprovoked, said that Pinoy Big Brother is not an “artista search” or basically a reality series to find the next big star.

But in a country and culture where celebrity trumps almost everything, that repeated defense has no weight.

Pinoy Big Brother isn’t the voyeuristic reality series it was conceived to be nor is it the strategic mindfrack that CBS and BBUS developed either. The house is merely a celebrity incubator, used as a way to build up the network’s aspiring “talents” and their popularity in preparation for their new showbiz careers.

The network collects text message money while the contestants sit and wait for their eviction which really is the call to start taping for a new soap opera or gag show.

Instead of developing some Big Brother-talent search hybrid (or using the formats already in existence), the network handpicks pretty faces they want to be their next money makers, have them mug for the cameras and watch the money and hype pour in.

When every contestant is basically guaranteed a showbiz career after the show anyway, there’s no gameplay, no competition, no drama, no comedy… just contrived self-promotion.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather watch paranoid hamsters than celebrities-in-waiting.

Big Brother US is pretty much what Pinoy Big Brother is not. Compelling, yet frothy summer entertainment… not a contrived celebrity cultivator (keyword: “celebrity” … no sign of “talent” anywhere near here).

0 thoughts on “What Makes Big Brother Still So Compelling (And why Pinoy Big Brother is anything but)

  1. And this is why I shake my head when a new reality show debuts in the Philippines. They’re becoming more than “insta-celeb generators” than “on-screen live dramas where the audience can relate with the people with similar RL problems”, where the “chosen contestants” all have the looks of supermodels rather than your average-looking person randomly picked from the street. We’re churning out more “sexy stars” than your average “star”.

    If I were to discover a cure for an incurable disease, I would be hailed as “one of the brightest minds in existence” in a LOT of places.

    As for here?

    “Take up an acting career despite not having any prior acting experience! Don’t worry, people care about your looks more than your talent!”

    “Appear in a TV ad whilst in your undies!”

    “Over-act in a cheesy romance flick besides and equally over-reactive ‘sexy star’!”

    “Who cares about your achievements? All we care is your relationship with your sexy wife! UUUUUUUY!!!1one!!<3<3"

    The celebrity worship here is so nigh-overwhelming that it's sickening.

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