Commentary: How Pressure Cooker 2023 Got Me Interested in “Big Brother US” Again for a Couple of Hours

Commentary: How Pressure Cooker 2023 Got Me Interested in “Big Brother US” Again for a Couple of Hours

The last full season of Big Brother US I’ve watched was season 20. It was surprising and definitely very exciting to see Filipino-American Kaycee Clark go all the way to the end and win the season. Since then, I just haven’t been able to get into the show. (Save for the amusing bromance between Derek Xiao and Travis Long in season 23.) For one, I usually lose interest halfway through any season. Especially when I have no one left to root for. Second, the lack of Asian-American HGs has become really annoying and almost upsetting to me. And that’s partly because, third, a small, but very loud section of the Big Brother fandom has become so overwhelmingly nasty and toxic. That I really think they are at least half of the reason the show has been in a steep decline.

Anyway, with this 25th season, I wanted to see what kinds of things the show might do to commemorate the milestone. I watched the premiere which was nothing special. (Especially with that cringey bit with BB legends Danielle Reyes and Britney Haynes along with former HG Frankie Grande.) Though it was great seeing Survivor legend and Traitors champion Cirie Fields. And I’ve been seeing fun and amusing clips of houseguest Felicia pop up on Twitter. Having someone of her age on the show is already great in and of itself. But the fact that she won HOH last week and that she is seemingly such a fun personality endeared her to me without even seeing the season.

But I still wasn’t compelled to follow the show each week. Even with the live feeds now being available for free on Pluto TV.

Big Brother Pressure Cooker

But when news that the show was finally giving fans what they wanted, that is, the return of the infamous Pressure Cooker HOH competition, I definitely wanted to see how the show would try and make it work in 2023.

Ahead of this past Thursday night, I’d thought about how the Pressure Cooker comp from season six worked so well was partly because of the people involved. Season six was of course the equally infamous split house between the Sovereign 6 and the Nerd Herd. So everyone had reason and motivation to win that comp. Tension was high and both sides had a shared target at the time.

So I wondered how that would work in 2023 when contemporary Big Brother hasn’t really had that same level of explosive tension and competition. At least, I don’t get that impression since I haven’t watched the show in years.

Still, endurance competitions have become more on the slimey variety. Either hanging onto a wall or swinging around the backyard while getting slimed. Nothing like the cages and glass boxes of the early seasons.

So bringing back the Pressure Cooker, finally, after years of fans begging for it was an interesting idea.

I initially thought that modern-day houseguests wouldn’t last more than a few hours. So when I flipped on over to Pluto at midnight, Pacific Time, I was shocked to see the comp was still ongoing. Not only that, but NINE houseguests out of 12 still remained. I definitely did not expect that. And because of that, I became so intrigued.

Big Brother Pressure Cooker

So much so that I stayed up for a couple of hours actually watching Big Brother live feeds! I was so surprised in myself lol But somehow, this simple comp had be interested in Big Brother US again. At least, for a few hours.

Again, the original Pressure Cooker had its own unique qualities. And no one is going to be able to replicate it exactly. Whether in design or execution or in casting either. So I really liked the 2023 version of the comp having houseguests inside of a panic room-type situation rather than a small glass box.

The claustrophobic aspect of the glass box might have been gone. But this “steel” chamber-like room certainly had its own unsettling aspects too. One thing I liked was that the houseguests had no sense of time as they could not see outside. At one point, early in the evening, the houseguests guessed that they had been in the room for maybe two hours or so when in reality, they had been there twice as long already.

I read a lot of comments though saying this year’s Pressure Cooker wasn’t as difficult as the original. And maybe there’s truth to that. But I give so much kudos to the houseguests who remained in the comp for hours and hours. I guess I underestimate modern BB contestants. But to see them actually holding on for that long AND apparently with not much motivation either, is such a wonder.

Not having followed the season so far, I wondered why the houseguests would stay on so long. Were they in trouble? Did they hate each other that much? Apparently no! They are all just competitive people who perhaps felt it strategically advantageous to stay on as long possible as well as for pride’s sake too.

So for that alone, I tip my hat to them because they all could have easily given up early and not spend the whole night in there. But they didn’t give up and it was fascinating to watch.

I was expecting jump scares and the usual slime. But there was none of that. Just stationary snakes in the middle of the room, lights off for periods of time and random bursts of rock music. Annoying, sure. But not really difficult to endure. Still, standing there for six hours and longer is not a pleasant thing to do. But they did it.

Again, with no obvious or overarching reason to hang out that long, I was really just fascinated at the fact that it was happening. When I have long lost faith in Big Brother US coming close to the greatness and competitiveness of early seasons, somehow, seeing the nine houseguests standing there holding a button was somehow exciting television. I just liked it. Somehow it was the most positive thing I can name from Big Brother US in seasons.

Big Brother Pressure Cooker

While the Pressure Cooker comp was ongoing, Felicia, Cirie, her son Jared and alliancemate Izzy were inside the house. It was interesting seeing the first eliminated HGs be from the same alliance, not only with each other, but with the outgoing HOH. So now they were in the house alone together. And apparently free to air out their worries and grievances of their current state of play. Then later, Felicia, Cirie and Izzy would provide color commentary of the comp which they could watch, without sound, on the living room TV.

Even while their funny commentary would turn quite mean-spirited, the contrast between them and the seriousness of the Pressure Cooker was, again, so interesting to watch and experience.

Felicia mentioned how it was a horrible comp. I’m sure to the sadness of BB fans everywhere lol. But I think it was the kind of fascinating voyeuristic, experiment-type of television that the show was once known for.

I mean, I really don’t know. I was glued to my TV and then my computer screen for hours until about 4am Pacific time, watching people sleeping on the living room couch and the others holding on to a button on a post.

Between houseguests peeing in the dark to the awkward, sleepy silences as the hours ticked by, it was the most interested I’ve been in Big Brother US in years. Maybe there’s still hope for this show in 2023!

2 thoughts on “Commentary: How Pressure Cooker 2023 Got Me Interested in “Big Brother US” Again for a Couple of Hours

  1. Came here for the usual toku review and stumbled upon a Big Brother review. Was curious if you watched Big Brother US. The pressure cooker always works because it’s one of few, “how bad do you want it” competitions. Dang Kaysar got played!!! I think everyone was surprised it lasted this long with the cast. It was great reading your thoughts on the state of this version of Big Brother. Like you, I’ve long since given up on the show. I think social media between Reddit and Twitter ruined the fun of the show along with production. Houseguests are too afraid of pissing of that vocal “stan” part of the fandom because everyone now wants followers. It sucks.

    Pressure Cooker was a reminder of how great the show once was. BB6….I can still remember reading the message boards constantly for live feed updates. It was a fun one side vs. one side. Sovereign vs. Friendship!!! No one liked the Friendship alliance. Don’t waste your time on this season though. It’s obviously geared for a deep Cirie run by Production. The houseguests are essentially rolling over for her and just plain bad at the game. You mentioned Asian houseguests. Gone are the days of the great Jun Song. Blue, a Korean houseguest, legit might be the worst person to ever play this game. She is not even here to play the game. She clearly only cares about getting more Tik Tok/IG followers.

    1. Yes, I think the follower-hungry influencers are also one reason Big Brother and also other shows too like The Amazing Race and Survivor are suffering poor quality now. Instead of people actually wanting to compete like in the past, it’s just people wanting to come on and get a social media following to make money off of. It’s too bad.

      It’s interesting because I think CBS is only interested in Cirie again after NBC Universal gave her (along with Rachel Reilly, Janelle, and Stephenie LaGrossa) the spotlight on not one, but two of their reality shows. And then of course Cirie winning The Traitors. So CBS wants to drag her back into the CBS family of reality shows.

      I was excited about Blue, but seeing the latest happenings with her showmance with Jared, I’ll pass on her lol

Share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top