Okay, we all need to talk about it – the Big Brother Game is weird. Here – as if you didn’t know – are the main goals of the competition: obviously, you want to win Immunity from Nomination. If that fails, you want to avoid being Nominated by your fellow Housemates, and – if that fails – you want the voting audience to prevent you from being Evicted.
Duh. Easy, right? Nope.
To win Immunity, you must prove that you are a strong competitor. Once you win Head of House, you then need to boss your fellow Housemates around by making them scrub toilets or wash dishes. After a week of this thankless job, you are barred from the next Immunity Challenge, and all those Housemates who don’t appreciate being made to look down the business end of everybody’s business is free to Nominate you – the strong competitor who just made them clean a toilet.
Which brings us onto the next thing that will keep you in the House: getting as many Votes as possible from the audience to keep you safe. This means you must be popular enough for the audience to want to keep you around. How do you become this popular? By being exciting to watch, and therein lies the rub.
An audience favourite tends to be the kind of Housemate that keeps shaking things up in the House: they pick fights, they get themselves into all kinds of ships, they sink ships. A bit of a jerk, in other words. The kind of person we want to see other people live with is not always the person we want to live with – yes, we are those kinds of people. We should just admit it, already.
They’re the kind of Housemate who cause fights at parties, who bangs pots and pans to keep everyone awake as a form of protest, who don’t let anybody get away with anything. They’re exciting to watch; they keep us tuning into Big Brother.
But audience opinions can change – just because you survived this week, doesn’t mean you’ll survive the next. Strategy, clearly, is important. It’s not like that’s a hot take, or anything, but what is the best strategy? Let see how some strategies have play out, in recent weeks.
Maria – let’s face it – was a divisive figure in the House. She was always ready for a fight, and she also looked to be in a strong position, strategically: Wildcard, Deputy Head of House, Head of House… you get the idea. She was also popular amongst the audience. Anybody reading the 24/7 Msg2TV ticker on the channel would know that.
But, as soon as the House had a chance to Nominate her, they did. And while she was popular enough to get a lot of Votes from supportive viewers hoping to keep her safe, she wasn’t popular enough to survive a triple Eviction Show – something that was met with shock by her fellow Housemates, which goes a long way to reminding us that the Housemates have no idea what the audience thinks of them. They’re completely cut off.
On the other hand, there’s Yousef: he was the first Housemate to fall victim to the “Save and Replace” power of the Head of House, who was Boma. His first week in the House was hard for him – in his Diary Session with Big Brother, he spoke about feeling like an outsider and how he felt his background alienated him from the rest of the House. When he was picked to take Jaypaul’s spot in the list of Nominated Housemates, nobody had any reason to think he had a better chance to survive than anybody else.
But he did survive. For some reason, the BBNaija audience wanted to keep him in the game and – this is the important bit – he has never been Nominated, since. From seeming like something of an underdog, Yousef has sailed through the rest of his time in the Big Brother House without doing anything controversial, without getting into any fights, and without being Nominated. Would he survive another Nomination?
Then, there’s Boma: he was the first Head of House. He threw Yousef under the bus. He’s opinionated, has his “okra” personality and is definitely playing the game, and none of the other Housemates have ever seen fit to Nominate him. Of course, this could change, soon – perhaps by the time you read this article.
Here’s the thing – eventually, everybody comes up for an audience Vote. A Housemate can go the entire season without being Nominated, but they will never be able to avoid the vote – eventually, it always comes down to the last two, and who the viewers decide should win. And that is the only strategy that really matters: at the end of all these weeks of living in the Big Brother House, the only way to win is to be the person the audience wants to win.
Now, if only we knew how to guarantee that, then this game would be easy…
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