Perusing the internet this week looking for news on Big Brother, I came upon this article from buddytv, suggesting that the problem with Big Brother is the poor host, Julie Chen. As a dedicated Big Brother follower and reality TV watcher, I respectfully disagree.
I think the quality of the host can only be measured if this is integral to the program. Jeff Probst, host of Survivor, was used as an example. He is definitely an integral part of the show, infusing his questions at the tribal council and playing back and forth with them. He leads them through the challenges and has a distinct banter with them.
Look at other reality TV hosts. Phil Keoghan brings his hometown warmth to The Amazing Race. Ryan Seacrest has a banter that doesn’t have to be part of American Idol, but he has made it be a part of it. Tom Bergeron has a quick wit that he uses on Dancing With the Stars that is integral to how the show proceeds and moves along.
But Julie Chen doesn’t have any of that. It can be argued that a small part of why we watch Survivor, The Amazing Race, American Idol, and Dancing With the Stars is because of the host. Julie Chen is not a part of Big Brother’s success and never was. Never do you hear people saying did you hear that crack Julie made about Natalie, or did you hear what she said when Dan won.
Julie Chen has been kept separate from Big Brother. She only hosts the Head of Household competitions, with the food comps, luxury comps, and power of veto comps being lead by the houseguests themselves. She’s never even in the same room with the houseguests until they’re voted out. She talks to them once a week.
The reason we watch Big Brother is to watch the situations the houseguests put themselves in when working around living with strangers. We watch because a certain part of us wants to be big brother, checking in on everyone else. We like to watch the strategies and alliances as everyone fights to stay. Having a good host walk in on Thursday night to lead the voting and eviction wouldn’t make a difference to the success, as the show is on two other nights as well. What about those nights?
CBS head honcho, Leslie Moonves, taking his wife, Julie, of the payroll isn’t going to fix Big Brother. What’s going to fix it is continued seasons like the last. Instead of spending the offseason thinking of new twists, keep it simple and to the point. Somehow the unexpected became the expected. That was evidenced this season as the whole house ran around wondering who America’s Player was.
Have next season be similar to this past one, but instead of throwing last minute twists in that were redone from previous seasons, such as America’s Player, do nothing. They won’t know next year whether to expect anything or not. Everything will be unexpected. Then in a few more years, work in a twist or two, then stop for a few more seasons. That’s how to fix Big Brother.
Photo Courtesy of cbs.com