Here we go again, Big Brother fans. Big Brother 20 opened its doors for another season of alliances, backstabs, and competitions to last 99 days of summer. For 19 years, Big Brother has been reality TV gold. And for this landmark season, a tech-inspired twist is ruling the house to determine the most and least trending houseguests. But, with 16 all new players making their own path with no veteran influence, did they set a good tone for the first week?
Firstly, let’s talk about this season’s twist regarding the BB App Store. Right from the get-go, there were similarities between this and the Den of Temptation from Big Brother 19, since both relied on viewer votes to deliver powers/curses. The last thing we needed was another situation like Paul being given an unfair advantage. Luckily, the winners are determined here based on whose name is mentioned the most in a quiz while the loser is the least mentioned. That mechanism gives houseguests a fair shot to be selected, and it doles out powers/punishments of their choosing.
Sam and Faysal utilized their powers in the best possible way. Faysal chose a punishment that only caused minimal discomfort and it didn’t impact his game, only his stomach. Sam, on the other hand, picked the power that could save her game if she ever got evicted – and it was obviously the best one to have from the bunch. But, what she did right with her power was sharing that information with Tyler to build a strong, lasting bond that ultimately saved her game. Thanks to the power, she survived eviction without using her prize. That’s a feat not many can claim.
What Big Brother 20 did right with their first episode was not evicting someone from the game this early. For the last few seasons, a player had received the chop in an endurance competition, or an altered elimination, to send someone out within the first day. Big Brother Canada does this every season, but they let the houseguests enter early to play out a week before evicting someone. The American version limits this to an extremely shortened timeframe within a day. With all 16 players playing a full round, we learn more about their gameplay styles instead of a “what if?” about the unfortunate early boot.
Instead of the early eviction, we were treated to the tournament-style game that gave Swaggy C the power to save half the house. The real prize, however, gave us the treat of watching Swaggy’s too-hard-too-fast game. He let his overconfidence, and his strategy of winning everything, go off the deep end.
Swaggy not only gave houseguests dirty side-eye looks, but he openly revealed his houseguest preferences in a meeting when he then turned against his friends. What was he thinking?! This action was the type of reckless gameplay that can sink someone’s chances of making it far. It will be a miracle if he wins Big Brother 20.
Tyler, on the other hand, showed off his great gameplay during his Head of Household reign. I will admit that I judged him pre-season and thought he wouldn’t be a strong strategic player, but he proved me wrong. Typically, the first week of Big Brother is a calm week with someone who didn’t fit in getting the boot in a house majority; the HOH simply has to sit back and do nothing. However, Tyler didn’t sit at all. He used his social capital to build alliances on both sides of the house, manipulate Kaitlyn, and turn the house to save Sam. Tyler has the potential to make it all the way; if he doesn’t become too much of a threat, he’ll do pretty well.
Speaking of the alliances, Big Brother 20 is currently split right down the middle. Chris “Swaggy C,” Faysal, Angie “Rockstar,” Hayleigh, and Kaitlyn make up #FOUTTE, with Bayleigh, Steve, and Scottie as close allies. On the other side, it’s Brett, Winston, Angela, Rachel, Kaycee, and Tyler in the Level 6 alliance, with Sam and JC as close allies. We haven’t seen a split like this since Big Brother 6. That season had one of the most dramatic summers with the balance of power shifting each week and the off-the-wall fights between the houseguests, so you know how exciting this development sounds.
Between the two groups, #FOUTTE might be the least likely to survive long-term, especially since romantic drama is already tearing their group apart. There were a few culprits in this mess, but the tension between Faysal, Hayleigh, and Kaitlyn had reached points of confusing pettiness; this could have been what pushed Kaitlyn to turn on her alliance and vote out Steve. While the trio made amends, the damage was already done.
The six challenges we witnessed during the first week of Big Brother 20 got a serious upgrade over what we’ve seen in past seasons. The designs had improved, the concepts were mostly new ideas, and the tech theme stayed consistent throughout everything. (Consistency is important if we’re going to use buzz words all summer!)
The best challenge had to be the elimination-style Power of Veto game. Having five different types of mini-games mixed into one challenge provided a fun variation to the POV format we’ve seen before. Plus, the genuine fear and hesitations that came from the tough obstacles helped us witness the limits these players really had in the fight to power. Let’s never forget that Tyler is afraid of snakes, and Swaggy doesn’t swim in ice water.
Steve’s eviction can be summed up in one easy musing: He didn’t have the odds to win Big Brother 20, but his eviction was not fully his fault. Right up until 12 hours before the live vote, the house split had been 7-6 with Sam being the one to go. However, at the last possible moment, Kaitlyn decided to flip to break up a pair; in this case, it’s the Scottie and Steve pairing. Tyler worked days on his relationship with Kaitlyn to get her to join his side by saving Sam – Steve thought his odds were looking great. He didn’t do much to reaffirm his relationship with Kaitlyn.
However, can we blame him? The #FOUTTE alliance didn’t know that Kaitlyn had flipped the vote; they legitimately thought Steve was staying. With a house this split right down the middle, the votes pretty much had to be locked in with everyone on the same page. Kaitlyn chose her own path and it affected the #FOUTTE alliance she helped start. Hopefully, the blindside doesn’t affect her game; she’s now the second HOH of the season and she needs to reaffirm her relationships once she’s out of power.
The first week of Big Brother 20 fixed a couple of errors that plagued the series before the landmark season. The production really took time to make this a memorable year by giving fans some of what they wanted, like an interesting cast of ONLY newbies, better-designed challenges, and a twist that didn’t impact the game too much. So far, the season is starting off well enough in terms of gameplay (minus the bigoted comments and sexual harassment on the live feeds, of course). And, after the strong strategic gameplay we witnessed in the first week alone, we could be in for one of the best competitive summers yet.