In the battle for the Big Brother 20 crown, a strong social game has won out yet again. Professional football player Kaycee defeated lifeguard Tyler in a close 5-4 jury vote. Meanwhile, JC the dancer came in third. Kaycee snatched the victory in the Big Brother 20 finale thanks to her streak of competition wins and loyal gameplay. By no means is Kaycee’s win an undeserving victory, but the split 5-4 decision against Tyler will no doubt continue the fan debate that’s been going on the last three Big Brother seasons. Should a strong social game be equally recognized as a winning strategy compared to a strong manipulative game? In a word: yes.
Going into the Big Brother 20 finale, the story seemed to be that this was Tyler’s season to lose; he made the big moves and played puppet master. But as we discussed in past Big Brother 20 reviews, Tyler’s control slipped as more houseguests headed to jury. He left a bitter taste in the mouths of Bayleigh, Rockstar, Scottie, Sam, Brett, Haleigh, and Faysal to the point that his “sure-thing victory” didn’t look like a guarantee. And they compared notes about his Final 2 deals that hurt them personally. The group respected his strategic gameplay, but some of them liked Kaycee better, who had done nothing bad to them.
Kaycee, on the other hand, played the quieter game. She never made any big decisions herself or got blood on her hands. The Big Brother 20 winner focused on making friendships, winning competitions, and taking the orders from the more direct members of her group–she valued loyalty for her strategy. Her story was the classic tale of The Tortoise and the Hare: Tyler got off to a fast start and dominated right to the end, but Kaycee built the momentum over time to make people like and respect her to secure a win. Just because her strategy wasn’t flashy or dominating, it doesn’t mean that it was wrong. A loyal social strategy has won in the past (like Jordan from Big Brother 11 and Hayden from Big Brother 12), and it won here for Big Brother 20.
Ultimately, the odds came down to who each houseguest wanted to sit next to in the Big Brother 20 finale. There is a reality where Tyler could’ve won the season, but he needed to be sitting next to someone like Angela (someone the jury hated) or JC (a weak Big Brother resume) to make it happen. His fatal flaw resulted in his determination to be sitting next to Kaycee in the end. If he had changed that, the season would’ve been different. There is even a slight possibility that JC could’ve defeated Kaycee or Tyler based on the jury sentiment. The odds were so closely matched, but none of that mattered since both Kaycee and Tyler wanted to take each other. Big Brother 20 didn’t have a bitter jury.
When it came to the jury itself, Big Brother 20 had the most boring jury round table ever. Big Brother 2 winner and legend Dr. Will Kirby tried his best to keep excitement going during his moderation, but the jury members gave him nothing. With the exception of Angela revealing the identity of Level 6, there were no shocks, surprises or debates. The jury members, for the most part, didn’t feel the need to make a case for the Final 3 houseguests. In their minds, Tyler played a strategic but uncaring game, Kaycee won power but did nothing with it, and JC played strategically but didn’t do much. Did the edit cut out all the good stuff? Something was missing from the final cut.
In fact, the structure and pacing of the Big Brother 20 finale exposed a big problem. Overall, the finale felt rushed and unfulfilled. Julie Chen-Moonves constantly kept cutting people off to rush to the next segment or challenges were truncated to get quick results. Sure, the podcast-/vlog-themed final Head of Household challenge was fun and cheeky, but the game ate up a lot of time. The same could be said about the Swaggy/Bayleigh proposal (we’ll get to that soon). We even rushed right into the results to find out who won Big Brother 20. There was no time to enjoy the moment.
With the Big Brother 20 finale being an hour and a half, there is a way to get all the big points into the hour. Firstly, we don’t need a recap episode in the days leading up to the finale. The celebratory Jeff segment took up time when we could’ve watched the first round of the final HOH instead. The second round could’ve been included, too. Fans are going to watch the Big Brother finale regardless, but not everything needs to be crammed into one episode.
Removing the two early challenges would allow for more time. And with more time, we would get the items we all want, like extended jury debates, longer questioning between the jury and the finalists, and more questions with the pre-jury houseguests. Seriously, we didn’t even hear from Kaitlyn talking about Tyler or Rachel calling Angela out! The Big Brother 20 finale gave us everything on a checklist, but it didn’t give us enough of it to leave its mark.
There was, however, enough time for Swaggy C’s strange proposal to Bayleigh. While the two do seem like they love each other, they’ve only known one another for two or three weeks. That’s it! The odds of them lasting are slim, and it brings up a lot of conspiracy theories. Will they last? Is Bayleigh pregnant? Is this a publicity stunt to get on The Amazing Race?
Based on the final jury votes, the most surprising outcomes came down to Haleigh, Scottie, and Sam. Haleigh broke away from FOUTTE/HIVE to vote for Tyler. She mentioned that she valued gameplay more, so her decision made sense. Although her going against the group was surprising. Scottie’s and Sam’s votes for Kaycee were also surprising since they were closer to Tyler. A contributing factor to their votes must’ve been realizing that Tyler didn’t value their Final 2 deals. If he had handled the situation better before blindsiding and betraying them, he would’ve received their votes.
The Big Brother 20 finale felt like a rushed and incomplete conclusion. Sure, a good winner was crowned, interesting challenges were played, and the jury chatted it out with a Big Brother legend… but something was missing. Overall, it felt unsatisfying and left us wanting more. Big Brother 20 as a season is one of the best we’ve had in years. Arguably, it could be in the top five based on its first half alone. It’s a shame that the finale didn’t have the same fire to bask in its success.