Would you rather have a great Big Brother season with a lackluster winner or a mediocre season with a fantastic winner? After all, it’s all about the balance of the journey vs. the end result and sometimes we’re lucky to get both. In the case of Celebrity Big Brother 2, we ended up with the latter. Singer and TV personality Tamar Braxton dominated the final jury vote against former NFL player Ricky Williams in a unanimous 9-0 vote. Tamar injected a lot of fun, energy, and spice into an otherwise one-note season. Instead of complex strategic plays that benefited from a 3-month season, Celebrity Big Brother 2 focused on personal attacks and relationships. And the minimal gameplay definitely showed in the end product.
Tamar was an incredible winner and one that the Big Brother fan base desperately needed after the last few years. She made strategic moves and alliances, focused on her journey to get to the end, and knew how to foster relationships. On top of that, she also knew how to balance playing an aggressive game and when to pull back into the background. Her genuine personality, sincerity, and directness won over both the fans and the other house guests. While she wasn’t the best at challenges, she positioned herself in a great spot where she rarely faced potential eviction. Suffice it to say, Tamar played a game that earned her a spot in the Top 10 best.
Plus, Tamar broke A LOT of records for a Big Brother winner! Her record-breaking victory earned her the following distinctions:
- First female winner to win by unanimous vote.
- First African-American to win a Big Brother season in North America.
- First African-American female to win a Big Brother season in North America.
- First person to enter the Big Brother house and win the season.
- Member of a Final 2 consisting of only people of color.
Tamar winning Celebrity Big Brother 2 also dispelled a concern that many viewers had these last few seasons, which included Big Brother US, Celebrity Big Brother, and Big Brother Canada. For a few years now, the Big Brother jury has voted winners who, while also winning challenges and making some strategic moves, favored relationships and “innocent” games (i.e. less aggressive/manipulative games that didn’t have much blood on their hands). Nicole from Big Brother 18, Josh from Big Brother 19, Kaycee from Big Brother 20, Marissa from Celebrity Big Brother 1, and Paras from Big Brother Canada 6 all played varying games, but their journeys were “cleaner” compared to the person they sat next to in the Final 2.
None of their strategies were wrong. If you won a Big Brother season, then that strategy should be respected because that’s what it took to win. However, the favorability of cleaner games worried fans that strategic puppet-master and harder gameplay might be a thing of the past. Kevin from Big Brother Canada 5 last held this type of gameplay, but even then his Final 2 opponent had a lackluster resume to compete against. (Sorry Karen! All tea, no shade.) Tamar winning with her strong gameplay reassured fans that juries can respect that strategy, especially paired with a great social game and genuineness to it.
Speaking of social games, Celebrity Big Brother 2 had an abundance of tight-knit alliances and friendships. A lot of these groupings could legitimately have lasting relationships outside of the house. There was the pairing of Natalie Eva Marie/Lolo Jones, the trio of Jonathan Bennett/Ryan Lochte/Joey Lawrence, the duo of Tom Green/Kato Kaelin, and the reunion of Tamar Braxton/Kandi Burruss. Dina Lohan and Ricky Williams melded into some groups, but they didn’t make genuine relationships like the others had.
Out of the groupings, my favorite was Tamar and Kandi. Their initial pre-season drama could’ve posed a challenge for their winning potential, but they overcame the roller coaster to be friends again. Hopefully, they can keep their friendship going. My heart melted when Tamar admitted in the diary room her happiness for having a true friendship with Kandi again. That’s the cherry on the sundae of her victory.
Celebrity Big Brother 2 faltered when it came to strategic prowess. Houseguests made decisions completely based on personal opinion and bias instead of strategic moves. In particular, Tom Green suffered from this error when he completely blew up his and Kato’s games during the week Joey was evicted. Instead of sticking with his group (along with Natalie, Lolo, and Ricky), he caused tension and created doubt – doubt that made them turn against him. He even went all over the map during his Head of Household reign to get Natalie out of the house. Tom loved chaos, but creating it ruined any chances of winning.
He wasn’t the only one at fault. Lolo and Natalie destroyed their games by being vocal of their disdain for many of the other players. Did they not realize they were on Celebrity Big Brother? All of the evicted players got to watch the episodes and live feeds at home – it’s how Ross lost the previous season. Lolo, in particular, had no shot at winning. You could tell that the majority of houseguests weren’t previous fans of Big Brother; only Tamar was the genuine “superfan” in the bunch, with Jonathan and Tom as those who watched previous episodes.
Another fault of Celebrity Big Brother 2 came in the form of meddling and pointless twists. The producers needed to back off and let the celebrities get into the rhythm of the season. Look, Big Brother will ALWAYS have twists, and many of them are a lot of fun, like the app twist of Big Brother 20. But, this season featured a few that made no sense or were suspect in their fairness.
Firstly, why was Anthony Scaramucci even there? He served no purpose as this fake houseguest. If he had not been nominated in the first week, his “twist” wouldn’t have played out and meant nothing. Let’s not even get into the fan theories of this twist being slapped together because the Mooch quit instead. Secondly, the forced HOH nomination from the first week potentially has long-term damage for future seasons. Why is anyone ever going to try to win the first HOH again if there’s a chance they could end up on the block? This twist killed some momentum and it got rid of a strategic player in Jonathan.
Thirdly, the publicist twist had coup d’état vibes to it with its suspect voting. Don’t get me wrong, Tamar deserved the power since she won the fan vote fairly, but if someone is handed immunity for a few rounds without a choice, then that’s a problem. (Looking at you, Big Brother 19!) And lastly, the last-minute game that could’ve saved Tom from eviction had major levels of suspect in them. Tom needed help since he was outgoing HOH, but this challenge came in at the right moment. The last one is only a theory…
Coming off the heels of a great inaugural season, Celebrity Big Brother 2 had all the potential to keep the momentum going. Unfortunately, due to its mix of meddling twists and indifferent houseguests, the progress delivered an average/mediocre season at best. Luckily, its winner made up for it in the end! If/when Celebrity Big Brother comes back for another round, the twists need to be minimal and the celebrities have to be fans of the show. We want to root for people who are excited to be there and want to play because they know the game and there was a clear and noticeable divide between this season and last.