A winner has been crowned for Big Brother 21, but instead of it being a joyous moment, this might be the most somber finale in the show’s history. Seriously, did you look at Jackson’s face? He looked miserable! The finale gave us the tried-and-true events we’ve come to watch (i.e., the jury round table, final challenges, winner, etc.), but this time we were treated to the show exposing ALL of the controversies these houseguests made all season. And from my review during Week 2, these houseguests racked up a lot of them. Big Brother 21 dropped the mic to be one of the most memorable finales ever.
Before we get into the drama of the final 15 minutes, let’s talk about the events that led up to the pre-jury chat. Firstly, Big Brother 21 tried something new by having the jury round table right up front to open the hour and with two full segments this summer. I love this change because it gave the same footing for each member of the Final 3 and introduced them to the viewers on an even playing field. If you didn’t watch the live feeds, you wouldn’t be clouded by the events of part #2 of the final Head of Household competition to wonder if any of the three could win.
The jury round table was strong this year because all of the houseguests wanted to vote for the best gameplay and tried to balance their head over their heart. Plus, Dr. Will returned to host and he’s one of the best Big Brother winners and he leads the round table with ease! Surprisingly, the two most vocal members of the jury round table were Nick and Analyse. Nick, who still argued with Christie about her Taco Tuesday game move, and Analyse, who got lost over how to play Big Brother – it was shocking to hear Analyse criticize anyone about their lack of gameplay. The jury stayed mostly fair and were willing to give any of the Final 3 a chance to win; this approach is how all future juries should look at the game since it balances game moves with social game.
When Holly won the second part of the final HOH, Nicole’s game was sunk. Let’s be real here: Holly and Jackson were never going to take Nicole to the end and break their deal. The showmance promised each other a spot in the finals, and even if Nicole successfully planted a seed in their heads, the only chance would be if Holly won the final HOH and she hammered it in to stay. The filler scene of Nicole campaigning to Holly gave little hope, but the odds were definitely against her.
Even the final part of the HOH had little drama. Big Brother needs to step up their mental prowess with challenges because all of the questions were so easy! Jackson only won due to Holly mishearing one part of a question; if she had heard it correctly, they would’ve had perfect scores and gone to tiebreaker. Big Brother 21 focused on a lot of physical challenges this season – and it showed based on who ended up winning. Why is the show choosing to lack in this department? The difficult mental challenges are fun and give everyone a catch to win. If they had given the mental aspect of the game an even balance, the outcome could’ve been definitely and added more drama.
Still, congrats to Jackson and Holly for making it to the Final 2. They’re the first showmance in Big Brother history to make it to the finals together for a shot at the prize. Duos have made it to the end before (like Big Brother 8, Big Brother 16, and Big Brother 20), but when it came to showmances, someone usually got cut before the end. The closest was Big Brother 5 when Drew evicted his own showmance Diane to take Cowboy to the finals. Obviously, Jackson also here thought he had a better chance to win against Holly – and he was proven right. If Nicole had made it to the finals, she probably would’ve won.
Speaking of Nicole, it’s a shame that she lost the game. Nicole is one of the nicest players this series has ever had, and she is quirky, fun, and kind-hearted. There are two reasons why she lost the game: (1) she didn’t nominate and evict Jackson during the double-eviction, and (2) she followed Cliff’s judgment to evict Tommy instead of Holly during Final 5. If those two things hadn’t happened, Nicole most likely would’ve had a spot in the finals. On the plus side, Nicole will most likely get invited back to compete again AND she won America’s Favorite Player ($25,000). She may have come in third, but she’s leaving a winner.
The final two jury speeches and answers were awkward, to say the least. Jackson failed to own his game until he had to in his final speech (seriously, he gets a question about degrading women and he still didn’t own up to it to offer forgiveness?!), and Holly kept talking too much to every question. Her answers weren’t direct and felt too rehearsed; she needed to go in for the kill against Jackson but failed to do so. Jackson sealed his fate by winning the game with his direct approach, but this entire segment was sloppy and paled in comparison to final rounds that have come before.
Now, let’s get into the pre-jury chats. Firstly, I LOVED that Julie and Big Brother approached all of the controversies that happened all summer! These houseguests got away with a lot and they avoided the blowback by being in jury, so they had no idea what storm was heading their way. They needed to know what they did and how the public viewed them, especially with the post-show interviews coming up. On the other hand, I wish that Big Brother had exposed all of this drama earlier in the season. Casual viewers (who only watched the episodes) were blindsided by the drama and had no idea any of this happened. Unless you watched the live feeds, read articles about the drama, or had a friend who told you about the controversies, you never would’ve known.
Everything from Gr8ful’s bullying of the outsiders and minorities, Jack’s and Jackson’s racism, Jackson’s misogynistic treatment of the women, Jack’s horrible treatment to Kemi, and all of the other controversies would then seem new. If this happens again, Big Brother needs to expose the truth – this show is supposed to be a “social experiment,” so let’s reveal and discuss the social workings that happen inside the house instead of ignoring and enabling that behavior.
Ovi discussing the bullying was a good first step because, in addition to Nicole, he experienced much of it too. His answer laid the groundwork to let the houseguests know that their behavior was not right and they took it too far. Kemi’s condemnation of Jack, Jackson, Christie, and Nick was a perfect dish that took months to be delivered. In addition to the infamous shaker bottle incident, Kemi experienced A LOT of bias against her and comments from the houseguests, especially from these four players. (As an example, Kemi got evicted in Week #2, but all summer-long, the houseguests kept talking about Kemi in rude ways and making fun of her after she left. She did nothing to them.) Regardless of the four making half-assed apologies, Kemi had a point that they should apologize after seeing all the things they did and said about her.
David’s question/answer got lumped into a controversy that started at the beginning of the season, but it grew beyond that one Camp Director challenge. Some houseguests did show implicit bias against others, and while the results of the first challenge might’ve been about gameplay, those biases did affect the first half of Big Brother 21. The first half and second half of the season were almost like two different shows. Hopefully, the houseguests learn from this summer and grow from it.
Also, we can’t forget the Nick / Isabella / Kat drama. Everything about this romance got messy … and there were even more people involved in this that could’ve been brought up if the finale had more time, like Nick’s constant crush on Analyse, his flirting with Tommy, and Kat’s (former) boyfriend in the real world. Like I said, all of this got messy.
At the end of the day, Jackson’s victory over Holly was the better of the scenario. Arguably, he played the better game. He won a large amount of challenges, he made powerful strategic moves, and he had a better-than-average social game with most of the players. Jackson played more direct and cutthroat than his competitors. He’s a terrible person, but in the scope as a Big Brother player, he’s a good player.
Big Brother 21 had many bumpy roads this summer on its upward path. Once Camp Comeback ended, the drama and interest increased to now become a decent season. Big Brother 21 was boring at times, but it offered some memorable moments and provided fun players that we will see again in the future. The finale didn’t end up the way most fans wanted, but it will be one that will be talked about for years to come.