Can you believe it?! I’m still shocked over the Big Brother 19 finale. History has repeated itself in the most satisfyingly, cruel manner. A 5-4 vote determined the winner and ultimately created Big Brother history. After a very lackluster season, the finale made up for most of it (sorry, we can’t forget the past!) and it will no doubt be used in the future discussions around player strategy, jury management, and progression of masterminds. Seriously, it was that jaw-dropping!
Josh, the pot-banging meatball himself, won in a very close vote of 5-4 against returning Big Brother 18 veteran Paul. Author and fitness star Christmas came in third place after losing the final Head of Household. When the night started, I was rooting for a shocking upset. Paul seemed like a sure-thing win if he went to the end against Josh or Christmas; he dominated the season so much and most of his allies made up the jury. Christmas may have gotten a few sympathy votes, but my real hope was for Josh to win the final HOH, cut Paul and then secure the victory. (I know…I’m shocked even saying it after writing off Josh in the first few weeks.) Josh was the only change to shake up the game – he only needed to win the challenges.
Did anyone else feel like the final HOH challenges were simplified? This could be due to Christmas’s severe foot injury. Whereas in the previous seasons the first two challenges involved climbing, water, spinning and a multitude of other physical endurances, this year the difficulty was pulled back. Standing on clouds holding a unicorn’s tail is probably the most amount of physicality they could have without putting stress on Christmas’s foot. The same goes with the archery game in the second challenge, but that was embarrassing. It was three questions and both Christmas and Josh took over an hour and half to complete it. This was a simple one – they had no excuses for performing terribly near the end.
Josh’s decision to take Paul to the final two elicited a scream from me. Sure, it worked out in his favor in the end (he did win, after all); however, this was a risky decision you should never tempt fate with. Cody in Big Brother 16 lost because of this – Josh could’ve repeated history in the worst way. For fans who watch the live feeds or get updates, this decision wasn’t too surprising. Both Josh and Paul made the decision early on to take each other, with Christmas gracefully throwing in the towel regardless – it explained her final speech conceding her fate. Still, even though I knew what Josh had said, I couldn’t believe he actually took Paul – I would’ve cut him in a second.
Christmas’s performance in the finale was disappointing. She gave up! Regardless of supporting her friendships or not feeling like she deserved it, she quit the game. As a competitor myself and diehard Big Brother fan, this pains me that someone would throw in the towel so close to the end. Christmas had a legitimate shot to win Big Brother 19 – she had good friendships, less burnt bridges, and a good story overcoming her foot injury. If she had just told Josh she wanted to go to the final two, I believe Josh would’ve taken her and the vote had potential to go the other way.
The jury segment was the best part of the finale. These jury members were so heated – not just about the final three but to each other. Matt/Raven vs. Mark/Elena is a bigger story I wished they explored more in the past jury segments. The biggest shocker is Alex. She changed her tune since the last time we saw her and now she’s against Paul. Dr. Will kept trying to pull these people back to see rationally, but it’s clear he failed in this regard. The jury were standing by their opinions and there was no shaking them at this point in the game. Finale night, however, is a different story.
Let’s get this out of the way: I’m not blaming Paul’s loss on a bitter jury. Instead, he lost due to poor jury management and not owning his game. Jury management is essential to any reality show that involves this mechanic; Big Brother is no exception. The people you send to the jury house ultimately determines the winner, and how they leave (and how they feel) is on the onus of the players. Paul tried to get as little blood on his hands by manipulating too hard and lying all the time, even as people left the game. He backstabbed mostly everyone and played the “oblivious” card like he didn’t know what happened. Evicted houseguests shared notes, they realized Paul’s game was a total lie and any relationship he made with them was tainted.
If he only owned his game in the final two speeches/questions, Paul could’ve won over a few jurors. Cody, Alex and Jason needed to hear Paul take credit for his devious blindsides and cutting his friendships to make it to the end. Elena and Mark wanted Paul to stand by his bullying tactics and manipulation of houseguests. Paul did NONE of this in the end – he continued to shift blame and act oblivious. This tactic lost him crucial votes. While a decision was probably already cemented beforehand, if he had just owned his game like Josh did, he could’ve easily swayed Cody or Alex to his side.
Josh, for as much as he followed Paul’s and Christmas’s tactics, owned up to his moves. He knew he needed to follow Paul as it helped his game and the banging of the pots was to rattle a few players. While I don’t agree he connected this strategy to “calling out” someone’s game, he did what Paul didn’t – he owned it. This earned him some respect from enemies who probably were still finding a way to justify voting for Josh.
Big Brother 19 ended in a bang after a season of whimpers. Strategic gameplay went out the door in favor of bullying tactics and bending to the will of Paul. While frustrating to all facets of Big Brother fans, this season has created precedent for future summers. Watching previous seasons of the show is a must to learn from the past – just ask Paul; he didn’t watch his season and he repeated the same mistakes for another 5-4 loss. And having even one Big Brother veteran enter the house can seriously change the path of the season.
Who knows what Big Brother 19 would’ve looked like if it was only newbies?! These houseguests may have actually played the game if Paul had not taken the power seat. Please, Big Brother production team, we love you but… NO VETERANS NEXT SEASON! Thank you kindly.