Big Brother: 5 Ways The Game Has Changed Since Season 1

Big Brother

The Big Brother TV show has been a massive success in the US for more than two decades. This isn’t purely through chance, though, as the producers have found a variety of ways of changing the format to keep it fresh for so long. 

Easier for the Public to Feel Involved

Right from the start, the concept of it being a social experiment made us feel involved in the show. However, it’s doubtful that this format would have kept us engaged to the present day without any changes. We now want to feel more involved with the shows that we love, rather than simply watching them on the screen.

One of the ways that Big Brother has adapted to this is by adding a range of companion shows like House Calls and After Dark. We can now also see the odds for Big Brother TV show on who we think will win the series or on events like someone walking out of the house without being evicted. All of this is added to the chance to watch live internet feeds, which remains a big part of the overall appeal. 

More Strategy

If you went back and looked at the very first American series of Big Brother now, there’s one thing that’s sure to stand out. This is the lack of strategy on show, as the first series in the US was based on the format from the Netherlands, which was strongly focused on it being a sort of social experiment.

It didn’t take long for the TV bosses to realize that the show needed more of a competitive edge to make it suitable for American audiences in the long term. They were inspired by the successor of fellow reality show Survivor and added in competitive elements and the need for strategies that made Survivor popular.

This had an immediate impact, and trying to work out what strategy each house guest is using quickly became one of our favorite parts of the show. House guests have also used increasingly sophisticated tactics, often forming blocks to try and force their way to the final by voting out potential rivals.

A Bigger Top Prize

You might be surprised to find out that the top prize for the winner of the series was initially a reasonably modest $500,000. While this is a lot of money, you might have expected it to be higher for such a high-profile show. In fact, the amount was increased to $750,000 from series 23 onwards.

Contestants also pick up a weekly stipend, which has been increased to $1,000 in recent times. The runner-up and the house guest voted as America’s Favorite also get extra cash prizes. With the series running for 13 weeks, the financial reward can be excellent, and some contestants have admitted that this is one of the major reasons they signed up for it.

However, there is an additional financial benefit to being on the show. Being exposed to huge TV audiences day after day can also act as a springboard for any contestant looking to start a new career. Many former house guests have gone on to achieve successful careers on television thanks to their stint on Big Brother.

More Diversity Among Contestants

A lack of diversity was one of the biggest controversies on Big Brother in the past. Indeed, accusations of discrimination provided some of the most disturbing moments in the history of the show. A couple of series, in particular, made the headlines for the wrong reasons, and one of the theories for this is that the group of contestants wasn’t diverse enough.

Thankfully, moves have been made to ensure that this sort of unacceptable behavior is a thing of the past. In 2020, CBS announced that it was aiming for greater diversity on Big Brother as well as on Survivor and Amazing Race. This means that 50% of the contestants should be from minority ethnic groups, and so far it seems to have had a positive effect. 

Unexpected Twists

Viewers love to see an unexpected twist taking place, as it can throw the contestants’ strategies into chaos and give the game a fresh new look. The introduction of unexpected twists was in the third season, where we were told to expect the unexpected. 

Pandora’s Box and the Den of Temptation are among the most memorable twists we’ve seen in the past. We’ve also seen evicted house guests or contestants from a previous series getting elected back into the house, leading to the surprise of the guests living in the house. This kind of twist has become a big part of the Big Brother experience and is something many viewers look forward to.

It seems clear that Big Brother will carry on evolving in the future. The strong basic format lends itself to these tweaks and twists that help to make each series unique.