Regardless of what some critics may say about Big Brother, whether it’s tacky, predictable, or just plain boring to watch at times, there’s usually an element to the game design that does makes the show entertaining. The system is pretty straight forward. Each week, the houseguests battle it out in the Head of Household (HOH) competition and the winner is responsible for nominating two houseguests for eviction. The Power of Veto (POV) competition takes place and this allows for power shifts and changing alliances in the house. A houseguest may be in a minority alliance or on the outside and the next week, they find themselves in control. And as Big Brother host Julie Chen always cautions, “expect the unexpected.” That’s where the “twists” come in every year that can drastically alter the season. From returning vets to twins secretly playing together as one houseguest, the list goes on.
Yes it’s a guilty pleasure and it’s why we always keep coming back for more. With the wrap up of the season 19 finale, we will be breaking down what went right, went wrong, and answer the pressing questions.
Disclaimer: We primarily watch the broadcast show and will occasionally watch clips from the live feeds or follow the house chatter on Twitter.
From day 1 in the house the tone was set when Paul walked in the door that if you didn’t have his “friendship”, then you were on the outside looking in. Most of the houseguests (except for Cody) were so enamored with the BB vet that they were climbing over themselves just to get in his inner circle. They threw comps in his name, fought with the houseguests he told them to and made safe moves all to ensure Paul had a clear and easy path. This is the same Paul that won 9 comps and never found himself on the block nor had any significant blood on his hands from all of those evictions. He masterfully had his hand in every move and let his minions openly pin the next target of his choice. Once a houseguest became that target, they found themselves bullied, shunned, confused and isolated from the rest of the group until they were sent packing.
Everything was playing out for Paul exactly as he planned and he convinced each major duo to somehow have him connected to it so he was pretty much guaranteed a spot in the coveted final 3. And when the time came, he would pick the weakest alliance to latch onto and steamroll in the end to victory. Was Paul really going to take Alex and Jason with him to final 3? No way. Both won proved they could win competitions and had the social game to get the jury votes from Cody’s side. Would Paul take Raven and Matt with him to final 3? No, too risky. We know Matt was useless but Raven was on Paul’s coattails in a few of those competitions. If she managed to beat him, Paul knew her showmance with Matt would trump anything he could offer. It had to be Josh and Christmas. In an endurance comp, Paul obviously had a clear advantage over Christmas. In a final 2 matchup, Paul figured Josh pissed off just as many if not more jury members than he did. Josh cemented his role early as an annoyance in the house and as Paul’s attack dog being pushed and goaded to expose or rattle the other houseguests. Paul carried Josh the whole way and coached him from being an emotional wreck to developing into a competitor that started to realize in the closing weeks Paul was using himself and Christmas to advance. In Paul’s mind, certainly the jury members would see how he controlled the whole game vs. Josh’s gameplay of going along for the ride.
Fast forward to finale night and it was there for the taking. Paul won the first competition and even managed to convince Josh to drop Christmas as his ride or die and take him in the final two. At that moment you felt there was no stopping Paul from winning. But then shockingly deja vu started to set in…As the votes were tallied, momentum started to shift away from Paul in Josh’s favor until there was a 4-4 tie. One vote left and it none other than Cody locking in the final vote to seal Paul’s fate as the runner-up for the second year in a row. Some say poetic justice for the lone houseguest who called out Paul from day one. But this was Paul’s season to lose more than Josh’s season to win. The returning vet was gifted three weeks of safety from CBS at the start, combined with a cast that was more focused on just being in the house rather posing a threat to his chances of winning the $500,000. With the season essentially wrapped up in bow for him, why did Paul find it necessary to keep lying in his goodbye messages to evicted houseguests? These people thought they were in alliances with him. Did he not think houseguests would compare notes as soon as they got to the jury house? His arrogance during the final interview round only further vindicated the houseguests feelings of being cheated especially when he kept bullshitting them.
Without a doubt jury management is a huge part of the game and it’s why I don’t think Paul was necessarily robbed of this win like last season. The houseguests respect honesty and it’s how Derrek was able to win over jury members in season 16. He didn’t hide the fact that he was behind a lot of their evictions and maintained his final 2 alliance with Cody. Paul overplayed the game and horribly misunderestimated that remaining houseguests are often honest in those goodbye videos. It’s how Josh sunk his game and pushed those bitter jury members to swing in his favor. As Paul was lying to their faces, Josh was always right behind him confessing to the next evicted houseguest about their secret alliance together and how the evictee was actually the target. Paul told them they were safe and then they weren’t. How could those evicted houseguests in their “so-called alliances” with Paul not feel blindsided?
In the end, bitterness made it more acceptable for the deciding jury votes to discredit Paul’s excellent gameplay and choose Josh moreso because he was the only other option – and simply wasn’t Paul.
Season 19 Overview
My least favorite sentence in all of Big Brother is “What the House wants”. Okay, now let’s substitute “the House” for “Paul”. There. I’ve just summed up this season. You really could stop just stop reading there. It was an incredible feat of the casting producers to get a group of people so dense that they never once stopped to think “Maybe the guy who got 2nd place last season, who is the single returning vet, is EXTREMELY good at this game, maybe just maybe he’s playing me/us?” or “Hey, why not use Paul as a pawn this week?”. I think it speaks volumes that Raven, (there isn’t even enough space in this article to rant about her) when making it to Jury is delusional enough to think she was a ‘Puppet Master”. When pressed on this by the other Jury members, she retorts with “I was helping Paul pull strings!” That’s the new bar to set for playing a good game. Helping pull strings for a returning player who is already $50,000 richer from the previous season. I’m not sure I have the energy to say much more on this subject. I’ve spent the last 3 months watching the houseguests play butler to him and I’m just spent after wasting so much of my time yelling at a TV hoping that someone in that house hears me and thinks about anything other than “What’s the next thing I can do for Paul?”.
The only person who had any idea of what was going on was Cody. Now, I’m not saying he isn’t a serial killer or some form of advanced robotics experiment that escaped the lab after purging any sort of a personality construct and then decided to try its luck on a reality TV show. But you’ve got to respect the fact that he saw straight through the bullshit. It felt like he was the only person in this game that didn’t cry for the majority of his screen time and wasn’t looking for a quick chance to become a CBS pseudo-celebrity. His bullshit detector went off the minute Paul walked into the game. It’s a shame the guy was essentially duped by the producers when he nominated someone who they were in no way going to let leave the game that early. We then got to suffer through the next several weeks watching a struggling underdog of a romance between the T-800 and his smarter than you’d expect girlfriend desperately try to salvage what little social game they had. I have to give it to Jess, the girl had a hell of a good pulse on the game. But she was ultimately too absorbed into Cody to do anything about it. By the time she was finally getting back on track after Cody’s eviction, he won the battle back and came in to seal her fate and her game. Cody was incredible to watch as he hit beast mode in pretty much every competition he was in, but at the end of the day, he ruined the game for both of them and they sank together for it. In a hilarious form of perpetual hell, Cody spent most of the game residing in the Jury house, surrounded by people he hates, away from his new girlfriend, watching his biggest nemesis continue to steamroll the competition.
I’m having a hard time coming up with much that ‘went right’ or anything I really liked about this season. Much like last season it was very much a ‘We vs. You’ structure with a mostly united ‘HouseMind’ instead of a group of people competing against each other. I really miss the days of multiple shifting alliances and power dynamics. The last couple of seasons have basically been the House voting out whoever they decided to bully that week. It’s boring, predictable, and defeats the one thing that always kept this from just being ‘another reality show’ – the unexpected. Instead of the unexpected, we got the same song and dance every single week. The power never truly shifted this season. Outside of the few times where it looked like Cody and Jess were able to dig their nails into the floorboards of the house just a bit deeper, as they were being inevitably dragged away kicking and screaming – the power shifts were only illusions. Instead, the power always remained in one place and the only thing that ever shifted was the target – and that was always just whoever happened to be lowest on Paul’s totem pole. Look, Paul is clearly great at this game. He wins when he needs to, he’s got a great social game (although I really don’t see what anyone finds endearing about him), and he’s great at coming up with solid strategies week after week. But I’m not entirely convinced he was playing all that hard this season. Which is a contradictory thing to say I know, but hear me out. Was Paul really all that great this season? Or is everyone else really just that STUPID, that anyone with even a modicum of finesse could take the express train to half a million dollars? Anyway, I should wrap this overview up, I’m being told to stop typing and that the plan is to throw the rest of the article to Paul.
Final Thoughts On Each Houseguest
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Big Brother Roundtable
Did Josh deserve to win Big Brother?
- Chandler: No, he did not play a better game than Paul and I have a hard time believing the narrative that Josh presents in his post-win interviews, that he himself was some mastermind in the game. Josh simply benefited by Paul overplaying his hand and horribly miscalculating jury management. Not much of a choice for jury, if not Paul then there’s only Josh.
- Pat: Not at all. I really dislike Paul and but I would have him winning 10 times over this overly-emotional bully. How this selfish buffoon went from throwing his team under the bus in week 1 to make secure his own safety, to winning the entire game is bewildering. I’m irate that he won the game not only from a personal standpoint, but to have this loon stand beside the other winning alumni over the years makes me sick just thinking about it. You’ve got to give it to the stupidity of this year’s cast. The only thing they didn’t throw to Paul this year, was the only thing he actually deserved.
Did Cody deserve to win America’s favorite player?
- Chandler: Yes, it’s what the fans wanted and I believe this was a message from the fans to CBS. In the end, Cody embodied a lot of their frustrations with the season because of their shady favoritism towards Paul. He became that underdog in the house who was pretty much the only person standing up to Paul’s bully tactics right from the start.
- Pat: Yeah I think so. I was a bit shocked as I had my own love/hate session with Cody, and wasn’t quite sure how America at large felt about him. I’m not sure he would have been the person I picked to receive this, but I’m cool with it. Regardless of how personality and emotionally devoid Cody was, he was a straight shooter and told it like it was. I would kill OTEV for a full cast of houseguests like Cody for even one season. Maybe that can be next year’s twist – a decent cast of competitors?
Should Big Brother keep bringing back vets?
- Chandler: At this point I would say ‘no’ since the past two seasons they did have largely been a disappointment. Last season there was no reason for Da’Vone to return and she is one of the worst to ever play the game either socially or for a competition perspective. This season CBS basically handed Paul three weeks of safety to start and survive the initial evictions where vets tend to be the most vulnerable. Don’t bring back vets if they’re going to be protected by the producers or if you have houseguests who are going to be star struck by their BB celebrity status.
- Pat: I’m torn on this. Obviously bringing back favorite players is usually a great treat for fans of those people. However, it puts all new players at an extreme disadvantage, and never lets the newbies shine enough to create new favorites. I’d prefer if they cooled it on bringing back the vets for a few seasons, or just went all out and did another All-Stars season. Its gotta be all or nothing.
Which houseguest had the best game?
- Chandler: Whether I approve his methods or not Paul clearly played the best game this season. He had a hand in every eviction, never sat on the block, won comps when he wanted to and had almost every houseguest believing he was aligned with them at some point. Even when he cut his alliance members loose and had other houseguests take the big shots for him, the people he was working with never pointed the finger back to Paul.
- Pat: As salty as I am about it, and as easy it was for him because of how incompetent the cast was, Paul was the one who saw that and exploited it. I don’t want to say it, but he did have the best game out of all of these clowns.
Which houseguest had the worst game?
- Chandler: Raven. All of the outlandish tales and self-gratification for “thinking” she helped Paul pull the strings in the house did nothing to stop her and Matt from going out the door. Mark summed it up perfectly in the jury house – “I’ve never heard anyone say they were a puppet master, then win nothing.”
- Pat: Raven. Delusions are a hell of a drug, and this girl was certainly using. This dishonor could have gone to numerous others, but the fact that Raven truly thinks that not only did she play the game (HA!), but thinks that she played it well, (despite accomplishing nothing) cements her with worst game of the season.
Who was your favorite houseguest?
- Chandler: Slim pickings here. Based on the broadcast I would say Jason. He was competitive and his alliance with Alex was compelling to watch at times both trading off winning competitions and sending people out the door. That being said, on the live feeds Jason’s disturbing rape jokes made news headlines and Alex was exposed as one of the biggest bullies in the house. CBS definitely gave them a favorable cut.
- Pat: Tough choice. I hate them all equally! Honestly though, I’d probably pick Alex. It’s refreshing to see a strong female contestant that: isn’t shackled by a showmance, isn’t a giant brat, and can win competitions in the clutch. I’d love to see what she could do if she wasn’t stuck being one of Paul’s underlings.
Which houseguest was the biggest disappointment?
- Chandler: Matt. In the first two episodes I had hopes for this guy as a dark horse pick. He seemed composed enough to win comps and liked enough to support a social game. Boy was I wrong. Matt came out and was a bonified scrub. He had no game whatsoever and didn’t have the heart, the passion or anything that comes with being a remembered BB houseguest. While him and Raven were busy playing house, Paul and the other houseguests were planning the appropriate time to take their shot. To cap it all off, when he knew he was leaving, he sunk to a BB low and broke the have-not rules to get himself a penalty vote. Plenty of fans would kill to be in that house. Come on man, respect the game.
- Pat: This belongs to no one else but Matt. I wanted to like Matt so much. Normal-ish guy who isn’t overly flamboyant, he’s mostly level-headed, loves cereal, shows signs of being funny. Man what a disappointment. I’m not convinced he didn’t think he was actually participating in The Real World and not Big Brother.
Did the twists improve or hinder season 19?
- Chandler: Temptations generally seemed like a good twist at first because it could get some alliance members to become a little paranoid and go rogue to protect themselves. This creates drama and certainly shakes things up from becoming too complacent. But besides Paul, it didn’t really help anyone advance their games farther, just delay what the house was already going to do anyway. The temptations had potential but ultimately hindered this season.
- Pat: For the first time in several seasons, I actually really liked the idea of the temptation twists. Unfortunately, due to some super sketchy timing and power of the first temptation, and the fact that it negated a lot of the little strategy there was this year, it probably ended up hindering the season more than improving it.
Will Paul go down as one of the BB greats?
- Chandler: Gotta give credit where it is due. He made it two seasons in a row to final two and many fans will put him in that upper echelon with Derek, Dan Gheesling, and Will Kirby. But I think he’s in a tier below that because of his terrible jury management. Besides Cody, the rest of the house inexplicably fell on their own swords and let Paul steam roll his way to the end. So how challenged was he until the very end?
- Pat: I think he will. As much as I want to, I can’t deny his hustle. The problem is, I’m not convinced this season is really a demonstration on how “good” he is. Anyone can herd sheep. I’d love to see him humbled by the likes of Dan Gheesling, Will Kirby, Derrick Levasseur, or even Evel Dick (can we please get another All-Stars season!?).
Any showmances worth mentioning?
- Chandler: Not really. Cody/Jessica had their brief moments to sway power in the house but fell short.
- Pat: Do Paul’s orders and Josh count as a showmance?
On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate season 19?
- Chandler: 3. Can’t decide if this season is worse than season 15. But at least season 15 had house guests who wanted to play the game and not stand on the sidelines.
- Pat: Probably a 4 or 5.
Final thoughts on the recent Big Brother Celebrity Edition announcement?
- Chandler: Forget having well-known Big Brother superfans like Neil Patrick Harris and Bobby Moynihan in the house. More than likely we’ll be looking at D-listers and washed-up celebrities battle it out. Dear CBS: I know you’re thinking about it but please no Franke Grande
- Pat: I have a feeling that even Pauly Shore would be too high profile of a celebrity for this. And Pauly Shore is THE WORST.