Big Brother is one of the most popular and longest-standing reality television shows. Contestants of Big Brother are put into a house together and filmed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, battling it out in competitions each week for a grand prize of $500,000. It’s a recipe for destruction, and that’s exactly what the show runners want.
Viewers always expect the unexpected on Big Brother because anything can happen. However, there are some things that go down behind the scenes that production doesn’t necessarily want the viewers to find out about. What the audience ends up seeing on CBS is a carefully curated version of what had actually happened over the last week. People do not get to see everything that goes down and producers would like to keep it that way.
There are also scandals that have surfaced over the years that the network probably doesn’t want to advertise, like when contestants were sent to the hospital after eating the required “slop” diet, that Big Brother was sued by George Orwell over the name of the show, and the fact that multiple winners have had less-than-successful futures after being on the show.
From planting spies in their casting auditions, to having a special formula to encourage show romances, to giving contestants a cheat sheet for how to win, Big Brother executives definitely have tricks to ensure that each season is a successful one. What does production do to make sure that they get the outcomes they want? Here are 15 behind-the-scenes secrets that Big Brother executives don’t want us to know.
15. Production Spies Pretend To Audition With You
Production has their eyes on their contestants before they are even officially on the show. Big Brother contestants aren’t allowed to talk about the casting process they go through to get on the show. However, it was revealed that Big Brother plants “spies” that pretend to be auditioning alongside the average folk. These staffers are tasked with reporting everything that happens back to casting.
What may seem like a fellow “auditioner” asking you about your life may actually be a staff member prying for information. The contestants are also tested by these spies before officially being made a houseguest by telling them they couldn’t speak to their competition and then seeing who followed the rules. Some people get evicted from the Big Brother casting hotel before they even see the inside of the house.
14. There Is A Cheat Sheet To Make It To The Finals
It turns out that being an unlikable jerk is exactly what will land you a spot on Big Brother. The production team looks for cast members that have intolerant personalities because they are guaranteed to stir up the drama. Cast members are given a sheet called “Things You Should be Thinking About for Finals” that encourages them to “think about the types of people that fire you up, make you mad, etc.” and use that during their time in the house.
The people who make it known who they dislike, call people out, and have no filter have some of the best qualities for reality television. People have the best chance of winning in the Big Brother house if they are loud, obnoxious, and are likely to start trouble among the other contestants.
13. No Singing Or Quoting Movies
Big Brother contestants are shut out from the outside world completely while they are on the show. As a houseguest, they are not allowed to read, write, or consume media. The only exception is the Bible. If contestants were allowed to retreat to themselves and read or watch a show when they got upset, the drama would be nowhere near as tantalizing as it is.
On top of this, houseguests cannot sing or quote movies while they are on camera due to copyright issues. If a movie is mentioned or someone breaks out in song, producers have to cut it from the footage. Plus, they have cameras rolling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so there is probably much more entertaining footage to show than just small chat about movies or songs between the contestants.
12. George Orwell’s Estate Sued Big Brother
Big Brother producers probably aren’t broadcasting the fact that George Orwell’s estate sued the show over the show’s name. It turns out, Big Brother is actually one of the characters in the author’s classic novel, 1984. The show Big Brother clearly got some inspiration from the book, as the reality series is about watching people 24/7, which is what the book is about. Apparently, the show creators thought that the title would be generic enough to not be considered a rip-off of the book.
The author’s estate sued the show, but not much else was heard about the situation. It can probably be assumed that some kind of settlement was made outside of court, considering the show is still called Big Brother to this day.
11. There Are Wardrobe Restrictions
The houseguests in the Big Brother house have some rules about what they can and cannot wear during their time on the show. Some contestants like to keep it comfortable, opting for sweatpants and t-shirts, while others take this opportunity to dress up on camera. There’s also the houseguests who spend the majority of the season in their bikini or swim trunks. However, as it was previously mentioned, Big Brother producers seem to favor this look anyway. People are just more entertaining in less clothing.
Contestants cannot wear any clothes with logos because they don’t want to run into any issues with brands. They are also not allowed to wear certain clothing like silk, polka dots, or thin stripes because the camera does not pick them up well.
10. Unattractive People Are Not Cast
When it comes to reality television, the viewers are everything, especially for Big Brother. Unfortunately, people just don’t want to watch unattractive people. It is more entertaining to watch hot people going at each other and going after each other, so that is what the production team casts. While some contestants are cast for their outlandish personalities, the majority of the houseguests are cast for their insanely good looks.
Casting wants to see women in small swimsuits and men flexing their muscles. In fact, during the final casting call, people are required to spend time at the pool and the gym. They are also responsible for getting a new wardrobe to look their best for shooting scenes. An insider revealed that “this isn’t a job interview.”
9. The Houseguests Have Homework
The contestants are not required to do much before they come into the Big Brother house, but they do have one bit of homework they must do. New Big Brother houseguests have to have watched at least one prior season of the reality show. Some of the contestants in the past have been super fans, knowing every tip and trick there was to know, but some people participate in the show without having known much about it before.
Maybe CBS just doesn’t have time to explain the rules of the game to new contestants or they want people to prepare for what they have coming to them. Big Brother fans know that houseguests have their own lingo and contestants who are familiar with the show tend to perform better because they know the strategies.
8. Contestants Are Sleep Deprived
Specifically in the beginning stages of the season, Big Brother houseguests are totally deprived of a good night’s sleep. Big Brother 15 winner Andy Herren let people know after he competed on the show that contestants are woken up with blaring pop songs “anytime between 8 a.m. and 11 am.” Having been the last one to bed and the first one up each morning, Herren revealed that he only got around five or six hours of sleep a night.
Sleep-deprivation can make people less-alert, snappy, cranky, which can definitely make for some more interesting television. However, he said that once he made it to the end of the game, he was sleeping anywhere from “15 to 18 hours a day because there would literally be nothing to do.”
7. “Slop” Has Caused Houseguests To Be Hospitalized
Fans of Big Brother will remember that the losing contestants after a food challenge would be put on a diet of peanut butter and jelly only. However, in recent years, the food punishment has been changed to a “slop diet.”
The gross-looking oatmeal-textured mush ended up being a pretty dangerous meal for some of the houseguests. A contestant during Season 9 ended up in the hospital after having a seizure because the slop didn’t have enough sugar to sustain her. Another cast member that same season was sent to the emergency room after she was allergic to something in the disgusting slop. Although, Big Brother host Julie Chen claimed that she tasted the slop herself and said it was “not bad” during an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
6. Houseguests Are Paid Even If They Don’t Win The $500k Prize
Big Brother contestants are all out for the $500,000 grand prize, but you may be surprised to learn that all of the contestants are paid for their time on the show. Despite the fact that the actor’s union does not categorize reality show contestants as “talent” and CBS is not required to pay the houseguests, they still receive $750 a week.
The network may pay the Big Brother contestants as an incentive to continue staying in the competition. Plus, if the contestants have jobs that they left to be on the show, this would at least make up for some the earnings they lost during that time. Those who don’t end up winning the half a million dollar prize probably won’t be thrilled about only getting a few thousand at the end of the competition, but it is better than nothing
5. The Show Winners Are Likely To Become Losers
People often wonder what contestants are planning to do with the half a million dollar prize money. Some houseguests in the past have chosen to take care of their families, some have pursued dreams and careers, and some blew it all away on something stupid.
One of the first people that comes to mind is Adam Jasinski, who won Season 9. He had always claimed he had planned to donate 20% of his earnings on Big Brother to help children with autism. However, he ended up using his winnings to get into the drug business and was eventually arrested on drug charges and tax evasion.
Mike “Boogie” Malin won Season 2 of Big Brother and came back for Season 7’s all-star cast and won. However, his winnings didn’t last him long. He found himself in trouble with the law after he was arrested in the fall of 2007 for assault. Boogie then came back to coach on Season 14 of Big Brother, only to file for bankruptcy in 2015 after he found himself drowning in $23 million of debt.
4. There’s A Recipe To Encourage Cast Romances
The casting directors definitely look out for potential romantic connections when they are picking cast members for each season. Insiders have claimed that the Big Brother producers have a sort of recipe that will guarantee a few hookups between houseguests. The producers quickly learned that if they place a few good-looking men with their shirts off in a pool and add some attractive women in bikinis, you’re likely to get romance, jealousy, and good TV.
While some of the “showmances” on Big Brother are played out more for the camera, others actually ended up being in legitimate relationships. Finding a partner to confide in while they are in the midst of the hectic reality game show can be extremely comforting for contestants.
3. Production Creates “Characters”
Houseguests also play on certain characteristics that producers tell them will go over well with the audience, essentially creating “characters.” For instance, Ian Terry won Big Brother 14 and his nerdy persona wasn’t as legitimate as it may have seemed. It was later revealed that producers encourage him to “amp up” his geeky look, even giving him non-prescription glasses to wear, to make him a likeable character for the audience. Terry knew that the best way for him to win the show was to “be a threat, without looking like one.”
Big Brother 18 winner Nicole Franzel did something similar. While she usually wears contacts in her day-to-day life, she chose to wear her glasses throughout the season in order to come off as a nerdy Big Brother superfan.
2. The House Is A Pigsty
Just because these contestants have a lot of spare time on their hands, doesn’t mean they are spending it cleaning. The Big Brother house is apparently disgusting, according to prior contestants. Clothes are thrown all over, bugs are seen crawling around, the sinks are clogged with hair, and every surface is covered in something.
The house reportedly smells horrible and no one tidies up after themselves, especially in the kitchen, where dirty dishes and old food are sprawled out across the counters. It actually is not even that big of a house, so it’s easy to imagine that it gets destroyed by these contestants rather quickly. It gets so filthy in the house that the producers have to tell the contestants to clean up before the live shows on Thursdays.
1. The Drama Is Scripted– Kind Of
Big Brother producers have an idea of what they want to happen during each season. There is a goal for the outcome of the series and production will influence contestants to do and say certain things. While the entire series is not scripted, contestants are definitely led in the direction that show runners want when it comes to the drama.
One Big Brother insider insinuated that Vanessa and Becky were intentionally pinned against one another and that Audrey may have even been cast to “cause a little trouble.” Producers will encourage houseguests to address specific issues with their cast members and they will inform them about things that they know will stir up things in the house. If things seem to be getting a little dull in the house, the producers will concoct a plan to start up some confrontation.
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