For those on the outside of this pop culture phenomenon, Big Brother might just look like another version of The Bachelor or Real World, but there is so much more going on here.

I have been watching Big Brother regularly since season 2. Yes, I watched Dr. Will Kirby skillfully manipulate his way to the end of season 2. No, I haven’t watched the live feeds every season, and there were even a few years I missed while in college.

BUT, there are reasons that I still find myself thoroughly invested every June when the new houseguests are announced and the countdown to the live feeds begins. As an avid people-watcher, it’s fun to watch the live feeds and see how these players live through the paranoia and high stress environment that the game creates. It’s intriguing to watch intense conversations in which deals are made and alliances formed. Sometimes players enter the game with a certain strategy and designed course of gameplay, and some don’t have a clue and make up their game moves as they go along. Both methods have produced winners, and both methods have cost great players a shot at the $500,000.

This show is more than just 16 or so random strangers living together in a house. This isn’t Real World: Hollywood or anything like that. These random strangers are here with a purpose, usually a singular one. This is a game for a half a million dollars and the methods that true players use to get there are more complex than some mysteries unraveled by Sherlock Holmes.

There are a million ways to play this game, and there have been winners of just about every variety. There are the schemers, the manipulators, the floaters, the nice guys (or gals), the snakes, and seriously every incarnation you can think of. Watching a new set of personalities figure out how they want to work their way to the final two is nothing short of fascinating.

Whether the houseguests are all new to the game or returning favorites back for a second chance at glory, the game always offers new challenges with each new season. Keeping the same basic formula, “Expect the Unexpected” has become a mantra that the show has taken seriously. There are always surprises on Big Brother, and they always throw a monkey wrench into the houseguests best laid plans.

Yes, there are ‘showmances’ (as the fans like to call them) which can make it look like another Bachelor-esque show, but they aren’t always authentic. Showmances can be products of true attraction (this is a hand selected cast after all, and romance is a great reason for viewers to tune in) or can be a means to an end. Is it twisted for someone to use another like that to further themselves in the game? Sure, but that’s what you are signing up for when you agree to appear on Big Brother.

There will always be players that are on the show as a stepping stone to other entertainment-related dreams. There will always be people there that find the showmance angle more worthwhile than strategy or manipulation. For every one of those there is a Dan Gheesling, Will Kirby, or Danielle Donato who is ready to use their naivety against them.

Big Brother checks a lot of boxes for me. It puts people from wildly different lives into a microcosm. It forces people who see the world differently to share space and time together. The difference that forced togetherness can make is remarkable. There are always fights, but for every knockdown, drag out shouting match is a quiet talk by the pool, or a heartfelt confession late at night on the hammock.

I will always be a Big Brother fan. The strategy, the gameplay, and the people keep me coming back year after year, no matter what other nonsense in thrown in to attract new viewers. The core of the game remains the same and I just can’t stay away.

Why do you watch ‘Big Brother’?

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