Big Brother is a show that you’ll have heard of, as it has syndicated since the late 90’s from the Netherlands, where it began, to countries all over the world. There’s one crucial element that stays the same across all cultures – the contestants are locked together in a house: The Big Brother House.
What is Big Brother?
Big Brother is a massive franchise based around a set of long-running TV shows. Originally airing in x, it shows randomly gathered people who have to live in the “Big Brother house.” These contestants have to live with each other’s drama and vices, complete challenges and survive random ordeals, whilst the viewing public watch and vote for their favourites. At set intervals, the least popular person gets voted out of the house, and their run on the television show ends. The show has survived many adaptations over the years. It started in the Netherlands, and has since expanded so that a version of Big Brother has aired in over fifty countries on all the inhabited continents.
Big Brother is a television show that runs for three months, and features at least ten contestants have to stay in the same house for up to ninety days if they want to win the cash prize at the end. The interesting house dynamics that result are what has gripped viewers for many years. The term Big Brother refers to George Orwell’s novel nineteen-eighty-four, where all houses had a television inside them which not only allowed the state to control what people were watching, but had a camera in so that the government could spy on anyone at home. The name Big Brother then is a pun on having cameras in a house. Did you know that when you sign up for Time Warner Cable Internet Service you can watch this on your computer or your television?
What Is The Big Brother House?
The key to the Big Brother show is the Big Brother house. Essentially, it is half hotel, half prison for the contestants for the duration of their stay. It tends to e spacious enough to harbour all of the contestants, whilst at the same time small enough that there is an innate sense of claustrophobia – particularly intended to cause strife and other arguments between the contestants. In terms of reality TV, the Big Brother house creates a lack of private space, the effects on the contestants are the major drawing feature of the show for many viewers.
In addition to the sense of claustrophobia, there have been series where the isolation of the contestants is clearly felt. The fact that the contestants are limited to twenty-four-hour, seven-day-a-week living in a single building means that they lose touch with the outside world, as well as a lot of habits which are broken’ for instance, most people who go for a morning run will obviously not be able to continue that.
Added to that, especially in earlier seasons, the houses have been very threadbare – that is, they haven’t had any luxuries. In very early seasons, access to running water and other amenities were limited, and this meant that there was even more strife and tension amongst the contestants – many of whom felt that the resources should be allocated more in their favour.
Since those early days, a number of the shows have opted to give the Big Brother House a more luxurious appearance – first as a theme (See below) and secondly as par for the course. Things that are included in the Big Brother house to date have included spas, Jacuzzis and hot tubs, as well as saunas and VIP areas. Whilst not in keeping with the earlier survival theme that the show generated, the additions to the house have caused intrigue, and in some cases controversy, especially where the hot tubs are concerned. In fact, many iterations of the show have received complaints due to the voyeuristic nature of the show – especially as regards some of the sexual and romantic altercations of the various housemates who’ve been on the show through the years.
What Variations Have There Been To The Big Brother House?
As we’ve stated before, there have been many adaptations of Big Brother – it’s broadcasted in multiple different countries, with both celebrities and regular people. Also, some of these shows have been running for years now, and have had multiple broadcasters – like the UK version. So, whilst we wrote above that the one true constant is the Big Brother house and its role in the show across the different seasons, we have to admit that even that has changed numerous times across the years and over the borders of various countries. The following couple of paragraphs will explain some of the different things that have occurred to freshen up the Big Brother House.
In 2001, the Netherlands version of the show introduced a house of two halves – the theme was Rich and Poor. What this meant was that essentially, half of the house was decked in luxurious items whilst the other half was bare bones and not equipped with any luxury. This lasted for two seasons worth on the Dutch version, but has been employed in similar ways by adaptations in over fifteen countries, including the US and the UK. For its fifth season, the Argentinian version of the show had a second, luxurious house which it used to house potential contestants who would then go onto live in the main house should they be among the potentials voted to be full contestants.
Other adaptations to the game included the UK’s version of Big Brother – an evil Big Brother, which issued punishments and challenges that became progressively and increasingly more difficult as the show went along. Again, more than fifteen countries have used this format – with a particularly harsh punishment being the taking away of potential prize money from the contestants. At times, twins have been allowed to play. Challenges for them included convincing the other participants that they weren’t switching – and obviously, the Big Brother house makes this difficult as there isn’t much space to do so. This adds a new element of suspense to the game.