Last thoughts on Salon's "Big Brother" marathon

By Carina Chocano, Jeff Stark and Bill Wyman


Salon Staff
October 4, 2000 11:05PM (UTC)

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I'd like to take a moment to thank Salon for covering "Big Brother" and not abandoning it. I tried to watch the show, but I just didn't have the stamina. Salon's fearless writers, whose sense of duty must be unsurpassed, made "Big Brother" an enjoyable show -- at least to read about. How amazing it is that anything entertaining sprung from the inspiration of those 10 hamsters in a cage. It is a credit to the writing staff that they made me come back day after day to read about "Big Brother." Thank you for sticking with it, and please, feel free to come back for "Big Brother II"!

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-- Owen Williams

I must congratulate Carina Chocano, Jeff Stark and Bill Wyman on their daily "Big Brother" updates, the funniest, wittiest articles I have read on- or offline in ages.

I have even -- to the horror of my friends and to my own dismay -- been watching the damn show, just so I can crow, "I wonder what Salon will have to say about THIS atrocity tomorrow!" You have a lot to answer for.

-- Eve Golden

Thank you for the "Big Brother" episode guides. The sacrifice you have all made by watching this wretched show so that I might have a hilarious article to read and crack up in front of the screen in the office every day shall not be forgotten. I salute you.

-- Eduardo Ramirez

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I just want to thank you sincerely for the episode-by-episode commentary your writers dutifully put together. It allowed me to stop watching the show completely. The synopses were more entertaining than the show at least by ten fold.

I will be curious to see if there is another "Big Brother" series. I want to see if the producers are replaced by persons who watched and learned from the mistakes, or who watched and learned from "Survivor."

I find it difficult to believe that with all the creative and talented people working in the entertainment industry, and the deep craving of the North American public to eavesdrop on people's lives, not one episode of "Big Brother" warranted discussion around the water cooler.

-- Lynn Calder

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Reading Bill Wyman's apparently comprehensive trashing of "Big Brother," I was struck by one glaring lacuna: He wrote as though "Big Brother," no, as though the entire reality TV boom, was solely an American phenomenon. In fact, as I find it hard to believe that Wyman didn't know, these shows are popping up all over the world.

Here in Britain it has recently finished, having provided Channel 4 with some of its biggest audiences and most overwhelming press coverage ever, not to mention becoming the most-visited Web site in the country for a while. I know that in other parts of Europe the show did equally well -- with the Danish viewers apparently being treated/subjected to the sight of two of their "Big Brother" contestants having sex on camera. The British show didn't go that far but nonetheless it definitely didn't head towards the same kind of bland conformity as the U.S. show seems to have done according to Wyman. The runners-up, for example, were a hypochondriac black bloke, an Irish lesbian ex-nun and the eventual winner was a dyslexic gym-fiend of a builder who gave his winnings to pay for a much-needed operation for a disabled friend of his.

What is interesting, then, is why the U.S. "Big Brother" went wrong while other countries' takes on it were such hits. Were they gambling their food money on the tasks? In Britain they were and this was largely what motivated them (as a couple of weeks' failure would mean much hunger). Also, I wonder whether the problem might have been that the audience was too uniform (perhaps a symptom of what network, slot, etc. the show had), thus mitigating against the build-up of different support bases for the various contestants which helped keep the British show entertaining. A strong North-of-England viewing/voting contingent kept the winner in through three or four weeks in which he was nominated by his housemates.

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-- Toby Smith

Listen, I am not exactly "Big Brother's" greatest fan, but I am most certainly less of a fan of your staff of smarmy, self-satisfied writers. If "Big Brother" is indeed the greatest artistic flop in American televisual history -- which, incidentally, it isn't, because "The Chevy Chase Show" occurred -- then why do you have three separate articles on your front page about the show? Do horrid flops with no viewers and no merit or humor whatsoever normally merit pages upon pages on your site? What a sad idea that is, much sadder than the idea that a drunk frat boy could win $500,000.

-- Ally Kearney

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Salon Staff

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