'Big Brother': John Cochran's Clip Show Diaries

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Image Credit: CBS

Well, our nation’s summer-long nightmare is nearly over. After months (years?) of enduring Moving Companies and Cherokee charmers and mattress flippers and cock-a-roaches, we’re down to the final three. And what better way to celebrate such an electrifying, engaging group of finalists than to have GinaMarie, Andy, and Spencer sit around the kitchen table and reminisce about everything that’s happened on this season of Big Brother?

Yes, this was essentially a clip show. But it was so much more than that, wasn’t it? It was also a sobering reminder of how we’ve spent the last three months of our lives.

This season of Big Brother began full of promise. There was an intriguing new twist in the MVP, which Julie Chen assured viewers would put an end to “floater” gameplay. Fast-forward 11 weeks and we now find ourselves left with perhaps the three biggest “floaters” of the entire cast. (Worth noting is that the MVP twist, the big selling point of the season, wasn’t even mentioned in Sunday’s recap episode; it’s likely to become an obscure footnote in BB history, joining the Saboteur and all of Season 1).

I may be in the minority, though, when I say I don’t find “floater” gameplay all that offensive. Big Brother is, at its core, a social game. Doesn’t it follow, then, that those players who manage to fluidly move between alliances and ingratiate themselves with new groups of people should be rewarded? It’s not the most theatrical or crowd-pleasing approach to the game, but it’s no small feat. So I beg of you, readers, don’t dislike your final 3 simply because they are “floaters.”

After all, there are so many other great reasons to dislike them. Like GinaMarie’s cackle. Or Andy’s garden gnome shirt. Or that other guy’s beard, or whatever. Even the musical accompaniment for the Final 3 Celebration scene at the beginning of Sunday night’s episode seemed a little halfhearted. The program’s usually sizzling synthesizers and frenetic percussion were replaced by a relatively mournful, lethargic soundtrack. It was as if the Casio keyboard simply couldn’t muster the energy or enthusiasm to make Spencer’s self-satisfaction or Andy’s disconcerting head-tilts at all endearing, and just gave up.

One of the most compelling, but ultimately disappointing, aspects of BB15 is that it frequently felt as though the “bad guys” — the definition of which was constantly changing — were in control for the entire game. With the creation and reign of each subsequent power alliance, my reactions became milder and milder. First, it was the Moving Company. Remember how horrified we were by the prospect of a game dominated entirely by Nick, Spencer, and Jeremy? It was fun to hate and root against the Moving Company — they were so exaggerated in their macho-man bravado that they naturally invited a strong backlash. 3 A.M. was a little less inspiring, but there was still something there: Amanda’s emergence as Big Brother’s Queen Ursula (making Andy, McCrae, and Aaryn her slightly irritating, smaller mollusk henchmen, I guess?) made for a somewhat worthwhile villain story arc.

But by the time The Exterminators came along, I started to feel like I was trapped in a house that was slowly being fumigated. As the quality of villains in the BB house diminished, so too did my expectations for what would qualify as a “hero” in the house: Objectively speaking, Elissa was pretty much a nonentity on the show, and yet I eventually managed to mythologize her some sort of symbol of bravery and purity and all that’s beautiful in the world.

But what’s there to say about our final three? Spencer won’t win, so I imagine he’ll be in the finals, regardless of who wins the last HoH competition. As much as I’m enamored with GinaMarie’s malapropisms and unbridled joy at the sight of teeth whitening products, she really shouldn’t win (although she very well could). And so there’s Andy, who probably should win, even though I find the thought of his victory rather unappetizing. He was the central node in the house’s network of information, allowing him to make informed decisions, making and breaking bonds when necessary. After criticizing Andy for behaving too emotionally around houseguests before booting them, I also have to applaud him for now using his goodbye messages as an opportunity to explain his strategic rationale rather than strictly as a disingenuous teary-eyed farewell.

It’s been an unusual season –- one with exhilarating highs (the downfall of the Moving Company and their enablers, the Amanda nomination and eviction) and depressing lows (ugly behavior from Aaryn, Amanda, GinaMarie, and others) –- but which looks to be ending on a remarkably subdued note. That said, at least two people’s lives will be changing on Wednesday, finale night. First: the winner of Big Brother 15, who –- even though they might not be a big fan favorite –- will have, over the past three months, dealt with more than any of us can comprehend. And second: me, who will hopefully be able to reclaim some small shred of sanity and self-respect after having sacrificed it to the 30+ hours of Big Brother 15 I watched this summer.


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