Scattered throughout other threads are random comments that either directly or indirectly address production. I have my issues with the way the show is structured and presented, and it seems many of you do also, so I thought it could use it's own thread.
Here are my thoughts to get the conversation started:
For me it's about the 3 Cs: casting, conditions, competitions
A reality show rises or falls based primarily on its casting. What makes Big Brother different from other reality shows is that it happens in real time. Most shows are recorded for broadcast weeks or months later. It also happens three times a week. On that basis alone we spend more time with cast members here than on any other show. That is made all the more true because of the 24/7 feeds. Some of us (occasionally me) spend entirely too much time with these people. As a result, our attachments to these cast members are stronger, and our feelings more passionate than are often achieved with other shows. The difference between strong ratings or weak ratings is often a function of casting.
For me, the show succeeds best when it casts only, you should pardon the expression, real people. Casting actor/model/celebrity wannabes is an instant FAIL. These people more often than not aren't fans of the show, don't understand it, and are so protective of their future professional opportunities that they don't take any real risks. A show with the fan-following and longevity this one has must certainly have a sufficient pool from which to draw a cast, even if Robyn Kast insists on casting to type (i.e., the gay, the blonde, the stud, the brain, the minority, etc.).
Now, conditions; by that I mean the sociological, psychological and yes, political conditions that exist in the house. The show would be just as entertaining and the quality immeasurably better if the story lines the show is structured around grew organically from these conditions.
Sociologically, the show is interesting because it puts a dozen or more people in a confined space with strangers 24/7 for a period of months and records every word and deed. How do people respond to such conditions. Are they themselves, more extreme versions of themselves, or do they behave radically different in the house than they would out of it. Do these conditions inhibit them? How do they adjust to forced association with people they would not associate with of their own free will?
Psychologically it's interesting to see how people respond to these conditions. Bunky cried. Some like Michelle and Keesha have full-blown meltdowns. Some become masters of their conditions by finding creative ways to relieve the stress, such as Brian's Sock Puppet Theatre or Steven's Homemade Slip-n-Slide. Some become depressed and sleep their summers away, like Marcellas did much of BB All-Stars.
By political I don't mean D vs. R, or Red vs. Blue. What I mean is the ability to understand or anticipate other people's wants and needs and then deliver them. It's always interesting to me to see who in a cast will be the first to understand the dynamics in the house, to accurately judge other's strengths and weaknesses, to make the most convincing arguments, to cut the best deals, to count votes accurately and then deliver the votes.
The show should utilize every opportunity to maximize these conditions and build its narratives around them.
Finally, the competitions are a great big FAIL. They are lamest kind of Japanese game show knock-offs. In fairness, Allison Grodner and Fly On The Wall Productions seem to recognize the fairness and value in having games of both skill and chance, but the quality of the games is poor, and the theme-y nature of them is laughable. An improved and fixed series of competitions would improve the watchability of the show for regular viewers like me. One of the reasons The Price is Right works is precisely because it has a series of games that are simple and repeated, which allows then to develop fans of their own.
Finally, and I have to remind myself of this all the time. The show is NOT a reality game show, just a reality show. It's a subtle distinction that removes the obligation Allison Grodner has to fairness, and explains the fluid and changeable nature of the show from one season to the next.
Well, those are some thoughts. I'll be anxious to read yours.