It’s important to start this particular article off with yet another reminder: The future for “Big Brother: Over the Top” is not cemented in stone. CBS / CBS All Access is still to reveal the future for the online-only competition, but given the amount of social traffic it’s generated — plus the smaller cast and the set that already exists for the summer iterations — there is little reason to believe that they will drop the hammer and cancel it.
Let’s put the renewal decision in metaphorical terms: It’d be almost the equivalent of McDonald’s serving breakfast all day. They already have the food in the freezer somewhere, and if people want more of it, why not put forth the small amount of risk and effort to make it happen? You just make use of the resources you’ve already got.
If or when “BB: OTT” comes back, the majority of the fans would probably agree that there are some elements of the game that need to change. This was an incredibly fun season at times, but an imperfect one. There’s not much you can change about voting process for the winner, unless you just decide to take some of the power away from America and give them more or less a jury vote. That’s not going to happen. Not having to pay to keep people in a jury house (which includes employing handlers and taking care of their food needs) is one of the reasons this show stays viable. You also cannot put up the equivalent of Paul’s Friendship Tips online to tell viewers how they should be voting for the winner. It’s the people’s game, and they dictate who is in their eyes the best overall player. You may not like it, but you probably do if your favorite wins a given season.
Below, you can see three changes that are easy to implement for future seasons, while keep some of the foundations for “Big Brother: Over the Top” while also allowing for the players to have a little more power in what happens. You want America to have power on this show, but power comes in many forms.
Keep some, but not all powers for America, and add new ones – The first thing that needs to happen is to abolish America’s nominee and bury it in the garbage with the BB Takeover. If you’re going to keep it, you may as well just abolish Head of Households since it strips them of their power and allows America to nominate their own ally — basically, go back to season 1 rules. Given that this is a game based on America’s approval, houseguests will have a proclivity to go after the people who America doesn’t like.
The best solution from our end is this: Continue to give America an eviction vote, since that could cause some further paranoia and ambiguity among the players as to who is popular, and you can also keep having America vote on Have-Nots to go along with it — even if a good many people don’t care at all about this. Even if a Have-Not vote gives people a sense of who is unpopular, the HoH is not going to nominate an ally just because they were named a Have-Not. It’s a little different. You can even keep America’s Care Package if you really want, though we’d prefer smaller powers with the potential for more buried underneath. We’ll get more into that later.
Our idea is this: Have production come up with several challenge builds before the season, and then have America vote weekly on which ones they want to see. Give the power to your own fans to determine the contests, since there could be some fun in watching America try to rig the comps for their favorite to win them — especially if it blows up in their face. It’d be a little bit of extra legwork for production, but this is a twist that matters enough for people to vote on it while still keeping the players in power within the game. Also, maybe it’ll shut up at least some (but probably not all) people on Twitter claiming that the show is rigged at least three times a day.
A level playing field – No returning players. No internet stars. No siblings. Nobody with an enormously unfair advantage. At least put on the illusion of parity, since this would create the utmost paranoia. Nobody would truly know who was popular outside of the house, and they’d have to guess — bad guessing is always entertaining. Jason made big moves, but early in the game he was protected following Monte’s HoH out of fear for what America would do to the person who threatened him.
Ultimately, have confidence in your casting to find good people without gimmicks. Many of the “OTT” contestants this season were great without any sort of asterisk to their name — look at Shelby and Justin. They were fantastic just because they were real people, and not because of a stunt. Real fans don’t need to be convinced to buy live feeds because of a returning player.
Make the house into more of an interactive environment – Given that the entire show is about the feeds, why not think of more ways to randomly populate them with interesting stuff? While there were several past houseguests who returned to host a competition, Liz and Lawon were two of the only people who showed up for that woeful Halloween party. Why not bring some other Los Angeles-based players in just to introduce a twist, deliver a Care Package, or even just deliver food and have a nice moment with some of the players? Obviously make sure they aren’t going to ruin the game, but the idea here is that you want to give people reasons almost daily to check out the feeds, even if it’s to catch an old highlight. We’re fine with honoring BB history; we just don’t want it in the form of returning players.
Meanwhile, we’ve always loved the idea of secrets being in the house, similar to the Paris room or what we’ve seen with the Red Veto on “Big Brother Canada.” The difference is that you don’t tell anyone about it like we saw during “Big Brother 18.” Build a secret room, leave some clues, and let people figure it out over time almost like a hidden immunity idol in “Survivor.” Or, have a Care Package have an innocuous hint on one of the items in there. Basically, create an activity that is both relevant to the game and has people moving and thinking about the house. If it’s not discovered, it’s not discovered.
There are obviously a thousand more suggestions that could be thrown out there for future “Big Brother OTT” seasons, so with that, we want to hear some of your below! As always, you can also head over to our own “Big Brother” archive to see some further stories pertaining to the show. (Photo: CBS.)