Returning players on ‘Big Brother,’ ‘Survivor’ — is it really fair?


The concept of bringing “veteran players” onto a reality TV show to play against newbies is not exactly a new concept. When it came to popular programs within the genre, we first saw this courtesy of “Survivor: Guatemala” — a show that featured one of the returning players in Stephenie LaGrossa finishing in second place.

Since then, we have seen two series specifically try out this concept a number of times — “Survivor” and “Big Brother.” In recent years, though, we have seen one major theme come out of this — the returning players not only do well, but often dominate.

-“Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites” (2008) – On this season, we had ten returning players up against ten newbies. Not only did the returning stars dominate here, but the final three contestants had all played this game before.

-“Big Brother 11” (2009) – Out of the four shows mentioned on this list, this show is the weakest evidence that returning players have an advantage. Jessie was the first member of the jury, but he would have likely made it much further were it not for the coup d’etat twist that ended up ruining his game.

-“Survivor: Redemption Island” (2011) – While one returning player (in Russell Hantz) was eliminated early, the other (in Boston Rob) ended up winning the game.

-“Big Brother 13” (2011) – Do you see the new players in the photo above? Well, so far they have been decimated by a gang of returning stars who have banded together and won every challenge with only one exception.

So what is ultimately happening here? Are returning stars that much better than new players? Really, we just have to cite a few reasons for why this trend continues to happen on these two shows:

-Star power – Some of the new players are fans, and they idolized the Boston Robs and the Jeff Schroeders. It’s hard to vote to get rid of people you idolize.

-Stupidity – For some reason (as on “Redemption Island”), people tend to trust these returning players despite the fact that we have seen them deceive before.

-Quality of play – The returning players are brought back for a reason — because production knows they are sure it give it their all. Meanwhile, new players are a question mark — and we don’t know what is going to happen with them.

Do you think that these “new vs. old” player twists are unfair, and do you think that they inherently then ruin the entertainment value of the show?

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