A Big Brother 19 plea: Please, no returning players

Big Brother 19 pleaBig Brother 19 is premiering next month on CBS, and this is the time that ridiculous rumors start to come out of the woodwork. There was a time where there was some joy that came out of reporting these, but that time has since passed. There’s no real juice that comes out of it anymore. There are a few people who will puff their chest that they were “right” about a twist or some of the players coming on the show, but it holds no bearing on the game or anything that’s going on with it.

The most important thing about the Big Brother game are its players, and often the thing we think that we want is not the thing we actually need. Case it point, the people who spend lengthy periods of time clamoring for returning players every summer for them to disappoint when they do actually turn up. Consider Kevin Martin and Ika Wong on Big Brother Canada 5 the exception more so than the rule. While Da’Vonne was entertaining, did any returning player beyond her last season actually contribute to the entertainment of the show? Nicole’s a sounds strategist, but her stock as a fan favorite fell hard over the course of the season. The less anyone says about James and Jatalie at this point, the better.

Returning players bring with them fans — that much is true — but they also bring with them a distortion of the game at its purest form. The fun of Big Brother is seeing people who don’t know the inner workings of the experience being in there and figuring out how to function on the fly. This is why having some people like Paul Abrahamian in the game works — they learn how to play over the course of the season and have this really interesting arc. Even if someone is a big-time gamer like a Vanessa Rousso, there is still a freshness to her being in the game. Returning player seasons just don’t have that, and they often amplify the meta-game to a level that it doesn’t feel like the same show anymore. Part of the fun is having people in the house who don’t know what America thinks about them.

CBS, the message we’re sending here should be pretty clear: Don’t put returning players in the house this summer. There may be a pretty good pool of them at this point, but this feels like the right time for a break in between Big Brother Canada 5 and two Survivor all-star seasons in just two years. All-Star seasons are entertaining when they’re on, but also emotionally taxing by the end of them. A sense of joy often is lost in the sea of competitive energy, and the focus is often too much on living up to whatever perception is out there in the real world.

This summer feels like the time for something completely new. Put everyone on the same playing field, and let them experience the insanity all at once.

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