Big Brother (U.S.)

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For the current season, see Big Brother 16 (U.S.).
Big Brother
Big Brother 16 (U.S.) Logo.png
The logo for Big Brother 16

Big Brother is a television reality game show based on an originally Dutch TV series of the same name created by producer John de Mol in 1997.[2] The show follows a group of houseguests living together 24 hours a day in the "Big Brother" house, isolated from the outside world but under constant surveillance with no privacy for three months. Since its television debut in 2000, Big Brother has run continuously with at least one season of the show airing each year. It is currently the second longest running version in the world to have done so, after the Spanish version. The houseguests compete for the chance to win a $500,000 grand prize by avoiding weekly eviction, and in second place is awarded $50,000. The hit American series is hosted by television personality Julie Chen. Produced by Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan for Fly On The Wall Entertainment, it currently airs in the United States on CBS[3] and in Canada on Global.[4]

The show's debut season followed the format of most international editions of the series, in which a group of contestants live together and are voted off each week by the viewers. Following a negative critical and commercial reaction to the first season, the format for future changes was drastically changed. For this new format, a group of contestants, known as "houseguests," compete to win the series by voting each other off and being the last houseguest remaining. One houseguest, known as the Head of Household, must nominate two of their fellow houseguests for eviction. The winner of the Power of Veto can remove one of the nominees from the block, forcing the HoH to nominate another houseguest. The houseguests then vote to evict one of the nominees, and the houseguest with the most votes is evicted. When only two houseguests remained, the most recently evicted houseguests (generally 7) form the jury and decide which of them would win the $500,000 prize. Much like the first season, the houseguests are still under constant surveillance and are filmed at all times. The September 5, 2013 episode marked the show's 500th episode.[5]

On September 12, 2013, the show was renewed for a 16th season that will air summer 2014.[6] It was announced on March 11, 2014, that season 16 will premiere on June 25, 2014 at 8 PM.[7] It will be the first Big Brother season to be produced and aired in high definition after a three-year behind-the-scenes upgrade of the program's technical backbone operations.[8]


Main series[edit]

Series details and viewership[edit]

SeasonLaunch dateFinale dateDaysHouseGuestsWinnerFinal voteAverage viewers
Big Brother 1July 5, 2000September 29, 20008810Eddie McGee59%-27%-14% (public vote)9.1064
Big Brother 2July 5, 2001September 20, 20018212Will Kirby5-27.9030
Big Brother 3July 10, 2002September 25, 2002Lisa Donahue9-18.7032
Big Brother 4July 8, 2003September 24, 200313Jun Song6-18.8033
Big Brother 5July 6, 2004September 21, 200414Drew Daniel4-38.3031
Big Brother 6July 7, 2005September 20, 200580Maggie Ausburn4-37.2429
Big Brother 7July 6, 2006September 12, 20067214 (all returnees)Mike "Boogie" Malin6-17.5629
Big Brother 8July 5, 2007September 18, 20078114"Evel" Dick Donato5-27.5233
Big Brother 9February 12, 2008April 27, 200816Adam Jasinski6-16.5633
Big Brother 10July 13, 2008September 16, 20087113Dan Gheesling7-06.7229
Big Brother 11July 9, 2009September 15, 20097313 (1 returnee)Jordan Lloyd5-27.1930
Big Brother 12July 8, 2010September 15, 20107513Hayden Moss4-37.7630
Big Brother 13July 7, 2011September 14, 201114 (6 returnees)Rachel Reilly4-37.9529
Big Brother 14July 12, 2012September 19, 201216 (4 returnees)Ian Terry6-16.7930
Big Brother 15June 26, 2013September 18, 20139016Andy Herren7-27.2936
Big Brother 16June 25, 2014[9]

Season 1[edit]

The rights to the series were bought by CBS in early 2000 for an estimated $20 million.[10] The United States version of the series officially premiered on July 5, 2000, when the original ten houseguests entered the house.[11] The first edition followed the original format, in which a group of houseguests lived together in a house under constant surveillance.[12] Each week, they would select two houseguests to nominate for eviction, and the public would then vote to banish one of these nominees.[13] When only three houseguests remained, the viewers would vote to select the winner of the series; Eddie McGee was the winner of the first season.[14] Dave Walsh was the narrator for the first season.[15]

Season 2[edit]

For the show's second season, the format underwent dramatic changes. The contestants were now referred to as HouseGuests, and would vote each other off rather than the public voting.[16] For this new format, one houseguest would become the weekly Head of Household, and would be required to nominate two houseguests for eviction.[17] All of the other houseguests excluding the Head of Household and nominees would then vote to evict one of the nominees.[17] When only two houseguests remained, all of the previously evicted houseguests would select a winner.[18] Will Kirby was the winner of the second edition.[19] Chuck Riley was the narrator for the second season.[20]

Season 3[edit]

The following year, the third season began airing and followed the same format as the previous season. A new feature added to the third season was the Power of Veto, in which the holder of this power could remove one houseguest from the block, with the Head of Household having to name a replacement nominee; the Power of Veto holder could not use the Power of Veto to remove themself from the block.[21] Lisa Donahue was the winner of the third season.[22] Phil Proctor was the narrator for the third season, and would continue to narrate the series until its sixth season.[23]

Season 4[edit]

The fourth season began airing in 2003. This season featured the "Ex-Factor" twist, in which ten houseguests were living with their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend.[24] This season was the first to feature the Golden Power of Veto, in which a nominee could use it to remove themselves from the block.[25] This was also the first season to be aired in the United Kingdom on E4.[26] Jun Song was the winner of the fourth season.[27]

Season 5[edit]

In 2004, the fifth edition of the series began to air. The season was dubbed "Project DNA", and saw a set of twins trading places in the game with the goal of making it to the fifth week; doing so would allow them to play as individuals.[28] Another twist this season saw houseguests Michael and Nakomis learn that they were siblings who shared the same father.[29][30] Drew Daniel was the winner.[31]

Season 6[edit]

For the sixth season, all of the fourteen competing houseguests entered the game with a secret partner,[32] and later learned that if a couple made it to the end together then the prize money would be doubled.[33] Though none of the pairs made it to the end together, Maggie Ausburn was the winner.[34]

Season 7[edit]

Following much speculation, it was confirmed in 2006 that the next edition would be an All-Stars cast composed of former houseguests.[35] This was the first season to feature returning houseguests, and is the only season to date to be composed solely of former houseguests. Season 2's Mike "Boogie" Malin was crowned the winner.[36] Clayton Halsey became the narrator during this season, and would narrate all subsequent seasons.[37]

Season 8[edit]

In 2007, the eighth season began, and featured three pairs of rivals in the house competing against one another.[38][39] Yet another twist this season saw houseguest Eric Stein playing as America's Player, in which he would vote to evict the houseguest that the viewers chose, as well as campaign to get the viewer-selected houseguest nominated.[40] "Evel" Dick Donato was the winner, while his estranged daughter Daniele Donato was crowned the Runner-Up.[41][42]

Season 9[edit]

Due to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike, the ninth season aired in the winter of 2008.[43] This season initially saw the houseguests competing as couples, however, they were broken up after a few weeks and competed as individuals.[44][45] Adam Jasinski was the winner.[46] This became the second, and currently final, season to air in the United Kingdom.[26]

Season 10[edit]

Despite a ratings decline during the ninth season, the show later returned that summer for its tenth season.[47] This season saw the series return to a "Back to Basics" format, with no major twists impacting the game.[48] Dan Gheesling was the winner,[49] and is the only houseguest to win in a unanimous jury vote to date.[50][51]

Season 11[edit]

The eleventh season, which aired in 2009, featured a previous houseguest returning to compete for a second time.[52] This season also featured the "Cliques" twist, in which houseguests competed on teams for the first few weeks.[53][54] Jordan Lloyd was crowned the winner of this season.[55]

Season 12[edit]

In 2010, the twelfth season began airing. This season featured the Saboteur twist, in which one houseguest entered the house with the sole purpose of causing drama in the game; if they made it to the fifth week without being discovered, they would leave the game with $50,000.[56][57] The original Saboteur later became the first houseguest to be evicted from the house, resulting in the viewers selecting a new Saboteur.[58] Ultimately, Hayden Moss was the winner.[59]

Season 13[edit]

The thirteenth season aired the following summer, and saw three pairs of former houseguests returning to compete against eight new houseguests.[60][61] This season also introduced the Golden Key twist, in which a houseguest who survived an eviction vote would earn the key, resulting in their automatic safety until only ten houseguests remained.[62] Returning Season 12 houseguest Rachel Reilly was the winner.[63]

Season 14[edit]

The fourteenth season, which began airing the following year, saw four former houseguests returning as "coaches" to twelve new houseguests.[64] Despite this, a twist in the game later allowed them to become official houseguests.[65] Ian Terry became the winner,[66] while former Season 10 houseguest Dan Gheesling became the Runner-Up and the first houseguest to make it to the Final Two twice.[67]

Season 15[edit]

The fifteenth season saw a total of three nominations selected per week for the first half of the game, with the third nomination selected by an M.V.P. chosen by popular audience vote.[68] The season also featured a nine-member jury instead of the usual seven. In the end, Andy Herren was crowned the winner.[69]

Season 16[edit]

The sixteenth season premiered on June 25, 2014 on CBS. This season will have two Head of Household every week and have four HouseGuests nominated for eviction. For the first time this season, no one is safe, not even the HoHs. This is due to a new competition called "Battle of the Block". America will also have the chance to interact in the role of "Team America".


Since its premiere, there have been numerous spin-offs to the main series; the first of these was House Calls: The Big Brother Talk Show. The online webshow, hosted by Gretchen Massey and Big Brother 3 houseguest Marcellas Reynolds aired thirty-minute episodes on weeknights, and allowed fans to call in and express their opinions on the events of the game.[70] Evicted houseguests were also interviewed on the series following their eviction. This made House Calls the first live Internet talk show produced exclusively for a television network.[71] The series continued for six seasons, though was not renewed for the eleventh edition of the main series.[72] Big Brother: After Dark, a second spin-off series, was debuted in 2007 and aired on Showtime Too nightly from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern Time.[73] The series continued this schedule until 2013, when it was announced that the series would now air on TVGN.[74][75]


Season 1[edit]

The format for the first was radically different from in the following seasons. It followed the rules of most international versions of the show. For the first season, the houseguests chose to nominate two of their own each week, and the houseguests with the most nominations would be nominated for banishment.[1] The viewers would then vote for one of the nominees to be banished, and the last houseguest remaining was the winner.[76]

Season 2-15[edit]

The format for all subsequent seasons was drastically different. In the new format, HouseGuests were sequestered in the house with no contact to or from the outside world. Each week, the houseguests took part in several compulsory challenges that determine who will win food, luxuries, and most importantly; power in the house.[77] The winner of the weekly Head of Household competition is immune from nominations and must nominate two fellow houseguests for eviction. After a houseguest became Head of Household, he or she was ineligible to take part in the next Head of Household competition.[17][18] HouseGuests also took part in Have and Have-Not or Food competition (depending on the season) in which they were divided into either the "Haves" or the "Have-Nots" depending on their performance in the competitions. houseguests that become "Have Nots" for the week had to eat "Big Brother slop", are on a weekly food restriction, take cold showers, and sleep on uncomfortable beds. The winner of the Power of Veto competition wins the right to save one of the nominated houseguests from eviction. If the Power of Veto winner exercised the power, the Head of Household then nominates another houseguest for eviction.[17][78]

On eviction night, all houseguests except for the Head of Household and the nominees voted to evict one of the two nominees.[17] This compulsory vote was conducted in the privacy of the Diary Room by the host Julie Chen. In the event of a tie, the Head of Household casts the deciding vote, announcing it in front of the other houseguests.[79] Unlike other versions of Big Brother, the houseguests may discuss the nomination and eviction process openly and freely.[17] The nominee with the greater number of votes will be evicted from the house on the live broadcast, exiting to an adjacent studio to be interviewed by Chen.[79] houseguests may voluntarily leave the house at any time and those who break the rules may be expelled from the house by Big Brother.[80][81] The final seven HouseGuests evicted during the season will vote for the winner on the season finale. These "Jury Members" are sequestered in a separate house and are not be allowed to watch the show except for competitions and ceremonies that include all of the remaining HouseGuests. The jury members are not shown any Diary Room interviews or any footage that may include strategy or details regarding nominations.[82] Numerous changes have been made to the format in past seasons. One of the main format changes in the game is Pandora's Box, which brings both good and bad consequences when opened by a houseguest.[83][84] Various secret powers have been given to houseguests. Mike "Boogie" Malin and Jeff Schroeder were awarded the Coup d'État from viewers, while Matt Hoffman was given the Diamond Power of Veto upon entering Pandora's Box.[85]


Each year, CBS has made available live streaming Internet video feeds from the Big Brother House. The live feed was first available for free through America Online, the show's Internet partner, in 2000. From 2001 until 2012, live feeds were offered through RealNetworks as a subscription service. Since 2013, the subscription-based live feeds are available directly through In order to preserve the drama for television broadcasts, CBS does not webcast certain moments that transpire in the house, including weekly competitions and the nomination/eviction process. Slanderous statements and singing of copyrighted music are also blocked for legal reasons.[86][87][88][89]


Head of Household[edit]

The Head of Household competition is held at the beginning of each week, and is most often performed on the live eviction episode.[90] Most often, the first Head of Household competition will require HouseGuests to participate either in pairs or in teams.[91] While the fourth, fifth, and eighth seasons had the houseguests competing in pairs,[92] the sixth, seventh, eleventh, twelfth, and fourteenth editions all saw houseguests competing as part of a group.[93][94] The live Head of Household competitions are typically question based, and will see HouseGuests eliminated each round.[95] Competitions such as "Majority Rules" have been used numerous times, with the game being played in the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth seasons;[96][97] a variation of the competition was used in the seventh season.[98] Some competitions will attempt to cause drama in the house, such as the "En Garde" Head of Household competition in which the winner of each round selected the next two to face off against one another.[99] This competition was later used in the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth seasons.[100][101] Various competitions throughout the season will be endurance, requiring HouseGuests to be the last one remaining in the competition.[102] Endurance competitions are often held after game changing announcements, such as when a previously evicted HouseGuest returns.[103] Various endurance competitions, such as the "Hang Ten" competition in the twelfth season, have punished houseguests who either fall off first or last.[104] Skill based competitions also appear frequently throughout the season, some of which may last for numerous hours.[105] Skill competitions, such as the thirteenth season's "Big Brother Open", are finished during the live eviction broadcast.[106] The final Head of Household competition of each season features three rounds; the first is endurance, the second is skill, and the final is question based.[59] The record for most Head of Household competitions won in a single season is held by former houseguests Drew Daniel,[107] Janelle Pierzina,[108] Hayden Moss,[109] Rachel Reilly,[110] Ian Terry, and Aaryn Gries.[111] Ian has the record for most consecutive Head of Household wins, with four total.[112]

Power of Veto[edit]

The Power of Veto is a power first introduced in Big Brother 3.[21] During its first season, it was referred to as the Silver Power of Veto, and did not allow a nominated houseguest to use the Power of Veto on themselves.[113] The final Power of Veto that season was the Golden Power of Veto, and allowed a nominated houseguest to remove themselves from the block.[114] Following this, the Golden Power of Veto was used in all subsequent seasons.[25][115] The Diamond Power of Veto, used in Big Brother 12 allowed one houseguest to remove themselves from the block,[116] as well as choose the replacement nominee only moments before the live eviction.[117] Power of Veto competitions differ drastically from the Head of Household competition, with PoV competitions being more skill based in nature.[118] Competitions such as the "Pop Goes the Veto!" competition, which required HouseGuest to find letter tiles and spell the longest word, have been used in numerous consecutive seasons.[119][120] Competitions such as the "Big Brother Boardwalk" competition see HouseGuests attempting to guess how much of an item there is; this is one of various competitions that do not require HouseGuests to compete in a physical based competition.[121][122] The "How Bad Do You Want It?" Power of Veto competition, first introduced in the seventh season, saw houseguest taking punishments in exchange for advancing in the competition.[123] Variations of this competition have been used in numerous subsequent seasons.[124] HouseGuests Janelle Pierzina and Daniele Donato currently hold the record for most Power of Veto wins in a single season, with five wins each.[125] Houseguests James Zinkand, Frank Eudy, and Shane Meaney all hold the record for most consecutive Power of Veto wins, with three each.[126]

Food and luxury[edit]

Food and luxury competitions have been a part of the series since it first premiered. In early seasons, the losers of the food competition would be placed on a peanut butter and jelly diet, and would not be permitted to eat any other foods.[127] Beginning in the seventh season, the losers of the competition were required to eat "Big Brother Slop" for food.[128] Slop has proven to be an issue for some houseguests; Hypoglycemic Houseguest Amanda Hansen fainted and had a seizure after only a few days of being on the slop diet,[128] while houseguest Allison Nichols had an allergic reaction to the slop.[129][130] Both women were medically evacuated from the house, though they returned the following morning.[131] Beginning in the eleventh season, the food competitions became known as the Have-Not competitions,[132] and the losers would have to sleep in a separate bedroom, take cold showers, and eat slop for the week.[133] The food competitions have been known as the Have-Not competition in all subsequent seasons.[134] Houseguests who choose to break the slop rule are punished by Big Brother. Houseguest Jen Johnson was the first houseguest to break the food restriction rules, and earned a penalty eviction vote for doing so; she was ultimately evicted that week.[135][136] HouseGuests Jeff Schroeder and Kevin Campbell also broke the rules, to a lesser degree, and earned an extra day on the slop diet.[137] The HouseGuests also frequently compete in luxury competitions during their time in the house. Most frequently, HouseGuests will compete for the right to watch a film or television show in the house.[138] When competitions for films or television shows occur, an actor or actress from the series may enter the house to host the competition or speak with the houseguests. Actors such as Jeremy Piven,[139] David Hasselhoff,[140] and Neil Patrick Harris have all entered the house to participate in luxury competitions or rewards.[141]

Controversy and criticism[edit]

Other media[edit]

A nine-disc set from the third season of the show, in its entirety as well as edits, have been released on Region 1 DVD. A supplementary included is the HouseGuests' original casting tapes. These casting tapes are taken from preliminary interviews rather than the tapes that the houseguests sent in. All episodes on this DVD were the actual edited broadcast versions. A 2-disc Highlights set from the fourth season has also been released. With the release of the fourth season highlights, the clips would show unaired footage, ostensibly racier than what CBS would allow to air.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°8′40.12″N 118°23′20.71″W / 34.1444778°N 118.3890861°W / 34.1444778; -118.3890861