Hi. My name is Sandy. And I’m a Big Brother addict.
I believe Reality TV is the scourge of television. It panders to our lowest animal instincts, serving up people acting their worst and getting famous for it. But, America loves a train wreck, and watching people behave like two-year olds in dangerous grown-up bodies seems to be the wreck of choice.
I, alas, am no exception.
I started watching Big Brother the summer after I moved home to Marshalltown. I was still loopy from ECT treatments I had that winter, and changing medications every two or three months. I was not in my right mind, okay? I couldn’t help myself.
Cast of Big Brother, Season 13
I don’t know about other reality shows (because I don’t watch them), but Big Brother puts people in a pressure cooker, then records the results for all the world to see. Players start out with integrity and compassion, but over the course of the summer, lose that to the drive to survive in the game. They forget they’re playing a game, and take the posturing and manipulation of others personally.
And then the stress just gets to folks, so emotional outbursts and fights become more common as the season advances. Some players enter the game with every intention of lying and cheating their way to the end, but the surprising friendships they develop with other players completely changes their strategy. Alliances form, dissolve, and reform. ”Show-mances” develop, romantic relationships squeezed out by all that forced intimacy. It’s all very human. And fascinating.
This past Thursday night, my favorite player got evicted from the Big Brother house. Jeff Schroeder first played Big Brother two years ago. He developed a show-mance with fellow player, Jordan Lloyd, which was chaste (Jordan would only let him kiss her on the cheek) and sweet. He sacrificed plays in the game for her, and she faithfully supported him. Their romance continued off-screen, and Big Brother invited them back this season.
Like the other players in the pressure cooker of Big Brother, Jeff lost his temper, took things personally, and fought hard in competitions. But, unlike most others, he never lost his integrity. He talked straight and kept his word. He stayed loyal to those in his alliance, even when they didn’t act in his best interest. He continued to treat Jordan with respect, acting as her protector and partner. Jeff maintained his sense of humor and his perspective, and always found his way back to Center.
I imagine when players recover from the trauma of participating in Big Brother, they must be embarrassed, or at the very least see they’re not quite the kind/honorable/humane people they thought they were.
I imagine some of their parents must wear disguises to the grocery store. But, when I think of Jeff’s family, I can only imagine how proud they are. He’s an unlikely role model, a Reality TV version of The Hero. He was a surprise treasure amidst the train wreckage strewn across TVland, and I wish him well. (Go, Jordan!)