Why So Many People Love the Reality Game Show "Big Brother"

Should you be watching "Big Brother?"

Big Brother on CBS
Big Brother host Mike Goldman and the cast of Big Brother 2013. Mike Goldman/Wikimedia Commons  

Big Brother is a long-running CBS reality show based on a Dutch series of the same name. It launched in 2000 with the same format as the Dutch series, but innovations have been made over the years to change up the game. The name "big brother" comes from the classic George Orwell novel 1984, in which the phrase "big brother is watching you" first appeared. Since its launch, Big Brother spinoffs have been created including Celebrity Big Brother and Big Brother: Over the Top.

The show has earned a healthy following around the world, but it's not easy to define exactly what makes the CBS reality show so watchable. The overarching concept of the show is this: a group of strangers takes up residence in a house that's been rigged with camera equipment and microphones from top to bottom. One by one, the houseguests (along with audience members) will vote each other out of the house. At the end of three months, the last remaining houseguest will receive the grand prize of $500,000. Additional tweaks made over the years have added game elements to increase suspense, complexity, and intrigue.

Elements That Make Big Brother a Watchable Show

Reality-style game shows come and go, but Big Brother has stuck around for decades. What makes it such an appealing show? There are several elements that make it exceptionally watchable.

It's About Relationships.

Putting any group of adults in a confined space for a prolonged period of time will either bring out the best or worst in them. At the very least, you can expect a few hookups among cast members every season. Even for those cast members who don't get frisky, there's are still plenty of feelings flying around. Remember, these people are confined together with very little to do other than scheme about ways to ensure their future fortune, so a fair amount of anger, resentment, and deviousness are par for the course. 

It's About Alliances.

One of the most difficult parts of being a Big Brother contestant is figuring out who's getting close to you out of actual friendship and who wants to use the information you've given them ​to vote you out of the house. Members of the cast often team up to form alliances in the hopes that having an ally will get them closer to the jackpot, only to find that they're being played by their supposed partner. While team members often turn their back on one another, alliances have also helped secure a path to victory for some of the show's most memorable contestants.

It's About an Ever-Changing Cast.

The success of most reality programming is contingent upon fans connecting with the show's characters and getting excited to tune in each week to see what they're up to. 'Big Brother' has turned that paradigm on its head, creating a show where your favorite cast members could be on the chopping block at any moment, even if they have been lured into a false sense of security by their cast mates. Each week, fans are shocked to find out that the players they've been rooting for have been sent on their merry way. It may seem diabolical, but that's what keeps the show so exciting!