We’ve come to accept the Big Brother tagline of “expect the unexpected.” But sadly, all too often, we’ve also come to expect some truly ugly behavior from the houseguests, behavior that always seems to take away from and overshadow the silly, fun, ridiculousness that the show tries to supply us with each and every Summer.
Week 1 of Big Brother 24 was among the most uncomfortable and painful stretches the show has ever seen. Much of it played out on the live feeds, and only those who religiously glue themselves to those live feeds (available on Paramount+) will know or understand the full context of what went down. I am – admittedly – not one of those people. I typically don’t watch the live feeds all that much, and did not watch them at all yet this season. As I even wrote in my Recap of the Big Brother 24 Premiere Episode last week, I had planned to have this column focus on the actual broadcast of the show, and not a Recap of what has occurred on the live feeds each week.
Well, that had been the plan. But over the past week, the conduct in the Big Brother House had made national headlines, well beyond the normal pop culture sites/outlets that cover the show. It’s become the talk of the season, and it’s impossible to avoid it.
So what am I referring to? Well, for those that don’t know, here is a brief summary. It all has to do with houseguest Taylor Hale, and what has been perceived as the terrible, ongoing treatment of her, led by fellow houseguest Paloma Aguilar. The word that has come up a lot is “microaggressions,” defined as: “instances of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.” It seems from the get-go, that Paloma just did not like Taylor, a black woman. Taylor admitting to the group that she was a former pageant girl set Paloma off, and the feeds captured Paloma turning the other houseguests against Taylor. Taylor has since been described as “aggressive” more than once, and Pooch‘s comments that if Taylor were to be nominated, that she would “show more of her true colors,” and that: “Whoever puts her up, it’s gonna be a loud week. A loud f***ing week.” The Week 1 HOH, Daniel commented, “The minute I saw her [Taylor] I knew it was going to be bad news.” Daniel was also shown being very worried of how he would be perceived, after putting up two black people – Taylor along with Terrance – during his HOH. “…if people think I’m f***ing racist when I leave this house, I’m f***ed.”
Keep in mind that there has been zero evidence whatsoever that Taylor has shown any sort of aggressiveness in the house. The house having turned against her during the week has led to Taylor breaking down in to tears on more than one occasion, expressing feelings of isolation, and once commenting, “I didn’t do anything.”
All of this is amplified due to the fact that Big Brother 24 follows last Summer’s historic Big Brother 23, where “The Cookout” alliance made national headlines as well, albeit for very positive reasons instead. Six African-American players formed an alliance and navigated their way to the end of the game – together – to ensure that Big Brother would crown their first-ever Black winner no matter what. Xavier Prather, a Cookout member and eventual winner of the season, put out a lengthy response to what was going in the house this season, and his disappointment (you can read his statement here). Other Cookout members have expressed similar sentiments and have been vocal on Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, the Big Brother community has been in an uproar. Many outlets that have covered the show decided not to this season, because of the ugliness that they saw in the house towards Taylor. People have been calling on CBS to do something, and to address Paloma‘s – and the rest of the house’s – behavior. Nothing was addressed on the Sunday episode of the show in regards to this controversy, and many became even more furious when Wednesday’s show didn’t address the concerns either. In fact, the aired Episodes tell a bit of a different story.
According to what we’ve seen on air, Taylor tried to give Monte a heads-up that Paloma and the girls were growing paranoid thinking that there might be an all-male alliance forming. It seemed innocent enough, but having your words twisted on Big Brother is not a new phenomenon. Monte though, was aligned a bit closer with Paloma, so he went to her with this news. While Paloma may have not liked Taylor – or was jealous, or a variety of other things – this put her on the warpath to get rid of Taylor. A game of “telephone” ensued – where by the time the last person heard the news, it was a twisted version of what was actually first said. Taylor’s seemingly-innocent comment to Monte became perceived as Taylor throwing Paloma under the bus. This all led to Daniel carrying out a backdoor plan this week during his HOH, where Taylor was put up as the replacement nominee after Michael won POV and took himself off of the block. In his speech after placing Taylor on the block next to Terrance, Daniel didn’t mince words, and told Taylor flatly that she “rubbed a lot of people in the house the wrong way” and that she needed to even apologize for her actions. Woah.
When Taylor was shown crying on the episode, the episode implied that it wasn’t because of microaggressions or subtle racism she was experiencing, but just her sadness of being put up and the harshness of Daniel‘s words.
Still, people were enraged. Some shouted at CBS, accusing them of editing the live feeds out of context and covering up much of Taylor‘s mistreatment. People optimistically awaited the Wednesday round of weekly press interviews that Julie Chen-Moonves gives to some of the larger outlets, but when questioned about all of this controversy, Julie gave a shockingly abrasive answer. In an interview by Mike Bloom at Parade.com, Julie turned the tables on those not in the house. Asked about the controversy, Julie replied:
“What I think has been a little bit surprising is how Twitter and the internet has exploded in really jumping on someone. Which I never like. I don’t think any of us are in any position to judge any other human being. What you have to remember is that yes, microaggressions are real and they happen every day. When you’re playing the Big Brother house, it’s a pressure cooker in there. And you might say or do things that you think is going to advance your position in the house. But you won’t always do it in a way that makes yourself look your best.
What I think Taylor has experienced in the house and what we’ve seen on the live feeds are separate from each other. A lot of it has been classic Big Brother trash talk behind someone’s back because you feel threatened by them. In many ways, Big Brother is like high school on steroids. And if you were to ask Taylor, you know, prior to becoming a replacement nominee, she simply was not aware of how much jealousy there was.
So I would say, let’s all take a pause. Let’s try not to judge. Please leave the judging to the judge: Father God. And let’s exercise some compassion for one another. We don’t know what it’s like to go through that Big Brother house. Have some mercy and some grace and some forgiveness. And if someone can come out of the house, sees what their actions were in the house, and learn something from it, and is humbled by the whole experience, then hallelujah! That’s a beautiful thing. So I think people need to just open up their hearts a little bit more, and show some kindness and some forgiveness. Give someone a chance to change, to see their actions, and learn and grow from it.” – from Parade.com
When Mike Bloom followed up and mentioned the mob mentality forming in the house, Julie once again turned it back to the audience:
“It’s so interesting that you use the term “mob mentality.” Because isn’t that what Twitter has done? Aren’t you all being hypocrites? There has been this mob mentality created against people in the house, who viewers feel have not been kind to Taylor. I think anytime you’re nominated, it’ll bring you to tears. Because at the end of the day, you want to be liked. And when you get named as a nominee, you get the sense, “Oh, they want me out. The majority wants me out.” But I feel for Taylor, who’s been told that she has rubbed some people the wrong way. We all walk through life thinking that we’re good, decent people. You don’t set out to be unlikable. It hurts. It hurts and I have sympathy for her. I have sympathy for everyone in that house. It’s not easy.” – from Parade.com
I must admit, as a person who did not watch the live feeds, it was incredibly confusing to try to find proper context of all that went down this past week in the Big Brother house. This led us into Thursday’s “Live Show” where the phrase, “expect the unexpected” took on an even crazier meaning. With everything that happened, Julie announced that Paloma had exited the game due to a “personal matter.” Wow. In addition to the controversy involving Taylor, Paloma was shown really struggling inside the house. She was not sleeping. She wasn’t eating. Others were worrying about her. She was openly questioning her own reality to the Big Brother cameras. And then just like that, Paloma exited the game.
Paloma was also not available for the usual exit press today, so it may be quite a while until we know what actually is going on. Did producers step in and take action as they were asked to do? Was Paloma told about her treatment of Taylor, and maybe that’s why she started having trouble sleeping/eating? Perhaps both of these, or neither? And where does that leave us?
When all is said and done, Big Brother 24 basically is hitting the reset button on the season, a season that has not been fun at all for anyone involved, or those at home. Paloma‘s shocking exit led to the show scrapping their planned “Backstage Battle” twist that they had been building towards, meaning that ultimately, the “Backstage Passes” given to Brittany and Alyssa mattered not. Also meaningless was Daniel‘s HOH, where he named a total of three nominees – Michael, Terrance and Taylor – and none of them went home. Michael’s POV win? Meaningless. Pretty much everything that happened from a game-perspective in Week 1 was rendered useless.
I don’t have anything to add. Those that watched the live feeds have the best perspective on the matter. Everything else is just hearsay, our own version of “telephone” where the original context is completely lost. I do wish all involved the best, including Paloma, as mental health (or mental sickness) is a serious matter and I hope that she receives help and is OK. I wish Taylor comfort within the house. And I hope that those still in the game can play the game to the best of their abilities and that the person who ends up winning the season, does so in a way that makes the audience proud.
We now trek forward, hopeful that Taylor‘s situation in the house will improve, but unsure of whether or not many of us even have the energy to care anymore. As the show’s credits closed out, the houseguests battled in the beginning of a two-stage HOH competition, with Jasmine appearing to twist or break her ankle on live TV (some called this karma, as Jasmine was also involved in the controversy). The results of the HOH comp will be revealed on Sunday’s show, when CBS and Big Brother try their damnedest to move on and pretend none of this ever happened. But will the fans forget? That’s unlikely. And no matter what happens the rest of the Summer, this season will always have this unfortunate, dark cloud hanging over it.
That’s the worst takeaway: A show meant as a Summer escape can’t even escape the realities of America that exist outside of the BB walls. With all of us in need of a release, and looking to be entertained, let’s hope that Big Brother can truly pull off the “unexpected,” and salvage this season.
Current HOH: TBA (on Sunday’s show)
Sunday, 7/17 – HOH Results and Nominations
Wednesday, 7/20 – POV Comp and Ceremony
Thursday, 7/21 – Next Live Eviction
TELL US – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON EVERYTHING THAT WENT ON THIS WEEK? WILL YOU BE WATCHING THIS SEASON? CAN BIG BROTHER RECOVER FROM THIS EARLY CONTROVERSY?
[Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved]