Logo used from 2001-2013
|Also known as||Big Brother USA|
|Based on||Big Brother|
by John de Mol Jr.
|Starring||Big Brother houseguests|
|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||21|
|No. of episodes||746|
|Production location(s)||Studio City, California|
|Original release||July 5, 2000 -|
Big Brother is a television reality game show based on the Dutch TV series of the same name created by producer John de Mol in 1997. The series takes its name from the character in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The series launched on July 5, 2000 on CBS, and is currently the second longest-running adaptation in the Big Brother franchise to date, after the Spanish version.
The series follows a diverse group of contestants, known as HouseGuests, who are living together in a custom-built home under constant surveillance. The HouseGuests are completely isolated from the outside world and can have no communication with those not in the house. The contestants are competing for a $500,000 grand prize, with weekly competitions and evictions determining who will win the show. In its inaugural season, ratings declined and critical reaction grew increasingly negative prompting the series to be revamped for the second season.
The series currently has two spin-offs: Big Brother: Over the Top, which was the first reality game show to air exclusively on a streaming platform airing in Fall 2016 on CBS's streaming service, CBS All Access; and Celebrity Big Brother, which aired on CBS in February 2018.
On May 15, 2019, it was announced that the series had been renewed through its 22nd season. CBS later announced on May 20, that the 21st season was set to premiere on June 25, 2019. The 22nd season is set to premiere in 2020, but is in question due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
The series was bought by CBS in early 2000 for an estimated $20 million. The American version of the series officially premiered on July 5, 2000, when the original ten housemates entered the house. Since its inception, the show has been hosted by television personality Julie Chen Moonves.[note 1] It is produced by Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan for Fly on the Wall Entertainment and Endemol Shine North America (formerly Endemol USA). The success of the series has spawned several spin-offs. The series airs once a year, during the summer, with the exception of the ninth season which aired in the spring of 2008 and the Over the Top spinoff series broadcasting in fall 2016. Currently, 21 seasons of the show have aired, along with one digital season. Season 22, which was scheduled for the summer of 2020, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The show has aired a total of 746 episodes since it premiered, with the September 5, 2013 airing marking the 500th episode. To date, there have been a total of 272 HouseGuests compete in the series. Upon entering the house, the HouseGuests who leave the house without permission are not allowed to return. Should a HouseGuest break the rules set in the house, they can be expelled from the house. To date, three HouseGuests have self-evicted for personal matters, while four HouseGuests were expelled from the house because of acts of violence and/or rule-breaking.
Since its premiere, there have been numerous companion programs about the show. In 2004, the web series House Calls: The Big Brother Talk Show (2004-08) began airing. The series, which lasted for thirty minutes and aired on weeknights, allowed fans to call in and discuss the events of the game. This made House Calls the first live Internet talk show produced exclusively for a television network. The series was initially hosted by Gretchen Massey and Big Brother 3 (2002) HouseGuest Marcellas Reynolds during its first two seasons. Beginning with the show's third season, a new co-host was featured on the series each day, with some returning more than once. During the show's fifth and sixth seasons, each co-host was given a designated day of the week to host alongside Gretchen. Following the show's sixth season, it was confirmed that it would not be renewed.
Big Brother: After Dark, a second companion series, was debuted in 2007 and aired on Showtime Too nightly from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern Time. The series continued this schedule until 2013, when it was moved to TVGN (now Pop).
Former HouseGuest Jeff Schroeder began hosting the Big Brother: Live Chat online discussion show in 2012, where he interviewed the HouseGuests both before they enter the house and following their evictions. He also performed post-finale backyard interviews with the cast. On August 10, 2017, Schroeder announced that he was moving to Colorado and would no longer be able to do the interviews.
For Big Brother 20, the "Live Chat" was replaced by Off the Block with Ross and Marissa. Hosted by former Celebrity HouseGuests Marissa Jaret Winokur and Ross Mathews, the show is set to air on Fridays on Facebook following the live eviction.
There have been two spin-off editions of Big Brother. In October 2016, CBS premiered a spin-off web series, Big Brother: Over the Top, as an original series for CBS All Access. Unlike the flagship, television version, it was broadcast exclusively online with a shorter, 10-week season.
The second spin-off, Celebrity Big Brother, aired its first season on CBS on February 7, 2018.Celebrity Big Brother was renewed for a second season, which premiered on January 21, 2019 and concluded on February 13. However, on January 1, 2020, CBS announced there will be no Celebrity Big Brother this year.
Though not an actual spin-off, the Canadian edition of the series is the first and currently only series to adopt the American format of Big Brother. However, other franchises such as Big Brother Brasil soon adopted the Veto Competition, Have/Have-Nots, and Head of Household into their format while still incorporating the international public vote format.
Big Brother is a game show in which a group of contestants, referred to as HouseGuests, live in a custom-built "house" (actually a set built on a CBS stage in Los Angeles, Stage 18 since season 6), constantly under video surveillance. While in the house, the contestants are completely isolated from the outside world, meaning no phone, television, Internet, magazines, newspapers, or contact with those not in the house. This rule could be broken, however, in the event of a medical injury, a family emergency, or death. The format of the series is mainly seen as a social experiment, and requires HouseGuests to interact with others who may have differing ideals, beliefs, and prejudices. While a competition, the series allows viewers to witness the relationships formed in the house and the behavior of the HouseGuests. Though locked in the house, the HouseGuests are free to quit the game, though they will not be allowed entry back into the house. Should a HouseGuest break the rules of the game, they could be expelled from the house, and unable to return. The contestants compete for a grand prize of $500,000.
The premiere season, the format of the show resembled the original Dutch version of the show - a format adapted by most versions of the Big Brother format. As the format of the show emphasised the social experiment aspects of premies, the competitive aspects are minimised - Housemates were not allowed to collude, politic or discuss anything regarding the Nomination process and no competitions for power or safety were held. The main elements of the original format are as follows:
The season format was plagued with a negative reception from both critics and viewers, hence the revamped competitive format used in later seasons.
Having spent millions on the series, CBS issued a second season of the series and announced that various changes would occur with the format. The current format of the series is focused more on competition and strategy than the original series, which makes a resemblance to the format from another CBS show, Survivor. At the start of each week in the house, the HouseGuests compete for the title of Head of Household. The Head of Household for each week is given luxuries such as their own personal bedroom and free laundry service, but is responsible for nominating two HouseGuests for eviction. The Head of Household would not be able to compete in the following week's Head of Household competition, meaning that a HouseGuest could not hold the title for two weeks in a row, except for the final week or other stated circumstances. All HouseGuests, excluding the Head of Household and the nominees, later vote to determine which of the two nominees should be evicted, and the nominated HouseGuest who received the most votes is evicted during a live episode. If there is a tie in the voting, the reigning Head of Household is required to make the tie-breaker decision. Unlike other versions of Big Brother, the HouseGuests may discuss the nomination and eviction process openly and freely. The HouseGuests also competed in Have-Not competitions, in which the losers were required to solely eat slop for the rest of the week, as well as sleep in a special bedroom. Upon reaching a point in the game, the evicted HouseGuests go on to become members of the Jury; the Jury is responsible for choosing who wins the series. The members of the Jury are not shown any Diary Room interviews or any footage that may include strategy or details regarding nominations. Once only two HouseGuests remain, the members of the Jury cast their votes for who should win the series.
To keep the series intriguing, each season typically features a new twist to change the format of the game. This began with Big Brother 3 (2002) and the "Expect the Unexpected" twist. Other seasons feature smaller twists that have a smaller impact on the game, usually affecting that sole week. The most notable example of this is Pandora's Box, a twist that originated in Big Brother 11 (2009). The twist sees the current Head of Household for that week being tempted by the box, and can choose to either open the box or leave it. Should a HouseGuest choose to open Pandora's Box, both good and bad consequences could be unleashed into the house; these can affect not only the Head of Household, but the other housemates. Similar formats are applied in later seasons, for example, the Den of Temptation introduced in season 19. Secret powers have also appeared in the past. Mike Malin was the first HouseGuest to receive a secret power, earning the Coup d'État during Big Brother: All-Stars (2006). The Coup d'État allowed the holder to remove one or both nominees from the block on eviction night, as well as choose who is nominated in their place. Malin chose not to use the power, and it subsequently returned during Big Brother 11 (2009) when Jeff Schroeder was given the power by the viewers. Matt Hoffman was given a Diamond Power of Veto during Big Brother 12 (2010), which allowed him to remove one HouseGuest from the block and choose the replacement nominee. During Big Brother 14 (2012), HouseGuest Ian Terry won a second Power of Veto, which could be used the same as the normal Power of Veto.
Many seasons have featured twists in which evicted HouseGuests can win reentry into the house, either by public vote or competition. Normally this involves sequestering each eliminated contestant individually or in the jury house (depending on whether the twist occurred pre-jury or post-jury, respectively). Contestants who 'self-evict' (quit the game voluntarily) are ineligible to return in these twists. Examples of the twists employed in various seasons are listed below.
In Big Brother 3, the first four evictees were asked what they would give up to re-enter the house and the two that listed the most faced a public vote. In Big Brother 6, the first four evictees faced a public vote. InBig Brother 9, the first six evictees faced a public vote, before facing a house vote on whether to bring back the most recent evictee or the "mystery HouseGuest" chosen by America. In Big Brother 13, the first four evictees faced a public vote, before the winner competed against the most recent, fifth evictee for reentry. Each Season from Big Brother 15 until Big Brother 18, the first four jurors competed alongside the remaining HouseGuests in the following HoH competition, with the winner eligible for HoH. In Big Brother 18 and Big Brother 19 the first five evictees competed in a series of knockout competitions until the one final HouseGuest won reentry. In Big Brother 20, one of the Power Apps granted a contestant a chance at reentry upon eviction.
Jessie Godderz has made the most Big Brother appearances in the show's history by far, appearing in Seasons 10 and 11 as a Houseguest and then again in Seasons 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, and 20, and also on Celebrity Big Brother Season 1, in surprise return Special Guest Appearances. He also appeared in a special Big Brother Press Day edition of the series exclusively for CBS.com during Season 16.
Victor Arroyo is the first HouseGuest to be evicted three times in the same season, having won a competition to gain reentry into the house twice. Cliff Hogg III became the second HouseGuest to be eliminated from the game three times. He was first banished & won re-entry, then he was evicted, and then won the Camp Comeback competition, he was then evicted for a third and final time taking fourth place.
Dan Gheesling and Paul Abrahamian are the only players that have lasted until the Final 2 in two separate seasons and faced a jury vote. However, Abrahamian was unable to win in either of his two appearances and holds the distinction of first HouseGuest to do so.
Since its launch in the United States, Big Brother has aired on CBS. The show is simulcast in Canada on Global. The fourth and ninth seasons have both aired in the United Kingdom, the latter airing in the Spring season. The first season featured a total of six episodes per week, though all future installments would air three nights per week. Of these three episodes, the weekly eviction episode is the only one that is live; this is the only episode to feature host Julie Chen. This show generally airs on Thursdays. To date, there have been a total of 558 episodes of the series to air. With the exception of the ninth season, the series typically airs once a year during the summer season. The first 15 seasons aired in standard definition, with the 16th season being the first to be produced in HD. However, the live internet feeds would not broadcast in HD until Big Brother 17. Before the series made the transfer, it was the last remaining regularly scheduled prime-time series to remain in standard definition. CBS released the entire third season as a nine-disc set on Region 1 DVD. This made it the first season to receive an official release, and has since become a rare item to find. The fourth season saw the release of a two-disc highlights DVD, featuring previously unseen footage deemed too racy for the main broadcast. To date, these are the only seasons to see a physical release. Beginning with the seventh season, all future seasons are available for purchase on digital retail sites. With the 15th season, TVGN (now Pop) began airing re-runs of the series at later dates, making it the first season to be aired following its premiere; this continued with the 16th season.
Subscribers to CBS All Access are able to stream the complete run of Big Brother, including the differently-formatted first season, and an episode of Big Brother 2 that did not air in most markets due to ongoing coverage of the September 11 attacks.
One of the main aspects of the series is the live feeds, in which viewers can view inside the house at any time. The live feeds have been a part of the series since its inception, initially being offered as a free service during the first season. From the second season onward, a subscription to the live feeds has been required, with the price ranging each year. The first season's feeds were available on the show's official site, hosted by AOL. From the second season to the 14th season, the feeds were available through RealNetworks either as a subscription or as a free addition for Gold members. With the 15th season onward, the live feeds have aired on the official CBS website, again requiring a subscription from users. Though advertised as being available at any time, the feeds are shut off during the weekly nomination ceremony, Power of Veto ceremony, and the competitions and evictions for that week; this is to provide suspense for the series. Slanderous statements and singing of copyrighted music are also blocked for legal reasons.
CBS aired the spin-off series Celebrity Big Brother from February 7-25, 2018. It was the first spin-off to air on the broadcast network, and the second season overall to air in the winter television season. The celebrity edition aired in a concentrated run with fewer episodes, but with multiple episodes each week.
The Head of Household competition is held at the beginning of each week, and is most often performed on the live eviction episode. Most often, the first Head of Household competition will require HouseGuests to participate either in pairs or in teams. While the fourth, fifth, and eighth seasons had the HouseGuests competing in pairs, the sixth, seventh, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, and 16th editions all saw HouseGuests competing as part of a group. The live Head of Household competitions are typically question-based, and will see HouseGuests eliminated in each round. Competitions such as "Majority Rules" have been used numerous times, with the game being played in the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, 10th, and 12th seasons; a variation of the competition was used in the seventh season. 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. This competition was later used in the 10th through 16th seasons. Various competitions throughout the season will be endurance, requiring HouseGuests to be the last one remaining in the competition. Endurance competitions are often held after game changing announcements, such as when a previously evicted HouseGuest returns. Various endurance competitions may have punished or rewarded contestants who either fall off first or last. Skill-based competitions also appear frequently throughout the season, some of which may last for numerous hours. Skill competitions, such as the 13th season's "Big Brother Open", are finished during the live eviction broadcast. The final Head of Household competition of each season features three rounds; the first is endurance-based, the second is skill-based (often with a memory component), and the final is question-based. The record for most Head of Household competitions won in a single season is four (4). The record has been held by Drew Daniel, Janelle Pierzina, Hayden Moss, Rachel Reilly, Ian Terry, Aaryn Gries, Caleb Reynolds, Vanessa Rousso, Steve Moses and Jackson Michie in terms of reigns. Frankie Grande won HOH five times in the 16th season; however, he was dethroned twice due to the dual HoH twist that was in play during his season, and his third reign was rewound due to the rewind button twist. This leaves Frankie with just two full reigns as HoH. Ian Terry has the record for most consecutive Head of Household wins, with four (winning at the Final 9, 7, 5 and 3 rounds) . One of the Head of Household's duties is to nominate two people for eviction. Victoria Rafaeli from the 16th season holds the record for most times being nominated with nine.
The Power of Veto is a power first introduced in Big Brother 3. During its first season, it did not allow a nominated HouseGuest to use it on themselves. The final Power of Veto that season was the Golden Power of Veto, and allowed a nominated HouseGuest to remove themselves from the block. Following this, the Golden Power of Veto was used in all subsequent seasons. The Diamond Power of Veto, used in Big Brother 12 allowed one HouseGuest to remove themselves from the block, as well as choose the replacement nominee only moments before the live eviction. Power of Veto competitions differ drastically from the Head of Household competition, with PoV competitions being more skill-based in nature. Competitions such as the "Pop Goes the Veto!" competition, which required HouseGuests to find letter tiles and spell the longest word, have been used in numerous consecutive seasons. 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. The "How Bad Do You Want It?" Power of Veto competition, first introduced in the seventh season, saw HouseGuests taking punishments in exchange for advancing in the competition. Variations of this competition have been used in numerous subsequent seasons. HouseGuests Janelle Pierzina (S7), Daniele Donato (S8), Paul Abrahamian (S19), and Kaycee Clark (S20) currently hold the record for most Power of Veto wins in a single season, with five wins each. HouseGuests James Zinkand, Frank Eudy, Shane Meaney and Kaycee Clark all hold the record for most consecutive Power of Veto wins, with three each.
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. Beginning with Big Brother 7, the losers of the Have-Not competition were required to eat "Big Brother Slop" for food, sleep in the Have-Not bedroom, and take cold showers for the week. 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, while HouseGuest Allison Nichols had an allergic reaction to the slop (both of these cases occurred in Big Brother 9). Both women were medically evacuated from the house, though they returned the following morning. HouseGuests who choose to break the slop rule are punished by Big Brother. HouseGuest Jen Johnson from Big Brother 8 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. Audrey Middleton from Big Brother 17 and Matt Clines from Big Brother 19 also broke the rules, earned a penalty vote and were ultimately evicted. HouseGuests Jeff Schroeder and Kevin Campbell of Big Brother 11 also broke the rules, to a lesser degree, and earned an extra day on the slop diet. 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. 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,David Hasselhoff, and Neil Patrick Harris have all entered the house to participate in luxury competitions or rewards.
The Battle of the Block was first introduced during Big Brother 16, and was reintroduced during the premiere of Big Brother 17. Instead of the normal singular Head of Household (HOH), two HOHs were named for that week. Each would then nominate a pair of nominees. These two pairs of nominees would compete against each other in a competition. The winning pair was safe from eviction and dethroned the HOH that nominated, allowing for the other HOH to remain in power for the rest of the week. While the winning pair was safe from eviction for the rest of the week, the dethroned HOH was not. There were eight Battle of the Block competitions in season 16 and five in season 17.
The Battle Back Competition allows an evicted house guest to return into the house and play as if they had never left. While elements of this competition first appeared in Seasons 15, 16, and 17, it was officially introduced in Season 18 and returned to play a role in Seasons 19, 20 and 21 as well.
In Season 15 and Season 17, the first four jurors competed in the HOH competition alongside the remaining houseguests. The winner of the competing jury members would be put back in the house and had the possibility to win HOH in the same competition. The winners of these competitions were Judd Daugherty and John McGuire, who both ended in 5th and 4th place respectively in their respective seasons.
In Season 16, the first four jury members competed only against each other to make their way back into the house. The winner was Nicole Franzel, who beat Hayden Voss, Zach Rance, and Jocasta Odom.
During Season 18, the first two evicted houseguests battled one on one, and the winner went on to compete against the third. The winner of that matchup would face the next evicted HouseGuest, and the winner of the final match-up re-entered the game. Victor Arroyo was the winner. Also in that season, Jury members competed alongside the HouseGuests still in the game. The last HouseGuest standing became the new HoH, while the last Jury member standing returned to the game. Victor won this Battle Back, making him the first HouseGuest in Big Brother history to re-enter the game in the same season for a third time. This version of the Battle Back did not return for season 19.
During Season 19, the four evicted HouseGuests played against each other in one competition. The top two then played head-to-head, and the winner then had to face off against a member inside the house. If the evicted HouseGuest won, they would re-enter the game. However, if the non-evicted HouseGuest won, no one would re-enter the game and all four evicted HouseGuests would be permanently eliminated. Cody Nickson beat Paul Abrahamian in the final round and re-entered the game.
During Season 20, the first four evicted Jury members played against each other in one competition. Scottie Salton beat out his competitors Bayleigh Dayton, Angie "Rockstar" Lantry and Faysal Shafaat and re-entered the game.
During Season 21, the first four evicted HouseGuests became members of Camp Comeback and did not exit the house following their evictions. After four HouseGuests were evicted, they competed in the Comeback Competition to re-enter the game. Cliff Hogg III beat out his competitors David Alexander, Ovi Kabir and Kemi Fakunle and re-entered the game.
|Season||Days||HouseGuests||Winner||Runner-up||Final vote||Episodes||Originally aired||Average viewers|
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||88||10||Eddie McGee||Josh Souza||[c]||70||July 5, 2000||September 29, 2000||CBS||9.01|
|2||82||12||Will Kirby||Nicole Schaffrich||5-2||30||July 5, 2001||September 20, 2001||7.90|
|3||Lisa Donahue||Danielle Reyes||9-1||33||July 10, 2002||September 25, 2002||8.70|
|4||13||Jun Song||Alison Irwin||6-1||33||July 8, 2003||September 24, 2003||8.80|
|5||14||Drew Daniel||Michael Ellis||4-3||31||July 6, 2004||September 21, 2004||8.30|
|6||80||Maggie Ausburn||Ivette Corredero||4-3||30||July 7, 2005||September 20, 2005||7.24|
|7[d]||72||Mike Malin||Erika Landin||6-1||28||July 6, 2006||September 12, 2006||7.56|
|8||81||Dick Donato||Daniele Donato||5-2||33||July 5, 2007||September 18, 2007||7.52|
|9[e]||16||Adam Jasinski||Ryan Quicksall||6-1||33||February 12, 2008||April 27, 2008||6.56|
|10||71||13||Dan Gheesling||Memphis Garrett||7-0||29||July 13, 2008||September 16, 2008||6.72|
|11||73||Jordan Lloyd||Natalie Martinez||5-2||30||July 9, 2009||September 15, 2009||7.19|
|12||75||Hayden Moss||Lane Elenburg||4-3||30||July 5, 2010||September 15, 2010||7.76|
|13||14||Rachel Reilly||Porsche Briggs||4-3||29||July 7, 2011||September 14, 2011||7.95|
|14||16||Ian Terry||Dan Gheesling||6-1||30||July 12, 2012||September 19, 2012||6.79|
|15||90||Andy Herren||7-2||36||June 26, 2013||September 18, 2013||6.47|
|16||97||Cody Calafiore||7-2||40||June 25, 2014||September 24, 2014||6.41|
|17||98||17||Steve Moses||Liz Nolan||6-3||40||June 24, 2015||September 23, 2015||6.18|
|18||99||16||Nicole Franzel||Paul Abrahamian||5-4||42||June 22, 2016||September 21, 2016||5.78|
|OTT||65||13||Morgan Willett||Jason Roy||10[f]||September 28, 2016||December 1, 2016||N/A|
|19||92||17||Josh Martinez||Paul Abrahamian||5-4||39||June 28, 2017||September 20, 2017||CBS||6.06|
|20||99||16||Kaycee Clark||Tyler Crispen||5-4||40||June 27, 2018||September 26, 2018||5.41|
|21||Jackson Michie||Holly Allen||6-3||40||June 25, 2019||September 25, 2019||4.38|
Since its inception, Big Brother has been criticized following reports of "HIB" (Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying), violence in the house, obscene language, breach of integrity, and the physical and mental strain of appearing on the series. Several seasons have also been criticized for racism and discrimination, most notably season 15 and season 21.
On September 9, 2018, Chen's husband Leslie Moonves resigned as President of CBS, after a second wave of reports of sexual misconduct allegations. Four days later, Chen closed out that evening's show by saying, "From outside the Big Brother house...I'm Julie Chen Moonves, good night." As Chen had previously never used Moonves professionally, many saw the move as Chen standing in solidarity with her husband. Following her resignation from The Talk on September 18, there was speculation on whether Chen would continue as host of Big Brother also, though she returned the following year.