Big Brother is undoubtedly the most famous and successful reality format around the world. To date, there have been more than 350 seasons of the show, broadcast in over 50 countries across the globe. You may think you know all about Big Brother but not all versions are the same. Like Big Brother Canada, Big Brother US is a very different beast from the Big Brother UK & Australian series’ we’ve come to know and love.
The premise is the same, a specified number of strangers enter a house where they are completely cut off from the outside world, and where their every move is watched by Big Brother. Over the course of the series, the housemates battle it out to avoid eviction and secure the grand prize of $500,000. Sounds familiar right?
Well this is where the main similarities end..
Head of Household (HOH)
Each week, the housemates battle it out in various competitions to earn the title of Head of Household, a twist briefly employed in the 9th series of Big Brother UK. The competitions take various different formats, including quizzes on events within the house, short skill/strength based games and also tough endurance competitions.
The Head of Household, commonly referred to simply as the HOH, gains many perks to aid them in the game, the most important being immunity from that week’s eviction. The HOH also gets their own room to allow them to strategise in private – more on that in a minute.
However, with power comes responsibility, and the HOH is also responsible for nominating 2 housemates for eviction. This is called “going on the block”. Unlike the UK format, where all housemates nominate, the HOH is the only housemate who nominates.
The game relies heavily on strategy, and unlike the UK version, housemates or houseguests as they are commonly called, are actively encouraged to discuss nominations and strategise in order to survive within the house.
Power of Veto (POV)
Each week, the HOH, the two nominees and a further 3 players chosen by random draw, battle it out in the Power of Veto (POV) competition which is a short skill-based challenge. The winner of the POV competition earns the power to veto one of the current HOH’s nominations meaning that they have to then choose a replacement. This is, however, not compulsory, and often POV winners will choose not to use it if it is in the best interest of their game. In the event that the POV winner is not a current nominee or current HOH, the winner also gains immunity from nomination that week. This is another element that has been used a couple of times on BBUK, under the title “Save and Replace”.
Any Big Brother wouldn’t be complete without weekly evictions and Big Brother US is no different. Ok, well maybe slightly. In Big Brother UK, the evictee is chosen by the public via popular vote, however in Big Brother US, each week the houseguests choose which of the two nominated housemates goes home. One by one, they are called to the diary room by host Julie Chen, who asks them to cast a vote to evict. The houseguest with the most votes is evicted. During this process, the nominated houseguests cannot vote, and the HOH only votes if there is an even number of houseguest casting votes and they are required to vote in order to break a tie.
The winner of the show is also chosen differently. In the UK, the winning houseguest is chosen from the remaining housemates who have survived eviction the whole series. This, like evictions, is done by the public via a popular vote. In Big Brother US, only 2 houseguests make the final. The winner is decided by a jury made up of former houseguest who, when evicted, are not allowed to go home but instead are sequestered in a separate jury house, still cut off from the outside world, once there are only a certain number of houseguests remaining in the game. On finale night, one by one the jury members take it in turn to lock in their votes, before the votes are revealed an counted live by Julie. The houseguest with the most jury votes, wins the prize money.