HOLLYWOOD—I wrote a column a few weeks ago about the mechanisms of the CBS reality competition series “Big Brother.” I promised I would address my thoughts behind the dominant alliance of the “Big Brother 23” game, ‘The Cookout’ and their quest to crown the first African-American/Black winner of the game. Hey, I use the term interchangeably, even though I prefer African-American. I know what some of you will say Tamar Braxton was the first African-American winner, but that was for “Celebrity Big Brother” not proper BB.
I’ve been watching this series since it premiered in the summer of 2000. I would like to consider myself a historian of all things BB. There hasn’t been a season I haven’t watched, even those that bored me to death I watched till the bitter end. For years, I’ve asked myself why, has it always been a trend for BB to cast 1 to 2 African-Americans, and in many of those casting choices it was either the Black gay male, the religious Black woman or Black man, the angry Black woman or the athlete.
People can get mad if they want, I don’t care, this was the trend people and many of you know it. Very few occasions transpired where there were more than 3 Black people in a single cast; BB22 was the first time that transpired where we had four people Kevin, David, Da’Vonne and Bayleigh. With that said, they still couldn’t get to the end, but for BB23 we had a total of 6 (Kyland, Hannah, Azah, Xavier, Tiffany and Derek F). While some of them are mixed, in the perception of America and for many people that mixed heritage means very little and they are seen as Black, point blank period.
They had an allegiance in the beginning to ensure each of them got to the jury phase of the game and that would be the first time such a thing ever transpired in the game. Last season we had 3 Black people in the jury, before BB22, the most we had ever seen was two and that was in BB18 (Da’Vonne and Zakiyah). So to see at minimum, 6 African-Americans in the BB23 jury was a feat itself. However, once jury hit, I started wrapping my head trying to figure out why Tiffany and Kyland in particular were not willing to start to play their own individual games. I point those two out specifically because I’ve seen them converse about wanting to play the game with other people, not in the alliance, people who they were much closer to in the house and could strategically bounce ideas off of in their mission to get to the end.
Nope. The Cookout is solid and for the longest time I’ve been screaming please play your own games! I get why you’re doing what you’re doing. I understand it, trust me as someone who has thought about how I would navigate the game and what I would do if I were to ever be in that house, as a Black male I think the guilt is what is eating them the most. They fear being labeled as a traitor or going against their ‘culture’ as Xavier has mentioned multiple times for anyone who betrays the alliance. That concept is so troubling because it is creating all types of conversations about race and rather what ‘The Cookout’ is doing is seen a racist. There is pressure on these players; they don’t want to face that potential backlash from the Black community of being labeled a traitor for not pushing thru the cause.
The Cookout is not racist, but people who aren’t African-American or Black can’t see or understand that. These people have developed absolute strong bonds with these people in this house. Kyland was glued to Sarah Beth, Azah was torn to pieces and ready to evict herself over Britini, Hannah burst into tears betraying Derek X. These people care about these allies that they have played games with. Not to mention the issue that no one has purposely come out and noted they were voting people out based on race. So that argument that so many casuals who watch the show are pushing is absolutely ludicrous. For those who want to see some clear racist and problematic issues go watch the dreadful “Big Brother 15,” trust me that was a tough as hell season to get thru, especially when nearly everyone in that house was unlikeable. I think I like 1 maybe 2 people at most were liable the entire season beyond Candiace and Howard, in addition to Elissa and Helen.
Want to see more frustrations look at how Da’Vonne was treated by Clay and Shelli because she was observing things in the BB house and they thought it was weird and she was labeled the angry Black woman after she confronted them and then voted out. Turn your attention to BB19 with the crap that Paul was planning to pull on Dominque by donning Black Face to the Power of Veto meeting having no absolute clue how distasteful, stupid and racist he would have looked if he had done so. Of course we have to talk about the two most recent seasons BB21, with the Camp Comeback, the absolutely vile and just unbelievable behavior from Gr8eful.
The only satisfying end to that season was seeing them exposed during the live finale where people realized their worlds were about to be rocked and rightfully so. As for BB22, we know about Christmas and her micro-aggressions to Bayleigh and Da’Vonne, not to mention Memphis and his commentary towards David, and there were plenty other folk in the Committee that were problematic as well. Let’s just say I’m pretty happy we won’t see another ‘All-Stars’ season anytime soon, and if we do I’m pretty sure none of The Committee will be invited back to play again.
There has been a history of problematic issues of race on “Big Brother” for years and after nearly 21 years, we have an alliance that is courageous and saying we’re pushing to have a final two with two Black contestants so history can be made, no matter what, even if it causes me to lose the game (Tiffany I’m looking at you). It is absolutely fantastic watching them navigate this game and go undetected for so long even though Claire and Derek X has been in the cusp literally of exposing the alliance multiple times, but just haven’t gotten there.
I’m more annoyed by some members in The Cookout who are actually good at the game throwing their opportunities to get to the end away for people in an alliance that are NOT loyal to them, but they are doing it for the cause. I get that cause, I truly do, but as a Black man I would absolutely have a difficult problem being loyal to people who are not loyal to me, even though the cause at hand is a big one. At the end of the day, I am playing a game and my goal is to win that game. Tiffany is making moves to push The Cookout forward, even though it will result in her likely being the first to be evicted from the alliance especially after all that has transpired in this past week in the game. I’m saying that now, but I’m not in that house and I don’t know what that pressure might feel like or how to navigate with such a tough decision.
Azah and Big D (Derek F) don’t care about her, hell Big D has got to be the most disrespectful piece of trash who complains endlessly, while doing absolutely nothing, but sit on that Big Blue couch. Get up and do something already. As for Azah, the audience was sold a false narrative in her pre-interviews and introduction video on the show. This woman didn’t come to play BB, I don’t know what she came to play, but it was not this game. She is very emotional and I love that about her, but in this game emotions can become problematic in a game where strategy is crucial to survival. Xavier is so loyal to Alyssa I don’t see HOW no one in the 6 doesn’t see it with clear blinders. He wants Alyssa to be the last one standing because it benefits his game, not everyone else. A true player would see that and even though this cause is important would expose it in a heartbeat without a care in the world and send his ass out considering he’s vulnerable.
Even more so, there is a bit of sexism within The Cookout from my perspective, particularly looking at Xavier, Kyland and Big D. They just have this perspective they have done so much for the alliance compared to the women and I’m thinking, “Really?” Kyland I can see that argument, but don’t be dismissive in the process. Big D not even a chance, you have DONE NOTHING, but sit on that got damn Big Blue Couch all damn day. You have WON NOTHING you’ve done nothing for the alliance. Xavier, the whining, the constant whining this week proved your ego and arrogance is above what it needs to be. You’re selfless, jeez take a look in that mirror you’re more selfish than anyone else in that got damn alliances. You won an HOH that was THROWN to you, you screwed up massively putting a target on Hannah’s back in week 4 and you’re done nothing since. Please stop with the false narrative in the diary room nothing annoys fans more than when someone tries to outwit us, we see the feeds we know what is going on.
Nominated multiple times because you choose to make stupid decisions. Hmm, I’m going to argue Hannah and damn certain, Tiffany has done more than all 3 of these buffoons combined. This edit the show has recently presented of Tiffany being the villain (angry Black woman) and Xavier (the hero) is complete BS. Let’s do better editing BB, the live feeders know what the hell is going on, the casuals not so much, but don’t try to sell us a fake bill.
However, there is that fear that if any of the six betray the alliance they have no chance of winning in the jury house. You cannot sit here and tell me everyone in that alliance is going to be super bitter if someone betrays them before the six gets to the six, hell we have two back-to-back double evictions on the horizon, there is a good chance someone form the six is leaving before we get to the six and once we get to the six, the betrayals will really transpire and then what?
You plead your case to the jury and the better player wins that is how I see it. Hannah just cutting Derek X annoyed me to the core; Tiffany doing the same to Claire is beyond baffling you know why? They just won’t reveal the damn truth. Stop with this dumbass ruse about NOT exposing the alliance. I’m going to respect you as a player more for being honest, versus attempting to deceive me and try to make me look stupid and for what? It was honestly the best thing I heard Azah say all season. Why lie to Claire just spill the truth? She’s going to figure it out when she’s nominated and if the six thinks Alyssa is NOT going to connect the dots and realize she is a sitting duck and they’ve all been working together, c’mon give me a break.
If I were in that house, I would be playing my own game. We get to jury and if you’re good for my game you stay if not, sorry, but you’re out. I’m not cutting someone who is very loyal to me and would NEVER put me on the block for people who the first opportunity they can get me on the block I’m likely going home. We might be playing for a cause and that is important; guess what I’m also playing for my family. This is game-changing money for some of these people, and if that tactic was used for the smart players in this game, which no one has actually DONE at the moment, we might see things start to play out differently, plus I just met you. My family I’ve known forever.
Especially in Tiffany’s case. All you have to say is Tiffany, you have a son at home, and you have to play this game selfishly. What you’ve done for the cause is great, but your son is your priority, and I guarantee that would sway her in a big way and people would understand. Label me a traitor, I don’t care because at the end of the day this is a GAME and people need to see that. I don’t care about the commentary on social media, probably because I’m not glued to it 24/7. At the same time, hearing such comments in public might be problematic, so it’s a battle internally and that struggle could be very real and trying for a Black person where everyone is watching and commentating.
I keep hearing players talk like I hope I get a second chance and then I can play my own game. This is your chance; do you know how many players never get a second chance in BB? It is not a forgone conclusion people that you will be called back for a second opportunity. Some of our greats haven’t gotten a second chance and may never get one. However, if you’re willing to make the sacrifice that you’re making to ensure a Black winner I respect you even more because you’re saying the money doesn’t matter the principal does and there are so many people watching BB who don’t get it, don’t understand it and never will. You’re not a minority and you don’t know what its like to be in a house where NO ONE looks like you, you have to walk on eggshells out of fear of being labeled a stereotype that so many people think to be true of all people of the same race that is not.
With that said, those looking for a second chance, should look at the players we’d all like to see again that we haven’t seen like Eric Stein (BB8) and Vanessa (BB17). Players I would love to see play BB again, but guess what I don’t think it’s happening people, especially after the dreadful “All-Stars 2” we might not ever see another cast of previous players, it is likely to be mixed seasons at best. One thing that worries me about the Cookout is this method will NEVER be replicated again, people are going to assume all the Black people in the house in future seasons are working together, they might be immediately targeted and I have this fear that we might be looking at a race war in the reality competition in the future and that is the absolute last thing I want to see. I hope not, but there will be people who watch this season and suspect that so you never know and that could be a tactic they consider in future seasons, let’s hope not though.
I don’t want to see that in BB and that is a fear I’m worried about, but to say after 21 years we might have the first Black winner of this game that I love proves to people like me that it is possible for someone who likes like me to win. At the same time it opens the floodgates for questions on rather I would play the game the same way they did or play it solo and hat those ramifications would look like in the long run. That is an internal battle that ONLY members of the Cookout can explain, not those of us looking from the outside in.