Big Brother 10: How The Renegades Revived Big Brother

By Kelly West 2008-09-14 00:42:31 discussion comments
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I started watching Big Brother regularly during the series’ second season. I’d caught a few episodes of the first season but aside from it feeding into my mild voyeuristic tendencies. I didn’t really see the point in the show. Then when they changed the rules in the second season so that the houseguests had to vote each other out, the game became much more interesting and that’s when I got hooked.

I need to give Will Kirby a lot of the credit for my adoration of the second season of BB for the way he played the game, manipulating people and showing no remorse for it, which made me see the true potential, not only in the show but in the game itself. Big Brother for me became less about watching a bunch of bikini’ed women and shirtless guys lounge around their little compound sunning themselves, arguing and occasionally competing in competitions and more about seeing which houseguests could out maneuver the others.

So after the season of Will, I tuned in every summer (and last winter) to watch Big Brother and while there were definitely some above average seasons, it seemed like with each passing year, the series was becoming more about the drama and less about the game. The producers started introducing twists (twins, ex-significant others, secret partners, America’s Player, etc) most of which were entertaining at first but then fell flat eventually.

Last season (Big Brother 9) was a train wreck (and not the good kind) and by the end, while I thought Adam and Ryan were both decent guys, I didn’t really care who won. The season before it wasn’t much better and I was beginning to wonder if the show would ever be as great as it was in the second season. I should mention that I loved season 6 and All Stars but that was largely to do with there being a number of genuinely likable people who were allied against groups of genuinely unlikable people. The problems with both of those seasons were the significantly unfavorable final-two’s (Maggie/Ivette, Boogie/Erika).

What I’m getting at with the above introduction is that for the first time since the second season of Big Brother, I remember why I fell in love with this reality series. The credit for that is owed in large part to the people who cast this season, the producers for choosing to go with great players rather than relying on silly twists and of course to BB10’s final two: Dan and Memphis. These two guys have played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They used strategy, avoided drama whenever possible, lost the competitions they didn’t need to win and won the ones they did. And on top of that, both are actually likable people.

Dan and Memphis are good looking but neither look like celebrities, which makes them a lot more relatable than some of the previous houseguests. Both seem to have aspirations for the future but neither have expressed a desire to use their Big Brother “fame” to launch their acting careers or some other fame-related venture. And from what we’ve learned about them from the episodes and the live feeds, both actually have lives they’re eager to return to. That leads me to believe that both guys went into the house with the intention of playing the game and not just to escape their jobs and have a good time for the summer.

To make my point even clearer, here’s a somewhat condensed summary of Dan and Memphis’ game. With everything that went on in the house this season, it seems as though most of the houseguests found themselves lost in the drama. Their dislike of other houseguests clouded their judgment, causing them to make game decisions out of spite or misplaced loyalty. We didn’t see much of that from Dan or Memphis. Both had cause to target certain people in the house. Jerry, in particular, was a problem for both of them as he upset Memphis when he called him a womanizer. Memphis took personal offense to this for reasons we learned later but after he had it out with Jerry, he dropped it. Revenge wasn’t on the menu for him and with a $500,000 prize looming in the distance, it made sense that he focus on what mattered and not on the baseless insults of an opinionated man.

Dan also had problems with Jerry after he voted to evict Jessie. For some reason, Jerry took personal offense to Dan’s “betrayal” and spent the following week ranting about Dan, calling him Judas and saying he’d burn in hell. For a man who says Dan was using his religion as a prop (hardly), Jerry sure was using a lot of religious references to lash out at him. Dan didn’t even go the Memphis-approach by screaming at Jerry for his name-calling. Instead, he used the whole thing to his advantage by playing the victim. He hid in his room and let people come to him when they saw Jerry going over the top.

Other people in the house were not so self-controlled when it came to personal disputes with other houseguests. I noticed that a lot of the time, whenever the screaming started, Dan and Memphis would exit the room. Even before they were allied they were taking a similar approach in avoiding any association to the problems the other houseguests were having with each other. It was as though both realized if they stayed out of it, the rest of the house would eventually self destruct without them. And with that, they could continue to throw competitions and lay low until the dust settled. Their strategies were more subtle earlier in the season but then the week of the Ollie deal happened and their game-play became a lot more apparent (to us anyway).

By the week of the infamous Ollie-deal, the Renegade alliance between Dan and Memphis was in place. Upon realizing that their days of laying low and throwing comps were at an end as it was nearly impossible to fly under the radar with so few people in the house, both Dan and Memphis tried to win the endurance HoH competition. When it came down to Dan and Ollie, Dan knew it was crucial to win the HoH title for the week and he did whatever he could to make it happen, so he started to work on a deal with Ollie. Their negotiations went into ridiculous territory and ended with Ollie agreeing to drop out of the competition if Dan consented not to nominate him or Michelle, let him pick one of the initial nominees and if the Veto got used, let him choose the replacement nominee. It was the worst deal ever made in any season of Big Brother and Dan took it.

Ollie thought he had the week wrapped up but little did he know that while he was lounging in the diary room bragging about all the power he thought he had, Dan was up in the Head of Household room getting Keesha and Renny to ally with himself and Memphis. With the final-four deal in place, he proceeded to break the deal, making a huge (and somewhat unnecessary but entertaining nonetheless) show of it at the Veto ceremony. Michelle went home and Ollie followed her out the door after the Fast-Forward eviction.

The Renegade alliance hit a snag when Jerry won the next HoH but through Memphis’ smart negotiating skills, he was able to secure a final-two deal with Jerry that would keep himself off the block. Doing that was pretty much the only way he could ensure that both Renegades had any chance of avoiding eviction that week. Had Jerry put both of them on the block, Dan would have gone home. Memphis won the Veto that week, saved Dan and Renny went home instead. This was beneficial to Memphis as Renny was the only person left in the house who might have tried to get him out.

Then Memphis gave Keesha the boot. While I admire Memphis for looking past his dislike of Jerry and his friendship with Keesha to make a decision that would further himself in the game, I think he made a crucial mistake with how he handled things with Keesha’s eviction. Memphis knowingly let Dan be the shoulder for Keesha to yell/cry/complain on during her last night in the house. Dan became the good-guy in her eyes and Memphis’ evasive tactics only served to infuriate her even more than she already was after realizing he was going to evict her. I believe if Memphis had explained to her that it was all game and not personal, she might have left, still mad but willing to consider later (when it comes time to vote) that it really was just a game move and a good one at that. Instead, from what we’ve seen of Keesha in her post-eviction interviews and the footage from the Jury house, she still seems to be mad at him and unappreciative of his strategy.

During that week, Dan won a luxury prize that allowed him to take one current houseguest or one juror to a private beach. Rather than taking Keesha or Memphis and enjoying a relaxing day away from the BB house, he chose to bring the one person who probably hated him most: Michelle. Michelle wasn’t blind to Dan’s attempts to win her vote and possibly get her to persuade some of the other jurors to vote for him if he makes it to the final two. All the same, if there was anyone who might have been swayed by such a tactic, it’s Michelle, who has proven in the past to have a big enough ego to be moved by Dan’s gesture. Whether it worked remains to be seen.

Dan took a risk with the luxury prize but he wasn’t unaware of how it might be perceived by Keesha when she was evicted. Rather than letting her find out about it by Michelle and the rest of the bitter jurors, Dan told her about it as she was leaving the Big Brother house. Had he not done that, Keesha might have become angry that she was left out of the loop and her opinion of Dan could have changed. From what we can tell, she seemed to be ok with it though, realizing that it was part of the game and appreciating that he clued her in at the last minute. Again, whether or not it’s enough to secure her vote, we’ll have to wait and see.

Dan and Memphis’ final move in the house, aside from winning the remaining competitions was to keep Jerry in the dark as to how close their alliance was. They let Jerry believe they hated each other in the hopes of lulling him into a false sense of security. Perhaps if Jerry knew that neither planned to take him to the final two (knowing it was unlikely they could win against him and not wanting to risk losing to the man who called them names and tore them apart in previous weeks) he might have tried harder in the final HoH competitions. Given the nature of the competitions and how poorly he performed in both of them, I doubt it would have made that much of a difference but all the same, their strategy worked and Jerry left the house with the realization slowly sinking in that he was being played.

So needless to say, the Renegades dominated this season of Big Brother and unlike the Will/Boogie Chilltown alliance, these guys actually made it to the final two. It’s probably the first time that a solid alliance of two made it to the end where both players are equally deserving of the seats they’ll be sitting in on finale night. The Renegades was a mutually beneficial alliance in which both Dan and Memphis used timing, luck, good performance in competitions and on occasion the gullibility of weaker players to further themselves in the game. It is for that reason that this season has been so much better than previous seasons.

My own personal preference would be for Dan to win the whole thing because I think his silliness added to his willingness to be kind to people (even if they weren’t so kind to him) made him all the more enjoyable to watch this season. But considering both Dan and Memphis made some key plays in the game to keep their alliance safe (and secret), both are deserving enough that I wouldn’t be disappointed if Memphis won. In the end, the Renegades made this season stand out as one of the best seasons in the series' history and we can only hope that the casting people will be able to find more genuine BB players for next season's cast.

And that brings me to the final point I wanted to make in this lengthy summary of BB10’a awesomeness. I’d like to see Keesha win the America’s Choice Juror prize of $25,000. Here’s why. I love Renny. I think she was fantastically charismatic and will be one of the most memorable players from this season and if Keesha weren’t on the jury, I’d want the money to go to her. But Keesha is on the jury and in terms of game play, she was better than Renny. She played more strategically, though she didn’t always keep her emotions out of the game but she kept her head in it during the later weeks when it was necessary to put her trust in other players. Sure, Keesha was out-maneuvered in the end but I think that of the people on the jury, she played the best and she should be rewarded for that. Plus I loved the way she left the house, feeling defeated but keeping her head up and even finding it in herself to laugh at Dan’s “hot” duck.

I’d also be lying if I didn’t add that I’d love to see Keesha receive the “karma” she deserves by winning the money. April, who from what we’ve seen seems to be the most bitter jury member this season, talked a bit about karma with regards to Keesha, whom she believes is jealous of her. I can’t help but feel a tinge of pleasure when I think about April’s reaction to Keesha winning the jury prize. All of that aside, Keesha played a big role in helping Dan and Memphis get to the end and it is for that reason above all else that she deserves the prize. So, if you agree with me, go to CBS’s website and vote for Keesha!

This has been a fantastic season of Big Brother largely due to their being players in the house who kept their game faces on week after week, not taking things too personally and always keeping their eye on the prize. So let this be an early congratulations to Dan and Memphis, who will both be leaving with some money and will surely be remembered well by many Big Brother fans for seasons to come.
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