It was a season like no other, with an faster pace, a packed schedule and houseguests you may have seen before. Tonight, the first ever U.S. edition of Celebrity Big Brother crowned its winner. Five houseguests remained at the start of the night, but only one took home the grand prize. Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen the episode!
Ok, that's your warning.
The Tony Award winning Hairspray star, Marissa Jarret Winokur, is the winner of Celebrity Big Brother! Rather than whittling down the houseguests to three potential winners going into the finale, Big Brother: Celebrity Edition started out with five remaining contestants, Omarosa Manigault, Ariadna Gutierrez, Ross Mathews, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Mark McGrath. Former Apprentice/Celebrity Apprentice star Omarosa was evicted in the final standard eviction, after which a Head of Household competition took place to determine which houseguest would evict two more players, effectively deciding which houseguest they wanted to go to the Final 2 with. It's not a format I'd like to see carry over in the regular Big Brother season, but for a season that moved as quickly as this one, it worked well enough. Marissa won the last HoH competition and decided to stay true to her friendship with Ross, choosing to keep him and evicting Ariadna and Mark.
The safe play might have been to take Mark to the end, given that he'd probably be seen as having the weakest strategic game, and by comparison to Ariadna, the weaker social game. But Marissa stuck with Ross. Flashback to Season 19 when we all thought Josh had given up his game by taking Paul to the final 2. Well, we were made to flash back again when Marissa managed to win the game anyway, potentially due to poor jury management on Ross' part.
Ross came in second place, but also scored the America's Favorite Houseguest prize, which has to take the sting out of not winning the big prize.
I think it's fair to at least speculate that the non-sequestered jury element of this season worked against Ross, who played an otherwise solid strategic game. He also played a bit of a sneaky game, and wasn't shy about his opinions, which would've been seen (or at least, was available to be seen) by the houseguests who were evicted before tonight. Normally I'm a fan of houseguests being real on the feeds and especially in the diary room, but with the evictees all heading back into the wild (and to the live feeds, episode viewings and social media chatter), it might have served Ross better to play every moment in that house as though the jurors might have the opportunity to vote for him to win. Obviously, that's easier said than done, especially when you're on camera day and night. And maybe he would have lost even if the jury had been sequestered. Still, it's something to consider when analyzing his game and how things played out tonight.
As a fan of Marissa's, especially since she's a fan of the show, I'm not disappointed she won, but if I were making my own choice going into tonight's finale, it would have been amazing if Ariadna had made it to the Final 2 and won it. Her only shot at that would've probably been to win that last Head of Household competition, as she wouldn't have been an ideal choice to be brought to the end. Alas, Marissa won that competition, took her fate into her own hands and scored enough votes from the jury to win the season.
Celebrity Big Brother wrapped its first season tonight, and we'll have to wait and see whether CBS announces Season 2 for this new edition of the series. Julie Chen says it's possible. But this was a season primed to air against an event like the Olympics, and it took up a lot of CBS' primetime slots over the course of the last few weeks, so it'll be interesting to see how and when they schedule it if they do decide to pick it up for another season. In the meantime, we only have months to wait for Big Brother Season 20 to arrive and completely take over our summer.