Big Brother is rolling out some new twists for its 20th anniversary season and will be featuring a tech-themed house this year.
The 20th season of the hit reality series includes a former undercover cop, a welder, a professional dancer, and a Vegas entertainer. This new group of houseguests is sure to stir up some drama and have viewers sweating it out with them along the way — meet the new houseguests duelling for Big Brother victory below.
Big Brother returns for a two-night premiere on Wednesday, June 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Thursday, June 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT with host Julie Chen back for yet another season.
Global News spoke to Chen about the new season of Big Brother, the changes to the game over the years and the biggest challenges of preparing for the weekly live shows.
Global News: Did you ever think while shooting Season 1 of Big Brother that the show would make it to Season 20?
Julie Chen: No, as a matter of fact during Season 1, I had this fear that the current season I was in might get cancelled and pulled off the air mid-season. I did not expect a Season 2. I was glad we were able to finish Season 1 but I was shocked that we got a green light for Season 2.
How has the game changed from Season 1 until now?
JC: That most drastic change, and the reason they renewed it from Season 1 to Season 2, was they changed the way the game works. Season 1 was modelled after the original format that was created in the Netherlands, where they had viewers voting out the houseguests every week and the country really rallied and got into it. We did that the first year and we realized that we as Americans, we don’t like the troublemakers and we would get rid of the most interesting people and there was no tension in the house between the houseguests.
The reason we renewed it for a second year was because we wanted to renew it to change the rules and play it our way. And that worked. Season after season, we’ve seen growth so I don’t see it slowing down. But I would say from Season 2 until now, the way I’ve seen change is we have houseguests who have watched it since they were kids, since the very first season. And now they’re playing the game and they’re experts — they are not fresh to this concept. They are savvier than Season 2 because back then, no one really knew what they were getting themselves into.
Especially because there were not super fans back then.
JC: Yes exactly, but also the super fans themselves learn to expect the unexpected because watching it at home and playing it in your head is nothing like actually being in the house and playing the game.
What are you most excited about for Season 20 of Big Brother?
JC: I’m excited to meet a whole bunch of new characters. I’ve seen them on video-chat only and this is a very interesting group. I’m excited to see how the new twists will play out. Throughout the season, we are going to bring back houseguests from all 19 previous seasons. I always love bringing previous houseguests back for something like a ‘Where are they now?’
I know you can’t tell me much about the new season, but what can Big Brother fans look forward to this season?
JC: On premiere night (Wednesday, June, 27), there’s going to be three huge competitions being played and this is all before we even play the head-of-household competition. And as a result of these three big competitions, there will be one person with a game-changing power and there will be two losers. The two losers will get a punishment that will hinder their game.
We are also calling this season very interactive. We have something called the BB app store this year. It’s kind of like the Den of Temptations from last year. Basically, fans go to CBS.com and answers questions about the houseguests like ‘Who’s the most annoying?’ ‘Who’s this and who’s that?’ and whoever gets the most clicks gets to go into the virtual app store and gets some sort of power or perk in the house. And the person with the least amount of clicks will get something bad, some sort of punishment.
What is it about Big Brother that attracts such a huge fandom? Even in Canada because it got pulled off the air and then fans created a petition and got Big Brother Canada back on.
JC: I think what attracts all the fandom is that it’s fun to watch. With all these characters, it’s like a real-life soap opera and you get hooked and addicted. We’ve all become so used to Big Brother, it’s like our summer romance. It’s so easy to watch now too, like on your phone or if you have insomnia, you can watch at any time. I’ll go on the CBS all-access app and I’ll check out what the houseguests are doing.
Moments going viral now with social media also helps attract a whole new group of viewers. The fans are loyal but we pick up a lot of new fans every season because kids who get to the fourth or fifth grade, they can’t go out late on a summer night — they don’t have a licence, they have curfews. So they watch on their computer or they are in at night and they discover this ‘new show’ that they’ve never heard of and it’s like, ‘We’ve been around for 20 seasons.’ But it’s the human drama.
People like to see relationships and just somehow, you love to root for someone in the house and you love to hate someone. You can relate to what these houseguests are going through because it kind of feels like high school for all of us.
As the host, what are the biggest challenges of preparing for weekly live shows?
JC: The biggest challenge is on live-show night as we’re going to air and we’re watching people in the bathroom mirror fixing their makeup and whispering that they want to flip the house at the last minute. And the biggest challenge is the fact that a lot of times things have transpired in that last hour leading up to the live show. It’s not explained or in the taped packages that we run that night. So then, viewers are going to be questioning why that person flipped and then we have to address it in the Sunday night episode. So that is the biggest challenge because you go into an episode thinking everyone’s going to vote out this person and then they flip at the last minute. Things can change really quickly in the last hour leading up to the live show.
What type of advice would you give to fans hoping to enter the Big Brother house in the future?
JC: You have to be interesting to watch and try to have clear opinions on things. It helps to be outgoing, talkative, larger-than-life personality and you have to be a personality. You don’t have to be the most likable person and you have to be interesting, that could be interesting good or interesting bad.
Following the two-night premiere, new episodes air Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT beginning July 1, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning July 4, and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning July 5.
Big Brother After Dark returns Monday through Thursday beginning June 29. Viewers can watch more live footage straight from the Big Brother house on GlobalTV.com, Global GO (available on Apple TV and Google Chromecast).