The year 2000 marked the start of the new century but also brought us all sorts of innovations in the world of entertainment. In fact, this year was when a sort of revolution with reality television happened. Since the Big Brother season 1 happened, everything changed! We entered the new era of reality TV shows!
Although already popular in Europe at the time, Big Brother was brought to the US public in 2000. This came as a logical step for the American TV network CBS, who previously had decent success with other reality programs. Still, the reality programs from the nineties just can’t compare to Big Brother, the game show that took the world by storm.
Where Did Big Brother Start?
The first season of the US version of Big Brother was launched in 2000, but everything started a year earlier in Europe. The Netherlands was where did Big Brother start. This game show was a creation of a Dutch media company Endemol. After initial success in the home country, Endemol decided to branch out and take over the US market. They sold the rights to CBS, a television network that already had success with reality TV programs, such as Judge Judy or Survivor.
The move proved to be successful, as Big Brother season 1 quickly became one of the most popular TV programs on the entire planet. The second season of the US version quickly followed. In fact, so far there were 18 seasons of this show, with the 19th currently being aired. If you’re a fan of Big Brother, you got nothing to worry about as another season is already commissioned. There’s no doubt that each of the seasons has its perks, but most of the fans will agree that the first one was one of the most memorable.
Who Is Julie Chen?
The first season of Big Brother had two hosts, Julie Chen and her co-host Ian O’Malley, who left the show after only a few weeks. If you’re wondering who Julie Chen is, you might remember her as the anchor of the CBS Morning News. Still, Chen is now best known for hosting the Big Brother show, something which she has been doing from the very beginning.
However, not everyone thought she was the right choice, especially during the season 1. Julie Chen was heavily criticized for her use of scripted dialogs with the contestants, as well as for her emotionless interaction with the audience. In fact, the latter was why she earned a moniker Chenbot. Although she was initially criticized by the viewers, over time, Julie Chen became synonymous with Big Brother. In fact, she went to host some consequent Big Brother season.
Game Show Concept
Big Brother brought a revolution in the world of reality television, as this was the first show that featured contestants under full surveillance. Whatever was going on between the HouseGuests was caught on camera or recorded via microphones for their whole stay in the house. During this time, they were isolated from the outside world, meaning that they didn’t have any access to the television, internet, newspapers, and so on.
They also weren’t allowed any contact with their friends and family. It might sound a bit harsh, but they had a big motivation to endure everything – the $500,000 cash prize! This sum was to be won by the HouseGuest with the most votes from the audience at the end of the season, which lasted for 88 days in total. Spoiler alert! The HouseGuest who won the 1st season of Big Brother USA was Eddie McGee, an amputee who ventured in wheelchair basketball before entering the Big Brother house.
Big Brother House
As CBS was the TV network that aired Big Brother season 1, their job was to take care of the house. CBS chose one of their studios in Hollywood to be the first Big Brother house in the USA. The house in question was a one-story house with two separate bedrooms, covering about 1,800 square feet area. The furniture in the house was set to have a bad Fengshui so that the house guests wouldn’t feel too cozy.
To capture every single event, CBS installed 28 cameras all over the Big Brother house. They also placed 60 microphones, while it was obligatory for every contestant to wear a microphone at any given moment. There was a special room in the house, the so-called Red Room, where contestants used to share their opinions and talk about their views on what’s happening in the house, as well as to talk to the Big Brother.
Big Brother HouseGuests & Potential HouseGuest (Beth)
Ten HouseGuests entered the Big Brother house, all of whom were total strangers to one another. In fact, all but two contestants came from different states. Also, each of them had different professional backgrounds. Another interesting thing about the season 1 of Big Brother is that it’s the only one so far that featured such a small number of HouseGuests.
There was a chance for the number of HouseGuests to rise to eleven, that is, for potential HouseGuest (Beth) to enter the house. This happened on the Day 64 (Week 9), when there were only 6 contestants left. The HouseGuests were given a choice – the one who would willingly leave the house would get $20,000 (the offer rose to 50k). In return, their spot in the house would be filled by a new contestant, Beth.
The offer was presented by Julie Chen on the eviction night, but no one of the contestants seemed interested. None of them was ready to give up on the chance of winning half a million, which is why Julie had to increase the offer to $50,000. Again, there were no interested HouseGuests. As no one was willing to take up the offer, Beth never entered the Big Brother house, and we never had the chance to learn more about her.
Clans and Alliances
Some people look at this game show as a sort of social experiment. This is a way of finding out how people react when living with complete strangers for nearly three months, with absolutely no contact with the world outside the Big Brother house. What the first season showed was that the contestants were ready to make clans and allegiance to prolong their stay in the house and make their biggest rivals get nominated for eviction.
Although alliances among contestants became a common thing in the later seasons, Big Brother season 1 saw the HouseGuests conspiring against their rivals. For example, most of the voted against William the Will-Mega Collins, who then became the first HouseGuest to get banished in the US version of the game show. A similar thing happened with Jordan, who got banished two weeks after Will.
Most Memorable Moments
One of the events that sparked a controversy was when a tennis ball containing fake news was thrown into the Big Brother premise. The contestants got ahold of fake articles about them, including one about US President Bill Clinton calling the show a ‘disgrace.’
Another thing that upset the HouseGuests, especially George Boswell, was when a plane carrying anti- George flew over the house. This came as a result of a news story about his family urging people to vote out his opponents. George was once again in the spotlight when he tried to convince all the contestants to leave the house during a live eviction show demonstratively.
But, not everything was gloomy! The season brought us lots of laughs. For example, when Eddie won a massage, he surely wasn’t expecting that the masseur was one of the most hated HouseGuests, the previously-banished William. We also witnessed the dancing challenge, which put a smile on our face. It involved at least two house guests dancing at any given moment.
Last Week in the House & Big Finale
The Week 12 was the last week before the Finale. At this point, there were only 4 HouseGuests left in the Big Brother house – Curtis, Eddie, Josh, and Jamie. Same as any other week, the last one also involved a challenge. This time it was about distinguishing fake from real news stories.
Another memorable thing that happened during the final week was that Josh was selected by Big Brother to be a saboteur. His job was to make the lives of his fellow HouseGuests even harder by setting the time back on the clock, etc.
But, the most important thing about the Week 12 was finding out which three contestants would go to the Finale. The time for decisions came on the Day 85 when Eddie and Jamie received most nominations. Most of the public voted for Eddie to remain in the house, which meant that Jamie was last banished contestant. All that was left at this point was to find out the winner!
Who Won Big Brother Season 1?
After 88 days, the time has come for the Big Brother season 1 to finish. All the remaining HouseGuests were to be given an award; the only question was who’ll get 500 thousand dollars! That was something that the public had to decide.
When the first results came in, it was revealed that Curtis had come in the third place, winning $50,000. The winner was to be decided between Eddie and Josh. So, who won Big Brother 1? After counting all the votes, the host revealed that Eddie had won 59% of the public vote, thus winning the grand prize of half a mil. Josh, the runner-up, was awarded $100,000.
After the Big Brother adventure, Eddie McGee went to pursue his acting career. He made appearances in TV series such as Desperate Housewives and Law & Order. His recent works include roles in feature films The Human Race and God’s Pocket, where he appeared alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Christina Hendricks, and many others.
Although the public wasn’t too impressed with the first season, compared to those that followed, Big Brother season 1 still managed to attract a lot of viewers. It was recorded that CBS had gained about 17% more viewers over the course of the broadcast. The high interest of the public is believed to be caused by the fact that Americans never had a chance to watch something similar to this reality TV format.
Compared with the following seasons of Big Brother, the season 1 was the most successful regarding popularity. It managed to attract more than 9 million viewers on average, something that other consequent seasons failed to do. Furthermore, the season 1 brought CBS a lot of profit, especially considering the fact that the production cost was about 200,000 dollars per episode, which was much less than in the following seasons.
Despite a decent number of viewers, the season 1 was considered boring. Most of the critics slammed it not because of the concept, but because of a poor choice of HouseGuests. Public reaction was that the contestants were too ordinary for such a show. It seems that criticism has worked, as CBS made a lot of changes in the future and started bringing much more eccentric guests.
What Makes Big Brother Season 1 So Unique?
This might not be the most thrilling nor the most memorable Big Brother season. Still, it deserves respect, because it was the first of its kind, at least in America. Never before did the US public had to watch anything similar – this TV show brought a lot of entertainment, but also helped the people learn more about human nature.
This season also brought the attention of the public to some burning issues, such as racism, treatment of persons with disabilities, the danger of fake news, etc. Perhaps, Big Brother season 1 is not your favorite season, but no one can deny its significance. This season changed the world of television for good. It sparked the popularity of many other reality shows, as well as new seasons of Big Brother.