Monday, September 21, 2015

Big Brother 17 - Who Deserves to Win

Big Brother fans, it's almost that time.  On Wednesday, Derrick will (thank god almighty, Les Moonves, Julie Chen and whoever else is responsible for there being another season) be dethroned as reigning champion and a new BB winner will be crowned. It's a question we ask every year - not who do you want to win, but who deserves it.  If your answer isn't Vanessa, Steve or Liz, you're out of luck.  It's going to be either the undercover poker player, the nerdy superfan, or the recruited Miami-beach twin taking home the half million dollars and the title.  Who deserves the win and whose win will ruin Big Brother for all time?  The answer is not as clear as you think.

The common wisdom is that if you're a true Big Brother fan, you are rooting for Vanessa Rousso.  Vanessa brought her ten years experience as an elite poker pro, her faux-Ivy league degree (sorry Duke) in Game Theory, and her 2/5 years in Law School to the BB house this summer and promised to school the houseguests in how this game is played.  Along the way (nearly 100 days, the longest in BB history) Vanessa has gone from sobbing about missing her girlfriend, to yelling at her fellow houseguests for various and sundry slights, to moving the players around like a Machiavellian Garry Kasparov.   She has won enough competitions that for seven of the fifteen votes she had complete protection.  The few times she wasn't Head of Household, she controlled the target and made sure the person who left benefitted her.

Vanessa had two rock solid Final Two deals, one with Austin Matelson and one with Steve Moses.  Neither knew of the other's deal with Vanessa.  She also at various times hinted to a final deal with half of the house.  She was in multiple alliances - Freaks and Geeks (later Scamper Squad), Sixth Sense, Students of Sound, and Sleeper Cell,  Yet throughout the season, she repeated the refrain that she was "solo dolo" in the house, had no one, was all by her little lonesome, and was totally unencumbered.  She not only convinced people with whom she was not in an alliance that she was a lone wolf, she convinced Austin, Liz, Steve, Julia, Shelli and Clay - all of who had an alliance with her - that she was alone.  That is some David Copperfield sized magic.

She's been thinking and planning every minute of every day she's been in the house and is taking her stint there as a job, she's not there to make friends or for a vacay.  She approaches the game of BB like she does poker.  You are dealt a hand and you play it to the best of your ability.  Sometime you'll get lucky, sometime you'll end up in a cooler.  If you play your cards right, you'll have another chance to make up for whatever mistakes you made.  She managed to make it to the end of the game with multiple pairs (and one triple), so that at all times she would appear to be the least threatening of the remaining players.

She's played such a good game that Liz, one of only three people still in the running for the money, says she wants her to win.  She's played so well that Steve, her other contender for the money, is fearful of taking her to the end because she is a lock to win.  So is she the most deserving?

Is it possible that Liz is the most deserving of the title?  Don't scoff.  The blonde (at least for the first three weeks) bikini-wearing party girl type is not usually anyone's pick for a BB winner.  And having hooked up with the Jack Links Beef Jerky spokes-beast after having told us for weeks that the smelly Sasquatch was just a means to an end, it was unlikely that anyone would embrace her as the winner of the season.  But that would be to ignore all that Liz did do to get to the end.

She spent the first five weeks of the game switching in and out of the house with her twin sister Julia.  That takes attention to detail, smarts, good instincts, fast reflexes and someone not to look too closely at your #9.  But she managed to fool the guys who were flirting with her, if not some of the more observant non-romantically interested members of the house.  While Austin and Jeff were so keen on hooking up with the cute blonde that they didn't care that half the time she looked and acted different, she still did a good enough job carrying on the ruse that no one was sure until she finally admitted it.

And this is where her game soared.  Rather than being a liability, Liz was so fun, so likable, so non-threatening (despite doing well in challenges) that the house allowed her sister to join her.  Most everyone thought they could use this twist for their benefit, missing the point that the person who benefited the most from having her twin in the house was LIZ.  After weeks of rejecting Judas' advances, she decides that she may never be rescued from the BB house so it was imperative that she find a potential mate there in order to keep mankind going.  Jace was gone, Clay was taken, Austin got Jeff booted, Steve and Jason were not interested, James was obsessing about whether he and Audrey could hook up before turning his attention to Meg, and John was intrigued by the basic girl from Colorado.  So after weeks of pushing the Mountain aside, she finally decided to become a couple with Austin.  A couple of what, we're not sure, but it became official.  What do you think of that Johnny Mac?

 Yeah, us too.  But while being in the two most blatant final twos in the history of BB, one with your twin and one with your soulmate, Liz was never anyone's target.   She washed dishes, cleaned the house, cooked dinner, played games. and hung out week after week and it never occurred to anyone that maybe they should stop her before she gets to the end and wins the whole thing. Even when she started winning comps, she was not on anyone's radar.  If you watched the live feeds, you noticed that Liz wasn't some dumb blonde (or whatever color God intended). She's actually pretty smart: she turned out to be a quick learner who caught on to the strategy of the game pretty well.  She never betrayed an ally, she tried to work with a variety of people, and she won some comps. Where she has not done a great job is in jury management. Some of her goodbye messages would make Regina George from Mean Girls, say, whoa there.  But since she's related or connected by various bodily fluids to 2/9 of the jury, she may not feel she has to work as hard for the vote.  And, if we're being real. neither Vanessa nor Steve has had better jury management. 

Let's look at Steve's game.  Steve came into the house with an Ian Terry-sized target on him.  The quirky nerdy superfan raised red flags for all the houseguests and they immediately worried that if not stopped, this kid - and at 22 he is the youngest in the house - could take the title.   He got off on the wrong foot and his awkwardness caused a number of the houseguests to target him for ridicule or disdain.  It was Vanessa's masterstroke to support and, yes, mother the young lad while he was being picked on by Jace and marginalized by the cool crowd. But Steve upped his own game, working on his people skills, being open to change, and trying to connect.

Steve formed two solid F2 alliances just like Vanessa.  One was their SOS, the other was his Rockstars alliance with fellow music geek Johnny Mac.  And he managed to work his way into the Scamper Squad alliance by feeding info and supporting Austin/Liz/Julia and Vanessa while not betraying (until they were on the block together) John.  Steve won five competitions including two HOHs and yet was never on anyone's radar after the first week.

He used his knowledge of BB history to be the go-to person for info rather than having it be a liability.  And he continued to navigate the rough waters of Vanessa's mania and Austin's ego to stay solid in their alliance leading to the final five.  And the smartest thing Steve did was let Johnny Mac believe they were ride or die to the bitter end so that John decided to keep him over Austin.  That gave Steve two chances to save himself and get to the final three, which he did by winning the next HOH.  And then, according to Steve, he betrayed his fellow Rockstar by throwing the last POV so that John would be out before the final three.  Steve positioned himself well to guarantee that he'd be in the final HOH competition.

In truth, any of the three would be deserving of the win in their own right. And, as much as you want to root for your favorite or against who you feel is the villain, whoever manages to last to the end and gets the jury votes pretty much by definition "deserves" that win.  You can bitch and moan (as I have done since Derrick won last year) but winning the game is by definition showing us who deserves the title.  That being said, for this year, the most deserving, in my not at all humble opinion is....


Who actually will get to the final two depends on who wins the very last competition of the year.  This final HOH pits Vanessa against Steve.  The winner picks who will sit next to them.  Steve has told the live feed viewers that he will not be another Cody.  Unlike the handsome lunkhead underwear model from Season 16, he will not take the person who's played the best, most manipulative game to the finals.   He plans on taking Liz.   Vanessa has told Liz that despite what Steve believes she will not be taking him to the finals, giving a guy another chance to beat a woman for the title.  She plans on taking Liz.

If it is true, as Steve has oft-quoted, that if you have to win a competition you are doing something wrong, then it's pretty clear who actually has played the best game and who deserves the win.  Liz didn't win part one or part two of the HOH and won't be winning the last competition. But she is guaranteed to get to the end.

That sounds like the most deserving player this year to me.  What do you think?

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