My boyfriend and I have spent the last year watching seasons 3-12 of Big Brother US. I've already seen four or five of those seasons before, but had forgotten enough to still make them interesting. The only reason we haven't watched season 2 is because I know who won (but I suspect we'll still watch it now out of desperation) and 1 because they probably hadn't honed the game properly then. I think it was more like the UK version then.
Big Brother USA is almost completely different to the UK version. The only similarities really are the cameras, the eviction, and the diary room. BBUSA is a billed as a three month long power struggle, and it is HARDCORE. The public doesn't vote, the housemates do, and people you like get evicted the first week, while evil scumbags walk off with the half a million dollars. They mention the money every five minutes, they lie, betray best friends, scream at each other, are freely racist/ offensive without getting thrown out, smash shit up without getting thrown out, and generally just behave like animals. It's brilliant! I don't know how they hold their heads up when they get out of the house, they are mental cases.
Each week there is a fight for Head of Household (HOH) and the tasks are epic, like scenes from Hollywood films (well, some of them). I HATE the tasks in UK Big Brother but in Big Brother USA the contestants life in the house depends on the tasks, so they really matter. It's about as close to enjoying sport as I'll ever get. They have endurance tasks where they hang people off a hook/ spin them round/ put them in a box/ soak them with water all night and just see who lasts the longest. That sort of thing really sorts the people who want it from the people who don't (unless someone tries to 'cut a deal' with you to guarantee your safety and then goes back on their word! I've seen that shit happened enough times).
The HOH nominates two people each week, but and then 6 of the housemates play another competition 'Power of Veto'. If someone on the block (ie. up for eviction) wins the veto, the HOH has to nominate another person. Now you might just think the most annoying/ hated person goes each week like in ours, but quite the opposite. The friendlier, funnier and fitter you are, the more likely you are to get the boot as no one wants to compete against you at the end. So they vote out everyone strong, fit and, well, good, and at the end the seven housemates who got evicted last sit in a jury house, and decide who should win out of the final two. It's normally two people they can't fucking stand because they've all been stabbed in the back by them. And then they have to award them 500,000 dollars (and the runner up gets 50,000). Haha!
You also don't really get to vote with your own free will, there's always a 'sheep vote' where the HOH basically decides who should be evicted and bullies everyone else into voting the same way. Occasionally some serious scheming goes on behind backs, and the HOH gets a nasty surprise. Always good. However once you have a big enough 'alliance' ie. people on your side, you can basically control the votes each week, so some series' a really crappy bunch of people will evict everyone decent, or anyone who stands out or doesn't fall into line, so sometimes it's really frustrating as some really rubbish characters outstay their welcome just because they've got the numbers. But then other years, everything falls into place, and you actually get a fairytale ending.
There have been so many amazing moments over the series, Marcellas's fatal error, Janelle's run as the best female player ever, Kaysar's handsome uselessness, Howie's childish boorishness, Evil Dick and Danielle (a father and daughter who hadn't spoken in three years reuinited in the house- literally explosive viewing), the amazing dastardliness of Dan, the reign of the Nerd Herd, Brendan and Rachel's hilarious romance, Enzo's meow meow, and so many more I can't even remember. So many characters and arguments and genuine twists, not the bullshit you get on our BB (which is still magical viewing in its own way). People sell their own mother to win that show, and it's brilliant to watch. They also only have 3 episodes a week, and they cut it to fuck, so it runs like an amazing soap or drama, with no boring bits. Another really clever thing they do is they hold the HOH competition right after the eviction, so you're always set up for another week, and things can go completely from one side to another from week to week. Everything hinges on the tasks. It literally can turn on a dime, as they are fond of saying.
The host, Julie Chen (Chenbot), is like a stiff newreader type, which is completely at odds with the rest of the show, but you grow to love her a bit. She's there, year after year in an array of 'interesting' outfits.
We have happily watched four episodes in a day, and now we've run out (well, until S13 starts in July) I don't know what we'll do with ourselves.
If you've never watched any and you fancy it, start from season 2 or 3 so you don't ruin who the later winners are, and you've got a year's worth of entertainment ahead. You can even watch 'em all on Youtube. If you like reality, this is the ultimate reality show, there's no question.
Who goes? We don't decide. They do!