146 housemates, 8 seasons and countless amounts of phone calls and SMS votes later, Big Brother is finally over. And it took two people to euthanaise it. Two people effectively killed off a tried and tested, albeit increasingly tiresome formula: Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O.
Any retrospective of Big Brother will show clearly where the show's demise began: while the first four seasons successfully combined unique personalities with a den-mother like host (Gretel Killeen) and less focus on gimmickry, the subsequent seasons changed in tone and mood. Post-Season 4, the downhill slide began, precipitated by a stable of housemates chosen for their looks, youth and willingness to stoop to any level to garner attention. Personality went out the door, replaced with the overwhelming feeling that each housemate spent most of their time preening and posing in self-conscious preparation for a Ralph or Zoo magazine cover. The prizes became the main incentive to participate; that and the potential for ongoing fame of the Paris Hilton variety: famous for being famous.
The content of the show changed too: tasks and challenges were less focused on cooperation and more on financial gain. The voting system aptly summed up the cynical tone: instead of voting for your favourite housemate, why you could vote against your least favoured housemate too. Twice the number of votes; twice the amount of revenue.
I was never a fan of the show, myself. Lynda's superhero power, however, is the ability to justify her love for trash culture through the socially aware gaze.
I saw the show a few times, but the image that stuck with me was in season one, where an old girlfriend made me watch it one night, and we spent half an hour watching people paint a wall. I was, literally, watching paint dry. I don't think I ever forgave her for that, and when we parted, the memory of it made that time a little easier. Of course, that was before I'd found myself with one of the ratings boxes attached to my television, and the power to decide what continues to exist (or at least that's what I'm told I have the power for, and who am I to argue with this?). Now, having avoided the show the entire season, I can just take pleasure from the fact that I contributed to its drop in ratings, and that I am one of the people responsible for it being tossed into a deep, deep pit with all those who worked on it.
Well, with any luck, I suppose.