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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

Big Brother 11 Commentary: How Far Will CBS Go For Ratings In Chima-Gate?


I’ve been covering reality TV since the a month after the inception of this site, and while I started out defending the networks and the shows, it seems I keep seeing little references here and there letting me know this is more for entertainment than reality. Big Brother on CBS is the most recent one to blur that reality, and in the process of getting those viewers, are they hurting the very people that give up their lives to be on their show?

Let’s not kid ourselves. People go on these shows either for fame or fortune. In the case of Big Brother, they seem to be usually seeking the half million prize of the winner, but secondarily, they seem to always be wanting the fame. It’s business for the networks, as they’re certainly looking for ratings and ad dollars.

Big Brother had a very public removal of one of their cast from this season. If you just go by their story, she had threatened to do something if her moves in the game were changed, and after they were, she went off the deep end, broke the rules, and was removed from the game. But is that all there is to it?

Big Brother doesn’t just have a show on three times a week, it also has live feeds of what’s going on in the house, and one of the great parts to that is that you get to find out what really happens, not just the edited network version. It’s become essential this season more than any other.

Chima Simone admitted to her fellow castmates earlier in this season that she had been raped by a serial killer, who has since been put to death for his crimes. Is she over it? Hell no! Would anyone ever be? It became obvious that she carries a lot around with her from that experience, as she insisted a woman should win the show, and seemed to have a problem with any man that was clearly in power over her. Every reality show has psychological exams before people go on the show. Why was none of this caught with Chima?

Chima had been the Head of Household, the first woman so far this season, then the show added a coup de’tat, and the winner of that was a male who usurped her power. For her, it’s inexcusable. It took the game aspect away for her. For the rest of us, sure, we see a great game play from Jeff, but she sees a man making her powerless yet again. She did not handle this well and went on some of her infamous tirades.

Watching what CBS decided to show us, edited, last night, we saw a woman that was clearly broken down. We loved before to make fun of that cackle of hers, and it was a little grating, but it was missing last night, and she wasn’t the same. It was very clear this was no longer a game to her. Her final statement after being nominated was, “this game is [expletive}, I'm [expletive], my friends are [expletive], so as far as I’m concerned, I don’t care”. Knowing what I know from the feeds of what happened after that, to me it was a little chilling.

Shortly after she was nominated, Chima was seen on the live feeds hiding under her covers on her bed for awhile. Then she went outside and threw her mic pack in the hot tub. The producers came out and the feeds went dark. When they came back, she was gone. No one was quite sure whether she quit or was removed. CBS’ official statement on the matter is that she was removed for breaking the rules. Throwing the mic pack? Chima’s official statement is that she had been begging to leave for awhile and was eventually allowed to.

The producers have tried their best to not allow the rest of the cast talking about Chima leaving to be included on the feeds, but leaks do happen. We have heard a conversation that after the mic pack incident, Allison (presumably producer Allison Grodner) stepped into it, saying the mic cost $4000 and asking if Chima was going to replace it. She said she didn’t give a [expletive]. She said she didn’t want to be there anymore. Allison said okay. She said send me home. They said, okay, bye. Does that sound like CBS removed her? Not to me. It backs up Chima’s statement much more, and that’s out of her fellow castmates.

This is where I’m becoming disillusioned. Big Brother has always been in love with the idea of having “America’s Player.” They had one for a whole season, but he ended up not being as likable as they wanted. This season they have an extremely likable guy in Jeff. When they decided to let America vote to give one houseguest the ability to overthrow the Head of Household, it was no surprise that Jeff won it. Were they planning on that happening?

I’ll admit. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I can’t turn my back on this one. Jeff is a really likable, sweet guy, but he’s not immune to yelling in the house and pitching a fit. It’s just not shown. All America sees is this nice, sweet guy with the hots for Jordan. But, they didn’t see him scream at her when she was supposed to choose three people to be Have Nots for the week of the endurance comp. She wanted to put everyone’s name in, and he screamed at her when he was in the shower because she was going to add him. She didn’t, leaving Jessie to get put on Have Not, and when Jessie got upset, they made sure we saw that.

Chima calling Russell a terrorist was definitely to the extreme. We’ve taken a very negative connotation of that word. Yet, he did delight in terrorizing people in the house. He screamed at Jeff about “technotronics,” he screamed at Chima who gave it right back, he’s screamed at Ronnie, chasing him around the house, and he told Michele she was bipolar and needed meds, which by the way, Jeff has done as well. That’s why Chima wanted him out of the house. She saw him as cancerous in a way. Yet instead, Jeff kept him and got rid of Jessie who wasn’t screaming at anyone.

This is reality TV, and for the people living in the house, it is real. For those three months, it’s their life. They have no entertainment but to conspire against each other, and like each other. For us it’s entertainment. Is it possible that CBS wouldn’t initially let Chima leave because they were waiting for her to have a meltdown? Did they see this as good TV and better for ratings? Did she throw her mic pack in a last ditch effort so that they would allow her to finally leave?

I do hope that while Chima breaking her contract one way or the other means she isn’t entitled to prize money, that CBS will see their way to making sure she has some therapy. It seems she still carries residual feelings of being raped, and that everything that happened to her in her last few days in the house just added to it. Above all, game aside, I’d like to know she’s going to be okay.

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