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Thursday
Jun122014

Stunt Casting

Will house guests from previous seasons spend another summer in the Big Brother house? Or will viewers be treated to an all-new cast for #BB16?

It has been just shy of 11 months since my first-ever Big Brother exposure. As the new season approaches, my guess is that the show will continue to provide plenty of Newbie Desk topics to write about. Take, for example, what was probably our #1 off-season lunchtime conversation topic (after all the #BB15 drama faded away):

Stunt casting.

In the movies and even in scripted television, it's the practice of giving roles (especially bit parts or temporary roles) to A-list actors to sell more tickets and/or to amp up the ratings.

In Big Brother, stunt casting refers to bringing house guests from previous seasons back to the house for all or part of a new season. Some fans really like it -- much of #BB15 Elissa's popularity amongst viewers was attributed to the fact that she is the sister of #BB12 house guest and #BB13 winner Rachel, for example. Others suggest somewhat vehemently that stunt casting puts new house guests at an unfair disadvantage and/or detracts from the purity of the game and/or is just a lazy way for CBS to produce and hype the show.

Just about everybody (the casts of seasons 1-14) is still new to me, so is this worth my caring? Actually, yes: I would like to experience a season with an all-new cast, just like the long-time fans amongst all of you got to do back in the early seasons. I'm not ready to desire the twists brought on by having previous game experience, or by being a relative of people with game experience, or by being in any way closely acquainted with people with game experience.

As you know, #BB15 was in many ways the "freshest" cast in years, so there's that. I wondered whether CBS would decide it's time for another "All Stars" season -- and there are, in fact, rumors out there tied to the observation that some past cast members have gone quiet on social media lately. And obviously the producers seem to feel the need to change things up to retain old fans and attract new ones because even the über-popular reality shows eventually crash and burn (think American Idol).

Even so, please, CBS, give us a cast of absolute beginners. Sure, change the game around a bit. But please confine the twists to the game, not the casting process!

For my own benefit and that of other newer Big Brother fans, I thought it might help to go back in time to see how often the producers have turned to stunt casting -- for actual house guests, not Pandora or other game-related cameos.

Seasons 1 through 6: All-new casts each time.

Season 7: This was an "All Stars" season. Since the cast members were, by definition, experienced players, #BB7 was not guilty of stunt casting.

Seasons 8 through 10: All-new casts.

Season 11: #BB10's Jessie returned. Twelve new house guests entered the house on Day 1 and four potential returning cast members (including Jessie) had to wait for their assigned "clique" to win the first HOH competition. Jessie's "Athletes Clique" won HOH, so he became house guest #13 and lasted until his Day 40 eviction.

Season 12: This all-new cast gave us future repeaters Britney, Brandon, and Rachel.

Season 13, the "past couples twist" season: Eight newbies started and were told to form pairs. Additionally, six previous house guests moved in as pairs. They were Dick (#BB8), Danielle (Dick's daughter, also #BB8), Brendon (#BB12), Rachel (#BB12), Jeff (#BB11), and Jordan (#BB11). Porsche, while technically a newbie, admitted she was close friends with Janelle (from seasons 6, 7, and 14).

Season 14, the "coaches twist" season: Twelve new house guests, plus returners Janelle (#BB6, #BB7), Mike "Boogie" (#BB2, #BB7), Dan (#BB10), and Britney (#BB12). Willie, although himself new to reality television, is the brother or uncle of two controversial Survivor contestants. JoJo, another newcomer, said in the house that she was aquainted with Enzo (#BB12).

Season 15: An all-new cast -- but, as noted earlier, the asterisk on this season is that Elissa is the sister of two-time house guest (and one-time winner) Rachel.

We will have the answers -- at least some of them -- on Wednesday, June 25, when CBS airs part one of the season premiere "two-night move-in event." Be sure to sign up for the live feeds via this link right here to support your favorite Big Brother fan site!

With CBS just finishing a three-year-long off-season High-Definition broadcast upgrade to the whole house, it seems likely that Seasons 17-20 are virtually guaranteed. Unless ratings absolutely tank, they will want to recoup their investment. So although, yes, I do want to see #BB15's Helen eventually compete again, I'll be content to wait another year or three for a future "All Stars" season. Who do you want to return in #BB16 -- anybody specific, or nobody at all? Share your thoughts in the comments or @uselesstraffic.

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