By AMY STOCKWELL
Did you ever get picked last for a team at school?
Do you remember standing in front of the class as one-by-one, your peers are chosen to cross over and stand behind the team captains?
Were you ever the loser in that high school game of popularity?
If you have ever forgotten that pain and humiliation, Big Brother probably set you back years in your therapy when last night the show evicted statuesque, red-headed Gemma by having her housemates publicly choose between her or popular hipster housemate, Jake.
As the housemates one-by-one announced their reasons for choosing Jake there was little dignity for Gemma: just horrible, deliberate, soul-smashing cruelty. The one saving grace in a hideous 5 minutes was housemate Priya. Coming forward when the eviction outcome was inevitable, Priya stood behind Gemma and said, “It may not make a big difference, but I want you to know I stand behind you”.
In credit to the fanbase, the Big Brother faithful have come out in support of Gemma, denouncing the eviction stunt as bullying, degrading and unfair.
“This eviction is probably the worst ego wrenching moment in history”, tweeted Emma. In the Behind Big Brother forums, which were alive after the eviction, Melore simply wrote: “Yeah, don’t do that again”.
An ugly moment in reality TV. Photo: Channel Nine.
They’re not wrong: the eviction was pointlessly cruel and difficult to sit through.
But one of the most irritating things about this stunt is that this was not good TV.
It was not interesting, challenging or clever. It was churlish, sickening and deeply unnecessary.
The truth is, whether you like it or not, Big Brother can make good TV.
Last year, in one of the 2013’s best TV moments, Big Brother surprised housemate Ben with a visit from his idols, Bert and Patty Newton.
Ben was a uniquely thoughtful, caring housemate. Big Brother spent an entire Intruder Special focussed on doing something special for him.
The result was charming, uplifting and entirely compelling.
It was good TV. It was Big Brother at its best. It brought ratings, but it also brought something new, innovative and captivating to the tired reality TV space.
Last night’s eviction was retrograde, disappointing and hurtful. And the biggest tragedy is that it didn’t have to be.
So instead of rewatching Gemma’s eviction, watch this clip of Ben and Bert and remember that Big Brother doesn’t need to be cruel – it can be magical, interesting and fun.
When Big Brother fails as horribly as it did last night, it doesn’t deserve to survive.