Big Brother has grown and evolved over its seventeen seasons. It went from America's popularity contest (BB1) to an exercise in manipulation and gameplay. Like most TV shows, Big Brother has had great seasons as well as awful seasons. Big Brother 17 made some changes from other recent seasons by having far fewer twists that affected the gameplay and relied primarily on the houseguests to be entertaining and interesting. This strategy paid off immensely, as Season 17 consistently did better in the ratings than BB16. It was a wild ride, but how does Big Brother 17 rank among the best seasons of the show?
BB17 came off the heels off of two of the most disliked seasons of all time, according to fans. BB15 was rampant with unlikable personalities and a twist that benefited the houseguest (Elissa Slater) who was related to a fan-favorite (Rachel Reilly). BB16 had a great cast, but the house was controlled by Derrick Levasseur for the majority of the season, which quickly got boring to watch. The last "great" season of Big Brother for many fans was BB14 which featured returning fan favorites, some new favorites, and possibly the greatest player in Big Brother history (Dan Gheesling). But, now, fans will be able to add another season to the list of bests: BB17.
This year had everything: A cast so entertaining that twists weren't necessary, heroes like Steve and Johnny Mac, villains like Austin, a lot of honesty, and a lot of genuinely shocking moments. Many seasons are criticized on their ability to have great players play interesting games while being entertaining, which is why any season featuring Dr. Will Kirby is usually considered a great season. Big Brother 17 didn't have one dominating personality like Will, Dan, or BB16's Derrick, but it did have the powerful and manipulative Vanessa who lied her way to the end by going back on deals and yet still somehow getting people to trust her.
Vanessa's road to the end was different than Derrick's, however, because many competent people were constantly trying to take Vanessa down. It even looked like Vanessa had a strong chance of winning until her former right-hand man Steve voted to evict Vanessa, -ensuring him the final prize. The jury also featured a lot of smart, strong players who did a lot to push the narrative of the season forward. Players like Becky, Jackie, Meg, and James all took stands against Vanessa but were unable to take her down. This made it all the more shocking and powerful when Vanessa finally fell.
Even the people who were evicted pre-jury were incredibly interesting. Jace was a clear villain from early on, Jason was a loud-mouthed honesty distributor, and Audrey's Big Brother antics were some of the most interesting things to happen on the show all summer. Usually, each season has a few forgettable duds that don't get remembered a year or two down the line, but there isn't a single one of those in the Big Brother 17 cast. Many seasons also get bogged-down with twists that are meant to benefit certain players, but any success in Big Brother 17 relied solely on the gameplay ability of the houseguests to determine who won the half million dollars.
Now that the dust has settled on the season and Steve has won, it's safe to say that BB17 had some of the best events of any season of Big Brother. There were grandiose stories that played out over months (Lizten, Clelli, The Rise and Fall of Vanessa, everything Audrey did) in addition to the smaller stories (the showmance that never was between Becky and John, James' pranking) that kept audiences invested in the house.
This has been a packed season full of love, betrayal, intrigue, deception, hilarity, and just about everything else you could ask for from a reality competition show. It was engaging and entertaining right up until the end, far more so than BB15 or BB16 managed to be. Now when fans go online to talk about the best seasons of all time they will talk about All-Stars of BB7, the dramatic and dynamic BB10, the strategic mastery of BB14, and the high tension and constantly shifting power dynamics of BB17.
For more on this season of Big Brother, check out Bustle's podcast The Diary Room.