Why The 'Big Brother' Jury Voting System Is Ruining The Game

Sonja Flemming/CBS

There are a lot of reasons that people participate in Big Brother, but the biggest reason why people give up their summer for the long-running show is the promise that, at the end of it all, one grand prize winner is awarded half a million dollars. However, in Big Brother, the best player is not guaranteed the prize. Every year, the idea of "playing for jury votes" has become a larger and larger part of the Big Brother end-season strategy. As Big Brother finishes its 19th season, it's clear that the Big Brother jury voting system has to go.

The current Big Brother jury system was introduced back in 2001 during Season 2, (in Season 1, viewers picked the winner) and it has been used ever since with little variation. A select number of houseguests, usually those who finished between 11th and 3rd place, vote for who they believe deserve the grand prize. While this method maintains the individual tension that helps drive a season, it has also created an unavoidable problem. The winner is not always the person who best plays Big Brother. While the jury is expected to be objective, personal vendettas can cause juries to award the grand prize for the wrong reason. With a $450,00 difference between first and second place, there is simply too much on the line to be decided by nine people who can't possibly be objective.

In a recent clip showing the Big Brother 19 houseguests that now live in the jury house, everyone has put the pieces together that they were never able to in the house. The jury members now know that Paul is running the game, and that Paul is the reason that all of them are in the jury house. While some members of the jury recognize this as Paul playing Big Brother, some houseguests have taken Paul's actions as a personal affront.

In fact, multiple jury members admitted that they had no intention of voting for Paul. Mark insisted that "[Paul] is gonna get second place," and Jason threatened, "We'll show [Paul the power of] jury votes." It's hard to deny that Paul has played the most effective game all season, but it looks like Paul could get second place for the second time because the jury is upset that they were tricked. For a game that is built on strategy and deceit, it's disappointing to hear that those may be the exact reasons that someone could lose jury votes and possibly lose the entire game.

While Paul's personality has been divisive in-and-out of the Big Brother house, there is no denying he had a stellar game. He walked in with a massive target on his back on day one and made it all the way to the finale. He got every power couple to view him as a third wheel and trust him completely. He even managed to trick the entire house throwing a crucial HoH competition in an all-time great Big Brother plan. However you feel about Paul, there's no denying he deserves to win.

But, if Paul makes it to the final two, it's impossible to ask the house to objectively vote between him and any other competitor. How do you decide that the person who kept you from getting half a million dollars deserves that money instead? Thanks to the attitude of the jury, the vote for BB19 winner will not be "Paul vs. Christmas" or "Paul vs. Josh". In the eyes of the houseguests, the vote will come down to: "Do you want to give Paul the grand prize, yes or no." It may be entertaining and may lead to a Big Brother finale blindside, but it simply isn't fair.

While the problem is ever-present while heading into the BB19 finale, it's not the first time that a situation like this has arisen. Many fans felt that Dan Gheesling's BB14 loss to Ian Terry was a result of a "bitter jury." Dan Gheesling played an exceptional game, but as houseguest Britney explained in a post-show interview, "You could've put Dan next to a can of ketchup, and ... the ketchup would've won. No one [in the jury] was gonna vote for Dan."

BB19 isn't even the first time that Paul himself has faced a bitter jury. As Paul explained to Entertainment Weekly after losing BB18, "I honestly think that the jury was a little bit bitter and no matter what I would have done, the outcome would have been the same." Paul's a great player that happens to be hated by juries, but does that mean he deserves to get runner-up two years in a row?

Big Brother has changed jury rules in the past to avoid bitter juries. In BB3, runner-up Danielle Reyes' chances of winning were ruined when the jury was shown her brutally honest Diary Room clips. Since then, jury members haven't been shown segments from fellow houseguests' Diary Room segments. Big Brother has made changes in the past, surely it's not too late to make another adjustment. For this season it might be, but going forward things should be different.

But, if the jury were to be removed, who would select the winner? Having the grand prize be awarded by audience vote feels like the obvious choice, although this could be too easily swayed by the public at large. For instance, if BB19 ended in Paul and Christmas on the block, there's a good chance that Christmas would win solely because she has a larger fanbase (560K Instagram followers) than Paul (343k Instagram followers), much of it from pre-Big Brother fame.

To meet the perfect balance between objectivity and proficiency in Big Brother, the best people to judge Big Brother players are BB players from past seasons. A selected jury of former houseguests who have watched the season could recognize good gameplay and be able to avoid letting personal conflicts affect their decisions. Whether they implement a new jury method or maintain the current structure, the show would also benefit from keeping individual jury members sequestered so that they can't talk amongst themselves and try to convince fellow jury members to vote for one houseguest over another.

Whatever the solution is, it is clear that the jury system has become a problem, and Big Brother should start thinking of a replacement before another amazing player loses their shot at the winning prize.