15 Surprising Secrets About The 'Big Brother' Franchise

CBS' hit reality show Big Brother has been teaching viewers to "expect the unexpected" for the past eighteen seasons, but there are some behind-the-scenes secrets that even die-hard fans of the series don't know. If you're hoping to get your key from Julie Chen and enter the legendary BB house someday, beware—over the years, some of your favorite past houseguests have quietly pointed out some crazy shocks and surprises CBS has up their sleeves that may make you think twice!

15 CBS plants spies to keep track of the potential houseguests during casting

via: CBS

Big Brother houseguests are forbidden by contract from revealing too much about the show's casting process, but a number of former HG's have let slip that CBS hides spies among the finalists during the last round of casting. The network tells potential houseguests that they aren't allowed to talk to their competition prior to being cast and entering the house, and these moles try to test the would-be houseguests by engaging with them in conversation. Anyone who fails this test and talks to the spies gets disqualified. There's a chance this is just a lie told by CBS to keep everyone paranoid, but it's effective enough of a scare tactic that everyone enters the game already freaking out and refusing to trust anyone.

14 The houseguests don't have to be fans, but they have to watch Big Brother

via: CBS

Let's be real, superfans of the show are typically our favorite houseguests. You can always tell when someone enters the game with a strategy in mind and a willingness to imitate the winning behaviors of Big Brother greats like Will Kirby and Dan Gheesling. That's why CBS recently started enforcing a rule which mandates all houseguests watch at least one season of the show before entering the house. Zach Rance is definite proof of the rule's effectiveness—he wasn't a huge Big Brother fan, but simply watching Dr. Will's season taught him how important it is to play the camera and the audience as hard as you play your fellow houseguests, and turned him into his season's most interesting contestant.

13 Some showmances do actually get it on in the house

via: CBS

Some Big Brother showmances are a lot more "show" than "romance." James and Natalie, Clay and Shelli... there have been plenty of couples who were just desperate for attention while in the house, and who broke up soon after leaving it. However, a few pairings have fallen so hard in lust that they completely forgot about the cameras capturing their every move and provided live feed watchers with some pretty intense porn. Amanda and McCrae started having sex mere weeks after meeting each other, as did Ollie and April. Finding someone you trust in a game filled with constant paranoia and suspicion can be pretty exciting, but considering the fact that their sex will be watchable online for the rest of their lives and neither couple stayed together, they're probably regretting their sexcapades now.

12 Everyone gets checked for STD's, just in case

via: CBS

Speaking of sex in the BB house, the producers of the show make it clear during the casting process that they do not "encourage any sexual activity among participants." That being said, each potential houseguest gets tested for STDs before entering the house... just in case. This part of the contract drastically changed "Evel" Dick Donato's life in season 13, when the producers revealed to him that he tested positive for HIV. He immediately left the game after finding out about the HIV results, and while CBS insists "he was not forced to leave the show," Evel Dick (who, let's be real, no one was trying to hook up with anyway) claims he was given "no choice."

11 Your favorite HGs might have just been "playing a character"

via: Tumblr

Remember the nerdy winner of Big Brother 14, Ian Terry? He told the truth about being a chemical engineering student at Tulane University, but his nerd persona wasn't quite as genuine as you might think. Ian knew exactly what kind of character the casting directors would want him to be, so he amped up his nerdiness by donning a pair of Woody Allen-type glasses with clear, non-prescription lenses. He stuck to that look throughout his seventy-five days on the show, knowing that the best way to win would be to "be a threat, without looking like one." Big Brother 18 winner Nicole Franzel does actually have poor vision, but outside of the show, she mostly wears contacts. Like Ian, she wore glasses on the show all the time to better portray a nerdy, likable superfan.

10 Houseguests do occasionally see some people not in the game while playing

via: Twitter

There are 80 cameras scattered throughout the Big Brother house, hidden behind one-way mirrors or resting on tracks which move all the way around each room. However, when it's time for a competition, some crew members go on the room to operate additional cameras so they can get the best angles of all the action. Julie Chen always claims that the houseguests will only see each other during their time on the show and will be completely cut off from the outside world until they're eliminated (or win the occasional challenge that lets them venture outside of the house), but that's not quite true—HGs often admit that they were able to see these lurking rooftop cameramen during challenges.

9 The house looks nice on TV, but it can get incredibly disgusting

via: CBS

If given the choice between competing on Survivor or Big Brother, most people would pick the latter because you get to sleep on a comfortable bed in a beautiful house, instead of sleeping in a makeshift shelter during a hurricane. However, the BB house isn't always what it's cracked up to be—anyone who has watched the live feeds closely knows that it can get incredibly disgusting. Every season, there's a point where clothes are thrown around haphazardly, bugs can be seen crawling on every surface because of all the crumbs and the sinks and bathtub get clogged with hair (or, during Rachel Reilly's seasons, hair extensions). At least on Survivor, you know to expect gross living situations!

8 Houseguests can't sing or quote movies, ever

via: CBS

Ever wonder why we've seen plenty of musician houseguests on Big Brother over the years, but have no idea whether or not any of them are actually talented? It's because the show doesn't allow anyone to sing, ever. CBS doesn't want to deal with any copyright infringement issues, so if anyone ever starts to sing, hum or simply quote a movie, a voice immediately tells them to stop via a loudspeaker that the whole house can hear. So while live feed viewers are supposed to be treated to some completely uncensored content, there are some things you won't ever hear in the BB house. This is probably for the best, because who really wanted to hear Frankie Grande sing his sister's songs all summer during Big Brother 16?!

7 The winner isn't the only one who gets some serious cash in the end

via: Slice

Everyone knows that the first place prize for Big Brother is half a million dollars, and that you get $50,000 if you come in second place. Most people think that means you get nothing if you last until finale night and get voted out in third place, but that's not quite true; every houseguest gets a stipend of $750 per week, so lasting 12 weeks means you still walk away with nine thousand dollars. That stipend is why everyone's so willing to eat slop and wear ridiculous punishment unitards throughout the summer—they know that they're getting paid a decent amount of money no matter what, and that if CBS likes them, they can get better gigs in the future (just look at all the HGs that've been paid to be on CBS' Bold and the Beautiful and Jeff Schroeder's online talk show gig for the network)! 

6 Virtually everything they say and do in the house gets written down

via: Twitter

Steve Moses may have won Big Brother 17, but he spent the first half of the summer just being super weird and talking to himself or the cameras, and the producers of the show loved showing the audience just how bizarre he was. Considering the camera operators have to keep track of 80 cameras and around 16 contestants, it seemed pretty impressive that they were able to compile so many of those embarrassing Steve moments, but CBS apparently hires enough people that virtually everything the houseguests do or say gets written down for the show's editors with an accompanying time stamp so they can give us the most entertaining episodes possible. That's no easy feat, when you think about all the crazy stuff that goes on every minute in that house!

5 Your favorite fights and rivalries were probably planned by the producers

via: CBS

During the casting process, the Big Brother producers ask potential houseguests to "think about the types of people that fire you up, make you mad, bother you, etc.” and go on to insist that you don't get along with everyone. The producers then use the information they gather to cast people that they know will clash. If there's a nerd who hates alpha male jocks, they make sure to cast one of each. If there's a quiet girl who hates obnoxious cheerleader types, they pair them together. While CBS insists the drama is real and never staged, they pretty much set things up to make sure there'll be plenty of fights and rivalries for viewers to enjoy each summer. 

4 No, it's not a coincidence that most HG's are super hot

via: CBS

Back when Big Brother first started, the houseguests looked like regular people. Fan-favorites like Evel Dick and Dan Gheesling didn't care what people thought about their appearance, they only cared about their gameplay. Sure, there were a few overly handsome men and some bombshell women here and there, but CBS tried to make sure there were several people audiences could actually relate to in each season. These days, not so much. Former houseguests have revealed in interviews online that the producers actually tell cast members before entering the house now that they “should be looking and feeling their best for pool time if they make the show.” That's pretty much the network's way of saying "sexy people help ratings, so hit the gym if you want to make the cut." 

3 Slop is every bit as disgusting as CBS tries to make it seem

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In the first six seasons, the punishment for losing a food challenge was being put on a peanut butter and jelly-exclusive diet. Since then, PB & J has been replaced with slop, a gross oatmeal mix which has just enough nutrients to keep houseguests alive. Viewers often assume that slop isn't as bad as the show makes it seem, since CBS wouldn't want to torture their contestants... but slop is, in fact, truly disgusting. Poor Chicken George had to eat it for 60 consecutive days in season 7, and his suffering was apparent to anyone who looked his way. During season 9, Amanda Hansen was rushed to the hospital after suffering a seizure due to a lack of sugar from the slop diet, and her fellow houseguest Allison Nichols was also hospitalized after suffering from an allergic reaction to the mixture.

2 Some of the Big Brother greats had trouble handling the show mentally

via: CBS

Living in a house filled with constant paranoia and manipulation for 12 weeks isn't as easy as some Big Brother winners have made it seem. Even Dr. Will Kirby, considered by many fans to be the best houseguest of all time, has admitted that being on the show did some serious damage to his mental health. "I’m not trying to compare this to war or compare it to some of the horrors of modern society, but you absolutely, in a really, really real way, leave with post-traumatic stress disorder," he told US Magazine. "You’re paranoid, and you’re anxious, and you’re depressed. And that’s true for everyone I’ve ever met from the show. Humans aren’t meant to live like that."

1 A number of winners ended up taking the money and becoming major losers

via: CBS

You can blame the PTSD that the show leaves you with or the fact that you have to be a relatively bad person to win, but however you want to justify it, a number of Big Brother winners over the years have taken their $500,000 prize and done horrible things with the money. After winning the All-Stars season, Mike "Boogie" was hit with a $10.5 million judgement for neglecting to pay rent for his Atlanta restaurant, Geisha House, and was also sued by several of his Geisha partners for allegedly embezzling money and using it for gambling and sex. Season 9 winner Adam Jasinski was sentenced to four years in federal prison soon after his victory for drug trafficking and tax evasion. Several BB jury members voted for Adam to win because he promised to donate $100,000 to an autism charity, so the fact that he ended up using all of his prize money to fund a drug ring was pretty shocking. But as Julie Chen always says, you should always "expect the unexpected."

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