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Big Brother



Voyeuristic reality TV is iffy for teens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Show themes include the creation of alliances, betrayals, and other typical reality show topics.

Positive role models

The contestants use devious methods to expel their opponents.


In some of the tasks, contestants end up with bruises and sore muscles. In one season, a contestant allegedly threatened another with a knife.


Some skimpy outfits; heavy, frequent flirting between the contestants. Some relationships have gone far past the flirting stage, all the way to sex (including oral sex and group sessions); while there's no graphic action or nudity in the primetime broadcasts, it's clear what's going on, and unedited versions are available on cable's Big Brother After Dark.


Words include "crap," "ass," "bitch," "slut," etc.


Product placement and sponsorships are frequent. Celebrities have come by the house to promote themselves/their projects.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking. Occasional excessive drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the contestants on this voyeuristic reality show are 14 adults who live together in a house. Their close proximity leads to various iffy situations, including excessive drinking and hooking up. What's more, the contestants manipulate each other (lying, flirting, etc.) to get a leg up on their opponents.

What's the story?

In CBS' BIG BROTHER, 14 contestants live under the same roof and vie for the chance to be the last resident remaining -- and to win $500,000. Under the watchful gaze of hidden cameras in every room, the contestants spend three months sequestered in their souped-up quarters (often tricked out with products placed by advertisers) completing challenges and scheming to evict the other competitors in a bid to be the last one standing. In the first season, viewers voted housemates out, but that approach was abandoned for a more traditional one starting in Season 2, when the contestants started evicting each other directly. The host is The Early Show's somewhat wooden Julie Chen.

Is it any good?


Big Brother entertains viewers with its scandalous situations -- Jacuzzi hook-ups, threats, etc. -- confessionals in the video diary room and, of course, the contestants' shameless cunning and guile. But while reality show addicts (and anyone who likes a good voyeuristic thrill) will want to tune in, ultimately Big Brother -- which features contestants frolicking in bikinis and canned personality conflicts -- fails to live up to its more intelligent reality-show peers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about healthy competition. Why is it important to be a good sport? How can you handle an opponent who doesn't play fair? Which of the contestants on this show play fair, and which don't? Is it OK to play dirty with so much at stake? Why or why not?

TV details

Premiere date:July 5, 2000
Cast:Julie Chen
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Adult Written byM&M1995 July 28, 2014

Competitive reality series with iffy messages and controversial contestants.

Common Sense Media is off the mark with their rating. Big Brother is appropriate for tweens and up, and I only say this because most children under 12 I believe would not fully grasp the main concept of the series. The host of Big Brother, Julie Chen, has coined the show as being family-friendly. Also, it deserves more than just two stars. Big Brother has an interesting premise in that 15-16 contestants move into a house where they are under constant surveillance, with cameras and microphones capturing their every move and every word. Indeed, it is a voyeuristic series. What makes the show so enticing and engaging is that the contestants compete against one another in weekly challenges to gain power, safety, luxuries, and rewards. Not to mention, viewers can impact the game throughout the season by taking part in voting and polls. At the end of the week, the contestants themselves decide who is evicted (or eliminated) from the house (Think Survivor but in a house setting, basically). The last person standing in the house after the intense, 3-month power struggle wins the half-million dollar prize. Regarding the content of the series, "showmances" and romances are part of nearly every season of Big Brother. There are scenes of playful flirting and kissing, and rarely do two contestants go all the way (Fully censored if it does happen, and very brief. Can hear them making out, can see sheets moving -- all in night vision). In every season there is at least one gay contestant. Sometimes there is discussion about sexuality and intercourse. Occasionally the contestants will have access to wine and other forms of alcohol, and some houseguests smoke. Furthermore, there is a lot of swearing in the show. The typical swear words are bleeped, and recurrent insults such as "idiot," "moron," "bitch," and the like are audible. As in any reality show, the contestants engage in heated arguments and fights, whether for personal reasons or gameplay. In one season, a contestant was removed from the show for head-butting another. Of course, there are a number of controversial contestants who enter the house each season. During Big Brother's 15th season, at least four contestants consistently made crude and derogatory racial, homophobic, and misogynistic remarks towards other houseguests or otherwise, but these people in question were fired from their jobs upon being evicted, due to their inappropriate behavior. Do not expect to find any good role models or positive messages in this show. In the Diary Room and in their introduction videos, the contestants admit that they will be fine with lying, cheating, stealing, back-stabbing, and trash-talking if it gets them closer to the $500,000. Some houseguests are willing to manipulate others and play with their emotions, form fake relationships, and go against their own friends and allies. However, many of them do admit that they are only engaging in such behavior strictly for game purposes. There are one or two contestants each season that try to play the game with honesty and integrity which is refreshing to see. My only major gripe about Big Brother is that the casting is predictable and they often cast the same types of people and stereotypes each season, although I commend them for choosing contestants from different age groups. Also, it is important to keep in mind that seeing as Big Brother is 24/7, there are live feeds online and Big Brother: After Dark spin-off show which are completely uncensored and uncut, and allow viewers to take a look inside the house whenever they want. This is what the children need to avoid. Make sure to stick to the broadcasted show on CBS. If you can find the Canadian version of Big Brother, it is equally as good, and the content is more or less the same as well.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byMr. Strong April 9, 2008

Pretty good.

Okay, Big Brother is pretty good for tweens and up. However, it being not rated is not common, especially for Reality TV. Most Reality TV is TV-PG, with an occasion TV-G or TV-14.
Parent of a 7, 7, and 9 year old Written bymckmommy September 3, 2009

OK for kids

Yes BB has alot of things wrong w/it as far as concerns go like the arguing some not so good language drinking and skimpy outfits and flirting but hey they see it in the real world you just have to tell them what is appropriate and whats not! but I love it and my kids do too! We never miss a night that it is on!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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