I've been inside the "Big Brother Canada" house. OK, I might not have spent 10 weeks in the house like the 15 contestants are poised to do, but I spent a good eight hours in there with several other members of the Canadian media.
Shut off from everything (including our phones, which were taken from us upon entry), we participated in challenges, developed strategies and made alliances, just like the real cast of "Big Brother Canada." While we didn't have time to develop in-house romances or have all-out blow-ups, we formed groups among us and had little tête-à-têtes that we hoped weren't caught on-camera (but probably were).
If you're a "Big Brother" fan, you're going to love the Canadian iteration. It has everything you enjoy in the U.S. version, from the elaborate house to the spellbinding drama. We'll have to wait and see if Canadians really are nicer than their American counterparts; but after spending a full day as a contestant, I can tell you that's not the case.
Strap yourself in for the inaugural season of "Big Brother Canada"! Until it premieres on February 27, here are some factoids to tide you over.
This Isn't A Low-Budget Canadian Production
I know what you're expecting: cut corners, lame effects, crappy contestants, and an overall second-rate experience. Do not fret, "Big Brother" fans! This production is a great one. The house is well put-together, with several appealing rooms and a nice decorum. There's also a big "backyard" for challenges, complete with a fake grass lawn and a swimming pool. Host Arisa Cox is charming and playful, and she's not afraid to be cheeky.
Everything you love about "Big Brother" will be included as well -- the twists, the Head of Household competitions, the Veto challenges and the Diary Room where contestants voice their inner thoughts. At the time of the media challenge, the HoH room wasn't ready yet, so unfortunately I can't tell you what it's like, but I'm sure it's luxurious.
Like Caged Animals
A very key fact that I have to share: there is one toilet. One. Fifteen cast members and one toilet will make for some pretty serious interactions. Think of the possibilities! To make it even better, there's a camera right above the toilet. The media noticed it after using the bathroom, and we were instantly apprehensive. Imagine what it would be like knowing it's constantly on! With no entertainment or other distractions besides one another, it's no wonder people start to go a little stir-crazy in the "Big Brother" house. There's nowhere to hide.
Besides the toilet cam, there are cameras in the showers, the bedrooms, beside the pool, in the ceiling, in the kitchen and pretty much anywhere else you can think of. Members of the media tried to find a location in the house free of a prying camera, but were unsuccessful. Don't even think of trying to find solitude in the food storage room; yep, there's a camera in there too.
Every Little Move Is Important
It's amazing how quickly we were all scrutinizing one another's behaviour. "He seems quiet," "What is he up to?," "Where did he go?," "What are they talking about over there?" and "Think she's a mole?" were said multiple times by different people at various junctures over the eight hours. Trust completely dissolves, even among those of us who knew each other beforehand.
In a completely random message from Big Brother, one media member was told to select four others without knowing why. The four chosen people ended up having to eat "slop" for the duration of their stay in the "Big Brother Canada" house (check it out in the video above). Yes, I was one of those fortunate four, and I never once forgot the guy who chose my name at random, even though I knew he had no control whatsoever over the circumstances. That's how reality TV works, kids. All reason and rational thought is thrown out the window.
Alliances Are Key
The "slop" incident, obviously thought up to trigger bad feelings and divide us, also helped in the formation of alliances. Absolutely essential to the "Big Brother" competition, being part of an alliance helps bolster your chance of survival, so it's advisable to get into at least one or two alliances before the first 24 hours are through. I personally joined two: one was in the Slop Brothers (a group formed among four of us) -- a.k.a. the guys who were chosen at random to eat slop, and the other one was an alliance pair with the only female in the media competition. What can I say? She passed me some real food under the countertop. Had she not done that, I don't know if she would have gotten my vote at the end. That's another lesson: try to be nice to everyone.
Slop Isn't That Bad, Actually
The term "slop" is synonymous with nastiness, but in real life the slop wasn't so bad. We in the media postulated that it was plain oatmeal with green food colouring. It certainly looked disgusting, but didn't taste as awful as promised. I would say that I ate two bowlfuls while my fellow contestants chowed down on eggs, chips, cookies and other tempting foods. I will readily admit that it got disgusting after eating it for 20 minutes, so when people are eating it on "Big Brother Canada," have a little sympathy -- unless someone sneaks them real food.
Never Dismiss Gender As Irrelevant
The media contestant demographics were a bit askew: there were nine men and only one woman. This definitely impacted the way we interacted and behaved. In a weird throwback to the 1950s, the lone woman instantly started cooking about 20 minutes after we got into the house -- and each of the guys felt uncomfortable about it. To her credit, she didn't balk once when we all started telling gross, inappropriate jokes.
SPOILER ALERT: In the end, the lone woman won the media competition. Coincidence? Kismet? I was one of the few who voted for her, so hey, at least I can take credit for something!
"Big Brother Canada" premieres on Slice on February 27th and will air three nights a week on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST/PST, Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST/PST and Sundays at 9 p.m. EST/PST, with eviction episodes on Thursdays.
Also debuting on February 27, "Big Brother Canada After Dark" will air seven days a week from 2 a.m. - 5 a.m. EST/11 p.m.- 2 a.m. PST.
Check out my fellow housemate Maurie Sherman's (a.k.a. Damnit Maurie from Kiss 92.5) video about his stay at the "Big Brother Canada" house!
Toronto socialite with a passion for fashion.
Emerald "Topaz" Brady
A sweet dental hygienist from Scarborough, this gem is single and ready to mingle.
This calculating professional YouTuber from New Brunswick approaches everything like a mathematical equation.
A self-proclaimed party girl from Fort McMurray who knows how to get what she wants.
Anuj “A.J.” Burman
Quick on his feet, this slick salesman from Toronto claims he can sell anything to anyone.
A small town elementary school teacher from Nova Scotia with a big personality.
An adorable and innocent East Coast farm boy with a strong work ethic and a heart of gold.
An exotic Persian beauty from Edmonton who’s out to prove there is more to her than what meets the eye.
Cocky but lovable, this doctoral student from Vancouver believes his PhD in Social Psychology is his key to the grand prize.
Free-spirited and sporty, this tomboy from Toronto loves life and isn’t afraid of a little competition.
A hopeless romantic and charming down-home East Coaster.
A thrill-seeking tanning salon owner from Toronto who works hard and plays even harder.
Aneal Joshua Ramkissoon
A sweet, smart, super fan from Richmond Hill who plans to do his thesis on "Big Brother."
A loving mama bear from Vancouver with a passion for hip-hop and her community.
Handsome and hardworking, this Calgary firefighter loves to party.
Host Arisa Cox
She's going to have her hands full with this bunch!