August 13, 2022

This season’s adjustment is brilliant: besides giving room for more content, the twist where the personality game separates the housemates allows all of the housemates to feel at ease because they can relate to a familiar social crowd…

By Blessing Chinwendu Nwankwo

What does it mean to be an irregular person? It means having a different perspective of life from the society, and a not-average personality. The truth is, irregular people are just regular people living irregular lives. People are classified as “irregular” for different reasons; either by their wealth status, their social standing, or their lifestyle. Following the recent launch of the Big Brother Naija reality TV show, many fans and viewers showed displeasure regarding this season’s contestants.

Big Brother Nigeria started as an affiliate of the former Big Brother Africa. The reality show first aired in 2006, went off-air for 11 years and made a comeback in 2017. Since its return, the show has made a name with a widespread fan base and has become a star-making platform. It has also been accosted by many for notoriety and nudity in its content. However, the show goes on. Every year, it gets bigger and better with amazing and expensive prizes. To compete for the grand prize, contestants are made to live in isolated houses. The game plan for housemates is to adopt a strategy while away from their gadgets and outside their social media lives to charm their way into the hearts of the fans to vote in their favour.

The Big Brother Naija reality TV show has become a way of life in its own right, with cascading effects on the Nigerian entertainment industry. It has become a pathway to fame and a direct route into Nollywood or the music industry, as seen in past years with Bisola Aiyeola, (Introducing the Kujus, Breaded Life) and Seyi Awolowo (Prophetess, Papa Benji). This has built the interest of prospects, as only few weeks in the house might be all you need to make a name for yourself.

Over the years, the BBN show runners have selected mostly popularly-regarded “irregular” contestants, and very few “regular” ones. Therefore, one would assume that popular irregularity is likely a basis for acceptance, or for winning the show. This became an issue for viewers in Season 5 when all of the housemates appeared to have an accent acquired while living, studying, or stationed abroad. While the housemate, Natasha Akinde (Symply Tasha) could have been tagged “regular” by some viewers, her controversial lifestyle and Internet publicity categorised her as “irregular.” The show went on with a few other seasons following the same pattern of selection. There is, however, a limitation to which we can argue about the show organisers’ intentionality about this selection pattern. 

However, with the recent launch of season 7 which took place on the 23rd and 24th of July, 2022, and the unprecedented twist in the events of the show, fans and other lovers of the show took to social media to air their grievances. The “Level Up” season is a reassurance that “regular” people could be featured on the show. This is because, unlike the previous seasons, this season’s contestants includes a lot of Nigerians actually residing in Nigeria, hence creating a relatable atmosphere for the viewer. Unfortunately, the viewers have shown a lot of displeasure with this adjustment. The show, known for shocking viewers with unexpected twists, has divided the twenty-four housemates into two groups of twelve and placed them in different, odd houses. This sparked outrage on Twitter. 

 

After the first launch on the 23rd, twelve housemates were put in a multicoloured, box-like apartment, while the second twelve, on the 24th, was put in the black and white house, and the houses were tagged “level one” and “level two” respectively. While the host of the show, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, tried to explain that a personality game was played to decide which house each housemate belonged to, the viewers seemed to think that one house housed the “regular” contestants, and the other the “irregular” ones.

To be sure, this raises eyebrows, especially given that viewers refer to the level two house as “trenches,” and the level one house as “island,” as seen in a post, but it may be the necessary change for the show, although the reason for this twist is yet unknown. In previous seasons, most housemates had received  backlash from fans for being “boring.” Recent instances are Aisha Umaru “Kaisha” from season 5 and Yerimene Abraham “Yerins” Saibakumo from the just concluded season 6. After leaving the house, Yerins addressed the viewers who called him boring on the show, and he said in an interview with Punch news; “people are eager to see toxic content on bbnaija.” In my opinion, a person’s behaviour is relative to their environment. While some people are extroverts, making it easy for them to adapt and fit into a social space, others may be introverted, making it difficult for them to blend into social groups no matter how much effort they put in. Moreover, fun is viewed differently by people; hence, there are no directives on what’s fun and what’s not. Fun for an antisocial person would be seen as boring by a social butterfly.

Reality TV as the name implies, are real-life, real-time experiences, purportedly unscripted, to capture the original reaction of their cast to events happening around them. Showbiz strives with content triggered by drama, friendship, love, betrayal, relationships, and possible sex scandals. What people may not understand is that for a reaction to occur, it must be prompted by an action. Hence, the drama that erupts from a show like BBN only happens because of the mix of various people with different personalities; pet peeves, likes, and logic about life,  hence the need to include a diverse range of contestants with varying personality types.

This season’s adjustment is brilliant: besides giving room for more content, the twist where the personality game separates the housemates allows all of the housemates to feel at ease because they can relate to a familiar social crowd. Compared to the reaction on launch day, fan reaction shows that the viewers are actively enjoying the level one house as well as the other.

On what basis do you tag a housemate as regular or irregular? Are regular people boring? Are both polar terms mutually exclusive? Josephina “Phyna” Otabor is a TikTok influencer and actress who just landed herself a life-changing opportunity that would add her to the celebrity wall of fame and make her dreams come true. Amaka Mba is a lively 25-year-old who, barely a year ago, rounded off her national youth service year. I’m presuming she didn’t see herself one year later on screen for the biggest reality show in Africa. Their lives as compared to Segun “Sheggz,” an international footballer, who is now on the show to have fun; or to Hermes, whose physical or psychological attributes do not conform to the Nigerian belief system, cannot be measured alike. This analysis is based on a review of Hermès’ social media space, and his involvement in a polyamorous relationship. Although men in certain parts of Nigeria may be entitled to take a second wife, it is unusual for it to occur during courtship, and even more unusual that the two ladies are aware and in agreement.

There is the excitement that comes from being able to watch and understand the lifestyles of “irregular” people, and also a relatable energy from the “regular” people. Regular people are those like me, who have to consider home training before making some decisions, or who calculate the money they spent in the market with their phones on the drive back, as though the money was stolen, or who have to calculate properly before buying something they want.

My research shows that while many viewers of BBN propose an all-round regular lineup of  contestants, they are intrigued by the irregular ones, the eccentric and different. The content they bring, their unusual style, and a mix of different personalities, make the show more interesting and less predictable. It is acceptable to have a different view or opinion on this. If convinced otherwise, my opinion is subject to change. 

 

Blessing Chinwendu Nwankwo, a film critic, beautician, and accountant, currently writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Feel free to drop your opinion in the comment session below, and connect with her on Instagram at @bee_patrick_.

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