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Big Brother Canada or Big Brother Nigeria?

Big Brother Canada or Big Brother Nigeria?
April 21
16:05 2021

The ninth season of Big Brother Canada (BBCAN) began on March 3 and extended to March 4 2021 on the Global TV platform on a 2-day premiere. The reality TV show which is scheduled to run for 70 days will end sometime in the middle of May. Filming of the 2020 edition of BBCAN was cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions last year. The show is hosted by Arisa Cox who has been hosting since 2013 when BBCAN started, and she became executive producer in the 2021 edition of BBCAN.

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Until now, I’d never really paid much attention to Big Brother shows from places other than Africa. Think Big Brother Africa and Nigeria Big Brother Nigeria/Big Brother Naija (BBN). Truth be told, it was largely because ‘foreign’ Big Brother shows didn’t always ‘look’ interesting. Also, without understanding the prevailing culture, a viewer could be left hanging. However, this year I finally had the time, like we all had time, to see a bit of BBCAN. Of course, the first things I looked out for were similarities or differences between the show and BBN; things I was already used to and expected to see.

First off, the shows BBCAN and BBN are quite different, as different as Canada is from Nigeria. Canada is no. 5 while Nigeria is no. 168 out of 173 on the Human Capital Index. Nigeria is only ahead of Niger (which comes last), followed by Chad, South Sudan, Mali, and Liberia. Rich country, poor country, is just one of the many differences between Nigeria and Canada, a rather obvious and expected difference. So, that much is not surprising. Still, I had expected to find more similarities between the two Big Brother shows. After all, the Big Brother franchise which originally started in the Netherlands has a well-known format which one would expect every country to follow. This is not to say that BBCAN and BBN don’t have similarities at all. For what it’s worth, the name remains the same, the format is largely the same with evictions, which happens once weekly, as the means of eliminating contestants and the way of determining the winner (after sufficient housemates have been eliminated). Although BBCAN contestants are called houseguests while BBN’s contestants are called housemates; both shows have a main host, a head of House (HOH) who’s usually exempted from being nominated for ‘possible eviction’ (BBN-speak) for that week.

Now, let’s dig into the differences: Because I approached BBCAN expecting certain things I had become accustomed to in BBNaija, I’ll focus on those things: No unending tasks in BBCAN or rather the tasks in BBCAN are very different from BBN. Whereas in BBN, you get the sense that tasks are primarily to please the advertisers, BBCAN’s tasks don’t feel that oppressive. In fact, the 2020 edition of BBN felt like some kind of labour camp as housemates spent more time ‘tasking’ than entertaining the viewers.

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Speaking of which, BBCAN entertains its viewers differently. Houseguests play it’s like a game of with a lot of scheming going on, alliances been made and broken. BBCAN doesn’t have parties. I have yet to watch a Saturday night party as we have in BBN. Again, it seems as if houseguests are not desperately trying to boo up or get into ‘any ships.’ As far as I can tell, there’s only one couple (Beth and Jed) but even then Beth is going around telling those she’s trying to strike deals with that she is not the BBCAN house to find a boyfriend. I haven’t seen too much hanky-panky; this might also be because I don’t watch its live feed but edited and carefully curated weekly shows. Not for lack of effort though. I did try getting on the Global website to watch BBCAN. However, perhaps the biggest difference between BBCAN and BBN is that anyone used to BBN is going to find BBCAN not as exciting. And that’s putting it mildly.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, BBCAN beats BBN. The 14 houseguests who entered the BBCAN house in March are as diverse as can be. There was a trans woman, a bi-sexual woman (who came out on the show), and at least one gay man. Nigeria currently has a law against gay marriage, and it carries a 14-year jail term. In Nigeria, we crow about diversity and inclusion, we hold endless seminars, we even have a federal character commission, that is not reflected in the composition of BBN and even things like beauty pageants. Does anyone expect a housemate from Kano State, for instance? What would the Hisbah Board do to that person?

Unlike BBN, no one in BBCAN is going around telling anyone who cares to listen that they entered the show without a game plan, that they are just being themselves, or that what you see is what you get and all clichés. Who goes to war without planning a strategy? Who plans to win tens of millions of naira without setting aside some resources? For BBN 2020, season 5, the prize included a N30 million cash prize; a two-bedroom; a top-of-the-range SUV from Innoson Motors, etc. How would a contestant not have a strategy to stand a chance of winning these mouthwatering prizes. For BBCAN, its winner gets $110,000 is the cash prize (consisting of the base prize of $100,000 and an additional $10,000 provided by sponsors).

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A deeper search may yet reveal more differences or similarities. However, having watched the two versions of Big Brother, BBN is by far more entertaining than BBCAN. Some may argue that this is not a problem in itself because both shows are produced to the tastes of their different audiences. Faced with a choice to pick one, I’d choose BBN anytime. You can check out BBCAN online.

Onoshe Nwabuikwu, AIRTIME columnist is a renowned TV/Film critic, and Film scholar. She also has experience in Advertising as a senior Copywriter and Corporate Communications as Communications consultant

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