The Jury On “Big Brother Naija: All Stars” Might Be Causing More Harm Than Good

This season Africa’s biggest reality TV show comes with questionable twists

Earlier this summer, one of Africa’s biggest reality television franchises returned with a bang. Three weeks ago, Big Brother Naija:Season 8 presented an all-star cast with some of the most talked about housemates from its history—See Gobe to Level Up. This time, the show returned with 20 contestants, split evenly between the guys and girls, with a renewed drive and motivation to make an even larger impact than their first time on the show. 

It presented a second chance for these ascendant stars to rise to the occasion and snag a win, all the while providing room for previously quelled feuds to arise and stir drama for viewers entertainment. In Big Brother’s typical fashion, each new season comes with a plethora of twists and turns that keep audiences glued to their screens. Those unplugged from the 24 hour live stream are constantly updated by the show’s avid watchers who ensure all hot points don’t go undiscussed across social media platforms. This leaves the room for round-the-clock interactive scrutiny of housemates, their drama filled interactions and a lot of the time, Big Brother’s unconventional methods. 

This season offered a slew of twists. A crowd favourite includes the ‘Pardon Me Please’ nominations broadcast on Monday shortly after a competitive Head of House game. Previous seasons of the show required housemates to place any housemate of their choice up for possible eviction on Sunday. As expected, a slew of nomination tactics come into play with some votes based purely on emotion and more strategic plays to kick out the potentially strong contestants out. The ‘Pardon Me Please’ votes often hold the same motivation except, in this case, housemates nominate peers they would like to save. Some contestants place their friends or love interests, and others vote based on strong alliances. Regardless of housemates personal decisions making, this aspect has generated significant support because it encourages healthy and most importantly, entertaining competition.

However, the inclusion of a jury system on eviction days of this year’s season of Big Brother Naija has left a bad taste in the mouths of many viewers. In its original context, a jury constitutes a group of people sworn to provide a verdict based on supported evidence. The key phrase here is supported evidence. In the show’s world, the jury enlists three house mates from previous Big Brother Naija seasons to evict a housemate from the three lowest ranking performers based on public votes. When Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, the show’s long standing host revealed the twist, super fans of show anticipated this method to cause controversy as it no longer leaves the power in their hands. It dit not make much sense that a random group of ex-housemates would get the final say considering their hard earned money goes into DSTV subscription packages and individual votes for their favourite housemate.

It goes without saying that the jury is expected to be well accustomed to the show. Considering they are former housemates with busy lives, no one expects them to be tuned in 24/7 but to an extent, they should be familiarised with the dynamics of the house and favourites of the wider public. The reality is evidently opposite. When questioned by Obi-Uchendu during the live show on Sunday, some members of the jury appear aloof, giving vague replies to how they’re finding the show so far. It seems rather irresponsible to leave the faith of housemates in the hands of people barely watching the show. Seeing as they don’t have much information to pull from, they lean of personal relationships formed outside the house as opposed to which housemate is actually contributing the most entertainment. It was on a similar basis a house and public favourite, Uriel, was the second evicted housemate.

At the end of Sunday’s live eviction, the voting percentages read Tolanibaj (2.04%), Uriel (2.00%) and Seyi (1.70). This left Seyi as the lowest ranking housemate, similar to last week when he gathered only 0.89% of the votes. With the aid of the jury, Seyi was saved in place of Princess who left in the second week and Uriel one week after. Fans were understandably outraged because he ranked low for good reasons and did not deserved to be saved by the jury twice.

Seyiborn Seyi Awolowo—has made it a point to haul his prestigious family name over his other housemates in the most distasteful manner. Other than possessing arrogant traits that beg to question his need for a platform as this, Seyi is simply not the most interesting Big Brother Naija housemate. Neither is he a popular candidate amongst his peers in the house. It therefore raises eyebrows on the competence of the jury as well as Big Brother that made the appointments.

Other than the jury evidently lacking the necessary context, the method they arrive at their final vote is also questionable. Typically, after a jury has received a plethora of information, they convene in a private place in order to deliberate and reach a decision. This allows room for shared points and perspectives that may sway opinions. In this case, jury members that may not be as knowledgable on the show’s dynamics would gain the needed insight and collectively arrive with a name. Big Brother’s jury, however, sit feet apart in the arena as they express confusion and arrive at a name individually. After which whoever has the highest vote is automatically evicted, hence the uproar last Sunday.

As human beings with unconscious personal bias, it is impossible to not have personal feelings to one housemate to the other. Perhaps, if Big Brother appointed a jury with super fans and show analysts familiar with ranging house personalities or even ex-housemates that simply watched the show, they would arrive at more tasteful decisions.

[Featured Image Credits/The NATIVE]