For the third season in a row, Big Brother will not have a live audience for its live episodes, according to multiple sources, and fans are upset to lose this important aspect of the show again. Big Brother 10 was the first season to feature a live audience at every live episode, and it brought a whole new dynamic to eviction night. Although the premise of Big Brother is to isolate the houseguests from the outside world, the viewing audience plays a large role in the show, whether they are commenting on the live feeds or voting for twists that could affect the game. When the door of the Big Brother house opens on eviction night, it is so much more powerful when there is a group of people reacting to the evicted houseguest. Otherwise, it’s just the contestant walking out onto a silent soundstage, greeted solely by host Julie Chen Moonves.
Big Brother 22, the second all-stars season, lost its live audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, since fans were uncertain if there would be a season at all in 2020, it was a small price to pay. The lack of a live audience continued with Big Brother 23, as COVID-19 protocols were still in effect. Now, it seems that the same thing will happen again with Big Brother 24, although there have been rumors that a live audience could return at some point during the season.
The Big Brother live audience is so important to the show because it gives a voice to the viewers. While the houseguests play the game, the live feeds capture their every move and everything that they say. Big Brother is a unique show in this respect, because viewers are essentially seeing the raw footage of the episodes before they are created. While the Big Brother producers can choose to give the contestants any edits that they want, the viewers often protest (sometimes, quite loudly) if they feel that inappropriate or offensive things are being swept under the rug. The live audience lets the evicted houseguest know immediately how he or she was viewed by the audience, and occasionally, they are ruthless at the eviction, although they often have good reason to be that way.
Big Brother 15 was a season that was marred by racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic remarks made by the contestants. When Aaryn Gries was finally evicted from the Big Brother house, she was first greeted with cheers, but they quickly turned to boos when some of the louder voices in the audience took over. During her interview, Julie confronted her with her racist and homophobic comments, repeating her words back to her. As Aaryn attempted to excuse her words as being taken out of context, she stated that she did not even remember saying those things, and that she was not being serious if she did say them. Then, the audience laughed derisively because they knew the truth.
Similarly, Big Brother 16 houseguest Christine Brecht got a lot of boos when she emerged from the house due to her controversial “flirtmance” with Cody Calafiore, despite being married. There were also issues with her game play, which some fans thought was underhanded. One of the most interesting aspects of this audience reaction was that the jeering was so loud that the remaining houseguests could hear it inside of the house. They interpreted this to mean that they had evicted the correct person, since the audience was clearly so strongly against Christine.
The live audience also holds Julie accountable, forcing her to confront the Big Brother houseguests. During Big Brother 23, Xavier Prather broke his alliance with Kyland Young near the end of the game. Before Kyland walked out the door when he was evicted, he questioned Xavier’s integrity, including his ability to be a good role model for his nephew. As Xavier became more and more upset, Julie had to yell for Kyland to exit the house. However, Julie never mentioned the confrontation during Kyland’s exit interview, something that would have been impossible if the live audience was present. Its reaction would surely have forced Julie to address the situation.
The Big Brother live audience is an essential part of the show. It builds excitement, gives a voice to the viewers, and holds houseguests accountable for their actions inside of the house. Fans will notice the difference in energy when a beloved contestant, such as four-time legendary player Janelle Pierzina, left the house without a live audience during Big Brother 22, versus when she was welcomed with loud cheers and a standing ovation after Big Brother 14. The finale is also so much more exciting when a live audience is present. Hopefully, Big Brother 24 will find a way to bring the live audience back before the end of the season.