Reality TV Christmas

Tonight might be my favorite night of the reality TV year: the Big Brother finale and the premier of Survivor. It’s Christmas and New Years all rolled into one.

What do I expect from Big Brother? The most epic jury speech of all time from Dan Gheesling. The man is a Big Brother maestro (he already won Big Brother once before), who has weaved an improbable masterpiece this season. Big Brother is infamous for its ‘cat lady’ fans: women (usually), who pick favorites based on how cute or nice they are. They don’t reward gameplay and they vote in the millions for America’s Favorite Player based on those criteria. Dan, suffice it to say, has not pleased the cat ladies of America this year. He has unleashed a cut throat game, and he is up to his elbows’ in the other house guests’ blood. Big Brother has seen more than its fair share of bitter juries, and I would not be surprised to see the final vote come down to personal issues rather than gameplay.

Because, without a doubt, Dan has played one of the most remarkable strategic games in all of reality television history. For three weeks now the question has been, is Dan the greatest player in Big Brother history? There are plenty of arguments on both sides, but to be mentioned in the same breath as Dr. Will Kirby is a victory in itself. It’s those two, and no one else is in the ballpark’s parking lot. If Dan wins tonight, he is the best, bar none.

But in order to win, and to win over the jury’s cat lady contingent, he’s going to need to make the speech of his life tonight. This has the makings of a very bitter jury. And a very bitter jury is bound to reward his competition, be it Danielle or Ian. I know I’m getting a little ahead of myself because there are three people left in the house and only two spots, but I think it’s inevitable that Dan is a finalist if Ian wins the final HOH. Danielle has played a coat-tail rider’s game, and her few competition victories should not persuade the jury to vote for her. Ian has played a very good game, but he’s going to take credit for things that he doesn’t realize Dan did. Ian’s strategic masterstroke, which would seal his victory, is to win HOH and take Danielle to the final 2. But he won’t do it. He’s confounded by Dan’s ‘mist’ and has promised Dan final 2 because “to be the best, you have to beat the best.” This year, he’s not the best, but he still might win if Dan doesn’t convince the jury to put aside their prejudices and reward his gameplay.

And what do I expect from Survivor? Frankly, not nearly as much as I expect from Big Brother. We’ll see three returning players who were taken out of Survivor because of injuries. For the most part, I’m against returning players competing against newbies. It creates an unfair advantage and makes the newbs look naive. (Why am I supporting Dan Gheesling, then? Well, the BB newbies weren’t afraid to kick out veterans, and Dan has worked miracles even after the newbs knew he should be gone from the game.) I expect some of the vets to be supported by the tribe and others to be immediately feared. I don’t expect anyone to recognize former baseball player Jeff Kent, but someone might recognize Blair from “The Facts of Life” (I wouldn’t). I expect Jeff Probst to plug his new talk show (even though I’ve read that it’s about to be canceled). It’s hard to know anything about Survivor until after the first episode, especially since I haven’t watched any of the interview videos and bios of the players.

What I do know is that one way or another, Twitter will be alive with cat ladies tonight.