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Image / Editorial

Big Brother contestants were not told about coronavirus pandemic


by Jennifer McShane
17th Mar 2020

In a time where the world has no choice but to wait in isolation while a pandemic continues at a speed we’ve never known, it seems surreal to talk of Big Brother; a show which deliberately shields its contestants from all contact from the outside. No friends, no family, nothing but the walls of the house.

The coronavirus is a pandemic; a crisis the world has never seen, yet participants of the ongoing series in Germany, Brazil and Canada have not been informed about the spread of the illness.

They are oblivious. Some might envy their blissful ignorance but look what awaits them: scenes which wouldn’t look out of place in a zombie apocalypse movie: empty streets, closed shops, human isolation, so many ill, so many who have died  – life as we know it has stopped. While we have known of the virus for months, we are only now beginning to realise the extent of how its presence has changed the world.

Imagine not knowing all that and then being bombarded all at once – on live TV? Not knowing if your family or friends are affected? Morally, it doesn’t seem right that such information was kept hidden and then revealed under the guise of entertainment. It’s too serious, too scary.

The show’s producer initially defended the decision not to inform the contestants of the crisis, saying they would only do so if one of the housemates’ family members fell ill.

Following a backlash on social media, however, they announced a live special episode set to air, in which the participants will be told about the pandemic and their questions will be answered.

Contestants on Big Brother Brazil have also been left in the dark about the virus since January, Big Brother Germany contestants have known nothing since February 6th while Big Brother Canada housemates have not had any updates since entering the house on 4 March.

They knew something was up;  Big Brother Canada wondered why there was no longer a live audience during the evictions, hearing no sound from crowds. “It was all empty seats,” said one contestant.

She doesn’t know how on the money she really is.

In a viral clip, contestants in the Canada house can be heard discussing why there was no audience to cheer out the first person who has been evicted.

We’re questioning everything in our lives as we now know it, for better (and it will get better) or worse – perhaps the time has come to also really examine the content we consume as entertainment.