What Is the Reality Show 'Big Brother' All About?

Get the inside scoop about CBS reality hit 'Big Brother'!

Photo of CBS's Big Brother All Stars cast
All Stars cast. CBS

Question: What is the reality show 'Big Brother' all about?

Answer: 'Big Brother' has earned a healthy following around the world, but it's not easy to define exactly what makes the CBS reality show so watchable. The overarching concept of the show is this: a group of strangers take residence in a house that's been rigged with camera equipment and microphones from tops to tails. We're not talking 'Real World' style accommodations where there's some hope for occasional privacy — 'Big Brother' captures everything these housemates do.


One by one, the houseguests will vote each other out of the house. At the end of three months, the last remaining houseguest will receive the grand prize of $50,000.

Now that you understand the show's basic concept, get to know what makes it such a hit: 

It's about relationships:

Putting any group of adults in a confined space for a prolonged period of time will either bring out the best or worst in them. At the very least, you can expect a few hookups among cast members every season. Even for those cast members who don't get frisky, there's are still plenty of feelings flying around — remember, these people are confined together with very little to do other than scheme about ways to ensure their future fortune, so a fair amount of anger, resentment, and deviousness are par for the course. 

It's about alliances: 

One of the most difficult parts of being a 'Big Brother' contestant is figuring out who's getting close to you out of actual friendship and who wants to use the information you've given them against you.

Members of the cast often team up to form alliances in the hopes that having an ally will get them closer to the jackpot, only to find that they're being played by their supposed partner. While team members often turn their back on one another, alliances have also helped secure a path to victory for some of the show's most memorable contestants, Derrick Levasseur and Cody Calafiore's Hitmen alliance in season 16.


It's about an ever-changing cast: 

The success of most reality programming is contingent upon fans connecting with the show's characters and getting excited to tune in each week to see what they're up to. 'Big Brother' has turned that paradigm on its head, creating a show where your favorite cast members could be on the chopping block at any moment, even if they have been lured into a false sense of security by their cast mates. Each week, fans are shocked to find out that the players they've been rooting for have been sent on their merry way. It may seem diabolical, but that's what keeps the show so exciting!


Updated on March 31, 2016 by Sarah Crow, About.com reality tv expert.