Why are Nigerians obsessed with #BBNaija?
What is so exciting about watching a bunch of strangers locked up in a house for 85 days? Why do Nigerians find #BBNaija so compelling?
The third season of the show, which kicked off on January 28, 2018, came to an end on Sunday, April 22, 2018, with a 23-year-old Miracle emerging the winner.
According to the host Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, the show recorded 170 million votes all season and a total of 30 million votes in just the final week.
Despite its unbelievable popularity, the season, as is always the case, was an object of wide-ranging criticism. After all, what is so exciting about watching a bunch of strangers locked up in a house for 85 days? Why do Nigerians find #BBNaija so compelling?
What is Big Brother Naija about?
The reality show, which first aired in 2006, involves a group of strangers sharing a camera-filled house for about 12 weeks. Every move is monitored and broadcast 24 hours a day to millions of viewers via a dedicated TV channel.
They interact with each other and participate in physical and mental challenges while in the house. Each week, at least one housemate with the lowest number of votes is evicted. The eviction follows secret nominations by the housemates and voting by viewers.
After weeks of nominations and evictions, the winner goes home with a cash prize. This year's edition featured a 45 million naira grand prize.
Even if you don’t watch the show, it's still very hard to avoid. Its popularity is intensified by the social media era and persistent coverage by the press.
In the past, a housemate's behaviour may have only been noticed by hardcore followers of the show, now, it goes viral. Instances include the fight between Cee-C and Tobi, and the Bambam and Teddy A's bathroom sex romp.
We asked some Nigerians why they think people are obsessed with the show, and here's what they said.
It offers an insight into how the human mind works
The truth is, Big Brother Naija is a captivating social experiment, which doesn't only bring out the best or worst in the confined contestants, but also in the viewers.
After the first few days, the housemates become comfortable around each other and forget that they are being watched by millions of people. They become a reflection of how several people, irrespective of their age and status, really think, talk or act when they don’t think anyone is watching.
The actions of the housemates, in turn, decide how the viewers react.
"The way a viewer reacts to events in the house offers a little insight into who they truly are, and what they can connect with," said Goodness, a casual observer.
In the house, the housemates team up to form alliances which they hope will prolong their stay in the house. Outside the house, viewers also form alliances. They are competitive and fight for their faves.
"The game is not just between the housemates, It is also among viewers," Goodness added.
For the relationships and sex
Every season, you can expect at least one unique friendship, relationship or sexual encounter among the housemates.
This year, we had Mina (Miracle and Nina),Loto (Lolu and Anto), Ceebi (Cee-C and Tobi), Leolex (Leo and Alex) and the Bamteddys (Bambam and Teddy A).
"Believe it or not, sex is another reason. Some individuals enjoy watching the housemates engage in sexual activities, while some others fantasize about the bodily features of these housemates," said Gbenga, who occasionally watched the show.
While some contestants go into the house with no clear strategy, others have a laid out plan on how to endear themselves to their fellow housemates and viewers. It could be the use of pity, a romantic relationship, humour or viciousness. And while some turn out successful, others don't.
"It's always interesting to watch the strategy play out and viewers connect with what works for them," Goodness said.
Our obsession with other people's lives
The obsession with consuming people's lives as content is a reflection of our fixation with what someone else is doing with their life and how they solve their problems.
"Some people just like to see if other people are as happy, sad, hurt, bitter or friendly as they are. There are those who also watch the show to judge people," Toyin, who religiously followed the show for 85 days, told Pulse.
"Some people just want to have a say in how people's lives turn out. And by voting, they feel powerful. Afterall, they just played a part in changing someone's life."
The housemates are a reflection of the viewers
Viewers are able to relate with some of the contestants because they are a projection of themselves, a friend, or colleague. It is also a reflection of certain behaviours that they can only exhibit behind closed doors.
So by watching a show like Big Brother Naija, viewers are able to compare and contrast their own lives with those on the show.
To be a part of the conversation
Quite a number of people follow the show just so they are able to participate in the next day's conversation at work or on social media.
They basically don't care about the housemates, who emerges the winner, who gets evicted or disqualified from the game.
"That's the 'I belong' syndrome - wanting to watch it so as to be able to contribute to conversations," OD, a casual follower of the show said.
On a lighter note, it's just a time for relaxation, away from a stressful day and the bad news on and offline.
Did you watch the third season of the show? Share your reasons with us?
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