The early phases of Big Brother's 18th season looked promising for fans who hoped the streak of male winners would end. The show's woman contestants were smart enough to team up with each other quickly, forming alliances like the Fatal Five and the Spy Girls. Veterans like Nicole Franzel and Da'Vonne Rogers seemed like real threats, while newbies like Bronte D'acquisto were savvy enough to keep up.
How far we've fallen; five women remain in the house, but one will be going home Thursday. The remaining four are facing down the potent Executives alliance, made up of the five remaining men in the house (anchored by Paulie Calafiore and Paul Abrahamian, known as Team PP).
The Executives have been successful since their inception, already making moves to get a woman (either Zakiyah Everette or Michelle Meyer, both up for elimination) out. They've also revealed themselves to be bullies, Paulie especially. A fight on the live feed Wednesday night reveals exactly what's wrong with this season: Big Brother 18 is a sexist mess.
Fans who watch the show's live feeds got to see a meltdown Wednesday night. Natalie Negrotti warned her fellow housemate Zakiyah that Paulie, with whom Zakiyah had been romantically involved earlier in the summer, had been talking smack about Zakiyah behind her back. The news upset Zakiyah, who then went to Paulie to talk to him about it. Paulie denied it all, then lashed out at Natalie.
The language Paulie and his ally, Corey Brooks, used when talking about Natalie was both violent and sexist. Paulie talked about wanting to "bury" Natalie, and made multiple references to being as "fake" as her breasts.
Former Big Brother 18 houseguest Bronte even felt compelled to weigh in on Twitter: "Talk like that when the show ends at the finale," she tweeted. "I dare you, Paulie."
Paulie vowed to send Natalie home during the double eviction, as members of the rest of the house secretly plotted to send him home instead. But even if Paulie goes home, it won't fix the problem ailing this season.
Frank Eudy, a returning houseguest who has already been evicted, got dragged by fans on Twitter for sexually harassing Da'Vonne. Paulie and Cory's invective has been getting uglier, as evidenced by Wednesday night's fight. Toxic masculinity is winning the day in the Big Brother house, which is both gross to watch and making for a very boring season of TV.
If Big Brother ends with not just another male winner, but a male winner who got to the end through bullying female contestants, it will speak to a fatal flaw within the show's current pattern. The best seasons of Big Brother, like last season and season 14 before that, were so because they managed to maintain a sense that anyone could win up until the very last moments.
If this is the new norm, Big Brother will have downgraded from fun summer froth to yet another example of the worst humanity has to offer.