Big Brother 24: Vindication

Mason Hoyt

Last year, the Cookout Alliance made history by ensuring a Black contestant would win Big Brother 23. This year, Taylor Hale rewrote history.

 

“Taylor Mackenzie Dickens Hale, you are a queen,” wrote Cookout member Hannah Chaddha on Twitter. “You represent the brightest light. You embody grace. You encapsulate resilience. You were able to finish what your sisters before you started. I am so proud of you my girl.”

 

At the beginning of Big Brother 24, Taylor was repeatedly slandered, ostracized, and bullied over fabricated accusations, particularly by houseguests Paloma Aguilar, Nicole Layog, and Daniel Durston. However, after the unexpected quit of Paloma, Taylor bounced back, becoming part of a dominant majority alliance called The Leftovers, which controlled the outcome of four straight evictions. Even after the dissolution of The Leftovers, she was able to use her impeccable social game to navigate the strong personalities in the house and slide under the radar. By the time she reached the finale, she had been nominated for eviction six times, only receiving a single eviction vote between all of them.

 

And on finale night, the jury crowned Hale the winner of Big Brother 24 in a blowout 8-1 vote over fellow finalist Monte Taylor, winning $750,000 as a result. She was also awarded the title of America’s Favorite Houseguest, earning an additional $50,000.

 

Taylor set multiple records with her historic win: she is the first Black woman to win a regular season of Big Brother, the second Black woman to reach the final 2, the first contestant to be nominated the first week and go one to win the season, the winner with the most nominations in a single season, the first winner to win with an 8-1 margin, the first person to win both the jury vote and America’s Favorite, and the contestant with the highest amount of money ever won.

 

But above all, she accomplished something many others have tried and failed to accomplish: she rewrote the narrative of COUNTLESS Big Brother seasons before, where a homogenous majority bands together to ostracize and exclude everyone else, allowing a physically dominant but socially inept man to cruise to the final 2 and win easily.

 

I’ve watched Big Brother live since 2010. I’ve grown accustomed, season after season, to watching the same story over and over, with houseguests of color being belittled and never getting a fair chance. Big Brother 23, and the Cookout, were a welcome change of pace, but that felt like an entirely different animal.

 

At the start of Big Brother 24, everything seemed to be going back to the status quo: the house had named Taylor their pariah, despite nothing on her part to encourage this, and her eviction in the first week seemed imminent.

 

So when The Leftovers came together not only out of strategic benefit, but because they were all united by their disgust with the treatment of Taylor, it signaled, loud and clear, that this cast was saying, “Not again.” They refused to allow this season to follow the path of so many before it.

 

Despite all of this, though, I still believed the possibility of Taylor winning to be a pipe dream. After all, the last three years have been entirely dominated by physically capable men, all of whom have won handily over the rest.

 

But Taylor was different. Taylor took all of the pain, all of the hurt that she had accumulated over the first few weeks, and she refused to allow herself to feel that way again. In the face of impossible odds, she showed a resilience that was absolutely inspirational. And in the end, it worked: the jury rewarded her for her ability to adapt, and for her strength despite everything that had been thrown her way.

 

I’ve watched Big Brother long enough to know that this good feeling won’t last forever. There are going to be bad, possibly terrible, seasons in the future, and they will make me question why I enjoy this show. But for a brief moment, I remembered why. This season reminded me why I watch this show, and Taylor’s win proved that it really is possible for ANYBODY to win. Bad seasons may come and go, but the victory of Taylor Hale will never be diminished.