‘Big Brother’ controversy: Is it fair for veterans like Paul Abrahamian to compete against new players?

After three weeks of “Big Brother” Season 19 it already seems as though Paul Abrahamian (from Season 18) is in complete control of the current game, raising the question of whether or not returning players have an unfair advantage. Paul is actually the 17th contestant to have another opportunity at the $500,000 grand prize against a group of first time players. After reading our analysis below, hurry and make your “Big Brother” 19 predictions for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate. It’s fun and easy, so start predicting right now.

Multiple concerns have been raised about the possible unfair advantages returnees can receive in the house, most notably the benefit of a built-in fan base (especially as social media) as audience interaction becomes more integral to the game. This year audiences are able to vote for their favorites to reward them with the opportunity to enter the Den of Temptation and win a prize that might boost their standing in the game. Without enough time to get to know the other houseguests of course Paul won after becoming a popular contestant for his constant joking and quips about friendship. Winning the reward granted him immunity from the first three evictions, catapulting him even further into the game.

Advantages like this have happened in past seasons as well. Just last summer fans were able to vote for recipients of “America’s Care Package” giving contestants rewards like immunity and the ability to nullify any two votes during eviction. Two of the first three winners of the care package were returning players, James Huling and Nicole Franzel, who just so happened to make it to the final three of the competition with Nicole winning the entire game. See the list of “Big Brother” winners below.

On top of help from the fans, returning players also enter the competition with a better understanding of the ins and outs of the game. They already have experience with many of the competitions, they are more aware of the camera set-up, and overall know how to deal with the stress and pressure of being confined in the house.

Previous experience in the game has turned these returning players into automatic leaders in the house. This year after the quick fall of Cody & Jessica, Paul was able to talk his way to the front of an alliance with most of the house simply because they trust that he understands the game. This may not be an unfair advantage but watching season after season of newbie contestants turn into sheep for the benefit of past players that they love produces some of the most boring reality TV.

Sometimes these advantages don’t always work out in a veteran’s favor. Jason Roy of “Big Brother” 17 returned for the first all-online installment of the show “Big Brother: Over The Top,” a season that had more fan involvement than ever before. Jason made it to finale night and it was widely believed that he would win after it was announced that winner would be determined by an audience vote. Instead, first-time contestant Morgan Willett won in a very close vote.

Overall in the five seasons where returning houseguests have played with first-time competitors at least one of them has made it all the way to finale night. Contestants Rachel Reilly (“Big Brother” 13 & 12) and Nicole Franzel (“Big Brother” 18 & 16) went on to win when they re-entered the house, while Jason Roy (“Big Brother” 17 & OTT) and former winner Dan Gheesling (“Big Brother” 10 and 14) were both runner-ups taking home a smaller cash prize. In fact the only season not to see a returning houseguest make it to the end was “Big Brother” 11 when Jesse Godderz, the first houseguest to compete against newbies, was eliminated in Week 5.

Does Paul Abrahamian have an unfair advantage because of his status as a returning player? Should returning houseguests only be allowed to compete in All-Stars seasons? Sound off in the comments section below.

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