CBS hit Big Brother was one of the first reality shows to start filming during the COVID-19 pandemic, but delayed its debut by one month. If any series could pull it off, it would be Big Brother, as the houseguests basically live in quarantine.
The roommates were routinely tested for the virus while they were sequestered before shooting began, and have been tested during their time in the game as well. Many precautions were taken at the start of the season, with a limited number of crew members around for All-Stars. The number of producer/cast interactions was also dropped significantly.
Longtime host Julie Chen spoke with Entertainment Weekly on Friday to discuss how things were going on the pandemic front, and if anything had changed on the lot since the show debuted almost 10 weeks ago.
“Since we first started, the lot we shoot on has gone from being a ghost town to booming. Many, if not all, productions are back and the lot is bustling. On our set, it looks exactly the same as when we started… everyone in masks and keeping their distance,” she said.
The host then went on to say what was different, and it was mostly things outside of the BB bubble.
“What’s different is the vibe, the feeling, the tone. We are fortunate to have the same crew for so many years and we are a family. This family was very quiet and cautious the first few weeks, almost scared to say hi to one another…now, we are just as cautious but have found a way to laugh, connect, and enjoy, all while never forgetting how to be responsible.”
Julie has also been tested regularly throughout the season, but that hasn’t stopped some viewers from being angry about her broadcasting without a mask. During the first few live episodes when everything was still fresh, some fans had an issue with Julie hosting the show without donning this year’s hottest accessory.
The evicted players all had to put on a mask when they left the house and were instructed not to approach the host while staying six feet away as they held their exit interview. Since Julie is out living in the real world, many wondered why players were forced to wear masks and she was not.
For now, it’s unknown what precautions are being put into place for finale night. Traditionally, a live audience is present, but it will clearly be omitted this year. Loved ones will also not be able to join in on the fun, but how the jury and the final three players are able to interact with each other remains to be seen.
There is definitely not enough space on the Big Brother stage to hold the nine jury members, two finalists, and the host while all being six feet apart from one another.