The Celebrity Big Brother house might not be full of the biggest fans of the game. Yet the shortened season has facilitated some of the most aggressive early gameplay from the series ever. There's been so many alliance flips, backstabs and surprises in Celebrity Big Brother and only two houseguests have been evicted. Between Ross Matthews, Shannon Elizabeth and Omarosa, the contestants are playing the game hard. However, the "best" player of Celebrity Big Brother and the one most poised to make it to the end might be Mark McGrath.
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Backing up into a Winning Formula
It is entirely conceivable that Mark has no strategy or "game" in Celebrity Big Brother. When it comes to measuring Mark's threat level in the game it's probably somewhere right above Metta World Peace, which is to say it's virtually nonexistent. Whether the audience really loves Mark or not, his intention in the house seems to garner fans and make everyone like him as much as possible. Yet it's really this harmless nature that puts Mark in such an advantageous position.
When it comes to winning competitions and coming up with strategic plots, Mark does seem rather hopeless. However, his social game has been extraordinary. Even though Mark comes across as a little too loud and needy in the Diary Room, the house evidently likes him a lot. Mark has positioned himself perfectly in the middle of the house. Everyone is at each other's throats but everyone seems to trust (or at least wants to recruit) Mark.
The aggressive gameplay of Celebrity Big Brother is impressive but not unique. As recently as Big Brother 19, there was a house that was firmly divided early on. The split wasn't as even as it has been on Celebrity Big Brother. BB19 was everyone versus Jody and the main target(s) in Celebrity Big Brother have been much more malleable. However, the eventual winner of Big Brother 19 was someone who played the middle and floated through most of the game, until turning up the heat at the end. The same is true, in large part, with Big Brother 18 and even Big Brother: Over the Top. So far Mark does seem to be following that winning playbook written by Nicole and Josh (and Morgan.)
The top players in Celebrity Big Brother are going to keep fighting it out with each other and trying to stab one another in the back until the end. The big threats are either going to get rid of one another or prove so impossibly strong that even the weaker players are going to want to pick them off. Throughout all that turmoil Mark is going to continue to rise and survive. If he can win at least a few competitions along the way, Mark's looking at a pretty decent ending resume too.
Taking Non-Aggression to the End
When the Big Brother game gets so contentious, so quickly, it's not really the most aggressive or strategic players who win. It's those who have played the best social game or angered the fewest people who end up getting the votes of the jury. It's true that eliminated houseguests on Celebrity Big Brother haven't seemed that bitter in their eliminations, so far. Chuck took it in stride and Keshia literally asked to be taken out. But there's a unique situation at play in Celebrity Big Brother where the jury will be able to watch everything that has happened and will happen after their eviction.
When that happens the evicted houseguests are going to see some pretty unfavorable things from the top contenders of the season. Shannon, Ross, Omarosa and Marissa have been making deals with everyone and James is an insufferable egomaniac in the Diary Room. It's pretty easy to see how evicted houseguests are going to be rubbed the wrong way by anything they see from their former roommates after watching the season.
Compared to that, Mark's friendly game where he tries to get along with everyone and keep his word is going to start looking pretty good. Mark is a far from being a mastermind but he's not completely hopeless. Mark has shown some initiative and brainpower in the Diary Room. Enough that it wouldn't be so ridiculous if the jury awarded him at the end of the season.
There's no denying that Mark would be a very underwhelming winner for Celebrity Big Brother. For a floater like Mark to win after all the machinations and alliance flipping would be the definition of anticlimax. Yet Big Brother history is littered with winners who didn't play the most aggressive or entertaining game but took the safest and most secure route to the end. Mark fits that latter archetype to a tee.
What do you make of Mark's chance to win Celebrity Big Brother? Is he going to float to the end? Would anyone vote for him? Would you ever consider voting for him?
(Image courtesy of CBS)