COVID-19 has caused the shut down of schools, massive layoffs, and insanely large stock market plunges. At this point it has effected everyone in the world and it is impossible to not have heard about it by now… Unless you’re one of the 14 contestants on the show Big Brother Germany and have been living in a total media isolation and are just hearing about it for the first time while being filmed for live tv.
Big Brother is a reality show where “…14 contestants [are] confined to two adjacent houses for 100 days. They are filmed around the clock and gradually eliminated by viewer voting, with the winner taking home 100,000 euros (around $110,000) (Rogers, 2020). ” When the cast had first been locked into the houses, the coronavirus had only been effecting China and at the time was not yet a pandemic. In this time the 14 contestants were blissfully unaware of how widespread the virus had actually become. Yesterday on live television the host, Jochen Schropp, broke the news behind protective glass of the virus that had spread across the world and throughout Europe. As the contestants were shown clips of the deserted streets of Germanys, the worry for their loved ones began to set in. After hearing the news the contestants were shown supportive messages from their friends and family. The show even has a psychologist to help the contestants get through this crazy time.
Many other Big Brother shows such as Italy and Australia had to inform their contestants about the pandemic, and the Canadian show informing their own contestants after they noticed the absence of a studio audience during an elimination round. When looking at these types of reality shows, you begin to wonder where the line for human morality is drawn. Was it really the right thing to do to break this type of news on live TV for viewer ratings just to use the panic of the contestants for entertainment? You could say that this time, Big Brother definitely wasn’t watching.