In 2001, on the second season of CBS reality game show Big Brother, contestants from Survivor: Borneo and Survivor: The Australian Outback (Alicia Calaway, Gervase Peterson, Jeff Varner and Susan Hawk) made a guest appearance and competed in a luxury competition against the remaining housemates. Survivor was the biggest show in America at the time, and it was a smart decision by CBS to use contestants from the show to help draw interest to the less successful Big Brother – which was trying to re-invent itself as a Survivor-style strategy based game at the time.
However, it wasn’t until 2004 when CBS finally decided to cast a past reality show contestant as a full-fledged cast member on a separate reality show. This person was Big Brother 4 runner-up Alison Irwin, who would go on to compete in The Amazing Race 5 with her then boyfriend Donny. Alison only survived two legs of the race, but her cross-over set a precedent that would become a trend that continues to this day. The Amazing Race would poach from another reality show again in 2005, when Amber Bkirch and Rob Mariano, who had recently finished as winner and runner-up on Survivor: All-Stars, were cast for Season 7. Amber and Rob had much more success in the race than Alison did, finishing as runners-up, and were invited back to compete again on The Amazing Race All-Stars.
The Amazing Race continued to cast past contestants from Big Brother and Survivor over the years (Jeff and Jordan, Rachel and Brendon, Ethan and Jenna, Keith and Whitney), but it wasn’t until 2013, in the 27th season, when Survivor got itself into the cross-over game. Hayden Moss, winner of Big Brother 12, became the first Big Brother-to-Survivor cross-over star when he competed on Survivor: Blood vs. Water with his then-girlfriend, Kat Edorsson. Even though it may have initially been stunt casting for the loved ones theme, Hayden’s stint on the show proved that casting Big Brother players on Survivor could be a success and on Season 32 we will see Big Brother 16 contestant Caleb Reynolds try his hand at the game.
With Big Brother 17 starting next week, what better time than to look at some former Big Brother housemates that would make for good Survivor contestants. If CBS is going to continue its obsession with cross-over reality stars, then these six people could make fantastic choices.
Name: Dr. Will Kirby | Big Brother 2: Winner, Big Brother All-Stars: 4th Place
We can’t have this discussion without mentioning the pioneer of Big Brother strategy, Dr. Will Kirby. I truly believe, still to this day, that Dr. Will is the best reality game-show player in the history of the genre. Not only was he able to dominate strategically but he was an entertaining, engaging personality too. His skills in manipulation are unprecedented, and throughout his time on Big Brother 2 he was able to convince his fellow players to keep him around even though they knew he was a liar and a deceiver. He ended up winning that season, and the fact he was able to come back on Big Brother All-Stars, not only with that reputation but as the only previous winner, and almost win again, is astounding.
Why He’d Be Good on Survivor: Big Brother has always been viewed as a lesser show than Survivor. It is seen as easier, with less intelligent cast members, and a game more focused on silly competitions than strategy. Hayden, while very good, is best remembered for his challenge ability and social game, rather than his strategic acumen. And Caleb was known on Big Brother for being strong in challenges, stupidly loyal, and obsessed with a female housemate. Not exactly the greatest representatives to change someone’s perception of Big Brother. Dr. Will, on the other hand, could bring intelligence, wit, charm and probably one of the best strategic games Survivor has ever seen. He fits the modern day Survivor mold better than anyone.
Will would also fair much better on Survivor than he would on a return to a future Big Brother season. His target is just way too big now in the world of Big Brother, and no matter how great he is, his chances of making a deep run again on that show would be slim. On Survivor he has a shot. There is less chance he would be recognized, and he would also be protected should is tribe win Immunity.
If Will were on a tribe that secured the first couple of Immunities, that would give him ample time to work his magic on his fellow players. His only problem would be his challenge performance. On Big Brother, he intentionally threw challenges because he believed the game was much more about social manipulation, but on Survivor, particularly pre-merge, there is a very strong focus on challenge ability. But I would be very interested to see how Dr. Will, the now 42-year-old dad, would play on Survivor. Just don’t forget your sunscreen, Will!
Name: Britney Haynes | Big Brother 12: 4th Place, Big Brother 14: 8th Place
Courtney Yates has already played Survivor two times, so the chances of her playing again any time soon is very unlikely, so why not get the next best thing? Big Brother’s Britney Haynes is the closest thing to Courtney Yates you’re ever likely to find.
Unlike Dr. Will, Britney was never regarded as a super manipulator, but she did possess a very good social game (especially in Big Brother 14) and was a captivating television character. Her snarky attitude provided great comic relief throughout both the seasons she appeared on, particularly on Big Brother 12 when most of her venom was reserved for showmance couple Brendon and Rachel. She is one of the funniest contestants to appear on any of the big three CBS reality shows and would make a welcome addition to any cast.
Why She’d Be Good On Survivor: After the darkness of post-merge Worlds Apart, Survivor is in much need of some light relief and Britney would be the perfect antidote. Remember her brilliant Diary Room sessions? Just think how good her Survivor confessionals would be. Imagine her on last season and the endless material she would have had from Dan Foley and Rodney Lavoie. Britney has this great ability to make fun of people yet still maintain solid relationships within the game, and if it wasn’t for the ridiculous Jedi mind tricks of Dan Gheesling in Big Brother 14, Britney had a very high chance of winning that season. She was duped both times during her two Big Brother experiences, and that would probably give her an awareness that would help her in the game of Survivor.
Name: Russell Kairouz | Big Brother 11: 6th Place
Before the name Russell became synonymous with that Hantz guy that found all them idols on Survivor, another bald-headed Russell was bulldozing his way through a reality show – Russell Kairouz from Big Brother 11. For pure entertainment value, it doesn’t get much better than Russell. He wasn’t someone that put on a persona for television; he gave every bit of himself while on Big Brother and wore his emotions on his sleeve. He very much fits into that Shane Powers category as a guy that was having a very organic experience, whether it was positive or negative. He was known for his explosive personality and intense confrontations with his fellow housemates, but he would also have moments of reflection where he would admonish himself for his actions. His highlights include scaring Ronnie, a housemate that had been passing back and forth information between alliances, into locking himself away in his Head of Household room.
Why He’d Be Good On Survivor: I’m not sure if Russell would be good at the game itself, but I know he would be captivating to watch. He would definitely bring strength to his tribe in the early portion of the game, much like he did for the ‘Athletes’ clique he was part of for the Big Brother 11 twist. And when he wasn’t getting into confrontations he did actually show an ability to form alliances, even with his enemies, so with a slightly calmer approach he could very well slot himself into a solid alliance. Whether he was the first boot or made it to the Final Tribal Council, Russell would make Survivor must see.
Name: Amber Borzotra | Big Brother 16: 12th Place
If Caleb Reynolds is getting a shot at Survivor, then why not the object of his obsession, Amber Borzotra? Caleb suffocated Amber’s entire Big Brother 16 game, and she never really had a chance to escape the box she was trapped in. She was made out to be a sultry temptress by some of the men in the house, and once that image stuck, it caused fear amongst the men and distrust amongst the women. It was difficult for Amber to shake her image, even though her actual personality and gameplay were nothing like how the rest of the house perceived it. She managed to placate Caleb for a while, but was eventually targeted by the other guys in Caleb’s “Bomb Squad” alliance, and was evicted just before the jury phase.
Why She’d Be Good On Survivor: I always felt Amber would have faired much better on Survivor than Big Brother. She is young, pretty, and athletic, and those qualities would make her an asset to her tribe. Women just don’t tend to do as well on Big Brother – only 5 women have actually won the show, compared to 11 men. I’m not sure if this is something deeply ingrained within the show itself, or whether it is the attitude of the people usually cast for Big Brother, but compared to Survivor, the female contestants are generally stereotyped and pigeon-holed. On Survivor, the female castaways are usually a lot more versatile, and I think someone like Amber would shine.
Name: Dominic Briones | Big Brother 13: 11th Place
Like Amber above, Dominic Briones was targeted early on Big Brother 13 because he was young, athletic and perceived as a strategic threat, even though that wasn’t necessarily a reality. Dominic led the ill-fated alliance The Regulators and later formed a bond with returnee housemate Daniele Donato.
Dominic and Daniele were unable to make a significant impact on the season, but outside of the game, they began dating and later married. Dominic got somewhat of an unfair ride on Big Brother 13. He was not only playing against returning players, but he was partnered with fellow newbie housemate Adam Poch (due to the season’s Duos twist), who had more loyalty to the returnees than he ever did to Dom. I think on an all newbie season Dominic would have made it much further, so why not give him a chance at Survivor?
Why He’d Be Good On Survivor: Usually when Big Brother cast a young, good-looking guy they tend to be supremely douchey, but Dominic was modest and good-humoured. His personality type would fit very well within Survivor and would provide a great counter to some of the typical alpha-males we see on the show. He is laid-back and amiable, and someone that was, for the most part, very trustworthy during his time on Big Brother. I could imagine lots of people wanting to be in an alliance with Dominic on Survivor; he’d keep you sane, be a loyal ally, and help you out in tribal challenges.
Name: Danielle Reyes | Big Brother 3: Runner-up, Big Brother All-Stars: 6th Place
Danielle Reyes is pretty much the female equivalent of Dr. Will, and like Dr. Will, she is also now in her early 40s and hasn’t appeared on a reality game show since 2006. Danielle was able to control the vote behind-the-scenes during Big Brother 3 expertly. She was in a secret alliance with fellow housemate, Jason Guy, and the two worked together seamlessly to keep tabs on the rest of the house and protect each other.
Everybody seemed to trust Danielle and didn’t realize how much of a threat she was until she cut them. She never received a vote against her the entire game in Big Brother 3, and if it weren’t for the jury being allowed to go home and watch the episodes (where they saw Danielle’s brash Diary Room sessions), then Danielle would have very likely won the game. In subsequent seasons, the jury was sequestered and only allowed to watch footage of the competitions and voting ceremonies because of what happened to Danielle.
Why She’d Be Good On Survivor: In recent seasons of Survivor we have seen women over 40 make it to the Final Tribal Council over and over again, but they never seem to get the respect they deserve from the jury. Danielle is someone that is very respected in the Big Brother community as a fantastic game-player, and if there is anyone that can come on Survivor as the “older woman” and dispel the motherly role in favor of a more strategic role, then it’s Danielle Reyes. Like Dr. Will, Danielle would have a much better chance competing on Survivor than she would returning to Big Brother, where her reputation is too threatening. She is very personable and easy going, so would have no problem fitting into the tribe dynamic, and then give her a solid ally, she could run away with the game.
Those are the six names that first came into my head when deciding which Big Brother players I could see fitting into the world of Survivor. With cross-over contestants becoming more and more frequent, whose to say we won’t be seeing one of those names on a Survivor cast in the near future.
Let me know in the comments who you’d like to see from Big Brother on a future season of Survivor.