Big Brother premiered in America on CBS on July 5, 2000, barely one month after the enormously popular debut of Survivor at the beginning of what would soon become an international reality game show craze. Much like Survivor, Big Brother was based on a Scandinavian series that had aroused controversy for its somewhat dubious ethics -- its combination of round-the-clock observation and real people under televised scrutiny having not sat particularly well with Dutch audiences.
But the original idea proved widely mutable. There have been nearly 400 seasons across more than 50 iterations of Big Brother internationally since its inception, including India’s Bigg Boss, Italy’s Grande Fratello, and Portugal’s Secret Story: Casa dos Segredos. In the UK, Big Brother is an indispensable part of the cultural fabric; what transpires week after week is reliable fodder for tabloids around the country, and stars of seasons past go on to remain pseudo-celebrities in Britain for ages. When it was adapted stateside, that Orwellian, rat-in-a-maze sensationalism helped make Big Brother US an instant and enduring hit. The show, including its celebrity spinoffs, has been on the air now, watched by millions and inexhaustibly beloved, for 18 years.