In many ways, Big Brother 21 was a standard season. We had showmances, huge alliances with silly names, heroes, villains, and plenty of things to annoy old and new fans alike, but, In a few ways, it was an outlier season. This is the first season in awhile that doesn’t seem to have a clear direction of how it might end, and no player seems like the run away Big Brother 21 winner. During some seasons, these deep dive pieces are a bit harder to write because one player seems far above the rest in winner potential, but Big Brother 21 had a cast of strong gamers (especially towards the latter half of the season).
Yesterday, we covered Holly Allen‘s game from start to finish, and tomorrow we’ll deep dive into Jackson Michie‘s game strengths and weaknesses. Today is all about the people’s unicorn, Nicole Anthony. The mild-mannered Nicole won over the cold-hearts of many Big Brother fans, becoming one of the most universally liked houseguests in Big Brother history. While Nicole was winning over the fans, she also endeared herself to her fellow houseguests, which started her Big Brother 21 game journey.
Nicole’s early game strategy involved not committing to one group, but being valued and liked by many. She created a close bond with the “outsiders” like Ovi Kabir, Kemi Fakunle, and Cliff Hogg III early in Big Brother 21, but many key members of the Gr8ful also saw her ally potential, especially Isabella Wang, Nick Maccarone, Holly, and Jackson. This ally potential would eventually pay off when Jackson and Holly decided to form their new final four with Cliff and her. Many of Nicole’s original game allies were removed from the game at the beginning. Despite her side being picked off and labeled dangerous,–especially by players like Jack Matthews, who decreed everyone to not talk game with Camp Comeback members–she showed remained loyal and didn’t stray from them to further her game.
This type of loyalty, especially in a ruthless game like Big Brother, helped reflect her character to players like Cliff and Jackson, who sought out allies with a strong sense of honor and allegiance. Nicole’s devotion to her friends helped her win allies, but another major part of her game persona made her a huge target at the start. It was her appearance of duplicity. In the early weeks, Gr8ful turned their pitchforks towards Nicole because they labeled her as someone playing all sides of the house and trying to turn them against each other.
Despite being labeled public enemy number one by Gr8ful, many of the group’s main members saw more disloyalty, dishonesty, and sketchiness in their own members Bella and Nick. Therefore, they decide to not persecute Nicole, but to spare her and use this action as future game collateral. Her brush with game death wasn’t without consequences as Nicole began to play a more timid and worrisome game.
This cautious game style allowed her to fade more towards the background, and to grow her alliance with Cliff, which with it came the brief alliance of Cliff’s Angels. Cliff’s Angels also helped Nicole gain trust with Jackson and Holly, because Kathryn Dunn acted as a double agent for them, they were able to learn more about Cliff and Nicole’s game play style, and see that they were trustworthy players. Cliff had already been building trust with Holly and Jackson from the early days, but knowing how close Nicole and Cliff were helped start the foundation for what would become the true final four. Her fading to the background also meant that Nicole wasn’t directly involved in many of the early game moves, which made her appear as a player just coasting along, not having an impact on the game. Despite this appearance, Nicole very much acted as the deciding votes for many of the key pre-jury and post-jury evictions.
It took Nicole awhile to start winning competitions, but once she did, she made big moves and took out a few of the strongest players in the game, like Christie Murphy. Nicole and Cliff had the power to make one of the biggest moves of the season by taking out Holly or Tommy Bracco. Many fans have been divided on what was the best or worst decision for this week. In our eyes, there wasn’t any right or wrong decision because Tommy has been one of the strongest players of Big Brother 21, and he had the potential to win out and win the game. Holly was Jackson’s number one, remove her, and then Nicole, Cliff, and Jackson are potentially the final three, and then Nicole possibly makes to final two and faces off against Jackson. Both outcomes were very possible and risky. Right now, it seems like Nicole and Cliff should have evicted Holly, but hindsight is 20/20, and this outcome is just one of many. Only in an alternate universe could we know if either the evict Holly or evict Tommy decision actually resulted in Nicole winning the game, or at least making it to final two.
This decision to take out Tommy over Holly is clearly a move that will possibly haunt Nicole for a very long time. And it might be something that could hurt her if she faces the jury on finale night. The decision to keep Holly might make her seem like someone who was easily manipulated by Holly and Jackson, and therefore, that’s what helped her go so far in the game, not her own gaming skills. On the flip-side, the jury could see this move as a noble one that also took out one of Big Brother 21’s biggest players.
Holly and Nicole have many of the same game strengths and weaknesses, including how they’ll be perceived by the jurors. Many jurors will say that Holly road Jackson’s coattails to the end, and the same could be argued about Nicole and Cliff. Nicole wanted to make certain moves but let Cliff convince her otherwise. This fact might hurt her when arguing a case to a jury. She didn’t have any moves that were firmly her own without Cliff’s help, guidance, or assistance. Her relationship with Cliff also helped make Nicole a vote that everyone wanted. If they got Nicole, they got Cliff, the same with Jackson and Holly. So her being so closely aligned with Cliff helped create a voting unit that many of the other duos wanted.
Nicole had to compete against huge personalities, competition beasts, and a dominant alliance all Big Brother 21. It wasn’t any easy road all season, but she managed to fight and maneuver her way to the final three. It’s hard to see a scenario where the jurors don’t admire and respect her game journey, but will they see her as someone who didn’t make enough of her own firm decisions? Will the old label of playing the middle resurface?
Nicole’s chances of seeing the finals doesn’t seem great, but if she manages to sway Holly into keeping her over Jackson, she may pull the greatest trick of Big Brother 21 and win the game.
What do you think of Nicole’s Big Brother 21 game?
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