Big Brother 2 is the second season of the American reality television series Big Brother. It is based upon the Netherlands series of the same name, which gained notoriety in 1999 and 2000. The series premiered on CBS on July 5, 2001. The HouseGuests entered the house on June 30 with the series lasting 82 days. The season concluded on September 20, 2001 with Dr. Will Kirby being crowned the winner, and Nicole Nilson Schaffrich the runner-up.
The series revolved around twelve strangers living in a house together with no communication with the outside world. They were constantly filmed during their time in the house and were not permitted to communicate with those filming them. Unlike the first season, the format of the series was revamped to emphasize the competition – with HouseGuests now competing in competitions for power before voting each other out of the house. One HouseGuest, known as the Head of Household, had the task of nominating two of their fellow HouseGuests for eviction. The HouseGuests then voted to evict one of the nominees, with the HouseGuest who received the most votes being evicted from the house. When only two HouseGuests remained, the previously evicted HouseGuests would decide which of them would win the $500,000 grand prize.
“From an economic standpoint, [Big Brother] was an economic success. Creatively, we saw the potential. It was worth bringing back, but obviously there are things that needed to be changed. Arnold came in with such wonderful ideas. He had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the series.”
— Nancy Tellem, CBS Entertainment president, on the decision to change the series.
Despite the negative critical response to the first season, rumors began circulating in September 2000 that the series would be renewed and would give CBS more creative control over the project.Les Moonves later stated that the possibility of a second season was “very possible”, adding “If we can fix the product… we feel there’s great potential there.” In February 2001, it was confirmed that there would be a second season, and that casting would begin soon. Paul Romer, who was heavily involved in the first season, stated that the show had poor ratings as the critics “didn’t get it.” It was reported that CBS blamed the casting for the failure of the initial season. With the confirmation of a second season, it was revealed that the series would undergo serious changes before the premiere. Before work on the season began, numerous changes were made in terms of the production team. CBS later stated they hoped to get Arnold Shapiro to produce the series, and were eventually successful in doing so.Allison Grodner was yet another addition to the series this year, who was hired as the co-executive producer.
The season was originally planned to air five nights a week, though this was later dropped to three nights a week. The show was set to air on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, though in August was pushed back to 9 pm. Eastern Time due to the show’s mature content. The live show, in which one of the HouseGuests was evicted from the house, was scheduled to air on Thursday nights. Chuck Riley became the narrator for this season, however, played a smaller role in the show than in the previous season. Initially, it was revealed that the HouseGuests would vote to evict one another, with the viewers choosing the winner out of the final three. This was later scrapped, and it was decided that the HouseGuests would choose the winner and the evictees. Like the previous installment, Big Brother 2 featured the live feed streaming, in which viewers could watch live inside the house at any time. This was the first season to charge for the live feeds to be used, with viewers paying either $19.95 to view the full season or $9.95 for a month of the feeds. The decision to require a payment for the feeds upset numerous fans and viewers, several of which threatened not to watch the series at all. A spokesperson for CBS later stated “The subscription does two things […] It safeguards against who’s watching live feed so we can verify their age [in case there’s nudity]. Second, in entertainment you generally pay for content, so I don’t think this is anything unusual.”
Despite controversy surrounding her appearance on the series, it was confirmed in May that Julie Chen would return to host the second season. In another change to the series, Dr. Drew Pinsky and AOL Online Advisor Regina Lewis did not return to the series. Following the departure of co-host Ian O’Malley during the first season, no second host was selected for the series. The twelve HouseGuests competing in the series were revealed on June 29, 2001. The group moved into the house on July 1, 2001. HouseGuests Mike and Justin had a criminal record prior to appearing on the series, causing some controversy from critics. HouseGuest Will was a doctor, while Kent and Mike both owned their own businesses. Autumn, Kent, Krista, and Sheryl were all parents, though Kent was the only parent who was married. Bunky was revealed to be the first openly gay HouseGuest to participate in the series, while Kent revealed prior to the season that he felt homosexuality was “perverse.” The HouseGuests from this season were noted as being more disruptive than in the previous year’s show, with several arguments and romantic relationships occurring in the house. Shapiro stated that the new group of HouseGuests were “uninhibited, outgoing and diverse”, and predicted “romance and nudity” from the group.