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From love and “showmance” to knife-wielding threats, evictions and stolen toothbrushes, Big Brotheris celebrating 20 years on air! To mark the milestone, the CBS reality series’ longtime host, Julie Chen, reflected on the show’s most shocking moments, admitting that she never envisioned the longevity of the gig.
“Everyone hated Big Brother season 1,” she recalled during an interview with ET’s Kevin Frazier. “The critics hated it. They hated the show. It wasn't Survivor.”
“They hated me -- I wasn't [Survivor host] Jeff Probst,” Chen continued. “I wrote it off. I was like, ‘Yeah, I'm not too crazy about it either.’”
Twenty-one seasons and 289 houseguests later, the drama continues, and ET has continued to document the fun and scandal from day one -- back at the original Big Brother house, which had chickens and a pool!
Of course, it’s what went on inside the house that captivated viewers the most, and Chen recalled how the love lives of the houseguests grabbed viewers’ attention from the beginning.
“Season 2 Big Brother is the place that the word ‘showmance’ was coined,” Chen said. “I mean, we've had, I think, more marriages than The Bachelor at this point!”
Indeed, only three of ABC’s leading Bachelor stars are married, while Big Brother has ignited four marriages -- like Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas, who were one of the more controversial Big Brother couples. “They're married, they have kids. I think she's expecting another child,” Chen said.
While the housemates made their own headlines, Chen found herself earning the nickname “Chenbot.”
“I think it was season 2 or 3 -- I went on the website that spliced together every opening of me saying, ‘But first, but first, but first, but first,’” she recounted. “I burst out laughing in my office. I said, ‘Oh my god, I am the Chenbot.’”
As for the twists that have shocked her the most, Chen said having twins on the show, and a brother and sister who didn’t know they were related, stands out after 20 years.
There was also the moment when Justin was evicted from season 2 for holding a knife to Krista’s neck, and the time Shannon stole Hardy’s electric toothbrush -- and scrubbed the toilet with it!