Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Big Brother: Reindeer Games that aired on Monday, December 18th. Read at your own risk!
Another episode of Big Brother: Reindeer Games is in the books, and many viewers are probably a little surprised by what went down. Nicole Franzel found herself in an endurance competition against Josh Martinez, and despite the latter being a former BB winner and The Challenge vet, he lost out. I’d already been leaning toward this opinion ahead of this stunning upset, but I think it’s time to put it in writing and admit this spinoff has officially reshaped my opinions about Nicole’s gameplay.
Nicole Franzel, for various reasons, has long been one of Big Brother‘s most polarizing Houseguests who went on to win the game. Some believe she’s not as strong of a player as certain non-winners, and that opinion extends to other Houseguests. Janelle Pierzina, for example, blasted CBS for inviting Nicole over another legendary player. And yet, I think the invite has been proven worthy, and feel that others’ perceptions of her could also potentially change right along with mine.
Nicole’s Ability To Minimize Her Target Is An Underrated Move
With four seasons of Big Brother under her belt, Nicole Franzel’s strategy of playing the game is well-established. Her goal is to find strength in numbers and then blend in as the least threatening player of that alliance. Her entire game revolves around minimizing her perception as a target, and that’s much harder than I’ve ever previously given her credit for.
As a former winner who has spent the most time total compared to any other Houseguest who played Big Brother, Nicole should’ve been an obvious target for immediate ousting. And yet, here she is after four episodes, still in the house, and the most strongly aligned of anyone after surviving the Santa Showdown.
Even so, I still don’t think many consider her a serious threat to any of their games, and for that to even be feasible is a true credit to her ability to come off as non-threatening as possible. Could any other Houseguest exude such low-key vibes while boasting the same level of accolades? I highly doubt it. It makes me want to re-watch her first appearance in Season 16 with my Paramount+ subscription to see if she has always played this way.
But Nicole Can Still Be A Real Competitor When Her Back Is Against The Wall
I don’t think anyone saw Nicole beating Josh in an endurance competition. While that may speak to the equitable competitions that Big Brother should take as a note from Reindeer Games, it also speaks to the general assumption that Nicole wouldn’t last against someone as strong and muscular as Josh. In reality, it feels obvious a burly guy like him would have more issues staying balanced on that candy cane and have a harder time than the smaller Nicole.
Again, I think this points to the fact that Nicole presents herself as a weak player. In reality, she’s had a decently successful run in competitions throughout her four seasons in Big Brother. Granted, she’s not like Season 25 winner Jag Bains, who had a record-breaking season for comps, but she can hold her own. Everyone was foolish to think she didn’t stand a chance, including me.
Cue the self-reflection. Is Nicole Franzel a bad player, or has her ongoing feud with the unofficial queen of Big Brother, Janelle Pierzina, impacted me seeing the strength of her game?
The only thing I know with certainty is that I’m finally on board with the idea that Nicole is a strong player and that she’s one of the reasons I changed my thinking on this spinoff I was originally unsure about. Once again, I’m shocked by how much I love Reindeer Games.
Big Brother: Reindeer Games airs on CBS on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET and on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. ET. Tune in for these final two episodes to see who wins the $100,000 and, hopefully, some news that another season will arrive this time next Christmas.