Big Brother 18: Who Is Playing The Best Game? [Op-ed]

Big Brother 18 has been a very unusual season so far as no one person or one alliance has been dominating the game, which is something we’ve all grown used to during the past several seasons.


Out of the gate we had the vets, or “returners” as Julie Chen and the BB announcer liked to call them, lead by Frank calling the shots. Then after the vets clashed — thanks to Da’Vonne and Frank — Paulie took over. Paulie’s reign lasted a few weeks longer than Frank’s, but as we’ve seen in the past week, it’s all but gone. Paulie’s only hope is that he has that Round Trip ticket and gets another shot this week (or there’s another Battle Back in the works).

So who will take over the game now? That’s not a bad question to ask, but instead of that question, I have a better one. And that’s who has been playing the best game all along that we may have simply overlooked? Nicole? No way. She’s playing for the guys and that’s very clear. Michelle? Nah. She’s too messy. Natalie? Well, Natalie is an option. But a lot of her gameplay has been accidental or from a place of aggravation.

OK, I’m just going to say it. Paul. Paul has been playing the best game so far. He’s playing what is the actual definition of a floater. And that’s not the dirty word Rachel Reilly and many players and fans after her have made it out to be. Floater doesn’t mean a person who sleeps all summer, doesn’t win competitions and then votes with the house before they get evicted in anywhere from 5th to third place.

A floater is a person who goes where the power is and some how manages to maintain relationships with everyone in the house. That’s not an easy job to do. The best floaters have a side angle or two as well. Take season 4 winner Jun Song. Jun literally invented the floater game. She went where the power was, but she also had two secret weapons: her cooking and her secret frenemy alliance with Alison Irwin.

In my opinion, no one has ever played the floater game quite like Jun, but season 15 winner Andy Herren came close. But of course his floater game was post-Rachel’s “grab a life vest” comment in Big Brother 12. So Andy got little respect from fans and was often compared to a rat. Which brings me back to Paul.

Earlier in the season, people were calling Paul a rat and comparing him to Andy. There were Twitter memes about it and all the typical insane fan reactions. But call it what you will, it can be a very effective strategy. And it has been for Paul so far. Will it get him to the end? Well with his secret weapons, it’s very possible.

Paul’s secret weapons, of course, are Victor (who can win competitions and get the blood on his hands) and, I can’t believe I’m going to type this, friendship. Paul is just likable. Everyone in the house likes him. Everyone in the house trusts him. Everyone in the house tells him things. And he’s always around. He never misses anything going on.

Think about Paul’s game. He was on Da’Vonne’s team, so he ended up with her trust. He was on the non-8 Pack’s side of the house and was kind of the one keeping them afloat (sorry, Josea). And then he moved on to PP with Paulie. And then he ended up in the Executives with the boys. And now he’s in whatever the people who aren’t Paulie, Nicole and Corey are calling themselves. I don’t think there’s an official alliance there, but that’s beside the point.

Paul has been in all parts of this season and he pushed for arguably the biggest move of the season, which happened this week. Sure Victor won HOH and nominated Corey and Paulie, but Victor was reluctant. Paul was Victor’s brain this week.

Don’t get me wrong, this is Big Brother and anything can happen. Everything Victor and Paul worked for this week could backfire if BB decides to do something to shake things up. Big Brother 16 winner Derrick Levasseur has even said striking at Paulie this week was a mistake. I’m not sure why he thinks so, but it seemed like a good idea to me and the majority of Big Brother fans. So we’ll just wait and see who is right.

Even if this plan does backfire, Paul still has himself in a better position than Victor, James and Natalie. So he could still have a chance to continue his solid gameplay.

Do I think Paul is a mastermind who can get to the end and win the game no matter what? No. Paul isn’t a student of Big Brother. He’s seen very little of the show and is what I’m going to call self-taught. He’s not a dumb guy, but he’s made a few rookie mistakes here and there. So his game hasn’t been a flawless one, but this cast has been so messy that his game looks pretty good comparatively.

And since I know at least half of you are going to call me crazy for talking up Paul, I’m going to say that Natalie has also been one of the better players this season. She figured out things before anyone else and she knew the right little fires to start to get the ball rolling to get Paulie out of the game. So she definitely deserves a mention here.

Regardless of who is playing the best game, Big Brother 18 has really kicked into gear the past week and I hope the power players who are helping that along continue to give us something worth watching.

Who do you think is playing the best Big Brother 18 game?


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