One of the great pleasures of watching Big Brother is observing how people stuck in a house battling for money will claw and fight their way to the top of the heap. This often involves the formation of alliances, replete with stupid names, and more often than not, those alliances collapse in the most spectacular of ways. We’ve had some real doozies over the years: sad, flaccid teams whose mere existence is laughable; oversized groups whose implosion is inevitable; cocky upstarts whose flashy conceptions are often met with spectacular flame-outs; and of course the rare effective alliance that could. go. all. the. way.
After the jump, I’ve ranked seventeen of the formal alliances (ie. ones with self-anointed names) from worst to best. This was no simple task as an alliance can’t be measured simply by its success in the game. We have to consider likability, stupidity, shrewdness, and, of course, the name.
Results after the jump…
17. The Friendship (Season 6)
Who: April, Beau, Maggie, Ivette, Jennifer, Cappy (in spirit)
Background: It’s hard to rank The Friendship (or The Nerd Herd) as the very worst alliance of all time based on performance when the truth is that this group never imploded (despite some late misgivings by Ivette) and sent two of its members to the final episode. Additionally, they manipulated their foes to temporarily cannibalize their own (stupid Howie), and quite honestly, they outfoxed Kaysar, even if it was one of the most hated moments of betrayal in Big Brother history. So why is The Friendship at the bottom of this list? BECAUSE THEY WERE AWFUL. This alliance was terrible from the get go when they were ruled by sanctimonious blowhard Eric (a.k.a Cappy). After he left the house, The Friendship formalized and became more and more terrible. But what was most amusing was how wonderful they thought they were. Surely America loved them, right? Wrong. America hated The Friendship — something April for one couldn’t understand, especially after America voted for Janelle to receive one prize after another after another (including a phone call not from home but from former house guest Michael). That The Friendship managed to stick around for so long made them all the more hatable. Sure, they were successful, but they were also one of the most loathed groups in the history of reality TV.
16. The Regulators (season 13)
Who: Dominic, Keith, Cassie, Lawon
Background: The Regulators ranks as probably the most ineffective alliance of all time. Sure, others have fizzled more quickly, but never have we seen such a seemingly airtight plan fall apart so amusingly. The idea was simple: the four members would sway their non-Regulator partners to keep members of the Regulators in the game should they be nominated. The only problem: the Regulators failed to anticipate the allure and appeal of The Veterans alliance. Turns out the Vets had more control over the house than anyone could have imagined, which meant the Regulators couldn’t sway their partners to do anything. Even worse, while the alliance had a sharp mind in Cassie, its other members won’t be winning any awards for Strategist of the Year anytime soon. There was Keith, who over-thought every move he ever made (except the decision to wear a silly boutonniere) and alienated himself in the process — happily sending partner Porsche into the arms of the Vets in the process. There was Dom who blabbed so much he sent himself home and screwed up Daniele’s bold plans. And there was Lawon, whose biggest game move was to have himself evicted on the faulty premise that he would return to the house with a special power. That never happeend, and Lawon’s bizarre seppuku was the death knell of the Regulators, who served as the first four people to be permanently voted out of the house on season 13.
15. Santa Monica Van Boys (season 5)
Who: Marvin — and, according to Marvin — Jase, Scott, Drew, Cowboy
Background: The Santa Monica Van Boys was a particularly hilarious and pathetic alliance, mainly because it seemed to exist only in one person’s mind. That person was Marvin, who came up with the name “Santa Monica Van Boys,” one of the silliest alliance names in the history of Big Brother — and that says a lot. Marvin thought he was part of a killer team, but what he didn’t realize was that he was just being used for voting power. It’s this obliviousness mixed with the ridiculous name that makes the Santa Monica Van Boys just a shade worse than its predecessor…
14. The Four Horsemen (season 5)
Who: Jase, Scott, Drew, Cowboy
Background: One of the most cocky and notorious alliances in the history of the game, the Four Horsemen is known for its dominant rise and equally spectacular collapse. Its story is not unlike the great epics and Greek tragedies that inform our civilization. The Four Horsemen arose when the four alpha males of the house came together in an unstoppable show of Bro-power and Mandanas. There was the fearless, arrogant leader, Jase. There was his right-hand man, Scott. Their loyal lackey, Cowboy. And their dutiful protege Drew — a decent man who realized early on that he had perhaps aligned with foul people. As with all fables of power and revenge, a woman entered the fray, and in this case, her name was Holly — a squeaky, neon-colored bauble of a girl whose romance with Jase caused the first rifts in the alliance. Jealousy, mistrust, and scheming soon followed. Throw Drew’s main steady Diane into the mix, and soon, the Four Horsemen were kaput. Scott went home first, Jase become public enemy #1, and Drew and Cowboy jumped ship, ultimately going all the way to the final two. Gosh, that was a fun summer.
13. Mr. and Mrs. Smith Alliance (season 7)
Who: Jase, Diane
Background: In the history of stealth alliances, this one is by far the stealthiest. It was so stealth that it didn’t even do anything. The story is that Diane and Jase had a secret deal going into the All-Star seventh season of the show. Unfortunately, that secret deal yielded nothing for no one. It was an alliance in name only and was known more for its mythological status (did it or did it not exist??) than for any strategic moves it made (or didn’t make, as it were). Go figure — three awful alliances in a row, and they all feature Jase.
12. NBK (season 11)
Who: Jessie, Natalie, Ronnie, Lydia, Kevin, Russell, Chima, Kevin
Background: For the first half of season 11, returning house guest Jessie had a cult of followers, led by dueling admirers Natalie and Lydia. His crew was cocky and terrible, and given that they were squared off against the best couple of all time — Jeff and Jordan — it was hard for them to earn any likability points from the audience. Eventually there was splintering — Russell became his own man, for instance — and with a little help from the Coup D’Etat, Jessie and the NBK were put to sleep once and for all.
11. Elite Eight Alliance (season 4)
Who: Jun, Alison, Erika, Jack, Nathan, Dana, David, Scott
Background: Season four introduced the first major thematic twist to the game with a miserable little gimmick called “The X Factor.” This resulted in a house divided between the exes of some players and a group that called themselves The Elite Eight. There was not much hope for the Elite Eight. With eight members, it could only last so long before totally collapsing. It didn’t help matters when the Elite Eight lost Scott right off the bat after he threw a tantrum that had something to do with genital warts. Needless to say, by week three, Dana had nominated two of her alliance members to go home, and the Elite Eight was no more.
10. Couples Alliance / Hot Tub Alliance (season 3)
Who: Roddy, Lisa, Eric, Chiara, Gerry, Josh
Background: This is going way back, and I must admit I’m a little rusty when it comes to the finer details of this alliance, but from what I can remember, the Hot Tub Alliance consisted of all the “cool kids” in the house — and Gerry, who just happened to be in the hot tub at the right place and right time. I believe it was Josh, the resident Rumpelstiltskin of the house (and future, diminutive Playgirl centerfold) who happily played up the cliquey nature of the alliance, which made it so unlikable. The likes of Marcellas, Amy, and Danielle wound up as the outsiders, but in the end, they became our heroes, and then the cool kids, they just became goners. Eventually the Hot Tub Alliance downsized to the Couples Alliance (Eric & Lisa, Roddy & Chiara), but the damage was done. Lisa shunned her group by not voting Eric back into the house, became buddies with Marcellas, and won the whole game. Yay outcasts!
9. Mrs. Robinson Alliance (season 8)
Who: Kail, Mike, Zac, Nick
Background: When it comes to master strategists, dearest Kail is not amongst them. The multiple-business owner (shhh! Don’t tell!) gathered up a squad of strapping young men to take her to the end. One problem: Nick fell in love with Daniele Donato. Everything unraveled from there (it didn’t help that these jokers never formed a solid game plan), and soon it was Kail and Mike against the world — or at least Evel Dick. This was one dud of an alliance, but bonus points for a fun name and an attractive crew. And quite frankly, it remains one of the few alliances ever that was built around generally nice people. Oh well.
8. S-6 (season 7)
Who: Howie, Janelle, James, Kaysar
Background: The members of the S-6 (Season Six) alliance entered the game with all the hype in the world behind them. They had wrapped up the greatest season of all time the year before, and all four knew they were beloved heroes to the audience. It was this cockiness that did them in. Kaysar assumed the role of master strategist, but he played his cards too fast and quick this time around. He was so eager to once again be the brains behind the operation that he made one boneheaded move after another. Same goes for Janelle, who played an utterly sloppy game compared to her previous year (although, she got just as far; so go figure — she’s the best). In the end, Kaysar’s scheming was no match for wiley Dr. Will. S-6 eventually succumbed to infighting (let’s not forget James’s Legion of Doom charge against his former allies), and unfortunately, our perception of these guys as being the best group of all time was tarnished. I mean, they got outplayed by Chicken George for crying out loud.
7. The Veterans (season 13)
Who: Dick, Daniele, Jeff, Jordan, Brendon, Rachel
Background: Time will tell where on this list the Veterans truly lie, but it’s been an up and down journey all season. The former players entered the house with the biggest targets on their backs. They were outnumbered by the “Newbies,” but they played their hearts out and won power early and often. Additionally, they managed to charm their foes into being their friends, thus achieving a rather unstoppable momentum in the game. But soon greed set in: Daniele schemed against Jeff and Jordan, causing the alliance to suffer some catastrophic damages. The power eventually returned to the Newbies, but then through some curious turns of events (perhaps aided by producers…), the playing field leveled, and we were left with a final four of two Newbies and two Veterans. Even more impressive, despite the intense fighting, the actual Veterans alliance still exists, both in name and spirit. On the downside, the Veterans have been often extremely cocky and entitled, which has severely undermined their likability.
6. Team Christ (season 9)
Who: Natalie, Sheila, Adam, Ryan
Background: With a name like Team Christ, it’s surprising this alliance even cracked the top ten, but what was surprising about this group was that they were actually sort of likable. Natalie, the nutjob that she was, had a tender spirit and sweetness that I embraced, and Sheila, well, who didn’t love big Sheila? Adam and Ryan also seemed like big ol’ lugs (as long as you looked beyond Ryan’s suggested racism and Adam’s shifty ways that ultimately landed him in jail). I don’t know why, I just liked these guys. Maybe it’s also because they — like me — loathed Crazy James. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, I guess.
5. The Coven (season 10)
Who: Libra, April, Keisha
Background: You know when things are so bad they become good? Meet The Coven. This uneasy alliance consisted of the three battiest women on a season FULL of batty women (see: Renny, Michelle), that says a lot (although, I guess Renny was the battiest of them all). These ladies were an absolute trainwreck in the campiest of ways. There was Libra, the hothead who was never afraid to yell at the drop of a hat. There was Keisha, the sensitive shrieker with tumultuous mood swings. And there was April, the passive-aggressive cryer whose manipulations knew no bounds. Why these women ever thought they could work together is a mystery, but I’m so glad they tried. Tensions between the blondes were so great that it led to some of the most fantastic blowups in the show’s history. Oh how I miss having a cast full of loonies. Such a disaster you just HAVE to love it.
4. The Brigade (season 12)
Who: Matt, Hayden, Enzo, Lane
Background: If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t place this alliance anywhere near the top five. They were just a bunch of lazy guys who kept their mouthes shut and waltzed their way to the top. However, there’s no denying that they were actually the most effective alliance of all time. They formed on day one, stuck together (more or less — sorry Matt) the whole game, and reached the finals without anyone even KNOWING they existed. Of course, the Brigade benefited from the most boring cast of all time — a group of people so intent on not ruffling feathers that they didn’t even bother trying to sniff out any secret alliances, even those that seemed so BLATANTLY OBVIOUS. Begrudgingly, this was a strong crew, but methinks they advanced thanks to the sleepy climate of the house more than anything strategic on their end.
3. The Renegades (season 10)
Who: Dan and Memphis
Background: On a season full of kooky characters and incessant fighting, Dan and Memphis managed to stay out of the fray while everyone else duked it out. About midway through the summer (or perhaps a bit later) the two realized that if they just stuck together, they could make it to the end. And thus the Renegades were born. Memphis was a bit of a downer, and Dan yelled too much in the Diary Room, but both were likable enough (Dan more so than Memphis, who we learned should never, ever be called a “Womanizer”). In the end, these guys proved to be examples of an effective alliance that puts scheming before bravado.
2. Sovereign Six (season 6)
Who: Kaysar, Janelle, James, Sarah, Howie, Rachel
Background: The house was never as divided as it was during season six. Our heroes that year were the Sovereign Six who fought tooth and nail to vanquish their evil oppressors known as The Friendship. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for an alliance like the Sovereign Six. Watching them grow from a powerless minority of Michael, Kaysar, and Janelle to a dangerous force with the additions of James, Sarah, Howie, and Rachel was mesmerizing. They almost went all the way too… if only Howie hadn’t been duped by Maggie into nominating James and Sarah. That was the idiot move of the year, and it cost the Sovereign Six valuable manpower. If only this alliance had sent a member of its own all the way to the winner’s circle… However, the Sovereign Six ultimately came up short, which is why the top spot on this list has to go to…
1. Chilltown (seasons 2, 7)
Who: Dr. Will, Mike Boogey (Janelle and Erika too, sort of)
Likability: 10, ultimately
Background: Chilltown, the brainchild of besties Dr. Will and Mike Boogey, is undoubtedly the best alliance in Big Brother history. It has never waivered, never broken, and never taken itself too seriously. No other alliance has resulted in two wins of Big Brother. ’nuff said. I never watched season two of Big Brother; so my first exposure to Chilltown came during All-Stars. Chilltown explicitly went after my beloved Season Six gang. I hated them for it. However, I had to begrudgingly concede that the S-6 were playing like morons, and Chilltown was so dominant, they deserved all the kudos. Here were two guys effortlessly playing the entire house, throwing competitions, pissing people off to their faces, and laughing all the way. And then they recruited Janelle? Genius. Hands down, Chilltown is the best alliance: most likable, most entertaining, most strategic, and most successful.
What are your favorite alliances?