Tanner Stransky
September 01, 2010 AT 08:30 PM EDT

Image Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBSInterest in CBS’ Big Brother couldn’t be bigger: The reality competition series is averaging 7.6 million viewers for the three episodes it airs weekly — an increase of six percent from last summer’s 7.2 million average. And the younger folks (a rare find in network TV audiences these days!) are into it, too: Viewership is up 10 percent among kiddos 18 to 34.

So, what gives? What’s behind Big Brother‘s sudden surge? Executive producer Allison Grodner told the Canadian Press that the higher ratings can be attributed to this season’s crop of characters. “You can have a rootable villain or a fun villain,” she said. “You don’t necessarily want to have someone who is completely hateable.” This year’s cast featured villains in the screechy Rachel and her “boyfriend” Brendon, as well as a network-planted saboteur Annie, who was hilariously booted during the first eviction ceremony of the season. And while this season has been great, its cast hasn’t quite stacked up to last year’s characters, especially when you consider the polarizing Chima mess and the fan-favorite Jeff-Jordan showmance. (The pair did return this season, briefly, too, so maybe that helped with a little boost?) The sudden surge in Big Brother is somewhat baffling.

Which is why we here at EW are wondering: Why are you tuning into Big Brother this summer? Is it to see if Rachel makes any more 24-hour comebacks? Are you living for the continued reappearance of Pandora’s Box? Or, are you just tuning in hoping for the return of the Zingbot 3000?

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

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