It’s back to basics for Big Brother 10, and it’s already getting good. I know, it’s a bit pathetic to think that I really haven’t missed an episode, and that I remember the very first season with Chicken George, and thrilled to the evil Machiavellianisms of Dr. Will Kirby a couple of years later. I even had to hold my nose during this past winter’s special edition festival of debauchery, thanks to the writers’ strike. This past Sunday, the new season finally began, with Julie Chen’s (or the “Chenbot”), tall, thin and perky presence at the helm.
The 411 is familiar by now: 13 strangers live in a house for about three months and all their actions are recorded, and they compete for food and the “Head of Household” title each week. The HOH lives in a lavish room and this person gets to nominate two people for the weekly elimination. The “housemembers”, as Julie calls them, vote secretly and that person leaves the house immediately. The one who is left at the end wins a half-million dollars.
It’s all about strategy, as with many of these types of reality shows (“Survivor” being the eminent, and still classic, example). You can sometimes fly under the radar, but it pays to work with one or a few so as to vote on others or protect yourselves. Sometimes you can’t be too aggressive or pushy; sometimes you can’t be too threatening to others. But you also can’t be stupid.
Which made episode 2 last night all that more interesting. It was a mini-classic. It had all the elements that we love these rotten, disposable shows: bullying, crushing egos, manipulation, devious planning, and then the moment when it all backfires and strikes that person right back really hard. Let’s do a run down on all the housemembers one by one and discuss how they fit into last night’s shenanigans:
JERRY: The oldest member (75) ever on BB. Ex-Marine, prone to wearing shorts a lot and “I’m a Korean War Veteran” cap. Stares into space a lot. No one talks to him in the buddy-buddy, let’s-go-lift weights kind of way. Gets hugs like he gets from his granddaughters. But he’s the HOH, chosen for the mere fact that he’s a king dad, and he has taken it seriously. He put up Renny and Jessie only because they caused “conflict” but also did so because he was kowtowed into this by Brian, whom he blindly saw as another military type (Air Force –and what an example!) he could trust. Brian convinced him to put up these two, then later Memphis, but that was before Brian’s flimsy alliance came apart and the others went after him hard. Jerry is old.
RENNY: The second oldest, in her mid-fifties, and easily the most annoying. She is a harridan, a harpie, who is loud and maybe at one time in her native New Orleans was a party girl and drinker, and is prone to wearing wigs and foolish headwraps. She caused the “conflict” by waking Jessie up late at night while she was playing a prank on others. Walks around a lot, usually seeking out corners on her own and likes to talk to herself. Does not take much to set her off. Is like the crazy aunt that everyone tries to avoid at family picnics. Is up for elimination tonight, but probably will stay for two reasons: 1) she is wacky and will self-destruct eventually; 2) she will never win a physical challenge to save her.
BRIAN: Is 27, from the Sacramento area, served in the Air Force for several years but, according to his bio, was honorably discharged. Yeah, I thought that too, but that’s maybe nor the reason. Anyways, he makes the foolish mistake of coming on too strong and thinking he can call the shots and tell everyone what to do from day one. Meaning: he recruits another Alpha male, Dan, and then Ollie to form an alliance. He doesn’t succeed in bringing Memphis into the mix, so he becomes a target (too strong). He does not expect that Ollie will expose him and get most everyone else to change Jerry’s mind about not putting up Memphis after Jessie wins the Power-of-Veto. Brian gets played because of his own ego but doesn’t show too much emotion when Jerry finally puts him up for elimination. Look to see him voted out tonight.
OLLIE: Also 27, African-American, preacher’s son, doesn’t smoke or drink, but he sure knows something-something about wooing the ladies, especially a needy April, who is crushed to find out that she has possibly been played by Ollie to win her over to the evil Brian alliance. But then Ollie does the switcheroo because he doesn’t want to make the ladies, and principally April, mad. He is the one who engineers the mutiny of somehow getting much of the house into Jerry’s room to tell him how he has been snookered by Brian. Ollie’s smooth and slick, and will probably cause some trouble later on. I don’t believe all his talk about being a goody-two-shoes. He will be cursing and hollering before you know it. Oh and he isn’t a fan of the gays.
JESSIE: About 23 or so, from Iowa, he doesn’t seem to register much in the way of intelligence but seems obsessed with his bodybuilding, which is his profession. Has pretty much stayed quiet except, of course, for the unlucky tiff with Renny. She told him to grow up and she did apologize for it, but it’s really that he got caught up in this. Jessie has the attention span of a gnat, and should not be a major force. Body builders don’t usually do that (except maybe Hardy, season 2) well because they can’t concentrate. Jessie won the Power-of-Veto and naturally took himself off. (The stunt involved dragging your honey-soaked body on the ground in order to pop feathered pillows and finding teddy bears. Yeah, I know.)
MEMPHIS: Hails from LA and calls himself a “mixologist”, as if bartending is a superior vocation like discovering vaccines. Mostly non-descript thus far, although possesses good physical strength. He won the very first physical challenge and won a new classic 70s Chevy Camaro. (This alone, Jerry felt, was worthy of his leaving the house and thus he believed Brian’s manipulations.) Look for Memphis to have a decent stay in the BB house and look to him to win challenges.
DAN: A Catholic high school teacher from Dearborn, Michigan and 24. He also doesn’t like the gays much (perhaps obviously), but doesn’t like liberals anyways and thus will probably show his conservative colors pretty soon. Fell under Brian’s spell since the two seemed to be on an even keel, and the two seemed comfortable crawling onto the same daybed in the living room together, almost snuggled up close, wearing only t-shirts and shorts. It’s probably nothing, of course, but now Dan was exposed yesterday as being Brian’s minion, which should speed up his dismissal. However, look for him to make nice and spread his charm as the days go by, once Brian leaves.
APRIL: April the bubbly blonde comes from Arizona, and works as a finance manager at a car dealership. According to her bio, she admits to having OCD and “can’t sleep at night if the bottles in her refrigerator aren’t upright”. Also she counts as her interests “watching sports, grilling outside, bowling and having sex.” All of which makes her loads of fun. Has only shown minor brainpower thus far, as when she went around at the meet-and-greet on day 1 and had everyone feel her “real” (as opposed to fake, like many a former BB-ers) breasts. That almost caused Jerry to have an aneurysm. Also, April has fallen too easily for the charms of Ollie, for reasons I do not know. Was also near tears. Will be the delicate one this season, it seems.
LIBRA: Comes from Texas, married, with twins (one Black and one White), and is the only Black woman in the house. Apparently, and according to her bio, she is an Obama supporter, which should at least set some people off. I don’t recall too much talk about politics (ho hum!) in past BB seasons though. Last night April pretty much led the female fight against Brian telling them what to do, and confronted Ollie on his own folly in siding with him initially. Libra will be a potent force in the house.
STEVEN: Steven is 35 and a gay rodeo “competitor” from Dallas. I will back up –yes, gay rodeo (you didn’t know they had gay rodeos?) So Steven is this season’s openly gay housemember, and he seems like a pleasant guy. Except that he has not, as far as we have seen on TV, come out and said this. During the introductions inside the house, there was the filmed reaction that he didn’t want to say just yet, so he simply said he was “single” and “I have no kids”. Yet a little while later, just before the Renny/Jessie incident, Steven seemed to guffaw a little too loudly at her hi-jinks and made other oblique indications that he wasn’t like –well, a guy like Dan or Jessie. (What straight guy would look at April’s breasts and says “Shut up?!”) I have a feeling that the “Yes, I’m gay” moment happened behind the scenes and that CBS is waiting to show us that “very special” segment soon. Look to him to have to defend his existence to Dan and Ollie for sure, and have some self-esteem crises. Yet Steven does not have, thus far at least, the sashaying flamboyance of the wrapped-towel-on-the-head Marcellus (BB Season 3) or the simpering Bunky from BB2.
ANGIE: Not much to discern as yet, except that she is Korean-American (like Jun, the winner of BB a few years back, but has none of her party-girl-isms) and is very close to her family.
MICHELLE: Describes herself as “28, I’m Portuguese, and that means I’m loud”. Fine example for Luso-Americans all around, I suppose. (At least she announces this in advance before she starts slapping people.) Otherwise, she seems to enjoy the physical challenges and is quick to run to Gramps for goodnight kisses or to make sure he is not having any heart attacks. (I am concerned that Jerry may keel over during an upcoming food challenge if his labored rolling around in a pool of honey last night is any indication.)
KEESHA: Absolutely under the radar, as in nothing special to be said, except that she is blonde, stacked, and works at Hooter’s in Burbank. She smiles well.
It should be a thrilling season, and yes, it certainly does get better (or worse) as the summer progresses. Stay tuned for some regular BB10 updates.