CBS’s annual summer schedule filler, Big Brother, has only been on the air for about 3 weeks and has taken its dominant position as the main occupier of my free time. There are so many things I love about this show that its hard to combine them into a few paragraphs, so I’m breaking out a list of my top favorite things.
Chenbot Has there ever been a more perfect host for a TV show? Probably… Mrs. Chen is far from perfect. On any given night the Chenbot, as she is lovingly referred to, will flub approximately half her lines, correct herself at least once, say “But First…” approximately 3 times, leave huge gaps of dead air while she waits for her script to be updated on the TelePrompTer, awkwardly acknowledge declarations of admiration from the houseguests, and generally grind the momentum of the taped segments to a halt. If such things weren’t so endearing they would absolutely make it tough to tune in. Where the Chenbot truly shines is the interview segments. Julie is able to coax relevant, honest answers from the weekly Houseguest who has been voted out. She does it so effortlessly and with such a commanding presence I can’t imagine anyone better prepared to maintain a sense of decorum and propriety over what is essentially a unisex frat house.
Alliances I’m convinced the producers used The Breakfast Club when coming up with the social dynamic for this show, and they stick to that template because its worked so well. This year is no exception. We have your jocks: Cody, Devin and Zach. Brains: Derrick, Jocosta, Joey, Nicole, Christine. Introverts: Amber, Victoria. Loner types: Hayden, Donnie, Caleb. And Princesses: Frankie, Paola, Brittany. Predictably Devin quickly formed The Bomb Squad alliance with six of the guys and two of the girls, which rightly blew up in his face. Meanwhile, there are multiple alliances going on. Four of the women, Amber, Joey, Nicole and Paola formed the El Cuatro alliance, Donny and Devin formed the Double Ds, and the first eight to enter the house formed an alliance on THE FIRST DAY called the Crazy 8s. Christine, Hayden and Nicole formed an alliance without a nickname, and Derrick, Donnie and Frankie were put into Team America, an alliance formed in secret by viewers. All these alliances in the beginning are confusing and pretty much meaningless, it makes you wonder if any of these houseguests have watched previous seasons? If they had, then they’d know that on this show, early alliances rarely hold. There’s just to much to factor in. People backstab all the time as a matter of course. Any alliance formed before Jury Selection starts is highly suspect to me.
Showmances its early in the season, and so far 2 notable showmances have surfaced: Caleb is obsessed with Amber (though she’s more into Cody) but can’t exactly say the words, so he pines away quietly; and Zach and Frankie, which has only been mentioned on blogs (including CBS’s show blog) and various Big Brother boards. CBS is the network your parents watch for nightly news and Two and a half Men reruns and David Letterman, so its no surprise to me that they’re skittish about a GAY-ish showmance. Relax CBS! So far its just been some innocent cuddling and there have been far more obvious showmances that were formed for the sake of getting further ahead in the show. I’ll be genuinely surprised if CBS does show anything on their primetime show regarding Zankie, but who knows? Expect the Unexpected! Oh, and there’s also the showmance the whole house has with Donny, which is par for the course— any older person on the show is automatically deemed adorable and not seen as a threat (see also, Renny S8)
Competitions Haves and have nots, On the block, Backdoored, Power of Veto, Head of Household (HOH) are all associated with these competitions, often contests of feats of strength/endurance, quick thinking, but every so often there’s a simple challenge around spelling for example which ultimately makes all the houseguests appear to have a about a third grade education. This was further evidenced when Devin convinced Caleb and himself that Donny, a direct cousin of Forrest Gump, the Lawnmower Man and the slow kid in your kindergarten class who ate paste, was a former CIA/Marine because he had no hair on his ankles. Other than brainpower, these Competitions are reminiscent of the Double Dare Challenges on Nickelodeon, often with the Houseguests having to trudge through goo, be sprayed with water or foam, all while completing some simple challenge. Its mindless fun, and the smart ones have figured out exactly when to drop out without hurting their games or turning their alliance against them.
Eye Candy Besides adorable old person Donnie, almost all the guys are hot. And being filmed in the valley, its hotter than hell in their backyard and gives them ample opportunity to stand around shirtless.
Twists: Each year outdoes itself when it comes to twists, this year adding a second HOH and and probably more to come. Its a little early to judge, but i’m not really a fan of the dual HOH idea. It seems to have lessened the drama and sapped some of the energy out of the show. I’m sure once the houseguests have been whittled down sufficiently, we’ll go back to a single HOH, but until then, its an interesting experiment.
The Big Brother House Unlike other house-based shows like The Real World, the proportions of the Big Brother house are gigantic. To try to compensate, the production designers use outsized themes to try to give a little continuity to the rooms, but it usually looks odd on screen. This year i think has something to do with sustainabilty. Sure, we’ll go with that. With a propensity for neon colors and huge patterns which are garish and eye-poppingly awful most of the time, it’s not so much interior design as it is cheap sherbet melting in the sun.
These exchanges as the houseguests cross each other on the way to the diary room to vote are a highlight, often getting more and more intricate. Obviously planned and choreographed by the houseguests themselves, they’re fun little windows into just how much time these people have on their hands, various showmances and bromances, and underlying alliances.
BONUS: After Dark Its literally impossible to not interact with this show. Social media has so many sites dedicated just to this show. Fans who don’t have a job and and extra $27 laying around can satisfy their curiosity watching the live feeds 24 hours a day and participate in various chat rooms, etc that CBS has set up. Various websites have cropped up to give up to the minute synopsis of the various house goings on, my fave site being here. Also, if your an insomniac or nightowl, TVGN broadcasts 2 hours every night of unedited footage from the house. Relatively tamer than it once was when it was broadcast on Showtime AfterDark, now it’s mostly discussions of gameplay etc. The place to go if you just cant get enough from the three hours a week CBS broadcasts.
What do you like best? Let me know in the comments!