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Emmys 2017
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'Big Brother': A new HoH brings a 'reign of terror'

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Lisette M. Azar/CBS

A new HoH is crowned; fingers are pointed; tears are shed; nominations are made. But will the latest HoH’s supposed “Reign of Terror” do anything to change the power dynamics in the house, or is it full speed ahead for the Moving Company?

Is anyone else having a hard time figuring out whom they’re rooting for this season on Big Brother? I loathe Jeremy and Aaryn. GinaMarie and Kaitlin irritate me. I find Nick and Spencer somewhat grating, with their constant need to theatrically gloat about just how goshdarn strategic and in control of things they are. McCrae and Howard seem like decent guys, but they’re – unfortunately – part of an otherwise unsavory controlling alliance that is facing little opposition.  Amanda, Andy, Candice, Elissa, Helen, Jessie, and Judd are all largely inoffensive and apparently well-adjusted people, which is about the highest compliment I can pay anyone at this point. Sadly, I’m not that bullish on their prospects right now, as it looks like (gag!) the Moving Company’s game to lose.

It’s a new week, though, which means a new HoH! The potential for shifts in power! The emergence of new heroes! The weak and downtrodden can become the strong and mighty! A new begi—what’s that? Oh, Aaryn won? Nevermind, then.

Yes, America’s favorite “raging bitch” (Amanda’s words, not mine!) is our new Head of Household. Her first order of business? Demanding that all those who voted against David raise their hands, so that they can become this week’s Have-Nots. GinaMarie, playing the part of the Greek Chorus (by way of Staten Island), faithfully echoes her leader: “Yeah; don’t be scrubs: raise your hand!”

Shockingly, the rest of the house doesn’t obey Aaryn’s command. One gets the sense that this is the first time Aaryn’s baby blue-eyed brand of bullying hasn’t worked out for her. She’s the sort of girl you’d see haranguing her parents for only getting Chris Kirkpatrick to perform at her Super Sweet 16 birthday party, or refusing to wear flippers for a Miss Grand Supreme pageant on Toddlers and Tiaras. And not only does she pout with the best of ‘em; she has a bit of a Lorena Bobbitt streak in her – threatening to castrate Nick in his sleep should she discover that he was responsible for David’s ouster. Yikes!

Despite the houseguests’ general disappointment with their new Head of Household, they all do an admirable job at feigning enthusiasm for her HoH room.  Elissa, speaking for the viewer, deadpans: “Being in Aaryn’s HoH room is glorious – not!” Ever consider writing some material for the Zingbot, Elissa?

On that note, the “Who wants to see my HoH room?!” ritual continues to be one of the most puzzling parts of Big Brother for me. Long gone are the days when BB would dramatically redecorate the HoH room to match its resident’s personality. Instead, we’re left with a segment that features the remaining houseguests dragging themselves upstairs to marvel at a few bottles of soda, a bag of Chex Mix, and a tattered stuffed animal. The manic, upbeat music that accompanies what otherwise looks like a funeral procession through a dollar store makes the scene all the more surreal and jarring.

While the departure of David meant the end of one BB showmance, Jessie is more determined than ever to make one of her own. “Everyone has or has had a lover in the house,” Jessie frets, “and I want one!” Her target is the dashing CEO of the Moving Company, Nick, whom she obsessively follows through the house. Unfortunately for Jessie, Nick simply isn’t interested – in fact, he’s a little turned off.  “Talk about a Stage 5 clinger,” Nick exclaims, with a pop culture reference that’s only 8 years out of date. Although I understand (and even applaud) Nick’s refusal to casually engage in a showmantic relationship with Jessie, I do question his rather dismissive attitude towards her. It would seem to me that Jessie was presenting herself to Nick, if not as a lover, then as a potential ally, which could have valuably broadened the Moving Company’s sphere of influence. So coldly rejecting an alliance could end up hurting Nick in the end.

That being said, the Moving Company continues to be in a very good position. Not only are the five core members still committed to each other, as Nick explains, “every person of the Moving Company has their closest faux alliance,” as well. Nick appeared to successfully placate his “faux” ally, GinaMarie, who was mortified at having been on the wrong side of last week’s vote. And as much as I find myself rooting against Spencer, the way he approached Candice prior to the David vote and instructed her to vote against Elissa was, I admit, a clever move. Still, given Helen and Candice’s well-founded suspicions that there might be a “boy supergroup” running the house, maybe there’s trouble on the horizon for the MC? Let’s hope so! And let’s also hope that Helen has more fight in her than was shown after Aaryn’s HoH win, when Helen wept: “God, please give me MVP, America.”

Which reminds me: I was wrong about the MVP twist.  Last week, I somewhat haughtily dismissed the MVP as a glorified popularity contest that rewarded pandering to viewers over actual good gameplay. And while that’s still all true, I’ve come to realize that that is the beautiful thing about it. Big Brother isn’t some sacred game, the rules of which were carved into stone tablets millennia ago. We’re talking about the show responsible for Pandora’s Box, the Coup d’Etat, and Project DNA. The MVP twist is no more offensive or outrageous than any of those; if anything, it’s a bit tamer. Beyond the twist’s strategic implications (the third nominee, the empowering of players who might otherwise be on the outs), I’m delighted and excited by the potential impact of the MVP on players’ psychological states.

Given the sorts of personalities that reality television attracts as contestants, I imagine that most Big Brother players, as they are in the game, imagine themselves as the focal point of the show. Their diary room sessions are the most engaging; their gaffes in competitions are the most endearing and comical; their storyline is the most prominent and compelling. By having America vote for its favorite player every week, however, all but one of the players must face the harsh reality on a weekly basis that they aren’t, as it turns out, all that special or beloved.

Granted, for the time being, the BB15 houseguests are able to assuage their cognitive dissonance by convincing themselves that the only reason Elissa has won MVP is because of Rachel’s fan-base. And that might be an accurate assessment. Once Elissa is gone, though, and another player wins MVP – not that I’m particularly hoping that happens – the houseguests are going to have their egos seriously bruised. Will these houseguests, hoping to win over viewers, try to befriend the MVP and get some residual goodwill as sidekicks to America’s favorite? Or will jealousy make the MVP the object of derision and mistreatment?  I can’t wait to find out.

Oh yeah. Elissa and Helen were nominated.  But what’ll happen next?!  Will Elissa win MVP once again, which seems to be a foregone conclusion?  How many more scenes will feature Aaryn blowing on her fingernails?  Will Jessie ever find true love?  Who will be Clowny’s first victim? Find out next time on Big Brother.