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'Big Brother': New cast? Snap judgments!

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Big Brother returns in six days. And early Thursday, we got our first look at the 16 people who agreed to spend the summer trapped inside an urban treehouse debasing themselves in the hopes of winning half a million dollars. Hopefully without the racism this time! Soon we’ll get to know all about these contestants: Their hopes, their dreams, their thoughts, their schemes. But in the interest of maintaining a shallow, skin-deep perspective on the pantheon-worthy reality show, EW set two Big Brother obsessives to work on snap judging the new cast. Warning: Baseless theories and celebrity siblings ahead!

Erin Strecker: Kicking things off we’ve got “YouTube Personality” Frankie Grande — who, per wikipedia, is Ariana Grande’s older half-brother. This means Ariana is totally running a challenge, right? Also: Is Ariana Grande’s brother so hard-up for cash/promotion that Big Brother seems like the right choice?

Darren Franich: Everything about this is incredible news. CBS is telling the kids of the world: “We get it. You want HD. You want treehouses. You want Ariana Grande…’s older half-brother.”

I’m excited for the first-week story arc to be Frankie Grande being worried that people will find out he’s Ariana Grande’s brother. We’ve been burned by celebrity relations before. I’m betting he’s out before the end of the first month.

Erin: Likely, but! What if there’s an America’s Vote type thing and Ariana’s fans keep him in the house, over the objections of everyone IN the house? #TeensVote

Darren: Arrghhh, America’s vote! AKA “Let’s Keep Elissa Around For A Whole Summer Of Doing Nothing.” Okay, I’m choosing instead to be optimistic about this situation. He has pink hair. He’s a YouTube personality, which I assume means he has no soul. Let’s say he gets to jury.

Erin: Next up is Jocasta Odom, a 33-year-old minister.

Darren: She’s a minister…WITH A BOWTIE. A golden bowtie. I’m already half-onboard. Also, she’s from Georgia, which apropos of nothing at all implies a certain amount of “straight-talking authenticity,” which is my Big Brother euphemism for “not an out-of-work actor living in Los Angeles.”

Erin: But how cool is she going to be with out-of-work actors? I can see her rubbing people the wrong way and getting the boot early, a la Howard.

Darren: That’s right, I almost forgot: God is dead inside of the Big Brother house. Let’s move on to our next contestant: Donny Thompson, groundskeeper and beard.

Erin: Did he get lost on the way to Duck Dynasty casting?

Darren: The good news for Donny is: If he lasts a long time, A&E will absolutely give him his own reality show. And then there’s all the bad news…

Erin: “School groundskeeper” implies some physical strength, though, so perhaps a dark horse to make it halfway through the show?

Darren: Too old, too bearded. Like, imagine him in the same room as the bikini hotties and shirtless boob-dudes. They’ll treat him like a kindly uncle and then get rid of him. Unless he’s not kindly, then they’ll definitely get rid of him. I say he’s this season’s Eternal Pawn.

Erin: Hey, sometimes Bearded Eternal Pawns take third place, inexplicably. What’s your read on Esthetician Amber Borzotra?

Darren: My read on Esthetician Amber Borzotra is that it took me longer to find out the definition of the word “Esthetician” than it did to find a picture of her online wearing only a necktie.


Darren: I am anti-optimistic. But we always need a couple blandroids!

Erin: Could she maybe use her raw sexual power (eye roll) to manipulate some dudes into keeping her around? I say she’s out within three weeks.

Darren: Agreed. I don’t get a big “strategy” vibe. But now we gotta talk about Hayden Voss, Pedicab Driver. Is it too early to declare the dark horse champion?

Erin: He absolutely could be! He seems like he could be a fun goofball, and that goes a long way in the house — and with viewers. I can see him winning over everyone with jokes. “Oh, Hayden!”

Darren: He’s a kid who looks like a boho caveman. He’s got a funny hat and killer shoes. Hawaiian shirt. He’s Mr. Lovable. But is he TOO lovable?

Erin: Speaking of lovable, event coordinator Brittany Martinez seems down for a showmance!

Darren: She is mingle-ready. But am I crazy, or do I spot a bit of savvy calculation behind those eyes? I see her showmancing with a sex idiot and becoming the Lord of the Borzotras. In the land of the dumb, the one-brain-celled lady is Queen.

Erin: You mean she might have it in her to “coordinate” an alliance that leaves her Queen of the Treehouse? She’s going to play a good social game.

Darren: And speaking of good social game, can we discuss Biceps O’Reilly, aka Devin Shepherd? Best occupation so far: “Former Professional Baseball Player/Motorcycle Sales Manager.”

Erin: He’s got to play smart social game the first few weeks, otherwise, he could be an early candidate for eviction as the other house guests get intimidated by his muscles. But can we talk about my dark horse to win it all, barista Christine Brecht? She seems like a bit of a nerd, with a girl next door vibe. She can win over the guys, but likely has at least a few secrets up her sleeve. (See: tattoos)

Darren: She has glasses. She has a struggling-writer job, not a struggling-actor job. I already feel an incredible kinship with Christine. She seems like somebody you and I could get a craft beer with. But my secret suspicion is that I’d be the first person voted out of the Big Brother house. I am hopeful, but not optimistic. But OH MY GOD ERIN ERIN ERIN. Can we talk about how Caleb Reynolds, age 26, is an “Adventure Hunting Guide”? And he looks like a country-music star? And DENIM DENIM DENIM.

Erin: OMG OMG OMG If he breaks out a tune, he’s breaking into America’s heart. The ladies are going to be charmed by him. I’m getting a “Judd Supercharged” vibe. Could be a goofball, could be secretly great at the game. Also, can he please do a confessional to the camera where he just tells me things about being an Adventure Hunting Guide?

Darren: Best-case scenario he’s Chris Pratt: Floats like a goofy butterfly, stings like a bicepped bee. Worst-case scenario he’s this season’s most charming floater. But let’s get down to brass tacks here, Erin. Joey Van Pelt. Blue hair. From Seattle. Wears red-mesh shirts. Good eccentric or out-in-the-first-week eccentric?

Erin: I feel like she could be out the door first. If she doesn’t quickly win over the other women, she’s gone. We’ve already got ONE crazy hair color person — and he knows Ariana Grande!). No use here.

Darren: Unless they form a crazy-hair coalition?

Erin: Think of the alliance names!

Darren: You know who’s NOT invited to that coalition? Blandsome Jeansmith, aka Cody Calafiore. Is he a person or a digital construct?

Erin: A digital construct that the dumbest woman in the house will be hooking up with by week 2. Real talk: Has he seen an episode of the show before? (No.)

Darren: Real talk: Does he maybe just think that the Big Brother audition was a Craigslist ad for a summer apartment?

Erin: He needs somewhere to live! We don’t know his life!

Darren: Apropos of nothing, I’m already hoping for a Vapid Showmance between Cody and Nicole Franzel, Recent Nursing Graduate. She’s got glasses!

Erin: 21 and already a nursing school grad!? Girl’s got game! But we can’t have two quirky glasses ladies. Now, serious question: How many “right to remain silent” jokes is Derrick Levasseur, police officer, going to make?

Darren: Derrick wins Most Likely To Have a Nickname. Officer? Sergeant Slaughter? THE COMMISH? Also in his favor: He’s a Providence born-and-raised hometown boy. Hometown boys have a good history on the show. I’m seeing him as the enforcer/brains of a dude alliance.

Erin: The Enforcer! Ugh, Paola Shea is a DJ, and that’s a giant NOPE.

Darren: Whoa, Erin. What’s your ish with DJs? Also, what’s your ish with nonessential suspenders?

Erin: The DJ thing makes me think partier, which means she’s not in it to win it. But! Maybe she’ll make an ironic accessories alliance with bowtie lady?

Darren: I quote from her DJ biography: “She has appeared in commercials for GoDaddy.com, MTV’s Band Ballers, online in Maxim.com, ComplexMagazine.com, and numerous other fashion ads, videos, and campaigns.” What I’m saying is: This gal can hustle. I’m calling either top 4 OR out week 2 because everyone else feels threatened.

Erin: So she’s a GinaMarie minus racism plus hopefully a few more brain cells? Also, I didn’t know we were doing RESEARCH! (*cheating*)

Darren: You know what I don’t need to research? ZACH RANCE.

Erin: Has a photo ever summed someone up so completely?

Darren: The hair. The shirt. The pointing fingers. And is that…a goatee? Or is that, like, missed stubble? What’s the over-under that his first name is pronounced “Zatch?”

Erin: I’ll answer your question with a question: What’s the over/under on him trying to give himself the catchphrase “You just got Zach attacked!” Also: Does he look a bit like Dan Gheesling? I’M NOT SUGGESTING THEY’RE EQUALLY TALENTED. But the resemblance is there a bit?

Darren: He looks like Dan Gheesling mixed with a skateboard. My suggestion for his catchphrase: “You just got Sacked! RANCE-SACKED!” Get it? Like, ransacked, except ANYHOW MOVING ON.

Erin: Oh man, I hope he sticks around solely so he can try out different pun-based catchphrases each week. But I bet he’ll be out pre-jury. Leading us to the final contestant OMG IS SHE WEARING A GOWN?

Darren: That’s a gown, Erin. This season just got classy.

Erin: What percent chance is it that she’s competed in a beauty pageant AND WILL TELL YOU ABOUT IT ASAP?

Darren: But she’s more than just a beauty queen! She plays the harpsichord for poor kids on weekends!


Darren: That wasn’t Google! I see it all in her eyes (and in her floral-patterned dress)!

Erin: Stop giving her her Miss America answer!

Darren: I call her a wild-card. I worry that she’s a smart lady who will fall for a dumb guy. I worry she’ll get Rance-Sacked!

Erin: Fingers crossed there’s a late-in-the-game alliance of Women Who Got Rance-Sacked.

Darren: And then in the finale, they backstab him, and they say: “YOU just got Rance-Sacked!”

Erin: (*brain explodes*) Okay. Important questions: Who will win it all? And who will we hate the most — who’s the Aaryn, if you will?

Darren: Win it all, I’m calling Caleb the Adventure Hunting Guide. Hate the most, I’m calling Cody the Human. I see darkness behind those empty eyes. But Erin, more importantly: Who will we LOVE to hate the most? And who will we hate to LOVE the most?

Erin: We’re going to love to hate Jocasta Odom, and we’re going to hate that we love Frankie Grande, who’s probably really annoying but a pro at delivering killer one-liners.

Darren: Be honest. Am I a bad person for being excited?

Erin: Of course, but I’m right there with you. #UrbanTreehouse

Darren: #AdventureHunting