‘Big Brother’ recap: Senior moments
In China, senior citizens are highly respected, even revered. So with that in mind, here’s an SAT analogy: Up is to down as China is to Big Brother. Seriously, have the majority of the BB production staff had really bad experiences with their grandparents? Because they are taking all their barely concealed rage out on poor Jerry.
Through our retired Marine, what have we learned about senior citizens this week through BB? That they are boring, gullible, prone to falling into swimming pools, and — judging by the large Ziploc of pills that Jerry was clutching like a security blanket — highly medicated. Jeez, why not just go the whole hog and hire an 80-year-old to parade through the house in a pair of Depends while constantly pointing out things that, in his day, used to cost a nickel?
Really, you gotta feel for the guy. First off, he’s trapped in a house with four people who enjoy excluding him from their powwows, so all he can do is putter around the house talking to himself. The word “putter” is a verb only used in relation to old people (much like the adjective “jolly” only applies to overweight people), so even if he wanted to fight the stereotype of a senior citizen, he has been forced into a position where he can’t avoid puttering. Don’t even try to buck the cliché, Jerry, you’ll putter and you’ll like it! It’s like putting a Polish person into the house, and making him compete in nothing but lightbulb-screwing competitions.
This week they did all they could to establish him as the Dullard. On Tuesday we saw him boring Renny to death, and she actually said, “Look at the time,” to get away. I didn’t think that exit strategy existed as anything but a sarcastic joke, but it turns out in New Orleans it’s a valid escape hatch. I wonder if, in the Big Easy, when people say, “I gotta see a man about a horse,” they actually do have to see a man about a horse.
But it’s not enough for Jerry to be shown boring people. The producers have to underline the fact by adding the same music you’d use to score a mildly retarded cartoon elephant. It’s a “waa, waa, waa, womp” tune that summon visions of a fat kid with his hand stuck in a candy jar. This was used to especially cruel effect when Jerry had everyone up to his HOH room and treated them to the parable of Hissy the Snake. There’s no quicker TV-edit shorthand to portray someone as a blowhard than to chop up their story to make it seem like it’s been going on for days. I’m surprised they didn’t intercut shots of an old man’s beard growing eight inches, and trees growing leaves that then change color and fall off. Look, it probably was a dull story: I can imagine very few tales about a character named Hissy that wouldn’t be dull, unless it was the tale of Hissy the Serial Killing Porn Star. And as Memphis said, “I’ve got to listen to another story of Jerry’s. Which is more than likely not going to be exciting, or make any sense, or be funny.” But my heart goes out to the guy: He’s in a situation where he can’t possibly be embraced by his houseguests, so why kick him when he’s down? Especially when he falls down so well on his own.
NEXT: Jerry’s sinking feeling
Yes, the pool thing. I was sent that clip on YouTube on Sunday night, and I wondered whether they’d air it or not on Tuesday. How did I doubt it? Now first of all, before I criticize the clip, let me say that I am not taking the high road on this one: I am an unashamed fan of America’s Funniest Home Videos, and there are few things I enjoy more than footage of old people falling over. (Some videos that outrank it: people being scared, people being hurt on trampolines, and slide accidents.) So I have no moral high ground here. Hell, I still consider the funniest moment of the terminally unfunny Big Brother 1 to be the moment that the one-legged future champ, Eddie, slipped on the bathroom floor and fell on his butt. Yes, I laughed at a one-legged guy falling down. Will someone please put that up on YouTube already? How long must I wait to see it again?
Anyway, my problem with the Jerry pool shot is that it wasn’t that funny a fall, it was just kind of awkward. Plus, they cut it in a really strange way, dampening the oomph of an old guy toppling into the water. But the producers’ glee of having this caught on tape practically melted my TV screen. They first showed it on Tuesday, but then they showed it again on the Thursday live show in front of Jerry. “Look, old man, you fell down! Here it is again! Hold on a minute, we’re just calling your grandchildren and other Marine buddies into the room to make sure they see it on an endless loop and you are minimized in front of everyone whose respect you count on! But don’t worry, we’ll have Julie ask if you’re all right afterwards, just as a patronizing cherry on your humiliation sundae.”
He was also booby-trapped on Thursday’s show: When Julie, talking to him in his HOH room, asked about his approaching Keesha for an alliance, she said, “Is it personal or is it strategic?” And the very moment she said “personal,” they cut to a split screen of him and Keesha, all tricked out in a low-cut dress. Subtext: “Are you just lusting after this young Hooters waitress, you dirty, dirty, dirty old man?”
I’m starting to sound like a Jerry apologist, even though I was never that much of a fan. Nor would I want to sit around a house with nothing to do but listen to him distribute life lessons. I just feel bad for the guy. Perhaps it’s because I’m struggling with nearing the age of 40, and realizing that though I feel like I’m the same guy I was at 25, I’m not, and I want to make sure that I stay aware of that if I’m ever sitting around on a reality show boring the crap out of a bunch of 20somethings with tales about my stuffed animals.
All right, sorry for all that Jerry talk, but it had to be said. Then again, that’s probably what Jerry said about his Hissy story and OH MY GOD, I’M JERRY, EXCEPT I’M TELLING STORIES ABOUT JERRY INSTEAD OF HISSY! Let’s change topics before this gets worse and I start tucking my T-shirts into my shorts.
NEXT: Let’s make a deal
So the big story of the week was Memphis’ scamming of, well, Jerry. Jerry, without a single ally, won the skee-ball challenge to become HOH after Ollie got the boot. (I will repeat that I have been impressed and surprised by how these incredibly goofy challenges have gotten really exciting as people come from behind. I can’t believe it when I find myself on the edge of my seat: It’s like being riveted by a game of freeze tag.) With Jerry in charge, and spoiling plans for the Alliance of Four to nab the last spots, Memphis began laying it on thick with Jerry. He told him, “I would rather battle the best person in this game [in the final two], and right now it’s you.” Soon Memphis had contracts with him, Dan, and Keesha. I think he even had one with Cappie, Josh Souza, Nakomis, and that sumo guy at the end of Thursday’s episode. With Memphis and Dan betraying everybody, it’ll be nice to see a final two in which neither contestant can take a moral high road. The only thing that could ruin it is if one of them tells the jury he’s going to give part of his winnings to charity. Man, I hate that.
With only four alliance mates and Jerry in the house, there’s not much fighting going on, which means the producers have more time to focus on quotidian matters. I’ve noticed that there’ve been less of those extracurricular conversations this season, perhaps because nobody’s paused much from screaming at each other up until now. So we were treated to a mockery of Keesha’s laugh, Dan teasing Renny, and many examples of Renny’s craziness. There was her mix-up of time zones, and then her far odder sleep-bingeing on Almond Joys. When she woke up in the morning, confused by the candy wrappers littering her bed, it was like the world’s dullest knockoff of a werewolf movie. Instead of being shocked and confused by animal fur and blood all over her sheets, she is alarmed by her evil side’s love of candy: “Oh my God, at night I turn into somebody who…needs something slightly more nutty than a Mounds bar!”
Anyway, while this was all going on, Memphis was trying to nuance his alliances. He said that he had to be careful to make people think he had promised them his allegiance without actually doing it. (Yet to a questioning Jerry, he finally said, “I made my word to you, and I don’t break my word.” Not that much nuance there. Just a lie, really.) But the Renegades seemed to be the only true alliance. I think there’s more to their friendship than we’re being told. There was an odd moment between them Tuesday night when we saw the two Renegades outside at night talking strategy. Memphis was wearing a Daniel Boone raccoon hat, while Dan crouched down at the edge of the pool, tying something (couldn’t tell what) to a bit of pool furniture. This tableau raised more questions than it answered. I’m not implying that they’re lovers, mind you, just that they have a rich fantasy life that involves frontiersmen and tiny, tiny knots.
NEXT: Au revoir
Memphis promised Jerry that if he won the POV, he wouldn’t take Dan off the block, and Dan would be out. The POV challenge was a familiar one called “Rock-a-bye Veto” (Such a creative name! Hey, maybe this year it’ll win a Chally!), and players had to guess which houseguests’ faces were fused together to make a baby picture. (It’s a rip-off of Conan O’Brien’s “If They Mated” bit. Hey, maybe this year it’ll win a Rippy!) Renny once again proved that she is neither a physical nor a mental threat. It took her 23 minutes to finish the puzzle (the winner finished in under three minutes), mostly because a photo of a bald baby stymied her. Considering there was only one bald person in the house — Jerry — this seemed like a gimme, but she specifically ruled him out right away, saying, “Jerry has thin lips.” Renny is a police sketch artist’s worst nightmare.
Memphis won the POV, and yanked Dan, so Jerry was forced to put up Renny. I thought for sure this would warrant another “Screw you people!” but Jerry remained calm, and simply retreated to his room, where he could fall off his bed in peace. He said, “I will certainly do something in retribution,” but that seemed highly unlikely considering that no matter who was left, it would now be three against one — him — and he’d be the only one with no chance of HOH.
Jerry does know this game, though: Thursday night he broke everything down for Keesha, having figured out that Memphis had a deal with everybody, and that he and Dan were the ultimate partnership. He tried to get Keesha to partner with him to take them down, but so far she seems like she’s not biting. Had she won the HOH, it might not have been the worst thing to put up Dan and Memphis and team with Jerry; she should know she’d just place third if she didn’t break from them. But considering that Dan would go on to win HOH (in what seemed like an impossible challenge of remembering minutiae about pictures), there was nothing to be gained by teaming with Jerry, who, barring a POV victory, can’t possibly save himself this time.
, as she knew would happen, was voted out. Before the voting, she made a speech in which she said she was a “survivor of unimaginable grief,” but didn’t elaborate. That’s self-restraint I really respect. She may have been completely off her nut, but she always had the common sense and maturity not to drag her family or private life out onto TV for our entertainment. For all her wacky antics and bedazzled jewelry, I don’t feel like I know that much about her, and for someone on reality TV to pull that off is quite a feat.
NEXT: Ollie and April’s reunion
One moment I’ve been saving for last: our much-anticipated trip to the jury house, where we discovered that it was not the house that made April act like a bitch, it was her bitchy self. She entered the house and hugged Libra (in the fakest show of affection since Michael Jackson kissed Lisa Marie Presley on MTV), and then proceeded to rail against Keesha. She said she’d welcome Keesha if she arrived, “and hopefully there won’t be any bedrooms available and she’ll have to sleep outside.” The comedic stylings of April, ladies and gentlemen!
Michelle arrived with a DVD of highlights. Seeing herself on TV, Michelle said, “Oh my God, I do look good on camera!”, which bothered me in so many ways that I think I sprained something. But then we were treated to an unpleasant-off between her and April. Watching Keesha hang from the rope swing, April snickered, “She’s not losing any weight,” to which Michelle replied, “She gained like 15 pounds in her ass.” Oh how they laughed and laughed and laughed!…and then, just a minute later, April told the camera, “I left the house with all my respect and dignity and pride. Some of these people actually have to live with themselves outside this game, and I feel sorry for them.” Wow, what stereotypically catty behavior. In a week where Governor Palin has proclaimed her nomination to be a great step for women, TV — in the form of April and the scarily skinny female cast of the new 90210— is making sure they push their gender four steps back.
Soon Ollie arrived, and we finally got the resolution to the biggest anti-cliff-hanger ever: Would April be his girlfriend? “Yes!” she cried, and then they hugged. I think this was meant to be a big romantic moment, but it was like watching Donald Trump and Ann Coulter make out. Two unpleasant people become exponentially more unpleasant if they are romantically involved. I’d have been happier to see Jerry and Hissy hook up. Sure, the pillow talk would be endless, but at least their hearts would be in the right place.
Next week there will be two Watches (That’s right. Two Watches!) — Wednesday and Friday — after Big Brother features two live eviction shows the nights before.