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'Big Brother' season 17 premiere recap: 8 new houseguests and three big twists

Eight new houseguests are introduced and of course… twists on twists on twists.

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Sonja Flemming/CBS

Big Brother

TV Show
Reality TV
Julie Chen
Current Status:
In Season

Last year’s Big Brother, in some ways, broke expectations of how Big Brother could play out. Granted, it took the proper mix of houseguests, twists, and luck, but Derrick Levasseur so expertly manipulated his fellow houseguests that they practically thanked him as he stabbed them in the back. There were fights and disagreements, sure, but on the whole it was a relatively quiet season, the house keeping at a status quo as Derrick moved every pawn into place.

So the premiere of Big Brother’s 17th season feels reactionary to that calm by (hopefully) ensuring there’s never a moment of rest in the walls of the BB house. How will the producers accomplish that? The only way Big Brother knows how: twists. And not just one twist. Oh no, what do you think this is, Big Brother: Kindergarten?

There will be a three big twists from the season—two being the ghosts of twists past and one twist so twisty it will have twist offspring each and every week.

But before discovering how twisted those twists will twist, let’s meet the first eight houseguests that Julie Chen has deemed worthy to enter the hallowed halls of her well-lit and camera-laden summer house.

James: A South Carolinian who believes he stands out for his camo outfit… and for being Asian (of unsure exact ethnicity due to being adopted) with a drawl. Expect to hear an essay on how the camo is a metaphor for James’ hidden past in the coming months.

Meg: With enough exuberance and energy to power a small city and give Anne Hathaway a run for her money, Meg hails from New York City. But she must not have lived in the city that long if she still has that much pep left in her (even after five cups of coffee I’m still only mildly awake walking through midtown).

Jace: Living in Venice Beach, California, Jace loves skateboarding, surfing, and grew up inspired by Indiana Jones (Hopefully Raiders of the Lost Ark Jones and not Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Jones).

Audrey: A digital media consultant, is a self-proclaimed girly girl from Georgia. In her initial appearance, Audrey hints that she has something to tell the housemates, but remains tightlipped for the moment. If you’ve been following any news around the show, you’ll know that she’s going to tell her fellow houseguests that she is a transgender woman. But for her introduction, she’s simply packing her belongings with the intent of channeling her inner Dexter Morgan. (Though considering Dexter’s finale was so poorly received, it may not be the best TV show protagonist to model your game plan on.)

Austin: A wrestler with a deep, dark secret… he has a master’s degree in medieval romance literature. Okay, so maybe it’s not dark, but Austin also lived a life as a WWE wrestler who went by the name Judas Devlin. He goes into the house hoping to use his double life as an advantage, initially stepping in looking like a jacked up Martin Starr.

Da’Vonne: A freelance poker dealer and single mother who, throughout the episode, frequently reminds us of the cunning skill it takes to play and deal poker. Yeah, we’ve all seen Ocean’s Eleven too, Da’vonne. But she’s hoping to use that experience and initially pretend to be unassuming and catch the other houseguests by surprise.

Clay: Now, Clay initially seems like a full-on cliche: the buff guy (who played football in college) with a soft side (he loves caring for baby animals). But then Clay offers such a surprising moment of self-awareness I can only hope it translates into his life in the house. While still at home, some footage shows him playing football shirtless. As the camera saddles up to him he says, “Just a casual day playing football with my shirt off,” while the guy he’s playing catch with is fully clothed. Is it a fluke or will he simply be eye candy for half of the houseguests? (Spoilers: That second one definitely comes true.)

Shelli: Another Georgian who also promises she is a girly girl, indicating Georgia may need to look into a new state motto. The home decorator is also probably the first to indicate showmancing might be in the cards this year, as she mentions being divorced and newly single.

And so these eight contestants are thrown through the door that shall not be opened (unless you’re evicted), frantically choosing beds and getting to know each other. Before all the fighting, alliance building, and backdooring begins, of course.

NEXT: A twist returns and an HoH is crowned.