Big Brother

With Helen in control of the house, good is triumphing over evil; mattresses are being flipped; noses are being sniffed; and attempts to throw challenges are being whiffed. This season of Big Brother is getting good.

What a difference a week makes! Why, it was just last Sunday that I was fretting about the complete lack of likable players this season. Turns out that all we needed was some abhorrent behavior from the house’s most repugnant foursome – Aaryn, Jeremy, Kaitlin, and GinaMarie – to bring out the truly commendable qualities possessed by several of the other houseguests. By having a common enemy (shared with all of America), the rest of the house has transformed into a pack of legitimate heroes you can’t help but root for. In the span of seven days, I’ve gone from being resigned to watching the Moving Company steamroll its bland opposition to, now, actually admiring a sizable portion of the cast. Silly me for not expecting the unexpected, right?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Look! There’s poor GinaMarie, and she’s positively inconsolable after the eviction of her star-crossed lover, Nick. “All of yous are so stupid,” she shrieks at her housemates. “ Vote me out next week ‘cause I don’t give a — about any of yous.” Aw, let’s not say things we can’t take back, GinaMarie. And you have a little schmutz under your right nostril. Maybe grab a tissue and – oh, nevermind, yeah, just use a pair of red short shorts. Perfect.

Aaryn is also shattered over last week’s vote, and vents to Kaitlin about how unfair it is that the rest of the house is targeting all the power players. Then something dawns on Aaryn. She’s no longer part of the group that’s running the house! So what does that make her? “We are the m–…” She can’t say it. “The m–…” Try one more time, Aaryn. “We are the minority,” Aaryn finally manages to stammer, the irony of the statement entirely lost on her.

Kaitlin can’t stand not being in with the in-crowd, either: “I feel like I’m back in high school, but I’m on the other side.” Aaryn considers this comparison for a moment. “Like, on the loser’s side?” Enraged by the thought that she is anything but a winner, Aaryn feels the need to express her anger. Physically. Against Candice’s bed. She flings all of Candice’s pillows to the floor, each pillow’s landing accompanied by Kaitlin’s cackling and a deep percussive blast inserted by Big Brother’s brilliant sound editors. Before you know it, Candice’s clothes have been strewn across the room, her pillows left flaccidly lying on the floor, and her mattress flipped over and pushed against the wall.

When Candice discovers this, she is understandably shaken and irritated. Before Candice even has a chance to verbalize her frustration, however, GinaMarie – the tears no longer flowing, the mournful snot now dried upon her upper lip – is squawking inflammatory nonsense in Candice’s face. Howard eventually swoops in and carries off Candice in order to put an end to the argument. In the aftermath of this tense exchange, Jeremy, with his face firmly planted in a pillow, solemnly mutters: “Y’all are not making it better for yourselves.”

And so this is the part of the article where, shockingly, I have to give Jeremy some credit. Don’t get me wrong: I hate the guy. I’m actively rooting against him in this game, and I’m hoping his downfall will be severe and humiliating. Of the four “bad guys” in the house, though, Jeremy is the only one who seems to realize and consistently acknowledge that Big Brother is – who knew? – a game. While Kaitlin and Aaryn are trapped in high school, and as GinaMarie is stuck in a Nasonex commercial, Jeremy actually tries to do some damage control and reintegrate himself into the house. Sure, his attempts at reconciliation are ham-fisted at best – complimenting Helen for winning HoH and Elissa for managing to stay in the game was nothing if not transparent – but at least he’s trying. And at least he realizes the behavior of GinaMarie, Aaryn, and showmance partner Kaitlin is counterproductive to his own game. “I didn’t come here to get married,” Jeremy declares, “I came here to win $500,000.” You’re not going to win the $500,000, Jeremy, but at least you’ve got your priorities straight.

What’s more, Jeremy is somewhat more tolerable as a villain than are his female compatriots. Aaryn, Kaitlin, and GinaMarie all make me feel uncomfortable to be watching Big Brother. Jeremy, on the other hand, just makes me roll my eyes. He’s a sleazeball and a scumbag, but he knows it and makes no effort to hide it. When Jeremy refers to himself as “your main man, the Cherokee Wonder,” he does it with the theatrical bravado of an “evil” professional wrestler, not with the unsettling insensitivity and lack of self-awareness that characterizes the rest of his posse. And, the truth is, any season of Big Brother needs a good villain. Assuming Aaryn, Kaitlin, GinaMarie, and Jeremy are all voted off next (in whatever order), who will be the catalyst for conflict within the house? Only with the presence of villains do the victories of heroes have any real meaning or emotional impact.

For the time being, though, the Big Brother house is full of “heroes,” whose actions have really impressed me. The scene in which Howard comforts a sobbing Candice was one of the more authentically moving moments I can remember in Big Brother history. Amanda’s impassioned defense of Jessie – and open criticism of Aaryn’s hateful comments – got me cheering for her. And Candice’s willingness to console a hysterical GinaMarie, even after GinaMarie had verbally assaulted her, demonstrated a selflessness and a willingness to forgive that is all too rare on reality television.

With so much good behavior coming from such a variety of sources, it’s a little bit disappointing that Elissa will almost certainly be crowned MVP for the third consecutive week. That isn’t to say that I dislike Elissa or think she’s done anything wrong; it’s just, well, I haven’t seen her do much of anything beyond occasionally name-dropping her sister and profusely thanking America. I’d love to see Amanda, Candice, Helen, Howard – even Jessie or McCrae – win MVP in place of Elissa, but I just don’t see that happening for as long as Elissa remains in the house. The recent emergence of so many likable houseguests, however, gives me [naïve?] hope that America’s votes might change, and we’ll finally discover the sort of impact the MVP twist can really have on the game.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother
Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

  • TV Show
  • 24
stream service