Big Brother recap: Herd Mentality
I’ve given up trying to pin down any of the alliances on ”Big Brother”, considering all the permutations that have gone on this week alone. On Sunday’s show, Jessie and Memphis were against Angie, a Brian crony. Now she’s suddenly in a tight foursome with them and Michelle. Meanwhile, Keesha hated Libra and tried to turn Jessie against her; now she’s in a tight alliance with Libra and April. And when the week began, Jessie wanted to make love to his own abs, and now he wants to get to third base with his delts. Who can keep track of this topsy-turviness?
This season’s truncated Sunday-Tuesday-Wednesday airing schedule makes everything seem especially fluid, since they have to shove seven days of action into a three-day period. I’ve found that the only way to keep track of elapsed time is to watch the ebb and flow of Memphis’ handlebar mustache. For example, on Tuesday night’s show alone, he was clean shaven at the beginning, when cementing his alliance with Jessie, Angie, and Michelle. But by the POV competition, he had a full mustache. But after Michelle won, and it was time for the veto ceremony? It was gone again! I wonder if that thing is fake and he just peels it on and off. Maybe he wears it like Jerry wears his military gear: When it’s off, he’s lying.
(Side Memphis note: I enjoy how, when he’s ID’d, the producers always put ”Mixologist” below his name in quotes. It’s as if they were not quite convinced that it’s an actual profession, so they play it safe by treating it with ironic distance. I know what they mean: I always refer to Big Brother as ”entertainment.”)
Anyway, let’s get back to the drama: Dan and Steven were this week’s nominees, but Jessie always considered Dan a pawn. Dan was determined from the beginning to get in with Jessie; he tried to get Jessie alone by hiding out in his bathroom, a plan that was complicated by Ollie coming up with him after a very long wait. Dan wisely covered for himself by claiming he’d been in the toilet for hours: ”When I get privacy, it takes me a little while.” Is that the best way to impress the man who has your fate in your hands: brag about the damage you’ve just done to his prized bathroom? Perhaps it was a misguided power play: He may not think I’m a threat now, but he will once he suspects I can clog his toilet with just one 45-minute stint on his toilet! Oh, the damage I can do with just one giant burrito and two People magazines!
Speaking of ”threats,” I’d like to address something: Why do people keep citing how muscular players are a ”physical threat,” as if it were a terrifying advantage? That may be true in Survivor, but what kind of advantage does it provide here? Every HOH competition involves answering questions like ”Which houseguest doesn’t especially care for hummus?” All the free weights in the world aren’t going to help you remember that.
NEXT: Cheating and screaming
Anyway, Dan wasn’t the only one trying to impress Jessie. Michelle clearly is looking for a showmance with him. Though he has a girlfriend, he said, ”I’m dating, but she also knows that I’m single, you know what I mean?” Does it mean that once she hears that, she won’t be waiting for you when you leave this house?
Meanwhile, we got to experience our first full-fledged screaming match of the new BB season. (I’m not counting April vs. Keesha, because I’m not entirely sure they’re not the same person.) It started when Renny decided to ”stir the pot” by telling Jerry that Libra had complained about having the two old people on her food-competition team. This steamed Jerry so much that he changed out of his red tank top and denim granddad shorts into a gray tank top and red grandpa shorts, and stormed into Libra’s room. (Which one of those outfits was his military uniform? I get so confused by his rules.) What followed was a classic ”he said/she said” argument, wherein nearly every phrase they said was actually the words ”he said” or ”she said.” It was unintelligible, especially when Renny joined in. I scribbled down this exemplary exchange: ”You said that he said that she said!” ”I don’t give a [bleep] what he said! I’m telling you what you said!” It sounded like a variation on ”Who’s on First,” except they were all straight men.
After the blowup, Jerry sauntered into the backyard, saying to some of the shocked guys, ”I’m fine. I know what I’m doing.” Was this a crafty strategy? Is he trying to get in with the young people by proving that he’s just like them: He too can get overly worked up and throw the word ”bitch” around? I hope not, because if so, it’s only a matter of time before Jerry is sitting by the pool, talking about how he loves to get baked and listen to My Morning Jacket. Frankly, I can live without seeing Jerry dance around waving a light stick.
This fight seemed to be the point where everyone turned on Libra. (It would prove to be a red herring of a turning point, though.) Apparently she is crazed by two weeks on slop; my colleague Lynette Rice told me she thought she’d busted Libra, who was seen on camera eating a pickle, in seeming violation of slop rules. But Lynette put in a call to CBS and was told that in the house, a pickle is considered a condiment, which are acceptable when eating slop. A pickle is a condiment? That hardly seems right. By that logic, housemates should tell the producers, ”Speaking of condiments, you know what I like to spread on my roast beef sandwich? A ham sandwich. ”
And then, late Tuesday night, the houseguests made a cameo appearance on Craig Ferguson’s show. Julie Chen was the guest and treated Craig to a mock-surprise satellite interview with them. It was quite painful for me: I really like Ferguson, and so it made me horribly uncomfortable seeing him have to interact with these dopes. And I felt vicariously ashamed, since I watch both shows; it was like trying to mix your high school friends with your college friends. You feel a little embarrassed by your old pals and wish they’d just keep their mouths shut, and then you feel guilty for selling them out. Julie, however, seemed like the emcee at a Sea World dolphin show, the way she’d sunnily prompt all the houseguests to do their little tricks for Craig. (Jessie, flex your muscles! April, talk about your real boobs!) I was surprised she didn’t press a switch to reward each BBer with a Red Bull every time they said something outrageous.
NEXT: Steven tries not to get thrown
Then, finally, we got to the eviction show, in which Julie’s pantsuit was apparently picked out by someone who was hungry for a Creamsicle. Now that was orange. (Little-known fact: Nothing rhymes with ”Julie Chen’s pantsuit.”) Her vivid outfit emboldened her to deliver her powerful opening script, which included the passage: ”Dan’s strategy is to lay low and let Steven make all the noise and sink himself. But even the quietest mouse can’t escape the eyes of the cat.” Wow, Sir Mix-Metaphor-A-Lot, a nautical theme and the old cat-and-mouse chestnut? Why not toss in ”But this rolling stone just might gather moss after all!” Oh, saving it for the finale, are you? Carry on.
The bulk of the show was dedicated to Steven’s futile machinations to stay in the house. While Libra, Keesha, et al. ultimately decided not to turn against Jessie and boot Dan out (and I was impressed by how fast they sussed out the Jessie-Memphis-Angie-Michelle alliance), their scheming did allow them to use the phrase ”It’s on!” again. I am looking forward to the moment when one alliance rises up against the other; Jessie doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who handles surprises well. Hopefully it’ll happen next week.
Before the never-ending vote parade, Julie took time out to ask the housemates questions provided by the studio audience. Turns out the people there were far more curious than Julie ever is: The questions about whether Ollie’s dad would approve of his flirting with April and the (mangled) confrontation with Libra about whether she was ageist were both far more relevant than Julie’s usual ”Houseguests: Do you like your couches?”-level interrogations.
From here we went to a taped segment with Renny’s family talking smack about Jessie, and his family defending him. We learned two things about Renny: She was once a saucy dancer for the New Orleans Saints, and she’s been even more annoying in the house than we’ve seen on TV. We were treated to clips of her dressing like a flapper and a bunny. When people are evicted, they’re always seen walking out with one tiny gym bag, and yet it seems like Renny came in with four trunks of wigs, costumes, and (judging from last night) a travel trough of makeup to make herself look like an entirely different person.
It also turns out Renny’s son’s name is Sparky, which isn’t that surprising when you think about it. (He got off easy; his name could have been ”Yernotthebossame!” had Renny delivered after happy hour.) Jessie’s family, on the other hand, seemed to be struggling to take his side. His mother allowed that it ”just takes a while to get to know” her son. Actually, I think he’s probably a better guy the less time you spend with him. At least that’s my experience.
During Julie’s one-on-one with Jessie (no one can hear you, Jessie, for the love of God, speak freely!), his response to her question ”You often say your housemates consider you a body without a brain. What makes you think that?” was ”Say that again?” Asked and answered! Jessie then explained that he got into bodybuilding in college as an alternative to drinking. And why wasn’t studying an option to fill that found time, Mr. Stealth Brain?
NEXT: Strange goodbyes
I am truly stunned by Jessie’s narcissism — and this is in a game that is predicated on narcissism. Last night we saw him formally flexing for his housemates, but even when he’s not actively showing off, he’s talking about his physique. Not sure if everybody caught it, but at the very end of Tuesday’s closing credits, the producers slyly stuck in a clip of him in the diary room: He pressed his bicep up against the camera and said something like ”Bam!” He then wandered off and, as if talking to himself, muttered, ”Couldn’t even get all 18 inches of that in the camera.” Personally, I love it when the producers start to reveal their own hatred of cast members through shot choices. Last summer, Amber was the victim of their passive-aggressive wrath, with multiple montages of her not knowing what words meant, or talking about how she could be a movie star. I’m looking forward to many montages of Jessie.
Everything led to Steven’s eviction (9-0), which rendered all previous strategizing moot. Steven’s random closing speech probably made a lot more sense to people regularly following the online feeds than it did to me; it seemed to be a string of in-jokes like ”It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno.” The only thing that made sense was his closing statement, ”Suck it, bitches.” I took that one to mean that the bitches could suck it, which sounded about right.
During the weepy farewell messages, Keesha’s and Angie’s had Steven crying. But if those had him regretting leaving the house, Jessie’s message probably nipped that in the bud: ”It was great working out with you. I’m glad you know how hard I’ve worked at what I’ve done. And you have the potential to take your physique somewhere that you want it. I hope you know that your goals are within reach, just by me trying to lead by example.” That speech couldn’t have been more self-aggrandizing if Jessie had finished it by performing oral sex on himself.
The head-of-household competition was a needlessly complicated affair based on fake aliens that houseguests had been seeing in the mirror. It reminded me of that season in which old players appeared in the mirror as ghostly figures, and everybody would yammer about how the house was haunted. It reminded me of just how much I hated that. All the alien imagery spruced up what was basically a ”What’s gone missing in the house?” quiz, which Keesha won. I admired how she kept her cool after winning, not jumping up and down and revealing her alliances. I’m curious to see who she’ll put up, but considering how many partners she’s burned through, it could be anybody. All I hope is that Jessie’s one of them. Bam! Probably couldn’t get all 18 inches of his shame into the camera.
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Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.