Season 12 begins with everything you'd expect from a summer reality show -- sexual innuendos, skin, and sabotage -- and it was all so good
Big Brother | The cast kicked off the new season by taking on each other, as well as a giant rubber hot dog.
Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS
Big Brother

Do you smell that? Take a wiff. It’s in the air. If it smells a little like joy, the promise of many wasted hours, exhaustion, obsession, a man in a plastic hot dog outfit, betrayal, breast implants, lies, sabotage, suntan lotioned-pecks, ruthlessness, and summertime, then that’s the smell of the return of Big Brother in your nostrils. Don’t fight it. Just breathe it in. Now out. Now in again. There you go. Now, say it with me:

It’s baaaaaaaack.

And I, for one, am excited. Because while some (like the Emmy folks — excuse me while I raspberry) might not appreciate this show like I do, this is what summer is all about. And this year, there’s a (Saboteur!) So let’s get to it.

Helmed once again by the incomparable Julie Chen…

(BREAKING: We interrupt this TV Watch for a Julie Chen Wardrobe Update. Skirt suits no longer have to mean Working Girl. A red/orange color and one-shoulder cami will take the look from 1980s to 2010 in a flash. Want to try this look yourself? Don’t. Chenbots only. Back to your programming…)

What the hell was that? Where was I?

Our new batch of contestants made their way into a house just as lovely and confusingly decorated as we remember. It’s always a little like IKEA in there; none of the rooms you see quite go together, and you disgust yourself because you want them all in this tacky, commercial way. Ugh. Get it off me!

And just like the decor, the houseguests once again contradict and complement each other in beautiful way (the contestant who’s a member of Mensa hates religion and there’s an orthodox Jewish man in the house; the gay professor wants to befriend big dumb guys and there’s a man named Lane who prefers not thinking) that is sure to make for television gold or great disaster. Never mind. Those are the same thing. It’s going to be great.

Another sign this season is going to be fantastic? The first challenge, which involved giant rubber hot dogs and the opportunity for contestants to say things like, ”I lost my dignity on a slippery wiener.” It involved two teams (yellow and red; then relish wept) and one mascot. In this case, the Jewish podiatrist, stepped up and took on the mascot duties, which were basically to stand in a hot dog outfit and try not to look like a fool. Fail. But it did win him immunity during the first eviction. So, it was ultimately a win in a big way, even if it meant (as Andrew said) ”embarrassing myself on the first night of the show.” Someone should educate Andrew and let him know that dignity on BB is best lost like a Band-Aid, quickly and in a forgettable way. Plus, I say it’s better to lose your dignity in a hot dog outfit in primetime than on Big Brother After Dark wearing nothing at all.

So, the contestants were supposed to ride giant plastic wieners to the other side of this ”grill,” where the first person to cross would win $10,000, the second would win $1,000 and so on. The sixth and final person to cross the Grand Grill Canyon would become HOH. To make matters more complicated (because, as the contestants now know, it’s very difficult to hold on to giant wieners), the contestants were sprayed by mustard and ketchup, which made them slippery and made me hungry.

Next: Meet the houseguests

I’ve put off actually mentioning these people by name long enough. I just hate learning names. I avoided this throughout school and let people call me all kinds of variations of my actual name simply to avoid having to learn their names (why correct them when I honestly had no idea what their names were?). And now, reality TV, you bitch, look what you’re making me do. It’s really the part I loathe most about the beginning of a reality show season. But here goes nothing. At least we don’t have to sit in a circle and watch them ask each other stupid, getting-to-know-you questions (because what else would be left for the live feeds?).

Monet — No relation. She said early on that she did not want to be around anyone ”gross or just plain ol’ nasty.” On that note, Monet, meet Mikey from BB9 in the UK. This, too, can happen to you. Just a warning. On a competition level, Monet is not as useless as she may appear (which is to say, for a girl —who claims to be a bit of a princess, she held her own in the HOH competition). Her performance even earned her $10,000. Which is a lot more than I can say for…

Kathy — The 40-year-old deputy sheriff and mom was not as awesome as she sounds by description. At first, her southern accent (which probably 50 percent of the houseguests have?) and law enforcement ties reminded me of Kyra Sedgwick on The Closer. Turns out she’s not even Kyra Sedgwick in Phenomenon. She was downright dead weight for her team during the HOH competition, which earned her dirty looks from her teammates, suspicious looks from most, and quite possibly a spot on the chopping block.

Andrew — Joining her might be Andrew, of aforementioned hot dog outfit fame. His willingness to sit out the HOH competition put a target of suspicion on his back and should his houseguests find out he made up the story he told them about being a recent victim of the recession now working as a shoe salesman, consider him out. Although, I have to applaud him. Of all the people to steal the identity of in order to gain sympathy, Al Bundy was a nice choice. Mazel tov!

Britney — Adding to the number of southern-accented Britney’s in the world from small towns, is, well, Britney, who has ”big city game,” which I originally took to mean she enjoyed playing giant chess in the park, but apparently it means injuring your knee during the first competition of the season and being really happy about getting pulled out of the competition. Early evictee? Or coaster?

Rachel — Resident of Boob City, according to Monet. But she’s really from Las Vegas. The two are quite interchangeable, actually. Of all the concerns that popped into the redhead’s mind regarding having a Saboteur in the game, she was most concerned with the effect it might have on her chances for a showmance. The chemist has priorities — one of which does not include studying Jewish tradition (”I believe [Andrew’s Yarmulke] is called a yom kippur”).

Next: Matt: The Genius?

Matt — He’s a genius. And I’m not even saying that sarcastically — yet. He’s a member of Mensa and has an IQ in the top 2 percentile. Funny, I had a conversation with a man on the subway who told me the same thing the other day (!!), who later asked me for change. In this episode, Matt didn’t really get a chance to put his brains where his game is (and of course, didn’t tell his fellow houseguests about his brain power), but before he gets too cocky, I hope he reflects on the fact that he was technically defeated by a rubber hot dog this week.

Annie — She didn’t throw up or die from excitement, as she predicted she would while attempting to eat her key to the house when first learning she was a chosen one. But the season is young. So far, she’s mentioned being attracted to two houseguests — one guy and one girl. Annnnnd the subscriptions to Showtime 2 just went up 50%.

Brendon — This early favorite — based purely on nonscientific, superficial reasons — is a swim coach who believes he has an edge in the competition because he works with high school students and is used to drama. I think his real edge is in that little blue swim number he packed, despite his claim that Britney and Rachel will probably look better in a bathing suit than him. Time will tell who’s right. Forget it; we don’t need time. I’m right.

Ragan — The gay communication studies professor has a detailed lesson plan for success that includes ”lying, cheating and back stabbing.” He also has a ”thing” for big, dumb guys and Brendon, who he thinks should play Superman.

Lane — Enter Lane. The Decatur, Texas (woo!) native likes getting his hands dirty and was shown working on a farm. He wants an alliance with someone smart ”who can do all the thinking” because he’s ”not good at it anyways.” He was pretty quiet during the mention of the Saboteur, which at first led me to believe it was him. In re-watching, I’ve developed three theories: (1) He was doing ”smell the fart acting” because he is the Saboteur. (2) He was trying to figure out what ”Saboteur” means. (3) He wasn’t listening.

Enzo — Intent on capitalizing on the popularity of Jersey Shore, BB introduced us to Jersey-native and self-proclaimed meatball-lover Enzo. Among his first quotes? ”If you weren’t my mother, I’d marry you.” Ladies and gents, this guy is ”straight up bananas!” (…and a secret Rachel Zoe fan?)

Kristen — Then there was Kristen, who is ”fun, outgoing, and smart,” and modest.

Hayden — Move over great athletes of our time, and meet Hayden. He guarantees that he’s the most competitive person we’ll ever meet and carries around a baseball bat while shirtless to prove it. He also claims that the ladies love him, which may or may not be related to his Justin Bieber haircut. Regardless, he walked away this week with the power of HOH and his eye on Kristen. He believes it will ”take him a week or two” to attract her attention, but plans to work his magic, which I’m guessing doesn’t mean rabbits, top hats, and disappearing currency. Yeah, I’m disappointed, too.

Next: Le Saboteur

Aside from meeting the 13 contestants who we will watch compete in the ”grueling summer-long power struggle” known as Big Brother, we also were introduced to this season’s Saboteur. Well, kind of. We met a shadowy figure, whose true identity will be revealed next week but is very likely the Jigsaw Killer.

And Jigsaw — because I’m tired of writing the word ”Saboteur” — didn’t wait for his/her identity to be revealed to start the hijinks, locking the house’s food supply closet with a padlock during a sudden (and totally planned) black out. Let the starvation begin!

As your cruise director, I’d also like to point you to Julie Chen’s blog over on Popwatch and EW’s Big Brother Central. And if that’s not enough, look out for our exit interviews with the houseguests once all that gets under way.

So, at the risk of sounding like a high school therapist, I’d like to know how you’re feeling now. After watching the premiere of Big Brother, who do you think is the Saboteur? Are you excited about the season? Do you have an early favorite? Who don’t you trust? And are you officially in for the season?

Episode Recaps

Big Brother
Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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