Yes, it was high times all around in the old Big Brother house. Beach Bro was chatting up Ms. Puma. (“Your hair is so fair, Jace,” said Shelli. “No no no, Shellshock,” Jace responded, “It is your hair that is the most fair.”) Wildman Judas from the Medieval Studies department was having a profound conversation with That Girl From New York, trying to explain to her how Game of Thrones is just the War of the Roses with worse gender politics.
And Da’Vonne continued her bold play to hide her poker past.
“I teach second grade,” she said.
“Oh, what subjects?” asked James.
“Poker!” Da’Vonne blurted out. “Err, history. Poker history. And Math. Poker Math.”
James nodded sagely, thinking: We really have to do something about our education system.
But nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy. The house was only half-full. There were empty beds in the bedrooms, empty seats at the table. So Sheriff Julie rode her steed out into the great American wide open and wrangled six more contestants for season 17 of Big Brother—or, as it’s known in Sweden, What Fun With Human. And so we met:
Liz: A marketing coordinator from Miami. She has #NoFilter and thinks that the biggest threat to her game will be jealousy, presumably because the other housemates will be jealous of the fact that she could fit three human children in just one of her eyes. Is it me, or does Liz bear a striking resemblance to America’s Sweetheart Amanda Seyfried? Let’s compare shall we? Here’s a picture of Liz:
And here is a picture of Amanda Seyfried, shown here on the set of the delightful 2008 musical sensation Mamma Mia!:
Liz seems like a real winner, is what I’m getting at. Codename: Blamanda Seyfried.
Jason: A stockboy who likes to wear bright colors. Or is he? Sources close to the Big Brother production have informed me that Jason is, in fact, one 8-year-old boy standing on the shoulders of another 8-year-old boy. Those bright clothes are just a distraction. The symbiotic collective organism called “Jason” proudly showed off his sweet bachelor pad. “I got colors! I got prints! I got Calvin Klein! I got Nun-Chucks! I got shorts in every color! Look-it all mah s–!” Jason’s basically the kid from Dick Tracy, if Dick Tracy was a movie about Kanye West.
Vanessa: A professional poker player who has won $4.5 million at the card table, which makes her participation in Big Brother feel a little bit like an attempt to stave off her boredom. (Thought bubble over Vanessa’s head: “It was either this, or buy an island and start hunting human beings with an elephant gun.”) The first contestant this season to have her own catchphrase: “From a game theorist’s perspective…” Seems like a total badass. Looks a little bit like America’s Sweetheart Ke$ha.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of Vanessa:
And here’s a picture of Ke$ha on the Red Carpet at the World Famous Nokia Theater at last year’s People’s Choice Awards:
When we saw Vanessa, she appeared to be winning a Poker game with Pocket Aces, which is clear proof that Vanessa is actually a character in one of those movies about Poker where every game always comes down to one person having Four Aces and someone else having a Royal Flush and then Matt Damon finally figuring out that the Russian always rubs his ear when he has a bad hand. Naturally, Vanessa is my Ridiculously Early Pick To Win It All.
John: Hi guys! Meet John the Dentist! Can you hear me in the back row? I said MEET JOHN THE DENTIST! This year’s loudest contestant wants to get one thing straight. “When I went to dental school, all my classmates said they wanted to help people,” he said. “Not me. I want to make that money!” John sort of looks like somebody squeezed Bradley Cooper into Josh Hutcherson. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of John:
And here’s a picture of Bradley Cooper squeezed into Josh Hutcherson:
Becky: Loves nature. Really loves nature. She climbed the Rocky Mountains, did she mention that? She climbed the Rocky Mountains when she was 5 years old. What were you doing when you were 5 years old? Did you bike 500 miles? Becky did. Backwards. DOING YOGA. BLINDFOLDED. Claims to be a hippie. May be proof that the term “hippie” no longer has any meaning.
Stevesie: This year’s designated Nerdling, and thus quite possibly one of the most dangerous players in the game. Stevesie is an engineer who dreams of being so much more. “For a fourth grade project, we had to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up,” he explained. “I drew myself with the Big Brother key around my neck.” The kids all laughed at him, laughed! Who’s laughing now, other kids? I expet Stevesie to either flame out immediately (because dreams achieved inevitably become nightmares) or sit patiently in the background doing nothing the first half of the summer.
We got the usual pre-House crosscutting between players, explaining all the wacky reasons why CBS thinks they won’t get along. Like, Becky said: “I get along with everybody. Except for Divas.” CUT TO: Jason, packing five sparkly mesh tank tops and a couple purple boas into his bag, explaining that he likes Celine Dion but wishes she wasn’t so subtle. Or John the Dentist said: “I don’t like superfans.” CUT TO: Stevesie, surrounded by wall-sized portraits of past Big Brother players and a rare vinyl edition of the popular LP Dan Gheesling Sings The Blues and the words CHENBOT IS MY HOMEGIRL spraypainted on his ceiling.
Then, at long last: The arrival.
NEXT: One, Two, Three, Four, Tell Me That You Love Me More.
The new contestants entered the house. Stevesie immediately got confused by all the humans with their human names, so he assigned them each a number. Meg told us: “Stevesie doesn’t seem like Mister Suave with the ladies.” Except she pronounced suave like suav-vay, or perhaps suavé. Stevesie named Meg “Four.” All the new female contestants swooned over Clay, the department store mannequin who will become a real boy if he can prove himself brave, truthful, and unselfish. Less swooning occurred over Jace, who made a bad impression on Becky. “I’m from Colorado,” said Becky, because she literally can’t go five minutes without “Colorado This” and “Rocky Mountains That” and “Untrammeled Beauty of God’s Creation” yadda yadda nobody asked you, BECKY.
“That’s cool,” said Jace, “What part of ‘Rado?”
Becky has never heard anyone call Colorado ‘Rado. Thus, her codename is ‘Rado Mitchell.
Vanessa immediately went into strategy mode, since as a game theorist she knows that information is power and absolute power corrupts absolutely. John the Dentist tried to convince everyone that his “friends” call him Johnny Mack.
“Oh, that’s interesting,” said James, scratching his chin-stubble. “What are their names, these friends of yours?”
John hesitated, flop-sweating. “Jo…Tom!” he blurted out. “JoeTom! And, um, Mi..Ma…Mikematt. He’s Finnish.”
The assembled cast sat at the table. They introduced themselves. John said that he was a dentist. Da’Vonne is not buying it. “He doesn’t give off a dentist vibe,” she explained. (She also thinks that Jason has a “Pee-wee Herman type of vibe.” Dear god, please, I want just one episode that’s entirely Da’Vonne doing a lecture on Vibes.) Blamanda Seyfried said that she dumped her boyfriend before she went on Big Brother, so seems like there’s nothing but good life choices in her future.
Audrey got another cheerful reaction when she revealed her status as Big Brother‘s first transgender contestant—further hope that this will be a season of Not-Completely-Horrible People! (ASIDE: I have no proof of this, but I suspect that—after what happened a couple seasons ago—Big Brother added a new question to its contestant tryout questionnaire. Something like: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic are you?” Followed by a direction: “If you answered anything above ‘Zero,’ please eat this paper and count to 50 million.” END OF ASIDE.)
There were still two empty seats at the table. Anyone hoping that those seats belonged to a couple of returning Big Brother contestants—Zach Attack?—had their hopes dashed when Phil Keoghan walked onstage to introduce the latest twist. The host of The Amazing Race was the first person to take part in the Takeover—which strongly implies that the Takeover Twist should be renamed “The CBS Personality Synergy Twist”—and he brought out a couple of Amazing Race contestants, Jeff and Jackie.
I haven’t watched The Amazing Race in a few years—after I realized that the show was just propaganda for the Round Earth movement—so I can’t speak to how exciting or un-exciting this news is for Amazing Race fans. My initial impression: Jackie seems like a serious player who could go mad with power if she wins HoH, and Jeff seems like a human male in his mid-to-late 20s. Jackie certainly made an impression on Jace. “We’ve got a lot of blondes in this house,” he said. “But Archie needs Betty and Veronica.” Don’t forget that Archie also needs Jughead, you Jughead.
The eight new contestants had to play their own Head of Household challenge. Once again, one player was asked to sit out. Vanessa volunteered. “Being a gambler, I’m all about edges,” she said. For any college students out there writing their senior thesis on Big Brother, we can now declare that “Gambling” is one of the key motifs of this season: Remarkably, the other secret poker player, Da’Vonne, also decided to sit out the HoH challenge. I sort of think that this season will come down to Vanessa and Da’Vonne playing a game of poker, but instead of playing with cards, they’re playing with people, you know?
The second HoH challenge of the week was a sequel to the first. Goodbye, Red Carpet; Hello, actual movie! The contestants had to hold tight to a giant stick in the ground, while aliens used their “tractor beams” to pull them upwards into the sky. (I’m pretty sure this is the plot of almost every Dwayne Johnson movie.) Stevesie decided that he didn’t want to put a target on his back, so he threw the competition. I always find this strategy a little goofy—I can understand not setting yourself up as a threat in Week One, but the great Big Brother players don’t shy away from the HoH Thronebed.
It was a tough challenge for everyone. John thought it was painful—and he knows about pain. “As a serial killer, I put people through a significant amount of pain,” he said, before adding: “Did I say serial killer? I meant dentist? Hahahahaha! Classic Johnny Mack!” Becky thought the challenge was difficult—and she knows about difficult. “I climbed the highest mountains of the Rockies when I was 5 years old,” she said, and then mumbled “Rocky Mountains…Rocky Mountains…Rocky Mountains” over and over for an hour, waiting for someone to notice, waiting for someone to care. It came down to Jackie vs. Jason vs. Blamanda Seyfried.
I was rooting for Miss Miami, but the aliens proved too strong for her. Jackie was holding on tight, but Jason was holding on tighter. I tried to figure out what his voice sounded like, and in my notebook, I marked down “sounds like he’s auditioning for the Broadway version of Malibu’s Most Wanted” and “sounds like he’s doing an impression of Marlon Wayans doing an impression of DiCaprio in Shutter Island.” He is a treasure, and I was glad to see him win the challenge.
However, this means that there are now two dudes in the HoH room—something that Da’Vonne is not happy about. She’s seen this happen before: The boys get into power; the girls go home. Well, Da’Vonne has a message for you, boys:
Some good news for the ladies in the house: The decision to sit out the HoH challenge might work out very well for Da’Vonne and Vanessa, and you’ll have to pardon me for pre-naming their eventual alliance Da’Vonnessa. We’ve got a full week of action until the first contestant goes home. Be sure to come back to EW for all your recapping delights. This year, I’m tackling Big Brother as part of a Power Trio with fellow Big Brother scientists Marc Snetiker and Jonathon Dornbush—and you can always email me at email@example.com if you want to talk Big Brother in the Geekly Mailbag.
For now, I leave you with a mysterious internal CBS document that was sent here to Recap Central by the hacktivist group Anonymous: