Big Brother is back for what host Julie Chen (repeatedly) says will be the "most twisted summer ever." And the first twist of the season has already let us down.
Sure, there will be two Heads of Household this season, one of which may or may not be safe each week. Plus: America will get to select a secret three-person alliance to control throughout the summer. And even though it was only hinted at during Wednesday's premiere, eventually the two HOHs will compete in a new competition called "Battle of the Block" (which will play out for the first time ever in HD!) All of that falls somewhere on a spectrum from mildly amusing to pretty cool, but one decision about this season just doesn't sit right with us: It's premiere night and we only get to meet half the houseguests!
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We understand the thinking, especially given how the HOH setup is working this year. And while it makes it easier to get to know each group of houseguests over two nights, it's hard to grasp who the real players are just yet. Even worse, it creates pre-built alliances, as witnessed by the nearly instant formation of the Crazy 8s alliance. (Which then splintered into an all-girl group known as El Quatro and the two-man team known as Double Ds. Boy, does this group need some help naming their alliances!)
Of course, our frustration about the delayed gratification of truly starting the new season is a minor quibble. The truth is, so far this seems like a fun batch of players. So without further ado, here are our snap judgments on (half) of the new Big Brother cast.
Cody: So far, this athletic "family guy" is the man candy everyone in the house is crushing on. He says he wants to be flirtatious with all the girls, though he's mostly into chicks with hot bodies he can work out with. Unlike some of the other athletic guys in the house, however, he lasts a pretty long time in the HOH competition. He could be a physical threat, though the jury is still out on his social game skills. (Although we loved him making fun of Paola counting the difference between 23 and 27 on her fingers, that attitude might not make friends.)
Paola: This New York DJ is easily the most annoying of the new batch so far. She claims to be the "leader of her crew" who knows how to manipulate hot guys, all of whom she can get whenever she wants. She very quickly sets her sights on Cody, whom she compares to ice cream and lollipops, both of which she would like to lick. Although she takes the initiative in launching the all-girl alliance (and choosing that awful name), we wonder if her head is in the game or if she's just looking for a showmance.
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Devin: Like Cody, former pro baseball player Devin certainly turned heads with his athletic form. Add the fact that he's a single dad, and he had the girls, particularly Amber, eating out of his hands. He had some trouble in the HOH competition, which perhaps didn't favor a man of his size, but he at least seems to have a brain. Although he's a little alliance crazy (he spearheaded the formation of both Crazy 8s as well as the side alliance with Donny — Double Ds, get it now? Ugh.) we appreciate that he chose an unlikely partner in Donny. It's a pair that fellow competitors are unlikely to suspect.
Donny: Imagine Gomer Pyle on Duck Dynasty and you'd have a pretty good idea who Donny is. (His closest brush with fame is Kellie Pickler, but only because he was the janitor at her school when she was younger!) This good ol' boy from North Carolina is the season's oldest houseguest at 41, but perhaps that wisdom will pay off. He's already hiding that he's studied every season of the show, choosing instead to let the players buy into his hayseed persona. (He packed his church clothes as his "fancy britches.") But he lost us with this nugget: "I am smarter than they think I am, but I'm not as smart as I think I am." Doggone it, Donny!
Amber: Besides crushing on Devin, Amber lived up to her intro package, which showed her as a rock-climbing, dirt bike-riding, country girl athlete. Though she seemed a little to eager to grab a gun (!), she proved her skills in the HOH competition, when she outlasted her competitors before ultimately throwing the game out of fear about the HOH's non-safety twist. However, she could use some acting skills — she didn't eventry to make it look like she fell accidentally. (Personal aside: As a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Amber's hometown, I loved hearing her scream "Go Vols!")
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Nicole: This small-town girl (seriously, her Michigan hometown boasts a population of 841!) admits having a weird accent, but that's just the beginning of her oddball charm. She admits to often peeing her pants when she gets too excited, and she claims that she needs a cuddle partner at night ( to sleep "butt-to-butt," at the very least) because... she's afraid of ghosts. Yep, the recent nursing grad is strange, but she and Donny both seem to recognize their similarities and express interest in working together. That could be a hoot!
Joey: Although she seems nice enough, this Seattle makeup artist claims to be a super liberal democrat. Given that she's saying that as the first thing in her intro package, I would assume she's highly opinionated and may be willing to get into heated debates. Thus far, however, she seems to be making friends and has certainly caught Devin's eye. (He says she's a 10.) One note: Her eager cheering for Amber after the other girls were eliminated from the HOH competition doesn't suggest she's good at keeping alliances secret. (Though El Tres sounds even worse than El Quatro.)
Frankie: So, he's the older brother of Ariana Grande. He doesn't want everyone to know that (he's particularly worried that Paola will figure it out since they're both from New York and she's a DJ who's surely spun some of Ariana's records) so he plays up his Broadway chorus dance background instead. His outsize personality doesn't seem to rub anybody the wrong way, least of all his "soulmate" Joey. (He's the pink My Little Pony, while she's the blue one.) And even more impressive, Frankie won the first HOH. However, his panic about all twists make us wonder if he'll be able to keep his cool throughout the season. We'll see!
What do you think of this first batch of houseguests? Do you think they will create as much controversy as last season's cast? Who is your early favorite? Share all your thoughts in the comments below.
Big Brother's two-night premiere continues Thursday at 9/8c on CBS. Find out why Big Brother is today's editors' pick.
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