Monday, July 15, 2013

Big Brother 15

While, in many ways, it does not seem like we are near the middle of the summer... in other ways, it is definitely obvious the summer months are upon us. One such BIG way to know it's summer time... Big Brother!

I watched the first few seasons of Big Brother religiously, then didn't watch for many years. Over the past few seasons though, I have definitely been a Big Brother "Mega Fan."

Like many, I wasn't too thrilled when CBS released the cast picture of this season's houseguests. I agreed with the streams of online complaints that this looks more like a cast for "Road Rules" or another MTV series than the diverse crowd that CBS usually gathers up and sequesters for the summer months. Thankfully though, the mix of personalities has been anything but homogeneous and those self-labeled "popular" and "beautiful" people are not enjoying the summer break they had anticipated.
Last year, I faithfully blogged weekly on BB14. That's not going to happen this season though... despite how much I enjoyed watching my number of blog hits those days. (Oh... if only folks in real life could enjoy my snarky criticism as much as blog lurkers, what a wonderful world this would be... eh?) I toyed with the idea of subscribing to the Live Feed this summer. When I decided against that idea, I thought about just subscribing to Showtime for a few months to watch "After Dark." However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it had moved to TVGN, a channel we already receive. After watching a few episodes, I am glad I didn't spend any cash for a few more doses of BB throughout the week. It's cool to see behind the scenes and know the background or "whole story" of what CBS producers decide to share. Moreso though, it's rather frustrated to endure all the whispering and bleeping of profanity. Often too... it's just boring. I have only fully sat through a few episodes of the filled DVR'ed cache.
That is not to suggest that I am not enjoying the season though. So here's a summary of my input on the contestants, from most favored to least (more or less), of those left in the house after 2 evictions.
I love Helen! If BB had not taught me to be more racially paranoid sensitive, I would say that I will usually favor a strong Asian woman in these type of reality shows... but that is probably a product of unjust stereotyping. I don't think she has longevity in the game overall because her alliance with Elissa has placed her on the fringe of the nucleus of the power groups. However, I think she is a smart player. Her background in politics is clearly evident in how she speaks and approaches some situations- such as her proposed deal to Aaryn, the very one who put her on the block. Her mild manner is going to keep the target off her back for a little while I think. She is generally likable, such as when most of the house got angry that Aaryn made her a Have-Not for  second consecutive week. In her HOH role though, it has become obvious that a little bit of power may be her poison, such as threatening the guys who wouldn't come clean about their ill-planned alliance with "I will evict you."  She played it safe going with the obvious eviction candidates this first turn at power. Not so sure she may that ruled by logic next time around when the choices aren't so easy. Then again, that could set her up for the kind of "Power Move" it takes to make big things happen in this game. She should also be smarter about discussing her husband and especially, kids, and shedding tears about how much she misses them. This makes it too easy for other house guests to send her home to be with her family- it alleviates some of their guilt in announcing her name in the diary room.

We are big Amanda fans in this house! During the first night of "After Dark," Amanda donned a makeshift flight attendant suit and directed the "passengers" of the aviation themed Have-Not room, f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Seriously, I think she was acting out this shtick for the full two hours. So, early on? Not such a fan. As the weeks have passed though? Big fan. She too is a smart player. She is able to figure out what is going on with the other players and uses her "Pizza Boy" to deliver the news when she can't. (Deliver... ha, get it?) She definitely has a lot of control in the game but doesn't directly manipulate people to get it. Candace may get credit for "discovering" the boys' alliance but I think Amanda is the one responsible for single-handedly bringing an end to it. She is like a bug zapper, a bright light they all gather closer to not knowing their demise may come soon at her hand. I think she is perfectly balanced between having control but not being controlling. Unfortunately for her, I think Spencer clearly sees this and it could become a Puppet Master battle directly between the two of them. I also like how frankly honest she is, most evidently shown in her confrontations with Aaryn. Mostly though, her snarkiness in the house is unrivaled and worthy of admiration.

Aaryn. Do I like her? Hell no. But she has to rank high for me right now purely for the entertainment factor of what a total train wreck she is! First, this summer brought us the Butter Queen Paula Dean's fallen empire for a twenty-year old utterance to a "white" woman who was offended. Then, this summer brought us the explosively controversial Zimmerman trial, whose vigilante street violence following the ruling shadows the LA riots of Rodney King's days. (Can't we all just get along?) Now, we have CBS running disclaimers prior to episodes of BB that the prejudiced comments of house guests are a product of reality tv and not a reflection of producers. (Fearing a little law suit there?) Rather than sitting in judgment of whether or not I think she's racist, and to what degree, I'm simply enjoying her show of self-victimization. Her image of reality is so distorted that its mind-bogglingly hilarious. When she won head of household, she immediately threw a key around her neck and grew devil horns from her crown. She was unabashingly evil, directing her wrath at whomever she though had a role in the eviction of her bedmate. Then, the very next week, she cries "Why me?" when the target lands on her back. Then (!) Amanda tries to explain to her that the house is offended by her racial remarks (and that's only the ones that they hear!), and she finds that "funny" and "wishes" should care, but doesn't. And when Amanda loses the Have-Not competition, Aaryn says "Karma" punished her for being mean. Wow, just wow. She is Queen Bee of a dying clique and she is going to play sour grapes ("I am just ready to go home") until she walks out the door because she is too delusional to think she can be unliked ("They're just jealous") and defeated by a bunch of "losers."

I don't feel like I have much of an idea of what Elissa is like at all. I feel like she has really pulled back and contained her personality to try and squeeze under the radar as much as possible with the huge target that has been on her back since day one. I don't see how anyone can call themselves a Big Brother fan and have not seen the resemblance to Rachel. I seriously hope CBS didn't think there could be any chance of that remaining a secret for any length of time. I cannot believe Elissa even tried to hide or lie about it. I mean, seriously, those two sisters are so cloned from the same gene pool that I imagine Mummy gets them confused after a few too many glasses of wine at dinner. My main respect for Elissa right now is her cockroach-after-nuclear-fallout level of survival in this game, having been on the block twice, initially the vocal target twice, and still standing. Now, I think that hasn't been mostly of her own effort but rather how others chose to pawn her in the game. Like Helen, I think her longevity is limited by being on that fringe of any power nucleus in the game. I don't think we'll ever see her personality fully break out because her head will always be laying a little too close to the guillotine until the night she is evicted and it is chopped off. In the mean time, I do hope that someone else gets MVP and shakes up the game some. 
Spencer is known more fondly in our house as "Choo Choo Man." He looks, speaks, thinks, and has the mannerisms of Jason's brother, Shawn. When, CBS first released the cast picture, Spencer stood out because he was expected to be pushed outside of the group of beach bunnies and babes. That has certainly proven true. Most of what I have learned about Spencer has been from the "After Dark" episodes because as he himself points out, his speech is laced with far too many explicatives to make the producers' cuts. That really must be the case because CBS is far undershining the hand he has been playing in the BB plot. He too is a smart player. He can read people well. It is appropriate that he is often seen playing chess because he thinks beyond his immediate move in the BB game. As mentioned earlier, he sees the threat that Amanda is. Those two and Nick were the smartest players in the game. Nick is gone, and whichever of the two brains left that leaves next will determine a long chain of power and events in this game I think. Amanda's control is a lot more evident because of her sycophant pizza boy. Other than Nick, who is no longer a threat, I don't think anyone realizes the power Spencer has. He can discuss the game in such a rational way that his audience is led to believe whatever he thinks the best conclusion is. He is smart too in that he doesn't always shows those cards at one time, but splinters off who he speaks to, never showing himself as a leader to the whole. I think he may manage to avoid the target for quite a while.

I don't like Jessie. She reminds me of the kids that I called "Barnacles" in high school. She never quite made it on to the popularity ship but clung to the bottom of it like a crusty barnacle just trying to ride along. She is expendable no matter which side of the house she aligns herself with. She mainly gets my respectable nod this week for jumping off that popularity ship and snubbing with the "uncute" of the house. Of course, that was decision made easier when she ran out of options for a showmance. The night she was following Nick around in his room hoping for a kiss? Could you not hear the whispers of Psycho's Eek! Eek! Eek! in the background? That was straight creepy. I don't think she's a bright player... or all that bright, in general. I think she is motivated mainly by the desire to be "liked." I think she is easily manipulated and will be pawned several times until she is just casted off.

Having spoken of stereotypes earlier, it certainly seems that the CBS producers are trying to cast Andy as the "flamboyant one." He, of course, makes it easy for them to do so. When he is not facing directly into a camera and putting on a show, he is no where as buoyantly outgoing as the chosen air-time segments make him seem to be. He's likable for the most part, and therefore will rank him higher than the players I simply don't like. However, he doesn't have a real strong game. I don't have much respect for the game that he is trying to play. I don't like the fact he tries to secretly align himself with the "other" side when he think he's safe from being discovered, to the point that he lies about his vote to win their favor... even though by "admitting" (lying) he voted against them, which is just ironically funny.

Pansy is the word that comes to mind when I think of how to describe McCrae. The greatest tidbit involving him yet was when, on the first night, several of the houseguests thought he was a secret genius, lying about his pizza boy cover. Of course, after spending a few days with him... no one questioned that much longer. The potential for a lukewarm showmance between the Pizza Boy and the Realtor to the Stars is entertaining and funny... until it becomes sad when you see how softened and broken down he is by a little affection. He's indecisive, whiny, and weak-willed. It is already obvious to the smarter players that he and Amanda need to be broken up because he is so easily manipulated by the extra X chromosome.

I do respect that Howard, unlike most (all?) of his predecessors, has been a man true to his faith... thus far. The only potential conflict with that was when he claimed needing to pull himself away from the environment of bigotry with the "popular" kids or else he may get violent. It didn't ring true for me. He comes across as the type of person who claims to remove himself from conflict to save himself from getting riled up when, in reality, is just scared of that conflict to begin with. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he truly wants to "turn the other cheek" to the negativity surrounding the prejudice issues in the house... but he seems more interested in playing "protector"- to Candace from the racial slurs and to the house, from his potential (and doubtful) wrath to me. I don't think he's a smart player. He's a renegade when it comes to following the plans of his alliances. I think he's dead weight that can be cast off without much effect. When the heat is on the much more visible targets though he will probably "grab  a life vest" and float along for a while.

I think Jason most aptly described Judd when he compared him to Hank's neighbor on "King of the Hill." Most conversations with Judd go something like this... brr, grr, mumble, mumble, I like beer, mumble, mumble, grr, brr... only not that logical. Now imagine that magnified by him whispering his muttering nonsense during the "After Dark" clips. I just have to fast forward through any segments with him. He is wallpaper, purely unforgettable in the game. You could watch an entire episode, not see Judd, and not even realize it. During the first couple of weeks, someone would mention something about Judd, and we would ask, "Who?" Like Howard, he will manage to float through the eviction of all the targets and then he is expendable at any time. The only event of his that is even mildly interesting is this new impetus to protect Jessie from the Mean Girls, that's kinda "presh."
Wallpaper would be a good way to describe Kaitlin in the game also- another name that we would ask "Who?" to when we heard it in the early weeks. She is a hemorrhoid conflicted as to whether she would rather attach herself to Aaryn or Jeremy. Of course, Jeremy would be be the preferred derrière. It is obvious that she is the girl that defines her identity by the man she is with. To Katie, success in the BB house is having the cutest boyfriend. She probably doesn't even know there is half a million at stake here. Jeremy, however, is not as stupid and would heft her over the BB fence himself if that's what it took to advance him in the game.

I don't like Candace. If Aaryn had not made it so easy for her, Candace still would have found conflict in the house. The Net is littered with her pageant and cheerleading pics. When it became obvious to her that she wasn't going to be "the pretty one" in the game, she would have had to build a stage herself for the Drama Queen performances. Unfortunately, Aaryn gave her all the reasons she needed to the throw attention-getting pity parties and temper tantrums. I think it's hypocritical to be offended by Aaryn's portrayal of her "acting ghetto" and then turn around and DO "act ghetto" in defense. I really hope she keeps stirring it up and is out the door soon. I fear instead, being at the center of the race conflict, is going to make any of the houseguests apprehensive with putting her on the block for a while.

Odd picture to choose of Gina Marie, right? I couldn't resist. I remember wayyy back when Kelli Clarkson was on the first "American Idol." She looked like two completely different people when she was in vs. out of make-up. My morning deejay even commented that her husband didn't believe it was the same girl. Same thing here. Gina Marie, without make-up, looks so very different than the glamorized version of her spread all over the Net. I can't mentally connect those two images any more than I can connect the brash-mouth, crast, annoying-loud-cackling Long Island hooch on BB with a high-fashion model and pageant coordinator... and trust me, I have seen my share of "Toddler and Tiara" disasters to make the comparison. All this was even before Nick left. It may be harsh, but was rather funny to watch the blubbering ball of slime she became when Nick unexpectedly walked out. Even Julie Chen joked about it. I understand the "Summer Camp" mentality of getting close to people quickly because you spend so much time together... but get over it already and play the game.

Last, and certainly least, is Jeremy. I disliked Jeremy from the time they showed his promo introduction before the houseguests even arrived at the CBS studio. He puts far too much effort in making a caricature of himself as the "Cherokee Heartthrob." On the first night of "After Dark," he was explaining to the others how he always took two girls to a dance in high school... not like this was a big accomplishment, but just like that's how being the Cherokee Heartthrob works. He's a hypocrite and tries to play pivotal roles in both alliances. He thinks he has far more control and power than he does, when the power has shifted in the house and he is on the outside looking in. He is fake... whether it's fake bravado for his lady audiences or fake sincerity that he thinks is fooling the opposing side of the house, it's not. The target on his back should be growing like the circle around a tick bite.

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