It’s officially summer, which means that I will be spending the next three months inside, laying in the air conditioning. And it’s not just because there are bugs outside, or because I’m allergic to everything – the beginning of summer means the premiere of a new season of Big Brother. This year, my friend Garrett and I will be starting a weekly series called But First Fridays, where we recap some of the bigger moments from that week’s three episodes and keep a running tally on who holds the most power in the house. Because what’s the point of life if you’re not willing to get way too serious about a reality TV show?
Normally these posts will have some more exciting events, because the houseguests will probably start lying and manipulating each other in week 2. But this is only the first week, so things got off to a slow start. Of course, things are still interesting in the Big Brother house, and as always, there are twists that are going to affect the game throughout the season. For one thing, the Battle of the Block is back from last season. This means that each week will have two head of households, who each nominate two houseguests for eviction. Those four houseguests will be able to compete to save themselves and remove their names from the chopping block, and the HOH who nominated them can go up in their place. Meaning, someone could go from being HOH to being evicted in the same week.
Additionally, there will be constant twists thrown in weekly that will change the game up. There’s also a secret twist that, so far, only the audience knows: one of the houseguests has a twin, and they’ll be switching back and forth with their twin in the house. If the houseguest makes it past the first five evictions, then their twin will enter the game as an individual player. Knowing Big Brother’s history with huge, game-changing twists, the guest with a twin will probably be the first person evicted and the whole concept will be ruined, but we’re optimistic.
The sixteen houseguests entered the house in groups of eight during Wednesday and Thursday’s episodes. Then, each group of eight competed in an HOH challenge, and after being sprayed with tomato juice and alien go, James and Jason, respectively, were named this week’s heads of household.
Since it’s only the first week, we haven’t gotten the fun parts of the game yet, like eviction nominations or the power of veto competitions. But this week’s episodes were all about first impressions, which helped certain houseguests establish themselves as powerful players who potentially could control the course of the game. Based on our impressions of the houseguests, we created rankings of the five most and least powerful players for the week.
Here’s how the weekly power rankings are going to work: we’re going to evaluate the houseguests based on their standing in the house and position in the game, ultimately ranking them on their likelihood of winning. Part of that is going to be based on the players themselves and how they approach the game, while factoring in how they performed in that week’s competitions and how the other players see them, if that changes their gameplay.
So here are our rankings for this week, starting with the bottom five players in descending order, where, basically, five is the least terrible and one is the most terrible (or has the least power, but that essentially means the same thing, right?).
JAIME: Steve was very purposely ranked at #5 because he’s not as annoying as some of the other houseguests, so he’s got that going for him. Most of his screentime was devoted to building up the idea that he’s shy and awkward and doesn’t spend time with other people, especially women, and I can’t really tell yet if he’s genuinely that awkward socially or if it’s just a stereotype they want to play up. But he’s a self-professed Big Brother superfan, and winds up being the first person eliminated from the HOH competition – and then is the first person to acknowledge that he’s probably lost his chance to create a good first impression on the other houseguests. He might have screwed up his chances already, which would be a shame, because I’m looking forward to watching him learn how to interact with women.
GARRETT: Ian was the same way off the bat a few seasons ago. His lack of threat in terms of the competitions helped him get to the middle of the game and allowed him to tack on as a fifth member of an alliance. I’m thinking Steve takes the same angle. But Ian’s strategy already happened, and the rest of the house should be watching out for it.
JAIME: I actually wound up liking Austin, but when he was first introduced, he was talking about how he has an alter ego and I don’t know, I think he might go crazy at some point. He seems nice enough for now, though. He’s 6’5” and really likes to talk about how huge he is, and the other men who entered the house with him on Wednesday night seemed to gravitate towards him. But everyone this year seems to be really focused on how tall they are, and using that as a barometer of how they’re going to do in the game. I don’t get it, but especially since James gained so much power so early on, I think Austin might come off as too intimidating and immediately become a target.
GARRETT: You weren’t wooed by the masters degree in medieval romance literature?
JAIME: Wait, I actually forgot all about that. I was a little wooed by that. That’s genuinely awesome.
JAIME: Liz is annoying and one of the first things she said was, “I don’t like jealous girls,” so already, I don’t like Liz. I think the show is hoping for tension between her and Shelli over Clay (or just male attention in general), and I can’t see her eagerly going along with Audrey’s plan for an all-female alliance. That could work to her benefit if she gets in with some of the men, but if her strategy only involves starting a showmance, she’s not going to make it very far.
GARRETT: She just seems very cookie-cutter. Nothing exciting about her. When the first thing you say is “I’m a Sagittarius” then I’m probably not gonna love you.
JAIME: Meg might be the single most annoying person I have ever encountered in my life and I hope the other houseguests start to hate her as much as I hate her.
GARRETT: “I have a gay best friend. He’s my gusband.” Congratulations. You’re so brave.
JAIME: Her biography on the CBS website includes the fact that straight men love her because she’s a cool, blonde, girl next door, and gay men love her because she’s fun. She needs to go, please.
JAIME: John is allegedly a dentist, but I can’t really see why anyone would trust or pay him to do anything. He’s one of those people who thinks he has to scream in the diary room, and after the HOH competition sprayed alien goo on him, he implied that he might wind up impregnated by an alien. He’s annoying. I can see the other houseguests growing tired of him really quickly.
GARRETT: John sounds like a squealing pig doing an impression of a dying giraffe that sounds like Maria Sharapova hitting a tennis ball.
JAIME: Clay is really pretty and we were introduced to him by seeing him feed baby animals, so. I’m a fan of Clay. Moreover, all the women are fans of Clay, and considering Liz and Shelli’s apparent willingness to have a showmance, I think the women are going to try and align with him. We don’t have any sense of his strategy yet, and I still feel totally confident saying that he’s going to stick around for a while.
GARRETT: There’s really nobody, looks-wise, that stacks up to him. It’s a very underrated characteristic in this game. He’s coveted, and he’s very nice and doesn’t seem to be a guy who’s going to get in anybody’s face. I’m looking at him to stick around for a while.
JAIME: I’m looking at him, too. Ayyyyyyyy
GARRETT: Wow, Jason is a character. One of the more flamboyant contestants, standing out amongst a sea of flamboyant contestants over this show’s history. I’m not a fan, because he doesn’t seem genuine. But he’s endearing to the other houseguests, and more importantly, has one of the HOH keys. I’ll probably be voting for him to be in the bottom later on, especially if he loses HOH in the Battle of the Block, but for now, he’s in a solid spot.
JAIME: Yeah, I see him as one of those people whose position in the house is going to rely a lot on how he does in competitions. The other houseguests do seem to like him (and I’m sure Meg will absolutely love him), but I can see him fluctuating a lot. I feel like he’ll wind up being a floater.
JAIME: Da’Vonne actually seems smart, and is intelligent enough to hide that from the other houseguests. It’s a reality show, so they always have to get people to fit certain boxes and play up their stereotypes, and while Da’Vonne was probably put on the show so CBS can feel good about how diverse they are, she’s not the person playing up any prejudice someone might have based on her background. She’s the first person to remind you that she’s a single mother from Inglewood, but so far she seems like she’s letting other people create that stereotype. She’s not playing it up herself to hide how intelligent she actually is.
GARRETT: You’re definitely right about CBS bringing her on as a show of their inclusive diversity. And it’s sad that year after year, their diverse member of the cast fails to make an impact. Constantly, the black women that come on this show have a lack of screen time and fail, oftentimes, to even reach the jury, with no help from production and editing. I’m hoping that Da’Vonne continues to garner a solid amount of screen time, because she’s a solid player who seems to be jumping right into the thick of things with a trust-no-one attitude.
JAIME: James really, really likes to remind people that he’s used to working hard to change people’s impressions of him, which I guess does give him a social edge and might make him pretty successful at turning people to his way of thinking, but like we get it, please talk about something else. Otherwise, he impressed people really quickly with his performance in the first HOH competition. Normally that would make someone a huge target, but everyone seemed genuinely impressed with him, which is hard to pull off. I think he’s going to fly low on everyone’s radar for a while, despite already making it clear that he knows how to play this game.
GARRETT: His HOH this week is key. I’m rooting for him to retain it and use his nominations to leapfrog into a solid alliance (I’m thinking with the guys). He’s sociable and kind, and of everybody who looked like they would have been taken aback by Audrey’s moment of honesty, he seemed to respond in a positive way. Once his “I need to prove real quick how southern and outdoorsy I am” mentality wears off, I think I’ll like him more. I think he’s a lot like Caleb from last year, if Caleb was a quieter, smaller Asian man who wasn’t as quick to give his loyalty away.
JAIME: Audrey might be the most likable player this year, at least so far. Her immediate strategy is for all the girls to stick together; I can see that backfiring, but hopefully she’s smart enough to abandon ship if she needs to. She’s also the first transgender Big Brother contestant, and openly shares that fact, which seems to gain her respect from the other houseguests. It was a smart move to be so open, because she immediately created an emotional connection with everyone, and I don’t think she’ll be on James or Jason’s minds when they start considering who to nominate for eviction.
GARRETT: I’m glad she put the transgender thing out in the open right off the bat. Her fidelity definitely helps her out and puts her firmly within everybody’s likability. But she’s also clearly a great player, making quick pacts and getting ahead of the game. But she’s not trying to do too much too quickly, either.
That’s it for week one of Big Brother! We’ll be back next Friday with an update on what’s been happening in the house and our new power rankings. Hopefully no one gets too annoying too early in the game, but as always, we have to expect the unexpected.