Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Television Tuesday--This 18th Season of "Big Brother" Has Been Great Thanks to Some Incredible Personalities

Big Brother Season 18
I've written extensively about the reality-television program, "Big Brother," on the blog, usually making at least one post per season. We are now in the 18th season and after an incredibly mellow and admittedly dull 17th season I had concerns we were in for another far too laid-back Summer. Thankfully, there are players this time who are either fascinatingly good or hilariously bad to the degree that this season has been saved from monotony by a few key folk. The cast/"house-guests," are always important, because the whole point of, "Big Brother," is that a group of people are stuck in a house removed from society, and have to pick each other off one-by-one in hopes of being the last man/woman standing and getting 500,000 dollars. In the process of slowly kicking people out the houseguests play games where the winner has extra power to influence who goes home and all the off-time mixed with being stuck together results in delightful social mayhem--at least in theory. As I said, last season featured a house that was a bit disappointingly calm, and almost as if CBS was worried about this they brought back some former players to compete, but happily a few key people (all new) have kept things worth-watching this time. Let's discuss some.

The People Keeping Things Interesting
For the first number of weeks there was the usual feeling-out of everyone and quick dismissal of the most annoying house-guests (self-proclaimed, "Messiah," of the house-guests Jozea was quick to be booted much to his oblivious surprise) and then a routine started-up where it looked like the guys would slowly pick-off all the women, with a man named Paulie leading them. The younger-brother of season 16's runner-up, Cody, Paulie seemed like an okay guy and pretty smart planner at first. However, in the recent weeks he did the one thing winners of, "Big Brother," never do: He ran his dumb mouth.  Paulie began getting into squabbles with everyone in the house enough that folk started talking about him, and realized he was not-so-secretly trying to run the game. This resulted in Paulie getting nominated to go home and he continued his evolution from solid player to mean person to his final state: Crying and angry mess.

It was a fascinating change in personality as Paulie realized he was screwed-over by the very people that he had been taking advantage of. When he got sent to the jury house (a place where players of the game who got relatively far are put to vote on the eventual winner when two people are left) it was a wonderful moment of catharsis as the three women he had all played a part in getting there absolutely gave him a verbal lashing and ripped his ego apart, with spurned showmance (show-romance) Zakiyah taking great pleasure in repeatedly calling Paulie, "A little bitch." Paulie is stuck there in the jury house now and his family is embarrassed enough by all this they put out a statement blaming CBS for making Paulie look bad. The thing is, not too long ago Cody was a contestant and all of us viewers liked him, so I think this is more an issue of, "Hey, you can't look bad if you keep your mouth shut," than it is CBS actively trying to hurt the image of a person and make them be hated by America (he's not hated as much as Aaryn in Season 15, but that would be hard feat to pull-off). Still, while Paulie was a part of, "Big Brother," he was at least entertaining, especially when things started going down-hill for him.
Talk about a surprise. Victor at first glance appeared to be a boorish fool, a muscle-bound dummy whose personality upset many and resulted in his being the 3rd person sent home. Done deal, right? Well, there was a surprise competition where the first five house-guests could, "Battle back," to re-enter the house, and Victor won a match against the 2nd, 4th, and 5th person evicted to earn the right to re-enter the fabled, "Big Brother," household. That itself is pretty impressive, but once back he started playing a whole lot smarter, carefully making alliances with arguably the best player in the house, Paul (more on him in a minute) and actually proving he is amazing at competitions as he had stated before quickly going home--repeatedly winning positions of power in the house via both physical and mental competitions (he ain't just a muscular dumb-ass after all).

It looked like Victor's triumphant return would face another ending, however, with some other house-guests unfortunately gaining power who wanted Victor out and a swing-vote successfully finding him evicted again last week. However, there was yet another competition where jurors could compete to re-enter the house, and 15 minutes later he was back fighting for the chance to become a resident for an unprecedented third time. On Sunday  viewers saw that Victor did not win the entire competition, but he did indeed beat all the other jurors--or as the house-guest James put it on the live internet-feeds, "Is this guy the Terminator?" Victor is the kind of player you have to look out for--able to evolve his game when things aren't working-out, and a competition beast who has the sheer determination to keep coming back--even though he's been evicted twice! Should the house-guests get even another hint of solid shot to take Victor out they probably ought to jump on it, because if this guy makes it to the final two all he has to do is say to the jurors, "I got kicked-out twice and somehow made it this far," and he'll win the money.
Not to be confused with Paulie, Paul started out the game seeming like an abrasive loud-mouth. The thing is, he has really, really grown on me to the point he is my favorite player. I don't know if it is sense of humor, the fact he has been at risk of being evicted multiple times but always finds a way to survive in the game, or just his luxurious beard, but Paul is awesome. He will at times get into squabbles with house-guests, and is prone to changing alliances at the drop of a hat, but part of, "Big Brother," is being willing to see which way the wind is blowing in terms of friendships or alliances, and bend that way as hard as you can, because the people who don't bend often break. Speaking of, "Friendship," the fact that such a word has become his catch-phrase is very humorous too.

Paul isn't the perfect player of, "Big Brother," because he does draw attention to himself (many winners often coasted by quietly until toward the end when they struck), but his ability to navigate socially between all the various shifting alliances, and his skills at winning a variety of competitions has endeared him to me and made me truly hope Paul wins, because besides Victor there ain't anybody too interesting still playing.

Where are the Women?
You may have noticed I didn't list any women. The reason for that is the majority this season either were gone early (Bronte), stereotypical crying messes (Da'Vonne was a returning-player and got further than last time, but still bombed, Tiffany was always tearing-up and left early, Michelle does nothing but cry and occasionally gets so upset it makes her vomit) or attached themselves to a male player they've relied on to take them further in the game. There ain't nothing wrong with a good old fashioned showmance, but it just looks regressive if you're a woman in this game relying on a man to help you hopefully win. Bridgette was a bit of a lovesick puppy for returning-alum Frank (folk in the house dismissively called her his ,"Cabbage-patch kid), but once he left she did finally start to show some tenacity and backbone...but then got evicted, so that ruined any potential there.

Right now the only ladies left in the house are the always-sobbing wreck Michelle, returning alum-Nicole who has hooked-up with Corey (who is in fact a musclebound dummy), and Natalie who admits she isn't the smartest tool in the shed, but is quite nice...and really dependent on another past-season returner, self-described, "Asian redneck," James. It has been years since a woman won, "Big Brother," heck, it hasn't ever happened during the time I've watched the show, and I doubt it is going to happen this season. It is sad to think this is yet another Summer  where the guys overshadowed the gals, but it indeed occurred once more.

Good Fun
The apparently-mandatory picture of everyone in their bathing suits.
This season hasn't been as wild as past ones I've witnessed, but it has been enough fun that my wife and I sprung for the streaming-service known as, "CBS All Access," to watch what the house-guests are up to between shows (plus I can watch other CBS programs anytime without ads, I guess). I already know what Wednesday holds and hope that when the time to vote on who goes home arrives Thursday it is in fact Michelle--who was nominated with Paul on Sunday--that leaves. Some exciting people have kept the show fresh and as we get closer to the home-stretch I'm eager to see who makes it to the end. I really hope it is Paul or Victor, but not Paul and Victor because then I bet Victor will win, and at the end of the day Paul is my favorite.

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