Expecting the Unexpected

Big Brother All-Stars Week 1

Season 22!

Big Brother is back! CBS’s reality show behemoth debuted last week for its 22nd season, and brought back 16 all-star players to battle it out for $500,000. Surprisingly, this is only the second all-stars season in the show’s 20 years on the air – the first was way back in season 7 (2006) – and is very much overdue. Once again in the hosting chair is the Chenbot herself, Julie Chen-Moonves.

What’s interesting is the majority of players are from season 8 onward, with only Kaysar and Janelle returning from season 6 (though they both competed in the first all-stars season) and no one from before season 6. This works out well for me, as I only started watching BB in season 8, so I’m familiar with every houseguests except Kaysar. Big Brother icon Janelle competed in season 14, and I watched her and fellow BB alum Britney run The Amazing Race, so just like the rest of America, I know and love Janelle.

The rest of the all-stars are, with their original season(s): Dani (8 and 13), Memphis (10), Keesha (10), Kevin (11), Enzo (12), Ian (14), Cody (16), Nicole F (16 and 18), Da’Vonne (17 and 18), Christmas (19), Tyler (20), Bayleigh (20), David (21), and Nicole A (21).

The only person who’s not an all-star is David, who was evicted first last season after failing a competition. It’s a nice gesture to let him come back, but we barely got to learn his name before he was evicted, so he doesn’t really qualify for all-star status, does he?

Because of the COVID-19 of it all, the season was delayed, and for some reason CBS decided to air the houseguests moving in live in the 2-hour premiere. It was a bit of a mess, as you might expect. Some highlights:

  • Even though they’ve reportedly been in quarantine with COVID testing, the houseguests (4 at a time) wore masks on stage before entering the house. They were told they could remove their masks when they entered the house. Mmmkay. Why?

  • The houseguests didn’t know who else would be in the house, so when they saw each other for the first time they were understandably excited. Julie tried to corral them into the living room, but they weren’t listening or possibly couldn’t hear her. Julie’s joke of ‘whoever sits down last gets evicted’ didn’t land either time she said it.

  • The week’s Have-Nots couldn’t get into the Have-Not bedroom. The door is a small one they have to crawl through, but ultimately it wouldn’t open (and we haven’t seen the room since – only shots of it, unoccupied, as far as I remember).

  • The first competition, played in rounds of 4 people, was a difficult mess. The houseguests had to get a ball through a hole of a labyrinth-table, and no one could easily do it.

In the first Head of Household competition, the houseguests had to jump on stumps to make their way across the backyard; but some of the stumps were fake and wobbly and if they fell off they had to start again. Cody beat the challenge in about 22 seconds, easily smoking the competition; he became the first HOH and nominated Keesha and Kevin for eviction. In the Power of Veto, Enzo came out on top, and the Meow Meow decided not to use the veto. I didn’t like either of these comps – the veto was rocking back and forth on a giant banana to earn time to stack plastic fruit; most pieces of fruit won. It was very boring.

Slightly less boring is this season’s first gimmick: the Safety Suite! Each houseguest was given a pass to the Suite; they can use the pass to compete in a challenge only once this season. If they win the challenge, they are safe for the week and get to choose another person to be safe; however, that other person has to endure a punishment. Kaysar and Janelle competed in a competition to recreate a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star remix (yup), and Kaysar won. He obviously chose Janelle to be safe, and she was given her first punishment (!) in the BB house: a star costume (complete with lights!) to wear for the week.

In the lead up to the eviction, there were so many alliances formed, or talks of alliances, I couldn’t keep them straight. Cody seems to have deals with Enzo, Memphis, Nicole F, and Da’Vonne. Da’Vonne has a Black Girl Magic alliance with Bayleigh; Tyler and Bayleigh seem to also be working together. Ian and Nicole F, the only former winners, seem to be cooking something up. Kevin and Nicole A talked about teaming up; Janelle and Kaysar are already close, and who knows what Memphis’ proposed super alliance will ultimately look like.

On eviction night, the house unanimously evicts Keesha. Couldn’t tell you why; it just wasn’t that interesting, as first evictions usually aren’t. Julie tells Keesha she has to put on her mask, then exit the house; she does and takes a seat way across the stage from Julie for her exit interview. (Again, why?! It seems like BB said “How can we acknowledge this pandemic in the dumbest way possible?”) Keesha sees her goodbye messages and is upset to go out first but happy to have been back.

The second HOH competition was one in which the houseguests had to watch videos of a ‘comedian’ doing very bad voices and characters, then answer Julie’s true or false questions with the notorious Big Brother blocks that have to be ‘reset’.*

*Really, can we get a better system? Maybe touch screens that reset themselves? Hearing Julie constantly say ‘Please reset’ at this point is extremely annoying. Am I the only one? Bueller? On a related note, can we do away with the Diary Room voting system? Why not have all the contestants go into a room, separate from each other, and ALL VOTE AT THE SAME TIME (again, using screens)? It is way too time consuming for people to get to the DR just to say one person’s name and walk out, never mind all the shout outs to friends and family. /rant.

In the end, Memphis came out on top and was crowned the new HOH. I’m not sure who he’ll be gunning for; I’d guess Ian and Nicole F are safe bets but I’ve watched this show long enough to expect the unexpected.

With much of television production still on hiatus, I’m really happy CBS figured out how to get BB on the air and that its crazy three-nights-a-week schedule is intact. Because what’s better than watching full grown adults hurl themselves around, make and break deals, and play silly games for money?! Goofy fun wins out for me, every time. M

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