On last night's second half of the Big Brother premiere, Julie Chen mixed it up in a big way, and not just in terms of fashion: Eight more houseguests were introduced—to their dismay—into an already thriving social ecosystem, we learned about 100 new arcane twists that have rebuilt the game from the ground up, and most importantly, this happened:
While Wednesday's first eight contestants were interesting in a kind of uninteresting way, the second round of introductions gave us on the whole some more polarizing personalities to deal with, for both good and ill. More interesting and genius was the way they were brought in, which is four at a time, meaning we got to have fractal douche chills, as the same microaggressions kept happening on a smaller and more intense scale.
The first group of four to enter were midlevel people, somewhat polarizing but maybe not as dramatically as the show hopes to see happen later. You've got Caleb, the racist cowboy, who presents here somewhat differently than his dumbass Instagram would suggest. Creepy and dumb, for sure! But still a bit more intriguing than disgusting, so far, than the impression he wishes to create online:
What do you get for the creep who has everything creepy going on at once? More hair gel. When he blows up it will be intense and scary, but one thing it will not be is: Anything like a surprise.
Ditto for preacher and life coach and general force of nature Jocasta. She tends to dress like a stage magician, so maybe that is going on too—some entrepreneurs cannot be stopped—and maybe that is how she is able to produce out of thin air (Out of your ear! Out of a hat!) yet more crazy for you to chew on, even while she is busy doing a hundred other things:
I suppose this is no great step forward for the show's awful reputation about this stuff, although I can say the "hyper-religious black lady" generally turns out to be one of the neatest personalities every year, until they are inevitably pushed off the edge by these assholes they are living with.
I don't have much of an opinion on Jocasta beyond that. I take comfort in women with long histories, to the point that I don't necessarily need to know what those histories are. (Like, I have gone out of my way to never find out any things that have happened to Mary J. Blige in her life, because they seem really numerous and really intense: I don't know, and I don't want to know, but I know enough to know that it is important, and that's all I need to know.)
Unless we are in the presence of the Jocasta, and we find out that she slept with not only men and various women, but also her own son, and then blinded herself: All of that seems like legitimately useful info in this game.
Not the least because that would make her more famous-by-relation than Frankie Grande, which is a shitstorm waiting to happen. Speaking of those:
Depending on how she puts those kooky smarts to use, this Christine may do well. There is a history of very awkward people using their mental agility to smooth over the rough spots of their social interactions by being incredibly useful, and those people range from satisfactory (Nakomis) to fucking fabulous (Ian Terry).
Also fabulous so far is Hayden, who comes on like one venerable kind of Big Brother cartoon—the likable sun-kissed moron—but is actually, secretly, incredibly awesome in a whole other way. I don't know if they'll twig to the difference, since either way they're all going to love him, but Hayden is in my Top Three based entirely on his reactions to other people's nonsense, juxtaposed with the (secretly not-so-) dumb things he actually blurts. He is already scary good at one of the trickiest aspects of this game, which is keeping your mouth shut and your eyes open while appearing to do the opposite. This is Hayden doing Hayden:
Then Julie Chen put through the remaining four people, meaning what was a moment ago a bonding moment between eight strangers has, with a toss of Julie's hair, become a party of twelve that your tiny group is nervously crashing.
The best part of this twist was watching MILF Brittany figure everything out milliseconds before everybody else, emotionally process it through the black box supercomputer she hides behind her unfortunately fearsome resting-bitchface, and setting it aside. That is a hallmark of my all-time favorite players—Janelle, Dan, Previous Brittany, and of course Allison Irwin—and I look for it every year, like the monks trying to find Buddha babies or Puritan witchfinders looking for weird moles, and she's got it! That thing I like.
Meet divorcée Brittany, who somehow has three children. They showed us the kids—remarkable, adorable—and she keeps talking about the kids, but everybody, you and me included, just keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop: "But I'm being disingenuous. What I refer to as my three 'children' are actually three miniature hamsters I've named Drogon, Rhaegal, and Ochocinco."
This is the face beautiful Cody's beautiful face made when she dropped that one on 'em:
Because he also wanted it to be dragons, or at least hamsters. Maybe hamsters dressed like people? Luckily, that's kind of what is going on with Derrick. Hamster, dressed like a person who is pretending not to be a narc even though an infant just learning to differentiate colors, sounds and images would spot him as a narc from a mile away:
(Pictured: A narc, clearly. Immediately.)
I think Chief Wiggum up there is not long for the Big Brother house, for the reason that he is kind of weird looking but mostly because his uneasy mix of being, simultaneously, adorably sincere about everything and clearly lying about everything is historically something that causes everybody's intuition to go bonkers, like an EMP wave sending seagulls crashing into a marina by screwing up their works. When 90 percent of the game is about reading people's microexpressions, demeanor, etc., you cannot be sending out those kinds of contradictory signals. Everybody will go bananas, but nobody will ever even know why they went bananas.
On the opposite end of the "readability" scale you have Victoria, who moved from Israel to Miami at age eight, and absolutely nothing after that fact is even slightly surprising.
Frankie Grande—who accidentally dropped the mask several times last night, revealing an unexpected intelligence that in no way ameliorates his overall deal—immediately glommed onto her, because she gives off a "Disney Princess" vibe and because he can probably already tell Joey is a one-trick creature. While I'm sad to see their gross bestiness fall apart so easily, it did lead to this exchange:
"You're Jewish? Me too! Wait, no. I just grew up in Florida."
Yikes! But quality television, I think. Other Florida connections did not go so well for Frankie, like when he was introduced to honest-to-God socio Zach:
Which was nice because Frankie got to lay claim to a cultural capital he usually underplays in favor of the 18 other humblebrags he's got tucked into his 2(x)ists, and nice because we got to see what Frankie is like when he forgets to not be a person—he is kind of great!—but also because it's proof that Zach was not fucking around in his American Psycho intro:
I will note for you also that Zach's best friend is his little brother and he is afraid of raccoons, which makes him in reality less of an Ayn Rand Libertari-dork caricature and more just a very young person who has not yet figured himself out to any great extent. Kind of like how Shailene Woodley thinks she means what she says, or when a teenager who once smoked half of a clove cigarette tells you with a straight face that they are a smoker of cloves. Often the things we admit are advertisements for what we wish were true. A very bad thing to be shitty at in Big Brother land, where everything you say is already propaganda for your imaginary better self.
So that's the full complement. Now we know. Stupid America nominated stupid Joey to stupid Team America and she stupidly thought it was flattering and not what it is, which is an instant death sentence. The other two members will be rolled out later, but I'm assuming Victoria and Donnie just based on the kind of people that vote in these things. And Caleb is now Frankie's co-ruler, which is going to be either very awesome or very scary, who knows. For now, all we know is how Frankie and Caleb celebrated their co-rulership, which was in a totally normal way that in no way freaked anybody out.
[Images and video via CBS]