Before I begin my introduction to the cast of the 17th season of Big Brother, I have a little confession to make. I haven’t been emotionally ready for this season to start. I’ve enjoyed these past nine months without the likes of Derrick, Devin, Nicole, Caleb, and that freak show of a brother whose name I won’t ever mention again.
I’ve also been extremely busy. Besides my own little weekly rock and roll radio show, The Ledge, I have other obligations for my time. I’m still writing music previews for my local newspaper, and I had a large music-related movie project land on my lap. In fact, I was in Columbus, Ohio, working on this film when the cast was first announced last week. When I returned to my air-conditioned sanctuary Saturday night, all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and begin the process of clearing out my DVR.
I can’t put this off any longer, though. After all, there is a wonderful live internet radio show called The Big Brother Gossip Show that premieres tonight, and obviously I must be extremely well-prepared to keep up with the brilliance of Colette and Mike. So I’m spending this entire beautiful summer day watching videos and taking notes.
Here are some initial thoughts one each of this year’s cast. Since I refuse to sit through any interview that involves Jeff or that redheaded monster, my opinions all come from the wonderful work of Matt at bigbrothernetwork.com.
Here we go!
Audrey Middleton (25). Talk about starting off with a bang! Audrey is a digital media specialist from Villa Rica, Georgia. She calls herself a superfan, although I’m always a bit skeptical about those claims. She wants to be the “ultimate operator, socially” that will play like Dexter Morgan, in that she has no problems getting “blood on her hands”. Hmmm. She scares me a bit, though, as she says on her CBS bio that her favorite player of all time is Rachel. I do like the fact that she does not intend to be the “next” Rachel or Janelle. She plans on innovating what a strong woman is on Big Brother. Good for her.
She’s beautiful and friendly, but as everybody knows, her interviews don’t really tell her story. Within hours of the introduction of these videos, TMZ reported that she’s transgendered. This is not discussed in any of the interviews. In fact, there’s even chatter about “cycles”. She’s going to be the big news story of this season. The stunt cast...or one of the stunt casts. Julie Chen broke down in tears on her terrible talk show discussing Audrey.
Her casting raises so many questions. Will she inform the rest of the house about her situation? If so, how will they react? Will production do anything in their power to keep her as long as possible? What will the fan reaction be to anybody who criticizes her?
Austin Matelson (30). I can’t type fast enough to list his many occupations and hobbies. The Woodland Hills, California native used to be in the WWE’s developmental league, NXT, before suffering an injury. Now he’s a post-rehab fitness specialist that wrestles in independent leagues under his secret name, Judas. He also enjoys cheerleading, yoga, gymnastics, and I’m going to guess he’s had a few instances of larping. Oh Lord, he’s also a “medieval historian who believes in true love”. I’m not sure about that aspect. He also claims to be a huge Big Brother fan since season one, and in his case I believe him, especially when he talks about how showmances have ruined many a good player in the past. While his promotional picture indicates some intense, crazy eyes, I felt a bit of a calming presence while watching him. It must be the yoga. His favorite players were Dr. Will (due to strategy) and Howie (because he was fun). However, he says on CBS that the one thing he’d like to bring into the house are his Color Me Badd CD’s. Come on. Really?
Overall, I sort of like him. He plans on making the house fun to “take the target off my back” in order to have others come to him with their game plans. It’s also guaranteed that he won’t make a gigantic alliance of the entire house less than 24 hours after entering the house.
Becky Burgess (26). This “retail store manager” from Denver is a big fan of a whole year! Yes, a whole year! She became hooked and supposedly auditioned. She believes that she’s lived a “crazy” life, and claims to be inspirational to women. Yeah, right. Honestly, I was sort of bored by her within the first minute of the interview. In fact, I walked away and grabbed a protein bar. She’s not going to make big moves early in the game, and seems to only hope to make it to jury. For some reason, she thinks it’s important to not let the house know she was a “double finance major” or that lucrative retail management gig. What? She also is dying to relive Jordan’s season, and desperately wants a showmance. Ugh. Overall, I get a bit of an Amber vibe from her, minus the struggling modeling career.
Clay Honeycutt (23). The former Texas A&M defensive back is another new self-described “superfan” who has watched eight seasons in three month. He’s also bound to be the “bro” I’m going to hate the most this season, and will probably cause me to be blocking cat ladies left and right on twitter. Yes, I’ve already heard from a certain person how hot this douche is, but he’s a dullard. A complete and utter dullard who looks up to Cody for his “big moves”. That’s right, Cody. I’m sure we’re going to hear over and over all summer about his college football experiences, although he claims that he’s not going to let the house know he’s so athletic. Yeah, right. Come on, you just know that he’s going to whip off his shirt in the first five minutes of being in the house.
Da’Vonne Rogers (27). She’s a poker dealer from Inglewood, California. This is intriguing. As much as Becky believes she can read people, nobody can top a poker dealer in this regard. That said, there are many things to not like about her, particularly the fact that her favorite player of all time is Rachel. Why??? Her roommate was a superfan who talked her into auditioning. Despite being a new fan, I did get some giggles out of her descriptions of past house guests, particularly when called Keesha a “flunkie”. However, I have a feeling her rapid-fire motormouth may grate on me quite often this summer. On the other hand, I could see her creating some fun drama even though she wants to find that middle ground between playing hard but not being seen as a threat.
Jace Agolli (23). This Venice Beach personal trainer rankled me on sight. He has a bit of the look of a Dave Matthew fan. No, let me take that back. He looks like the type of John Mayer fan who claims it is because of his blues playing and not his godawful balladry. He babbles and babbles and babbles, and somewhere in there I heard him say he’s a rapper. No, please, I don’t need to hear any beatboxing this season. He uses a lot of motivational speaker phrases, spoken at a pace that would shame Da’vonne, but which also caused me to zone out by the third minute. I’m moving on.
James Huling (32). An Asian hayseed??? Really? A retail associate (who was also in the military and had a corrections job) from Sumter, South Carolina that makes Donny seem like a city boy. He loves Taylor Swift and Zach. No. Please no. Given that all of his Big Brother references come from that awful 2014 season, I have few reasons to believe he’ll last long.
Jason Roy (25). I may be way off here, but I would bet this is the first supermarket cashier to be cast on the show. He is a true feed-watching superfan who says on the CBS site that his faves include Danielle (season 3), Diane (season 5), Danielle (season 8), Kevin (season 11), and Britney (season 12). I really can’t argue with that list. He first auditioned for season 15 (“bullet dodged”), and admits that his personality is a bit over the top. I like him a lot, but like many past superfans I could see him being one of those that wants to talk game every minute of every day. Or he could be another that somehow manages to pop in and out of every room where there’s game talk. He claims that he’s going to lay low, though, but I just really don’t see that happening.
John McGuire (27). I’ve heard a lot about this Scranton, Pennsylvania dentist before I sat down to watch his video...and everything I’ve heard is spot on. Sorry, Audrey, you’re not this year’s Dexter. This dude truly knows where the bodies are buried. Holy shit, he’s intense! I love the fact that he’s truly surprised that he was chosen to be on this year’s cast. I have a feeling his time is going to be short, but he’s going to be oh so entertaining. He is a superfan, but says he’s not going to make the same mistakes of past contestants with similar knowledge. He also claims that he’s going to make being a dentist his advantage, because apparently everybody loves talking about their teeth. Wait, what? Despite his frantic chatter, he is self-aware enough to understand that he’ll have to mellow out to succeed. Can he do that? I have my doubts.
Liz Nolan (23). As I’m getting to the end of the cast, I’m noticing that a good percentage of the females look exactly the same! How does this Miami marketing coordinator differ from the other blondes? This one is an admitted party girl who is supposedly also a “brainiac”. Her faves include Janelle, Jeff...and Frankie. Ugh. She was also recruited by Porsche. She’s a “fierce competitor” that plans on winning as many HOH’s and POV’s as possible who is also great at cooking and cleaning. At least she’s honest in the fact that she has no plans to start a Joey-ish all-girls alliance. Ultimately, my only real hope for this smoker voice twit is that she follows through on her promise of quite a few itsy bitsy polka dot bikinis.
Meg Maley (25). Hey, we are near the bottom of the list before we get our first “server”. At least she’s not a Hollywood bartender/waitress. Oh, and she adores Frankie. Ugh. She’s “really serious about the game” but is a “goofy girl” who wants to be a rare strong female player. She claims to be “drama free and chill”, which is supposed to help her get far in the game. At least she knows she’s a loudmouth, although that sort of goes against the drama free/chill description, but whatever. Once I got past her annoying, bubbly voice, though, I must admit that she seems to have given some thought on how to make it far in the game. Will it happen? I’m not so sure about that.
Shelli Poole (33). I know one castmember is going to love and obsess over this Atlanta interior designer, and all you have to do is look at her photo to know who I’m talking about. Yes, Shelli has teeth. She has the toothiest grin of the entire cast, and I’m hoping and praying that John annoys the shit out of her with his dentistry talk. While she says she’s been watching for many years, her faves are the type of those who have only studied for the past few weeks - Brendon, Rachel, Jeff, and Jordan, along with Cody and Derrick from last year. Borrrrrrring!!!! She is also a twin, which has raised some questions about this year’s planned multitudes of twists. I must say that I love her backstory on the CBS site, though. She divorced her husband, and jumped right into another relationship. When she told this new man that she wanted to apply for Big Brother, he mocked her and was kicked to the curb. Otherwise, her interview is a pretty typical onslaught of clueless planning and little self-awareness. Seriously, she believes that she’ll be able to ape Derrick’s gameplay? Doubtful.
Steve Moses (22). Is this Gouverneur, New York college student this year’s Ian? He knows his Big Brother history, which has rarely been a true advantage. This is her first year applying, though, although he says that he’s been planning on trying out for years and years. He truly is honored to have made this season, and I will always admire anybody who abhors stupid people. He claims to have Caleb’s sense of loyalty, but not truly blind loyalty. Steve is very analytical, but I have a feeling that he may be have a penchant for going overboard. It is possible to overthink everything. Can a virgin dweeb win on Big Brother? Well, it has happened before.
Vanessa Rousso (32). Ooooh, so we have a poker dealer and a Vegas poker player? This could be interesting. She has a quirky look and talks about music quite a bit on her CBS profile (she’s also a DJ), but I have a feeling that I’d be disappointed by her tastes. Vanessa also claims to be a longtime fan, and says that Big Brother is similar to poker. The main difference is the difference in time, and admits that maintaining “mental focus” will be tough. She also doesn’t want anybody to know that she’s a successful poker player
Oh wow, I just took a little break to look her up after a couple of references that people may recognize her, and she is a big deal in the poker world. She has dual citizenship in the U.S. and France, and is known as Lady Maverick in the poker world. She was a member of Team PokerStars for a few years, was in the 2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and has done commercials for GoDaddy. She was married for four years to acclaimed poker expert Chad Brown, and is now in a relationship with a woman named Mel.
I guess she’s a bit of a stunt cast, but even with her credentials she’s not exactly a household name. I think she’s really intriguing, and hope she goes far. Her only downfall in the interview is that EVERYTHING ends up going back to poker terms.
So that’s it for this season...so far. That’s only 14 people, which is impossible to spread out over a 90 day season. There are plenty of rumors floating around that Thursday’s episode will include the introduction of at least two more players, or maybe even a number of people playing for two spots.
Don’t forget to join us tonight on the Big Brother Gossip Show as we go through all of this year’s victims. The show commences at 9 pm ET at mixlr!