A full year after seeing (and writing about) Big Brother for the very first time, one thing remains abundantly clear: Ash, Scott, and IndyMike -- not to mention most of you -- have forgotten more about this show than I will probably ever learn.
The basics of the game (terms like HOH, POV, comps, have-nots, twists, etc.), when and why competitions and other weekly events happen, and the logistics of evictions are reasonably clear in my mind now.
Strategy is what still kills me. Most of the time I just. don't. get. it. Until I learn to predict with some accuracy what each house guest will do and be able to look two or three moves ahead in the game, I'll still be writing for the Newbie Desk.
At four weeks into #BB16, a few days before eviction #4, I haven't yet found somebody to root for. Useful analysis about these house guests is something I leave to my fellow Big Brother Gossip contributors ... so, settle in for some pre-midweek-show filler in the form of my random thoughts about all the remaining house guests. Hey, don't complain -- you're probably supposed to be working right now.
Amber. The way she handled Caleb's unrequited like (I don't think Caleb is mature enough to grasp genuine adult-level love in which you put the other person's needs before your own) a couple weeks ago was decent. Not Amber's fault that her words bounced off of him. Game-wise, after being more or less accidentally recruited into the Bomb Squad alliance (when Devin invited her without permission), I can't remember her doing much to make me think there's any chance she'll get to the finale. Her budding friend-mance with Cody (despite Caleb's evil-eye) might keep her safe longer than she would on her own.
Brittany. Propz to Brittany for completing her 2400-goal punishment in about 21 hours even if it only earned her sore feet and did nothing to prevent her likely eviction this week. IndyMike pointed out to me at lunch yesterday that her strategy was for sh!t. She could have intentionally given up on the 2400-in-24-hours thing by saying her feet hurt too much to continue, which would have meant being ineligible to play in next week's POV comp ... and basically honestly campaigned that she might not recover in time to be a factor in this week's HOH comp. Voila! Not a threat next week. Would that have taken the target off her back ... or at least affected who they chose to put on the block in place of Victoria? Maybe not, but Brittany might at least have looked smarter. (It feels like I'm missing something else here about Britt's strategy-fail. Hit the comments to fix my analysis-fail.)
Caleb. Simply put, he annoys me. Dude, the girl just isn't into you. She tried to let you down easy. Now you stare at her like a jealous 14-year-old. And do you seriously think that they'll need extra security at airports, restaurants, and shopping malls to keep crowds of adoring fans from crushing you? It doesn't happen even for previous winners, and it sure as hell won't happen when you're the 5th or 6th evictee (I hope! I hope!). Grow up, and live in the now! The Bomb Squad has been defused. Oh, and #STFUCaleb!
Christine. There's something non-sequitur about this one. I can't quite reconcile Christine's ink with her glasses. I know this makes little sense, but there it is. If Christine hadn't also been accidentally brought into the Bomb Squad, would she have been targeted by now? On the other hand, she's found her way to stable ground right in the middle of the crowd, safe for now via the Detonators and (mostly) on good terms with orbiting weaker players (such as Nicole). Isn't this the kind of house guest who slips her way into the finale, because there are always "stronger players" they want to get rid of first?
Cody. One of the two guys running the house, and a member of every alliance they've created. (He's not in Team America -- but that's a stupid producer construct, not a real alliance.) Cody seemed genuinely ashamed on Monday morning when, as HOH, he put Donny on the block as the replacement nominee only an hour after agreeing that nominating Caleb would have been a brave, huge move. If Brittany leaving is somehow better for Cody's game (I don't remember why, but remembering what I had for breakfast is also challenging), all right, fine, but making a gutsy move would have earned him more respect.
Derrick. This guy is an outstanding game analyst, strategist, and manipulator, and it's basically his house. My guess is he'll be around until the end, or close to it. I doubt that a strategic mistake on Derrick's part will result in eviction, but simply being on the unlucky end of chance-based competitions late in the game could set up his downfall. Or if by some twist his allies-to-enemies ratio has evened out later this season and an enemy wins HOH in a double-eviction episode, he could be the unlucky second Julie Chen interview that particular Thursday night. If bad luck doesn't get him first, Derrick's skills will take him far. I'm not actively rooting for him yet, but at this point it wouldn't bother me if he wins #BB16.
Donny. Confession: I'm slightly older than Donny and frequently about as awkward when trying to interact with people half my age. So I should naturally want to root for this guy. But ... ugh ... I just haven't been able to. At least not yet. Early on, I thought he'd be perceived as so out of touch and so useless that he'd be evicted in the first two or three weeks. But then Victoria earned that role and Donny started winning comp after comp. I think that earned him some respect amongst the youngsters. And while they clearly do not see him as a threat to their own games, they like him on a personal level and feel badly when he's pawn'd so much. I can see myself eventually rooting for Donny if he survives long enough. For now, I dislike other players more.
Frankie. When the two-part season premiere aired, I was convinced that Frankie would be the most annoying cast member of all. Most of his diary room sessions drive me bonkers. But the way he interacts with just about everybody on the live feeds seems friendly and genuine. Great social game! I haven't watched any of his YouTube videos. Are his DR sessions simply scripted lines the producers provide on cue cards, performed in his fingers-on-a-chalkboard over-the-top manner per producer directive? Or is that how Frankie is every time he knows he has any camera's full attention?
Hayden. Meh. His whole "Mommy, I want candy! Pleeeease? Can I have candy? Candy, Mom? Pleeeeease?" approach to starting a showmance with Nicole is excruciating. I was astonished in the early weeks at Hayden's cluelessness that all the other jocks had formed an alliance (Bomb Squad) without him.
Jocasta. Like Donny, it feels like I should want to root for Jocasta. But I've been waiting to be inspired by an expression of her learned wisdom. It hasn't happened, and now I don't expect it to. And some of her ... oh, goodness, somebody might be offended by this, and that's totally not my intent ... let's say some of her "spiritual mannerisms" serve only to test my faith in Big Brother. (If you watched this past Sunday episode on CBS, you know of what I'm talking.) Common belief is that God cares about our health and happiness, but nobody can name the biblical chapter and verse which says prayer will help you win a Battle of the Block.
Nicole. She was HOH before being dethroned but didn't want it even that long. If you don't want to get in the game, why did you move into this house? She's the sweet, pleasant, girl-next-door type, but she's not gonna last much longer unless she gets a solid alliance going with the strongest women (how about, say, Christine and Amber) and a strong guy player (who would at first feign loyalty but, if the game drove him to it, could eventually switch true allegiance). This is likely just wishful thinking on my part because I'd like to see a woman win. If the flirtation with Hayden lasts longer than that first made-for-TV kiss (if the producers are so desperate for a showmance, they should have stunt-casted McCranda back), she'll have lost my respect.
Victoria. When Victoria is evicted, which will be soon (and would have been this week, if not for the so-typical Big Brother just-in-time competition win), I hope this young woman gets the psychotherapy that she needs. Her low self-esteem is evident and painful to watch. I feel badly for her. Game-wise, rather than doing something (anything!) proactive to attempt to influence her own destiny, Victoria stays as far away from the sun as possible, way out there in a plutonian orbit. When the heat finally reaches her, is it any wonder that she finds it unpleasant? Dry your tears, dear, admit this game wasn't for you, tell everybody that leaving is what you want, and then you'll have 11 new friends and great new memories of a fun last few conflict-free days in the house. (It'll be boring for chaos-loving live feeders like we all are, but it'll be really good for Victoria's mental health.)
Zach. I'm not a doctor (and I don't play one on TV), but this kid seems kind of bipolar. One of these weeks when he's perfectly safe, he'll go on another unplanned, unexpected "put me up!" rant and be shocked to find himself evicted.
Wild, probably laughably stupid prediction at four weeks in: Derrick, Christine, and Frankie will become #BB16's final three.
Astonished by how much I haven't learned in a year? Me too, but it's still just a TV show. Tell me the many ways I got it wrong in the comments or at @uselesstraffic. Who do you think will be in the finale? Is it the same people you'd have guessed a month ago?