Big Brother gets a showmance, dumb alliance, and a punishment that makes Survivors laugh

After the second episode of Big Brother 12, I’m on the verge of a rant about this season’s twist, but I’ll save that for Thursday, after another act of “sabotage” that happened Saturday is revealed on TV. Instead, I’ll try to revel in the fun and ridiculousness of Big Brother, like the houseguests getting tarred and feathered in a challenge, and accusing the sneaky Jew of being the saboteur. Sigh.

It’s clear this group is just getting warmed up, but they also seem to know what’s expected of them, so Sunday’s episode was mostly about a showmance and an alliance. One of the actually hilarious scenes involved a budding relationship between secret scientist Brendon and secret scientist Rachel, who did a lot to prove that she’s a scientist by saying “I’m so in love with science” and pointing out that she did “research on pheromones.” I’m not sure banging people counts as “research,” but okay.

After Brendon came out of the scientific closet to Rachel and Annie, Annie was stuck in the middle, calling herself “the cream to the scientific cookie.” (Later, Annie did her own coming out, telling Ragan she’s in a relationship with a woman: a really nice moment that tonally didn’t fit with anything else in the episode.) Once Annie left the hot tub, though, Rachel and Brendon’s continued flirting was so boring that I fond myself noticing how chipped and worn the paint, wood, and carpeting around the hot tub and back yard was. Time for a new set.

The other major development was the formation of “the strongest alliance in Big Brother history.” Of course, those of us who’ve watched the show for more than 38 seconds know that such bold statements usually end up in spectacular disaster, so that’ll be fun. Enzo, making sure he wasn’t reduced to a stereotype, formed his “mafia” and called himself its “mastermind,” although because nicknames are important in the mafia, he called himself “Meow Meow.” You cannot make this shit up! The other members of his crew are Lane (“Beast”), Hayden (“Animal”), and Matt (“Brains”).

Hilariously, all of them seemed to just accept this blindly, instead of thinking it was the stupidest idea ever, though at least Lane admitted, “I have no clue what a brigade is.” The smartest part of their alliance is that they all seem to trust each other because during the blackout, they knew where the others were. The dumbest part is getting cocky for no reason at all, especially when basically all they managed to do was gather the house’s mouth breathers together in one group.

Meanwhile, there was a food challenge, and Matt explained at one point that the houseguests spent three days on slop thanks to the lock the producers–er, the saboteur–put on the storage room. Meanwhile, Andrew said that he hoped his team didn’t lose because he can’t eat slop because it’s not kosher. With all due respect to his religious choices, what exactly does he expect to do when he is on slop? Starve? And did he starve for three days and just drink water and eat the kosher condiments that are permitted? (Later, we saw Andrew eating Fruit Loops, which are Kosher, I discovered by Googling.)

The challenge itself, crawling through intensely sticky pool of caramel, was decent but very reminiscent of the week one season 10 challenge where they ripped open pillows and crawled through honey. And by “reminiscent,” I mean it was the same challenge. However, instead of feathers, there was a big pile of popcorn in which they had to find objects. If the challenge producers on this show do anything well, it’s gathering together massive quantities of something, and that was fun to watch them attempt to crawl through the sticky stuff, which Kathy got caught in and couldn’t move, causing her team to lose and be subject to the awful bedroom. Had I been on her team, it would have been hard not to just leave her there, stuck like a sheriff in caramel.

The “have not” bedroom got worse this year; it was previously just stripped-down, but now it’s a few dirty patio lounge chairs in a room full of jars of insects which apparently smell. As Survivor cast member Eliza Orlins observed on Twitter, having “bugs in JARS” is “a joke” and their “complaining is ridiculous” because “These Big Brother contestants wouldn’t last ONE day on #Survivor, actually, one HOUR.” That’s too true, but in all fairness, Big Brother casts from a pool of people who couldn’t write their own names down on parchment, never mind each others’.

Speaking of coming up with names, Hayden decided to break the showmance apart with his nominations, targeting Brendon and Rachel. (During the nomination ceremony, someone drew a key and said, “Kristen, you are safe.” I was like, who the hell is Kristen?) In the tradition of stupid and disingenuous nomination speeches, he said it was because Brendon was “unaccounted for” during the blackout and then told Rachel, “I feel like you haven’t tried to connect with me at all prior to the nominations.” And I think we know what he means by “connect with me.”

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.