Big Brother is back with immunity until the merge, Brenchel, and an ejaculating challenge

The return of former houseguests and hair extensions, twists that confuse the houseguests, and an unfairly administered challenge that was a blatant rip off of one from previous seasons and also involved phallic objects and ejaculation: Yes, Big Brother is back.

Along with the eight new houseguests, three couples returned, including two former winners: Jeff and Jordan, Rachel and Brendon, and Dick and Daniele, who said they haven’t talked to each other in three years, which is coincidentally as long as it’s been since I cared. Dick declared himself the only winner, forgetting about Jordan, and Daniele made her Daniele face. We learned that it was just three duos returning, rendering most of the Corner Office spoilers (that I reported on) invalid and false, since that person (the producers? someone else who just wanted attention for misinformation?) said Dan and Memphis were going to return, among other inaccurate information.

Producers love their unfair playing fields, and the first twist revealed was that the eight new houseguests were “forced to pick a partner to play the game with,” as Julie Chen explained, even though they don’t really know each other. Virginal Dominic had a hilarious reaction to Adam choosing him as his partner, calling Adam a “90210-loving bacon-eater” and saying, “If I say no, I might die right now. If I say yes, I’m obviously going to be this man’s jail buddy.” Dominic seems to freak out a lot about male-male contact (“Don’t touch my butt with your head,” Dominic insisted during the challenge), but it’s the kind of homophobia that’s super-transparent and just sad. Maybe he’ll have an in-house epiphany.

The next twist is that the HOH nominates a pair, and the surviving houseguest gets immunity until the merge, known here as The Golden Key. Julie Chen explained that “being nominated for eviction will be both a blessing and a curse” because a “huge advantage” goes to the person who survives, because they cannot be nominated until the top 10. Yes, it’s called immunity, though based on the conversation we got to eavesdrop on at the end of the episode, it’s a very confusing concept.

This pair of game changes seems designed to a) create drama by forcing the once-close pairs to campaign against each other when nominated, and b) keep the former houseguests around in the event that the newbies targeted them, but it obviously works in reverse, too. While I perpetually dislike the producers’ general refusal to let the game play out individually and organically, I think the pairs thing could end up working okay; I’m less interested in immunity until the merge.

At the beginning of the episode, the houseguests’ introductions were as hilarious and stupid as always, with the houseguests doing a bad job of acting like they were surprised that they’d been cast. (As we learned from my interview with a finalist, they get a week’s notice before cameras show up.) Lawon, who insisted that he could be gay or straight, packed his wigs into a Gucci bag; yes, you’ll fool a lot of people easily, since you fit right into the exact same mold of gay that the show usually casts. Hilariously, he told us, “I cannot believe that I, Lawon, is in the Big Brother house.” I can, and I take that grammar personal, Lawon.

I can’t decide if I love or loathe horny minister/human resources manager/matchmaker/liar Keith, who bragged, “when I’m not in church, I’m chasing girls” because “God said be fruitful and multiply.” His strategy, which he’d mapped out on what looked like a piece of construction paper, involved “me and Keith’s angels,” women he’d surround himself with. He said he was telling everyone he’s a matchmaker because “I want them to feel comfortable coming to me, especially the ladies.” I think the key part of that sentence is the alliterative part.

There was a lot of lying about occupations, but none topped Porsche (who was, in fact, named after the car) telling the houseguests she’s a student because she worries they won’t give her the prize if they know about her lavish lifestyle as a VIP cocktail waitress, but she isn’t fooling anyone, as Shelly immediately said Porsche’s name “sounds a little bit like a stripper name.”

The first HOH competition was a repeat of one producers have used before, where houseguests cling to something and are swung back and forth. This time, they had to grab on to large bananas (subtle!) and it was only a matter of time before the show’s signature challenge element, simulated ejaculate, made its appearance to accompany the phallic objects: the houseguests were splattered with chocolate sauce, yellow goo, and then whipped cream. Because it wouldn’t be a Big Brother challenge without something breaking or being unfair, the splattering didn’t work well, as some bananas were unaffected by the splatter at first, while others became very slippery very fast.

Rachel eventually won (perhaps because, as she said, being “shot with whipped cream in the face” wasn’t all that surprising–zing!). Daniele was the second-to-last remaining person, but dropped because Rachel promised her she was safe (really?) Rachel told us, “No one comes between me and my banana.” Maybe not, but the entire Internet has seen it.

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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.