Big Brother wakes up, dissolves twist, shows promise as power shifts

The Big Brother 13 duos twist came to an end on Thursday, right as the house finally woke up and started doing something entertaining, dramatic, and even a little strategic. And then power finally switched, as Daniele became the new HOH and nominated Brendon and Rachel, who’ve been in control way too much this season.

On some level, this is like getting excited over a single drop of rain in the desert. On the other hand, WATER!

Yes, there was lots of drama thanks to Daniele and her pawn Dominic’s trying to back door Jeff and Jordan, or at least making a half-assed attempt to do that. The fight wasn’t all that complicated, but involved most of the house yelling at each other, although not Porsche, since she was on vacation until Thursday’s episode. Earlier, Jeff was being his normal bully self and trying to get Dominic to admit that he was working with Daniele to backdoor Jeff and Jordan. I’m not quite sure where the sense of entitlement comes in, but we got that from Brendon, too, who argued with Kalia. Jeff did accurately summarize what happened: “The plan got fucked up, blew up, now you two are taking the fall,” he said, indicating Daniele and Dominic.

The momentum was dampened as Brendon won the veto, having correctly spelled the word “understanding,” just like he did last year. (I wish the producers would have given them all of the letters to spell ‘understanding’ except one.) Jeff correctly spelled “expresses,” leaving Rachel to become this season’s spelling idiot; she wrote “mouisturizing.” Dominic, stupidly, threw the veto competition, thinking that would be a way to get in good with the returnees, but no, he went home. That was too bad, because he did have some game in him; I’m holding out hope that the producers will bring him back, a la Rachel.

Dominic’s eviction meant the end of the duos twist–finally–and the golden key holders returned to the game from cold storage, and everyone except Rachel competed in an endurance challenge to become the new HOH.

While I was giddy about the outcome, it’s fitting of this season that not even the endurance challenge offered drama. All the veterans dropped off first, with the two people on the outside–Daniele and Kalia–lasting to the very end. The producers included Brendon making a dig at Kalia’s “muffin top” to insult her performance, but of course, he barely lasted; maybe he needs Skype to stay upright.

Right now, it’s kind of like Kalia and Daniele versus the rest of the house, and I blame the combination of the duos twist and having returnees, all of which has created less fluidity. Big Brother needs constant shifts, not rigid alliances.

But in the meantime, we have plenty of delusion to amuse us. When Daniele delivered the producer-mandated “Who wants to see my HOH room?” line, we heard from Rachel, who said “usually people are super-excited” to see the HOH room but were not excited about Daniele’s, which means she actually believes the house wanted to see her HOH room. Hilarious. Listening to Brendon and Rachel bitch about Kalia was too hilarious, because they’re approaching Friendship territory with their delusion about how she’s a “nobody” and they matter.

To save their asses, Brendon and Jeff both told Daniele their feelings were hurt; for allegedly smart people who’ve played before, you’d think they’d be less sensitive. Jeff and Jordan made a deal with Daniele that they’d keep her safe next week if she kept them safe this week, and that seemed to move forward, as she nominated Brendon and Rachel. So, it’s like the duos twist never ended, though at least it will hopefully end their nauseatingly dysfunctional love affair.

At one point on Thursday, Julie Chen called the houseguests “serious gamers,” and that was good for a little comic relief, since they are anything but. And Dominic’s exit speech was pretty accurate. He said, “I think some of you guys are spineless jellyfish” and told them to “get some guts and fight for you”; he also said, “I think we all suck at this game” and, repeating his obsession with vertebrae, said that had their been more spines, “there would be a game being played, and not what it is now.” That’s true, but at least people are standing a bit more upright than they were last week.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.