Big Brother’s changes bring back the familiar

Big Brother 16 is that it is pretty much exactly the same show. It’s in HD, there will be two HOHs, there’s a new “Team America” twist, but for better or for worse, those don’t seem new at all, just variations on old themes, with no sign that the show will stop grinding along on the same well-worn path it has been for years.

The welcome change to HD felt completely normal but simultaneously disorienting; the new house design is bright and clean and pops, though several camera angles were oddly blurry.

In the hour of mostly filler, the houseguests learned that there’d be a second group of eight who’d have their own HOH, only one of whom would be safe. They created an alliance immediately, calling it Crazy Eight, or perhaps spelling it like the Breaking Bad character Krazy 8, in order to foreshadow the fate of their alliance. There’s also a fledgling women’s alliance that I want to believe will be successful.

Julie Chen explained to viewers that “Team America” is “a secret three-person alliance controlled by you, America,” one of whom has already been selected (totally easy prediction: Frankie, thanks to his crazy famous sister) and we’ll learn about Thursday night. What will this alliance do? They’ll go “on secret missions that will change the course of the game.” Probably just as much as the saboteur.

The only real fun of “Team America” is saying “FUCK YEAH” every time Julie Chen says it; otherwise, this kind of twist makes me recreate this Team America scene.

That’s also what happened during the intros to the houseguests, who overacted their “discovery” of the “keys,” and started treading in their pools of self-delusion immediately. Devin thinks he looks like The Rock (nope); Cody is a soccer player who gets so excited about scoring a goal (with no goalie) that he excitedly and shirtlessly chest bumps someone; Frankie is already overplaying his sister as the most famous person in the history of the world and declaring that it will be “torture not knowing when her album goes to #1.” No, sir, torture is listening to you talk about your sister.

There were moments of greatness that suggested this cast has the ability to offer a lot of entertainment. I particularly loved Paola declaring that Cody was young at 23, and then figuring out the difference in their ages by counting. Cody incredulously (and rhetorically) asked her, “you need to count that out–on your fingers?”

Meanwhile, the Big Brother challenge producers didn’t disappoint, making sure the challenge sprayed its bathing suit-clad contestants with semen–I mean, “sunscreen.”

Like the way summer brings heat, humidity, bugs, and burning sunshine, Big Brother is back with its familiar, welcome, but also somewhat annoying elements.

The Quest ends its journey stronger than it began

Verlox from The Quest

A review of the finale of summer's best reality series, which wasn't always perfect but was thoroughly entertaining right down to the finish, which included phenomenal challenges and special effects. Will ABC give it a second season?

Plus: an interview with the actor who played Verlox and the ogre.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

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.