Is it too early to say this is the best Big Brother cast in years, maybe since BB6?

Big Brother has had many greats–and by that, I mean houseguests who came across as delusional nitwits, impossibly frustrating to watch yet also entertaining. They’re paranoid, confrontational, controlling, megalomaniacal, dumb, and/or just plain annoying.

If that’s the standard of great, Devin certainly meets it, least of all because of his tearful and dumb house meeting speech, when he said, “When I walked through that door on day one, and I got to stand in the same house where a lot of the greats have played, it hit me that the greats haven’t gotten to the end of this game without being somewhat dishonest and somewhat deceitful at times.” I’d transcribe the rest but it doesn’t get any more coherent.

Devin has all the makings of a great cast member, from terrible grammar (“We had a agreement”) to the way he makes unilateral decisions and then expects everyone to blindly follow him, such as when he told his nominees that he didn’t ever want to see them nominated, but now that they were nominated, “you guys need to trust me, and don’t go around and talk to anybody, don’t go around and say anything. Trust me, and we’re good to go.” Genius plan.

So yes, Devin is among those greats. Far more rarely, Big Brother has had cast members who were (and/or were edited into) more complex human beings: emotional, dynamic, strategic, intelligent, thoughtful.

I think we have a lot of those houseguests this season, and that’s a delightful surprise.

At the very least, they continue to surprise us by not playing to type, or to their stupid episode-one intros. Sunday night’s episode showed Caleb–again, the man who beat a pig to death with a stick and mentioned it on the live feeds–lamenting the lack of physical touch he gets in the house, and literally crying over “just the thought of holding’ somebody, ya know?”

The episode also gave us more reasons to love Donny. He superficially appeared as a play to Duck Dynasty lovers, with his camouflage and beard, but quickly proved to be an impressive person, the least of which is that Devin’s confession to Donny prompted Donny to a) be thoroughly gracious to Donny while b) telling us that he won’t trust Devin automatically any more, and best of all, c) joke about Devin’s delusions in the Diary Room.

By far the most unexpected relationship might be Frankie and Zach–and not just because we’ve shifted from a house full of people using homophobic slurs last summer to an emotional and physical relationship between a gay man and a straight man.

“I am not gay, but the bond that Frankie and I have is so genuine and sincere, that I truly feel like he is my boyfriend,” Zach said, with all sincerity, and then later, while they were in bed together in the dark, said, “Frankie, can you just, like, caress me?”

This group is a little more go with the flow, which is perhaps why they’re all following Devin, but there are glimmers of subversion or just quick wit. For example, when Devin nominated Brittany by telling her, “I don’t want to make this personal, but I don’t want someone like you in the house” (i.e. it is personal, sheesh), Brittany replyied succinctly: “Ditto.” Or Nicole, post-conversation with Devin, saying to the cameras, “Hell no, I’m not going home. I’m staying and I’m coming after you.”

The television show has been The Devin Show for most of the season, which, again, is both frustrating and entertaining. Also, the strategy has been dominated by a single, unbending alliance so far. So, we haven’t had much focus on other houseguests, but the glimpses we’ve seen suggest that others–Hayden and Christine, especially, and possibly Derrick and Nicole–have a lot more to offer.

Of course, we might just have more greats, such as Paola, willing to throw a competition in order to make herself vulnerable to elimination after being promised that by Devin, the one person no one should trust since he basically called a house meeting to say that great players are deceitful.

They often are, but they’re so much more, too, and I hope we keep seeing more of that.

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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.