Spoilers if you haven't watched the season premiere of Big Brother 15!
Game-changer. That's the word that comes to mind when trying to describe the twists in this season of Big Brother. The third nominee/MVP combo-twist could be as game-changing as the Veto was, so many seasons ago. Not only does it work its way into the vote-math in affecting how many votes each nominee needs to secure in order to avoid eviction, but tonight, Julie revealed to the house and the viewing audience that this viewer-chosen MVP will not only get to make the third nomination for that week, but their identity can remain a secret if they choose it to be. So the houseguests might not know who has this power or what they're going to do with it until just before the Veto competition. Talk about stressful! And possibly brilliant. The jury's still out on how amazing or awful this MVP twist will be in the grand scheme of the game.
After the montage of houseguests getting their keys and telling us things about their background, the season kicked off with the houseguests standing on stage together in front of a live audience, which is a change from the usual introduction and not a good one. I guess I just prefer the quiet walk to the front of the house, where no one talks to one another as they all line up and wait to enter the house. In past seasons, each houseguest's first round of live audience applause happens when they walk out of the house, either evicted or winning. And by the way, what was that audience there for? Was it left over from The Talk? Friends and family of the nominees? Or just some audience CBS rallied for ten minutes of watching the houseguests line up on stage and then go into the house. Weird.
Let's step away from the format for a moment and talk about some houseguest first impressions. We may as well start with McCrae, the pizza delivery guy who walked into the house and knew right away that he was going to have to work on his social game if he has any chance of sticking around. No one is more popular than the Head of Household in the first week, so McCrae might have actually been wise not to throw the competition. Someone like Howard, who's head-to-toe muscles and an obvious assumed physical threat is better off throwing the first endurance challenge, which is what he did, dropping from his giant popsicle second. But, note-to-Howard, try not to be so obvious next time you throw a physical comp. Maybe wait until a few more people drop, then give up.
McCrae not fitting in among the muscled, shaved-chested beefcake men and Twilight-Jacob lookalikes might have resulted in him being scapegoated in the first week. The fact that some of the houseguests refused to believe he delivered pizza for a living points toward that being a possibility, so I'm going to say that McCrae was smart to win the first HoH. He might do well with going with the majority opinion with his nominees, or - if he's lucky - target two people who aren't getting along. Being Head of Household is about safety, for one thing, and also about using the power to secure safety in future weeks if possible. And the best kind of HoH week is one in which the player makes a good game move and then fades into the background the moment the Veto ceremony is over and they no longer have any power. If they can come out of the week without anyone targeting them for vengeance, that's a winning week. It's not always possible, but we'll see how McCrae does. Some Heads of Household get a bit power-trippy and that can only serve to turn the whole house against them during the days leading up to the next HoH competition, which they can't play. That's HoH 101 though, and if you watch Big Brother, you know that already, so let's move on.
Let's talk about the girls for a minute. First of all, all of them look like models. Most of them are under 30 and I'm thinking there's a bigger chance of them not getting along than all forming one big girl alliance, as Elissa hopes. Staten Island's GinaMarie comes on strong, all accent and cleavage, which could charm people, or annoy them. We'll have to wait and see how that works for her. Meanwhile, Jessie says girls are jealous of her great personality and looks. Jealous of her looks, maybe - she's very pretty - but I don't think many girls get jealous of other girls' great personalities, and I'm also skeptical about people claiming to have great personalities talking about how jealous other girls are of them. Suffice it to say, my first impressions of Jessie isn't great, but I reserve the right to change my mind about her once things settle down. The first episode is such a show, and really, who acts completely like themselves when they're first meeting people? Speaking of odd first impressions, I think GinaMarie and David might get along as both have a demonstrated interest in grabbing their own pecks, either in the company of people they're just meeting, or in front of the mirror. And on the subject of Jacob, I don't know what to make of his hair (I probably said the same thing about Frank last year) or his use of the phrase "right off the back." But again, I reserve the right to feel guilty and overly critical down the road if he turns out to be a great guy and/or great player.
I had better impressions of Amanda, who seems like she might be pretty capable and grounded, Aaryn, who seems adorable, Candice, who gives off a sporty-cute vibe, Helen, who's a mom and active in politics, and Andy, who's a BB super fan and reminds me of Jesse Tyler Ferguson. And then there's Spencer, who we really didn't get to know all that well tonight, but seems like he could be a decent guy. Or I just love his beard. And again, I want to support McCrae for winning the first HoH and for seeming like a genuine guy who's already figured out how he needs to play this game.
I'm uncertain about Elissa. On one hand, I don't want to fault her by association to her sister, BB-winner Rachel Reilly, who somehow managed to grow on me over the course of her two seasons of play, with all her weird giggles and melodrama. Elissa's smart not to announce her connection with a past winner, but she might've tried dying and cutting her hair or doing something that threw people off the scent. Judd and Candice seemed to figure out who she was almost right away, and it probably didn't help Elissa that Julie quoted Rachel to the houseguests. What was that about? Sure, "Floaters grab a life vest" is a classic Big Brother line, but she could've used the quote without directly referencing Rachel, no? Either way, based on the preview for what's ahead, Judd isn't the only one who's on to Elissa.
Jessie, Jeremy and David formed a tentative alliance while drinking their champagne. I don't understand anyone's inclination to jump into a big game-commitment before they have a chance to get to know everyone. They could end up linking themselves with someone who turns out to be unlikable, a liar or some other problem-player. We'll have to wait and see whether that one holds up or not. Howard, Spencer and Jeremy also formed a three-man alliance, so Jeremy might be set up for safety, with two alliances secured, which would be a nice bonus to go with his never-not pass - I can't not think of Tobias Funke when I hear "Never-Not," which sounds dangerously close to nevernude. But Jeremy's double-alliance could implode on him if he's found out. Once again, that's a drawback to agreeing to an alliance in the first five minutes.
And that about closes it out. With so many first impressions, the first episode's really just one big jumble of introduction with an HoH kicker. it's so difficult to speculate over the direction of the season and how people are going to play this game. Come next week, one of these new players will be out the door and weeks from now, they'll be little more than an occasionally referenced name and a vague memory. With that said, regardless of who goes out the door next week, this week counts. It can set the pace for the whole season. Things that happen as people get to know each other could result in alliances being forged and broken, arguments breaking out, showmances kindled - especially considering so many twenty-somethings in the house and the limited number of beds - and who knows what else? Plus, there's a secret MVP player about to be revealed and the nominations to learn.
Who will McCrae nominate? We'll find out next week. Or you can get the live feeds and figure it out for yourself! Read more about the houseguests here and find out how to sign up for the live feeds here.
BIG BROTHER will be broadcast three nights weekly – Sundays (8:00 - 9:00 PM, ET/PT, beginning June 30), Tuesdays (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT, beginning July 2) and the LIVE eviction show hosted by Julie Chen will be broadcast on Wednesdays (8:00-9:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT, beginning July 3).