Watching the current season of Big Brother, I find myself in a state of forced optimism. I've seen comments from people across the internet complaining about this season being one of the series' worst. The racism controversy may have contributed to that at least a little bit, and some could argue that the MVP twist played a role. I also wouldn't argue against the theory that casting too many early-twenty-somethings turned Big Brother into The Real World in its earlier weeks when it seemed like half the house had paired up for showmances before the feeds had even come on. But I think Big Brother 15 can be salvaged. There's still game left to be played and more than enough time and houseguests for things to turn around. Heck, if Aaryn can find her inner "good witch" and show us her more likable side, there's no reason some of the other houseguests can't either.

I watch the feeds. My dedication to them has varied a bit over the past month due to other commitments, but I've been keeping up with what's going on behind the scenes, so this mini-rant comes from the full picture, not just the episodes. But in all fairness, I don't think Big Brother has skewed things all that much in the edit they've given of certain houseguests. Whether or not the conspiracies about Amanda having producer-connections are true, it's certainly not coming through in her edit. Granted, she's said some off-color things, mostly in jest from what I've seen, and the episodes haven't showcased that as they did with Aaryn, but the last couple of weeks haven't featured her favorably. In fact, Amanda is one of the two houseguests I have a big issue with. I like Amanda. Or I liked the Amanda that came into the house, speaking her mind, making people laugh and making game moves. The Amanda we've seen on the feeds and the one featured in the episodes seems to have lost her game.

I don't fault Amanda for feeling frustrated that she hasn't won any competitions or even for admitting her irritation that McCrae didn't throw her the last HoH - never mind that she might have lost it to Andy anyway. I can't blame her for being emotional at this point in the game. It's just really hard to watch. And that's pretty much the issue I have with Amanda. The human side of me sympathizes with her frustrations and moodiness, as I can only imagine what it would be like being trapped inside the Big Brother house for more than a month. But she's taking it out on everyone in the house, including McCrae. It seems like she's lost her energy or spark or whatever enjoyment of the game she had coming into the house. Whether or not that can be regained, I don't know, but it'd be great if it did.

Amanda's been playing one of the better games in the house, and the smart thing to do would be to play up the "I can't win anything" as strategy. It's her biggest selling point at this stage of the game. People are threatened by her because she has influence. She can offset that by playing up this frustration she's experiencing. The problem is, she isn't doing that. She's just being frustrated and wallowing. So instead of using her losses as strategy, it's being turned into segments that show her looking like a sore loser. So as much as I feel for Amanda and any other houseguest showing signs of emotional exhaustion, as a viewer, I'd really like to see her put her chin up and get her head back in the game.

I don't even know what to think about McCrae. On one hand, I think he genuinely likes Amanda, so I'm not going to suggest he's faking his showmance with her at this point because he has no other choice. But on the other hand, Amanda could end up wrecking his game if she doesn't get it together. And I don't think McCrae has the words to pep Amanda up and get her to turn around. He's tried talking to her and nothing's changed. So he may be better off if she goes home. But I'd much rather see Amanda have a turn-around, much in the way we've seen Aaryn turn around. With that in mind, it took losing her showmance and most of her allies for Aaryn to stand up and really start to playing for herself. Maybe McCrae has to leave for Amanda to do the same. As a McCrae fan, I really don't want to see that happen, but I do think showmances sometimes make players lazy in their game.
Let's move on to Helen, because she's the other person I have an issue with. I want to love Helen. Not only does she represent the "older" version of the Big Brother player, at the positively ancient age of 37 (kidding, obviously), but she's also shown us a really positive attitude, and she's proven to be a good shoulder to cry on. But I have to agree - somewhat - with a recent Tweet from former Big Brother winner Dan Gheesling:

Personally, I think Helen's more likable than Maggie. Or maybe it's that I wouldn't put her alliance in line with The Friendship. But I don't disagree that Helen's style of playing isn't fun to watch. I think the problem is, she isn't owning her moves in the diary room nearly as much as I want her to be. Ok, she looked particularly gleeful when she cast her vote to evict Judd last Thursday, but where is that spunk in the DR each week?

That could be a matter of editing on the show's part, but I see Helen as having the potential to be one of the great Big Brother villains for all the manipulating and spinning she's been doing this season. Even her acts of kindness appear to be laced with strategy. When she was hugging Amanda during her post-HoH meltdown and telling her she was winning the game where it counted, with strategy, crediting everything Amanda has done, I envisioned Helen quietly painting a huge target on Amanda's back as she hugged her. Or making it brighter anyway. Because what better way to make someone look more threatening to everyone else as a candidate to win or a possible enemy than to openly announce that everything that's happened in the house so far is their doing?

Helen is a good person. I like her for that. And she has a good attitude about the game. But she's sneaky and she's making things happen. I guess I just want to hear her maniacal laughter in the diary room after each successful move. What made Dan so much fun to watch was that he laid out everything he was doing for us and he enjoyed his game moves, which made them fun for us to watch as well. Helen isn't Dan, of course, but I wouldn't mind seeing her take the same kind of appreciation in her own work and bringing us in on it with her. I think she wants to win this game hero-style, which is how Maggie did it. But look at how Maggie looked to viewers. There's nothing Helen needs to do to change her game, as it's serving her well so far, but she could be a bit more engaging with the viewers in the diary room to make us want to enjoy her tactics.

As for everyone else, I want to see more game moves. Andy has an opportunity to make some big moves this week and so far, all signs point toward him playing it safe with his nominations. Granted, Andy's playing a floater game and he knows he's treading water between Helen and Amanda. A big move might mean choosing a side and that probably wouldn't benefit him just yet. There's a barely spoken rivalry brewing between those two women, which is probably why I'm so focused on what I'd like to see from them as the season progresses. Sooner or later it's going to come down to Helen vs. Amanda, and at this point, i don't know who I'd rather see come out on top. But both women are playing strong games. I'd just like to see them enjoying it more. If that happens, I do think this season could turn around before the finale. But if we don't start seeing some of these houseguests come to life soon, we may be in for a road to the finale.

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