Lisette M. Azar
Ken Tucker
July 12, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Like a scab one cannot resist picking, Big Brother is an irritant I cannot resist looking at, for at least a few episodes, every summer. In the past, I’ve been hooked for whole seasons. More recently, I’ve found the house fetid, even toxic, and evicted myself quickly. Based on Thursday night’s premiere, I’m appalled to say I may have to watch at least one more time.

With 53 cameras and 98 microphones picking up the monosyllables of 12 contestants and four additional humans, Big Brother 14 had the usual number of hotties of both sexes, a token geek, and the oppressed, last-picked-for-a-team forty-somethings. (Ageism thrives on BB even more than on most reality/competition/dumbbell TV.) The season’s worst decision was obvious even before the show aired: Who wanted to see a relative of Survivor‘s Russell Hantz on TV? Yet there was Willie Hantz, swaggering on cue (“I plan to be a jerk and a villain… These folks don’t know what’s fixin’ to come on them”), and so obvious that it seemed as though half of the people in the house had figured out his lineage before the first 30 minutes were over.

Of the newbies, I thought Danielle was parsing her strategy a bit too finely by believing that it was a cagey move to lie about being a nurse and assert instead that she’s a kindergarten teacher — does nursing seem like a particularly threatening profession to you?


The first of the season’s patented “twists” was the return of four BB vets — serving as coaches, not as competitors, with the chance to win $100,000 if someone on the team they chose goes all the way to victory. Mike Boogie, Danielle, and Janelle were unsurprising choices; Britney will forgive me if I say hers was a season I skipped but in whom I do not hold much faith, since she admitted before she even entered the house that “I have to prove I can even play the game.” Way to go, coach.

Willie won the first Head of Household competition, proving his stunted world-view by comparing that triumph to winning the Super Bowl. “It’s all about me,” he said.

The second twist was that one householder was evicted in this premiere episode. Coach Dan had to choose the evictee; he booted 42 year-old Jodi. What did I tell you about the ageist tendency trumping all?

As I said at the top, I’ll watch at least one more time, if only to see whether my conscience can grow faster than the Hantz boy can get smacked down.

Twitter: @kentucker

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