'Big Brother': Ain't That a Clique in the Head

THE BRAINS

Michele Shhhh, don't tell, but she's actually a PhD, even though she announced to everyone that she was a lowly research assistant. She doesn't want anyone to know she's supersmart. Well, she should have thought of that before she wore glasses: only brainiacs wear such things! And don't let Jeff catch you reading the side of a ketchup bottle, or your secret life as a genius will be exposed forever! If there's one thing Jeff doesn't like, it's a wordypants.

Chima A freelance journalist who finds Chima very smart and funny indeed, Chima is a little perturbed to be placed amongst the so-called nerds. She is also apparently not a fan of wrinkling her brow.

Ronnie Ronnie walks that fine line between A.P. and special ed. He also lives his life by the strictest geek code, as evidenced by this part of his bio on the CBS site: ''He is obsessed with video games and often plays more than six hours a day, even to the point of ignoring his wife. Ronnie is a collector of all things sci-fi, especially Star Wars collectibles.'' That he doesn't have tape on his glasses or wear a pocket protector must be an oversight. He also says that he's seen every episode of BB, making him the rare player who wasn't just drafted in a bar somewhere, and who therefore just might have a smart, organic strategy.

And then there were the potential subs: Four returning players showed up — one for each clique — and whichever team won the Wedgie Challenge would get its new player, and the remaining three veterans would be sent home. I was surprised by who the producers chose. With so many memorable favorites to choose from, why pick Brian, who was kicked off after the first week of last season? And Cowboy? He was more a likable mess than anyone who might affect the game — they might as well have brought back Chiquita the pug from season one. Jessica was an okay player, although any strategic skill was overshadowed by her annoying flirtation with Eric.

Which brings us to Jessie. I found that egotistical slab of walking Weight Gain Powder wildly annoying last season, and yet for sheer drama potential, he was the best outcome here. And right away he proved that he hadn't lost an ounce of arrogance: ''I'm bigger and better than last year by 20 L.B.s,'' he said, ''and almost a whole inch on my guns. Mmmm, oh yeah, that's nice.'' I was a little concerned he was going to tear his arm off just to make sweet love to it. Thankfully he held off, and with the Athletes winning the Wedgie game, Jessie was back in, free to gaze at himself in the house's many one-way mirrors. Will he win? Not likely, but hopefully he'll set off some more screaming matches before he goes.

What do you think about the new cast and the clique twist? Will it change the game forever, or will it just give the players a formal excuse to fall into the same groups they would anyway? And how do you feel about the return of Jessie? Did it take all your restraint not to kiss his biceps on your TV screen? I'll be back here every Friday morning to dissect the week in Big Brother. And this season we have more BB-related surprises for you: Julie Chen herself will be blogging for EW.com! Will she use the phrase ''But first…'' in print? We'll find out together! Plus, Lynette Rice will be bringing you video interviews with each week's evictees. That's right, we are allowing you all to waste even more time on BB-centric activities than ever. Just remember your pledge: DON'T COUNT THE TIME THAT PASSES.

Okay, before you jump to the boards, check out this video as EW's Dalton Ross and Jessica Shaw debate their early favorites from this season.

More Big Brother 11 on EW:
Big Brother 11: Ken Tucker's take

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Originally posted Jul 10, 2009