So let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that last season didn’t quite go as planned. We all know that Big Brother is a social experiment conceived by an unholy alliance of alien bounty hunters, cyborg scientists from the future, Swedish psychotherapists, and the All-Powerful Brazilian Wax Lobby—a coalition of all-powerful chessmasters, who don’t tend to worry very much about the relative inhumanity of their cruel games.
Still, let’s assume that they watched last season of Big Brother and decided that maybe something needed to change. And it needed to change in a big way–the kind of change that goes way beyond programming Chenbot to say the word “twist” at least twice per sentence. Thus, we have the season premiere of Big Brother 16. It was in HD. It only featured eight houseguests. None of those houseguests immediately vibed like a Cruel Unthinking Haterade-Spraying Death-Spiraling Blandroid; none of them had a name half as hard to spell as Arryn or Aaryn or Aereyn, or whatever her name was.
What they did have was personality. We’re used to this. The first episode of Big Brother is always the most conventional, reality show-wise. We meet the people in short packages that generally offer two and a half character traits. We met:
Paola, alias Pow Pow, the DJ: “I hope there are hot guys because I am planning to manipulate every single one of them. Even the ugly ones!” This season’s designated New Yorker.
Groundskeeper Donny: A human being who brought his special sidekick, The Beard. Announced himself as a potential quote fountain with this chestnut: “I will probably be smarter than they think I am, but I am not as smart as I think I am.” Is that a haiku? Is Donny a Jedi Master?
Cody: Used to play professional soccer, whatever that means. Oh, you mean “professional football”? It’s a World Cup year, bro! Soccer is football, and football is American football, and lacrosse is nobody cares. Cody looks like a vintage snapshot of one of the lesser Kennedy brothers and appears to live his life in the “Playing With the Boys” montage of Top Gun, which means he’ll go far if he can somehow avoid a potential ruinous showmance.
Frankie the Brother: It took about one minute for Frankie to explain that he is the half-brother of one of the most famous people on Earth. I’m not totally sure that Ariana Grande qualifies as, like, one of the most famous. Like, how most is “most”? Like, is she more famous than Miranda Cosgrove? OH MY GOD YOU GUYS IS ARIANA GRANDE MORE FAMOUS THAN MIRANDA COSGROVE? What happened to this country?
Amber Stormborn: An athletic girl. She apparently really likes outdoor activities: shooting guns, rock climbing, hiking, riding dirt bikes, riding dirt bikes while shooting guns, hunting grizzly bears for sport, hunting grizzly bears for food, hunting rock climbers with her grizzly bear friends, bathing in the blood of a stallion and eating its still-beating heart. Y’know, girl stuff!
Baseball Devin: Former professional baseball player, although I’m pretty sure he was just a minor league baseball player. Although compared to a professional soccer player, a minor league baseball player is practically a professional hockey player. Single father, fancies himself a Rock lookalike but wears a tank top like Vin Diesel in Riddick. Theoretically, Devin could be some sort of Megazord-esque combination of the Rock and Vin Diesel. If he is, he will win Big Brother and will be crowned King of America sometime in October.
Manic Pixie Dream Nicole: Self-identifies as “quirky.” Wears glasses that would appear to be non-prescription. In her small town of Ubly, she is shown riding on a tandem bike. “I talk weird!” she says. And: “I’m scared of ghosts! I have to have a cuddle partner at night!” So she’s what happens when Britney Spears is brainwashed into thinking she’s Zooey Deschanel, which I think is actually a secret weapon that the Soviets were working on. It’s also possible that, like, she is a girl-Big, and she’s actually a 12-year-old in the body of the girl version of Tom Hanks. I mean, it’s also possible that she’s a robot being controlled by very small aliens from the planet Quirk. Regardless, a definite threat.
Joey the Left-Wing Third Wave Socialist: Blue hair, Seattle, makeup artist. Self-identifies thus: “I’m a democrat on the way liberal side. Left wing is the only way to be. I would love to see if there are any liberal men in the house, and see if we click.” Then she turned to her bookcase and started packing. “Let see. Howard Zinn: Check! Jefferson’s Bible: Check! Signed copy of The Audacity of Hope: Check!” Then she rubbed the nose of the bronze Hillary Clinton statue in the corner of her room, said a godless prayer to the disembodied spirit of Karl Marx, hopped into her Prius, and cranked up the theme song from The West Wing on repeat for the whole drive.
And so it was that eight people left the real world far, far behind.
NEXT: The Black Gate of Mordor