Oct 9, 2020
Big Brother: Season 17 – Snap Judgments, Snarky Comments and Ill-Founded Generalizations About The New Houseguests
It’s that time again, America! Just when you thought it was safe to switch back to broadcast television (because all your cable and Netflix shows have finished their seasonal run, and you really have no other choice), out pops CBS with a brand spanking new batch of vaguely attractive nobodies with otherwise limited job prospects who are willing to scheme, screw, and completely humiliate themselves for the chance to win a cool half million dollars (and possibly appear on a later season of Amazing Race and/or Survivor).
EW recently posted interviews with the new cast on their website. And, me, well, I obviously have opinions. Against my better judgment, I’m about to predict the probable outcome of this season’s Big Brother, about which I will almost certainly be completely wrong . . . all so I can look back at this article at the end of the summer and hang my head in shame at how entirely off base I was . . .
What I’m saying is, if you like watching train wrecks, you’ve come to the right place.
But first . . . a few generalized observations. Much has been made of the general youth of this current cast and how the oldest player is 33, which is nearly 25 years younger than the average CBS viewer, who, according to a kind-of-dated article I found on Bloomberg.com, is actually 57. I personally wasn’t too bothered or surprised by the producers casting choices in terms of age.
Sure, earlier seasons of Brother were a bit more diverse in terms of houseguest ages, casting notable non-spring chickens like then 58-year-old Jack Owens Jr. (Season 4), then 48-year-old Dick Donato (Season 13), and then 75-year-old Jerry MacDonald (Season 10).
However, recent seasons have tended toward a more millennial-friendly crowd, with token older house guests like Season 16’s Donny Thompson being vastly outnumbered by a bevy of fresh-out-of-college 22 and 23 year olds. If anything, this season’s cast seems more “mature” than its recent season predecessors.
It’s worth noting that the casting on reality game shows like these tends to be pretty self-selective, age-wise, anyway. Seeing as most people over the age of say 25 or 26 no longer enjoy the freedom of having the type of jobs that will let you take the summer off to take your chance at TV stardom, with no strings attached.
Also worth noting . . . out of the 14 new houseguests, who had 16 prior seasons of houseguests to choose from, TWO future cast mates actually listed Season 16’s Frankie as their favorite previous contestant! This means that they either (1) didn’t watch the second half of last season, during which Frankie became absolutely intolerable; (2) never watched ANY season of Big Brother, but Frankie’s name was the first that came up when they Googled Big Brother, so they figured why not him?; or (3) they were told by the producers to say their favorite cast mate was Frankie because one of this season’s big “twists” will be his return to the show. (Oh please, Lord, say it ain’t so!)
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the baseless snap judgments and ill-fated predictions, shall we?
Contestant 1: Waitress Meg Maley
Our first Frankie supporter. She seems sweet enough, but doesn’t strike me as being sufficiently calculating, cutthroat, or challenge-adept to make it all that far in this game. It is unlikely she will piss anyone off enough to put a target on her back during weeks 1 or 2, but I’d be genuinely surprised if she makes it past the third or fourth week.
Contestant 2: Rock Star Dentist? John McQuire
Smart, athletic, and entertaining as a potential villain, John has some of the gaming potential to succeed that Meg might lack. That said, it’s brash, obviously smart guys like John who are often viewed as a threat early on in the game, making this housemate just as likely to make it to the final four as he is to get axed in Week 1 or 2.
Contestant 3: Digital Media Consultant Audrey Middleton
As Big Brother’s first transgender contestant, all eyes will be on Audrey this season. So you better believe the CBS execs will fight hell and high water to make sure Audrey isn’t sent packing in the first few weeks. She will have to at least be kept around long enough to make her Big Gender Bending Reveal. Given this, Audrey is a nice bet for your top 7 or 8.
In addition to CBS executives routing for Audrey, I suspect many fans will be too, particularly if her housemates don’t take as well to her gender identity status as America believes they should. Typically Big Brother will have some aspect of the game that’s fan-based (see, for example, “America’s Choice,” “Team America,” “America’s Favorite Player”). The winners of these fan-friendly titles generally experience some “perk” in their game play. Assuming she doesn’t do anything super awful to piss off her couch potato fans, I’m guessing that Audrey will be enjoying perks like these all summer long.
Contestant 4: Former Pro Wrestler Austin Matelson
Known professionally as Judas Devlin, this pro-wrestler, who led a former trainer of his to resign after accusing him of misconduct, will undoubtedly rub at least one of his housemates the wrong way during his early days in the house. Additionally, his whistleblowing backstory, if revealed during the course of the season, may cause some housemates to fear they can’t trust him to be their loyal alliance member. If Austin isn’t a solid game player, I suspect he’ll be a strong candidate for an early eviction.
Contestant 5: Retail Manager Becky Burgess
I forgot everything about Becky’s interview about one minute after I finished reading it. This would lead me to believe that she won’t be a particularly memorable character (unless, of course, she manages to wrangle up a “showmance”). Being unmemorable can actually serve in your favor in this game, helping you to fly under the radar and sail past those early elimination rounds. But Becky will have to do much more than that if she wants a chance at the big prize.
Contestant 6: Grad Student Clay Honeycutt
Well, hello there, Mr. Man Candy! With an adorable accent, a great bod, and some inevitable TV-friendly cowboy catch phrases, Clay is guaranteed to be loved by the lady housemates, targeted early on for alliances and bromances by his fellow male contestants, and swooned over by a multitude of millennial fangirls and enterprising cougars alike who are shamelessly drooling over him from their home screens.
Can he actually play this game? Who knows? But I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Clay will be able to ride his good looks, athletic prowess and Texan charm all the way to at least the final 5 or 6.
Contestant 7: Professional Poker Player Vanessa Rousso
Vanessa is actually my early favorite to win this thing. I love her style, her Dan Gheesling-inspired gameplay strategy, and her willingness to actually play the game, right from the outset. Like Lady Gaga says, you probably can’t read Vanessa’s poker face. And if she plays her cards right, you won’t be able to read it until she’s pocketed all of the prize money.
Contestant 8: Interior Designer Shelli Poole
As a woman whose entire BB profile was fashioned around her romantic life, this is one contestant tailor-made for a showmance. Showmances are good for business in the world of reality television. They are the kind of relationships that prime you for getting other reality show appearances after your sentence in the Big Brother house ends, like Amazing Race and The Bachelor (the latter only if your previous showmance doesn’t work out, obviously). But if Shelli chooses the wrong horse to hitch her romantic wagon to, she could quickly be targeted by fellow houseguests who wish to break up her dynamic duo, which could lead to an early or mid-season eviction.
Contestant 9: Marketing Coordinator Liz Nolan
A smart woman, who admits to being both a hopeless romantic and highly emotional. Expect lots of tears in the confessional room and drama with a Capital D from this one. Producers eat that sh*t up, which should be enough to keep her around until mid-season. But I think her inability to keep her head in the game will ensure she doesn’t get to stay around much longer than that.
Contestant 10: Supermarket Cashier Jason Roy
Big mouthed, brash and flamboyant, I’m thinking our friend Jason is going to be catnip for the producers, constantly stirring up trouble, and providing bitchy soundbites that the American public is going to just eat right up. But does Jason have the subtlety or the gameplay needed to make it far in this game, without alienating his fellow castmates?
Contestant 11: Retail Associate James Huling
Sweet, low key and likeable with a winning backstory to boot, James is sure to charm his housemates and fans at home alike. This will allow him to make it far in this game without having to backstab too much, or play the game too hard, at least at the outset. Along with Audrey, James is a good candidate to win America’s Favorite Player at the end of the season. And like Poker Player Vanessa, I can see him making it very far in this game.
Contestant 12: College Student Steve Moses
Ahhh, the virgin genius. A self-proclaimed Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, Steve is a game player with a gimmick. He’s going to play dumb and innocent. (He doesn’t have to “play” a virgin though. That part is real.) If Steve is as smart as he thinks he is, this could earn him a spot in the final five. If he’s not, it could spectacularly blow up in his face, which, quite honestly, would be a joy to watch.
Contestant 13: Poker Dealer Da’Vonne Rogers
Da’Vonne’s a bit of a contradiction in terms. On one hand, her career makes her seem very well suited to this game. Her job is to make nice with the game players, watching them, winning them over, and keeping them engaged. On the other hand, her biography gives off a heavy whiff of Bible thumper, which rarely makes one popular in the Big Brother house and often leads to early eviction. So, Da’Vonne can really go either way . . .
Contestant 14: Personal Trainer Jace Agolli
This guy will do great in any athletic competition. But I don’t envision him having anything spectacular up his sleeve (or in his brain, for that matter) in terms of game play. I predict he’ll be gone by about Week 4.
And there you have it, my (most likely wrong) predictions for this Season’s Big Brother, based entirely on snap judgments, shameless generalizations, and a few sentences I read in an EW magazine article. What are yours?