The following is a guest post from Rob Has a Website Contributor, Andy Baker
If there’s one thing that we’re going to remember from the Summer Olympics, it’s all the cheating: badminton players throwing matches; a South Korean fencer failing to medal after a clock isn’t started; and a boxer losing a round despite his opponent hitting the canvas six times. Crazy, right? And yet, the Gold Medal for televised rigging goes not to NBC, but to CBS – Allison Grodner, you’re the champ! It’s amazing how you get what you want and never apologize for it! Climb onto the podium, you world-class game-fixer, you.
Ah, but unlike a BB producer, though, I’m no cheater; the following BD is SPOILER FREE!
1) Okay, so we all knew that the Coaches were going to return to the game. What we didn’t know, however, was just how rigged that process was going to be. Only one Coach had to say yes, and they all HAD to join the game? That guaranteed the result the producers wanted, didn’t it? Conspiracy theory time: The Coaches had been asked in the diary room what they would do if given the choice to return to the game, so the producers knew that some of the Coaches were seriously considering turning down the offer. So what do they do? Make it impossible! There was NO WAY Janelle was going to turn down the opportunity to finally win the game, so what Boogie, Dan or Britney wanted didn’t matter AT ALL. Yeah, that’s fair! (Seriously, shouldn’t CBS give Boogie $100k for “winning” the Coach meta-game, since he’s the only one who didn’t press the Reset Button?)
2) We all know it’s incredibly unfair to protect returning players for the first month of the game, particularly when those players have been instrumental in who left the house. But it goes to a whole new level of riggage when the Coaches are negotiating with the producers for new “player deals” in the diary room – and then using their knowledge of the upcoming twist to shape eviction strategy. If you have any doubts that the Coaches knew EXACTLY how this was going to play out, ask yourself: Why were the Coaches all dressed for an endurance HoH competition, if they didn’t know they were going to be playing in it?
3) The argument made by none other than the Chenbot that the Reset Twist was fair because the Coaches were, in fact, vulnerable, is a transparently weak one: At most, only one Coach could have been eliminated before the Reset Twist was introduced, given that only four evictions were scheduled before the game changed. The risk of even one Coach being eliminated before the twist was even lower once the producer-Coach collusion began: Over the past week or so, the Coaches knew they were coming into the game and were working to keep the other Coaches around so that they can collectively eliminate the newbies. Bottom line: No Coaches were going home before the twist, which is precisely how Grodner scripted it before the season began.
4) I’m of two minds about Frank still being in the house. On the one hand, he should have been evicted last night, no question about it: Shane took a risk, made a big move, and a dangerous competitor was on his way out the door. Frank and Boogie had plenty of time to try to turn things around, but they couldn’t pull it off. That’s the game… usually. But, in one of the most blatant examples of Producer Rigging in the history of reality television (and that’s saying something), Grodner stepped in and made sure Frank had at least one more week in the house. Did she do this because she’s fond of Frank? Maybe. Does she think he’s good for ratings? Quite possibly. Does she believe he’s one of the few players who might temporarily keep the Coaches from completely steamrolling the newbie houseguests? Absolutely.
5) On the other hand, if Frank had been voted out last night, and THEN the Coaches had entered the game (the order we were all expecting, I imagine), Frank would have had every reason to cry foul. Frank was going to be safe thanks to his deal with Shane, but once the Coaches realized they were coming into the game this week, Janelle, Britney, and Dan convinced Shane to use the Veto. Everyone fears Frank as a player – as well they should – so he became the new target, and Shane, that malleable meathead, predictably did what he was told to do. Frank wasn’t in danger because Ian was non-committal with Britney; he was almost back-doored because the Coaches wanted him gone before they entered the game. If you think that the Coaches didn’t want Frank evicted, go back and watch Julie Chen explain the Reset Twist to the houseguests: The Coaches looked DEVASTATED that their decision to return to the game required them to swallow the poison pill of Frank remaining in the game.
6) Speaking of Frank, we got our first Family Visit this episode! I hesitate to say that Big Brother should get rid of these segments, because I’m a sucker for “estranged parent cheering on his kid” stories, and the voyeuristic glimpse into the family life of a reality show contestant can occasionally be satisfying and/or enlightening… but they can also feel horribly forced and awkward. My takeaways from this Family Visit: Frank’s mother really didn’t want to be on camera, and Sid Vicious is a poster-boy for how steroids destroy the human body. Honestly, the best part of this sequence was seeing Frank talk to his family via the cameras in the house; not only was it touching, but it made me wonder why we don’t get to see that more often. Anyway, time to make the call… and yep, Big Brother needs to lose these segments (unless there’s a truly powerful story to tell). WHAM! BB is now 19% better.
7) Know what REALLY annoys me about the Reset Twist? The fact that CBS is trying to blame it on the viewers. How many times did the Chenbot say, “It’s up to YOU, America!” Oh, please – give it a rest. Even if “Leave them as Coaches” won in a landslide, there is NO WAY Grodner lets those results stand. Adding insult to injury, Grodner decided to add another layer of blame-deflection: “Even if the viewers don’t think it’s their fault, it’s certainly not mine,” she tells us via the Reset Twist. “It’s the Coaches’ fault for pressing the button!” Shameless. If you’re going to rig the game, at least have the decency to own up to it.
8) Okay, enough about the twist. Time to point out another cardinal sin by one of the houseguests. I’m sure all of you know this Reality Show Commandment: Thou shalt tell people what they want to hear. Ian, this season’s SuperFan, should know this one better than most, and yet when put on the spot by Britney, he refused to explicitly guarantee Shane’s safety. What the heck was he thinking? They were alone, so there weren’t any witnesses – just tell Britney yes and be done with it! If you end up going back on your word, you simply tell her that you’re sorry, but circumstances have changed. And if your teammates grumble that you’re making promises to the wrong people, you simply say you were telling Britney what she wanted to hear so that she would leave them all alone. It’s really not that hard a concept to grasp: if a player feels secure, they’re not going to create conflict, even if the security blanket is woven out of lies.
9) We can thank Ian’s indecision for the best line of the episode, however; when Ian tells Boogie that he doesn’t want to write checks that can’t be cashed, Boogie’s retort is classic: “This is the Big Brother house – you can bounce checks!” Moments like this are why they brought Boogie back – and why there was no way in hell that Grodner would let him remain a Coach. He’s more fun when his back is against the wall – and that’s going to happen a lot more now that he’s playing the game.
10) A few quick observations that don’t warrant their own bullet-points: As much as I want Joe to be evicted, I really don’t want him nominated again, because it means WAY TOO MUCH JOE SCREEN TIME… Janelle is a horrendous actress, particularly in the diary room… you have to assume Boogie is going to try to win brownie points with the newbies by saying that he didn’t hit the Reset Button because it’s not fair for the Coaches to have come into the game… and did you notice the stare of death from Danielle when Dan told her that she wouldn’t date Shane outside of the BB house? High comedy. (But please, CBS, stop trying to sell us on a Shane-Danielle showmance… give us the truth: Danielle is a delusional stalker, and any attention she gets from Shane is gameplay on his part. I promise you, the reality is much more entertaining than this fabricated storyline you’re attempting to sell us.)
11) Fortunes rising: He’s shown up here before, but I’m going with Ian. The vultures were circling this week; physical players like Shane and Wil realized that Ian is an HoH competition threat when the challenge is a mental one, and there was open talk about putting him on the block this week. Now that Frank remains in the house and the Coaches are playing the game, however, attention is likely to shift away from Ian and onto the power players. I’m not saying that Ian can win the game, mind you; he’s just going to be around a bit longer than he would have been if the game hadn’t been Reset.
12) Fortunes falling: Gotta feel bad for Shane who, at the behest of several Coaches, betrays Frank, one of the few houseguests willing to work with him – and then Frank doesn’t leave the house. Shane’s already a huge threat because of all of his competition victories, and now everyone has two more reasons to evict him: He breaks promises, and he does what the power players tell him to do. Which is to say, Shane can’t be trusted, otherwise known as the BB Black Plague. Any week where he or Danielle doesn’t win HoH, he’s going to be nominated or backdoored. I can’t see him avoiding the executioner for ten more evictions, can you?
13) Prediction time: Without knowing the identity of the new HoH (like I said, this blog entry is like every car I’ve ever owned: Spoiler Free), speculation is pure folly. Instead of a prediction, then, I’ll offer the houseguests a piece of advice: Get rid of Janelle while you still can. The producers are going to do all they can to keep her in the game, so you need to target her when you still have the numbers to backdoor her. You can’t let her play in the veto competition – she has a habit of winning those – and to do that, you can’t nominate her, and you need to have a lot of bodies around to reduce the odds that her name-chip will be pulled from the bag. I have a sinking feeling, though, that at least three houseguests will team up with the former Coaches, and players like Frank and Shane will be sent packing… which means that Janelle will coast to the final five before needing to break a sweat. And that, for Grodner, who loves Janelle as much as Jeff Probst loves Boston Rob, is better than winning the Gold Medal for Reality Show Rigging.