16 fan-favorites entered a whole new kind of quarantine on the two-hour live premiere including two past winners, four runners-up and five third-place finishers.
It wouldn’t be “Big Brother” if it didn’t feel like a cross between a multi-million dollar production and something the stage crew at your local high school put together.
Thankfully, everything that makes “Big Brother” so deliciously ridiculous was in evidence across this at-times-tedious two-hour premiere. But the absolute highlight — aside from all the times the Houseguests straight-up ignored host Julie Chen — has to be the Have-Not Room having not a door that worked.
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All these weeks to prepare the house for the arrival of 16 all-star players from two decades of “Big Brother” and they couldn’t remember to unlock the damned door?
Coming on the heels of an “All-Winners” edition of “Survivor,” the summer CBS reality series cast might have felt like a bit of a let-down, but there are some really interesting players and combinations in play here.
There are also a few that might have people scratching their heads, but it could be argued that this is CBS and producers trying to be more cognizant of race when making these decisions.
Da’Vonne Rogers and Bayleigh Dayton may have never made it very far in the game, but both have proven themselves stellar players and both suffered from apparent racism in the house that shortened their stay.
That goes to the nth degree for David Alexander, who was the first person eliminated last summer after four minorities were singled out to compete in a Day 1 competition. After that, as part of a twist, he had to stay in the house, where he quickly proved himself very astute — but he never really had a chance in the game.
Tonight also marked the first-ever live premiere, with the 16 all-stars entering the house in groups of four where they were immediately greeted with their first competition. And while we’re confident (hopeful?) it wasn’t intentional, it was definitely stacked against the women. Like to a ridiculous degree!
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Since America was introduced to the all-stars live as they entered the house — confirming plenty of online theories in most cases — many fans may not remember or know who some of these players are. Without exhausting everyone, these are some highlights.
Bayleigh Dayton is more known now for falling in love with fellow Season 20 contestant Chris “Swaggy C” Williams and getting engaged at the finale. She played a smart game, but was ultimately betrayed to the dominant Level Six alliance that controlled the game all season long.
Christmas Abbott came into Season 19 as a beast-mode competitor, but she’s now best known for basically competing the entire summer in a cast after breaking her foot Week 1. She quickly emerged as a mother figure for the house, a kind ear and a savvy strategist, able to adapt to a whole different style of play.
Cody Calafiore was the hot-head half of the powerful Hitmen alliance with eventual winner Derrick Levasseur in Season 16. A competition beast his downfall was staying loyal to Derrick after winning the final HOH of the season.
Daniele Briones lost Season 8 to her estranged father “Evel Dick” Donato as part of its rivals twist, coming in second place. Both returned again for Season 13 as “veterans,” where she would outlast him this time, helping her forge her own “BB” identity on her way to an 8th place finish.
David Alexander was eliminated Day 1 after eventual Season 21 winner Jackson Michie chose him to compete in the first competition. The Camp Comeback twist put him into the house, where he proved a shrewd and observant player. But he had no real power and after failing to win his way back into the house officially, all that potential left with him.
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Da’Vonne Rogers is one of the most popular and outspoken players in recent years. She has an incredible eye for the game and for sussing out the truth, but she also has an incredible tendency to let her outspoken nature get her into trouble, which is why she’s thus far had to settle for 16th place in Season 17 and 11th place the following summer.
Vincenzo “Enzo” Palumbo was a part of the powerful Brigade alliance in Season 12, which he claims to have created. After an impressively dominant season, three of its four members would make it to the Final 3, but it was there that Enzo’s journey ended
Ian Terry was the geeky winner of Season 14 who surprised everyone by going on a competition run late in the season after he’d been underestimated for weeks. For playing a kinder game than Dan Gheesling, Ian beat the legend in a vote of 6-1 for the win.
Janelle Pierzina is already a legend, and the only returning player to have played three previous seasons. She came in third place in Seasons 6 and 7 (the first “All-Star” season), working with Kaysar in that season. She set the record for most competition wins at nine that summer as well. Her Season 14 journey began as a Coach and ended as a blindside eviction and 12th place.
Kaysar Ridha was a fan-favorite player in Seasons 6 and 7 (the fist “All-Star” season) when he joined the first “All-Stars” cast. He was even voted back into the house at one point by fans, though he wound up finishing tenth in both seasons. He and Janelle had an alliance in “All-Stars 1.”
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Keesha Smith was one of the most loyal players to The Renegades alliance in Season 10, working alongside close-friend Memphis. But she was never able to infiltrate the group completely, ultimately having to settle for fourth place when Memphis and Dan Gheesling realized she’d have a better shot of winning the jury than they would.
Kevin Campbell is best known for evicting Jeff Schroeder, who was part of “America’s Couple” with eventual Season 11 winner Jordan Lloyd. Kevin is still kicking himself for losing that final HOH to her, which he believes ultimately cost him the game as he was evicted — revenge? — and had to settle for third.
Nicole Franzel is easily one of the most well-rounded players ever, pulling off a Season 18 victory in her second time in the game after finishing in 7th place on Season 16 (for recognizing eventual winner Derrick Levasseur’s brilliant gameplay). Two years later, she was the master strategist — and managed both while in prominent showmances.
Robert “Memphis” Garrett was a part of one of Big Brother’s most infamous duos, The Renegades, back in Season 10. Ultimately, though, he would have the dubious honor of losing the final vote 0-7 to fellow Renegade and ‘Big Brother’ legend Dan Gheesling. He also had a tight friendship with Keesha in that season.
Nicole Anthony was Season 21’s awkward fan-favorite who really found herself as a person and a competitor on her way to a third-place finish. She was extremely aware of the game around her, played a savvy and loyal game throughout and walked out with her integrity intact.
Tyler Crispen was basically the mastermind of Season 20, but he had a tendency to over-promise to everyone. It worked brilliantly to get him to the final two, but it was an absolute fail when it came to jury management. His disregard for those lies and how it would sit with the jury ultimately cost him the game and he had to settle for second place.
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Man of the Household
We’re not usually one to jump into conspiracy theories, so we’d like to imagine the way this first Head of Household played out was simply a matter of bad luck. But it certainly looked as if the edge was given to the guys from the jump.
The 16 Houseguests entered the house in groups of four by gender. Each group then competed in the first round of the HOH competition by completing a board maze that saw them having to drop a ball into the room where a certain object was found.
The problem is that both women’s groups had to navigate their ball to the far end of the maze, all the way at the bottom. Both men’s groups had rooms much closer to the top. In other words, the challenge was about half as difficult for them.
As such, with only four minutes to complete the task and the top two finishers from each group advancing, only one woman from each of their heats advanced. That put two women up against four guys in the final round (Christmas and Nicole A taking on Kevin, Ian, Memphis and Cody).
Why would they not be targeting the same room each round so all 16 Houseguests are completing the exact same maze? We get that it was about the first two finishers each heat, but by making the women’s maze considerably longer on a timed challenge, they were at a distinct disadvantage.
That said, we take nothing away from Cody for an incredibly dominant performance in that second round. We’re not sure anyone in the house could have beaten his time of just over 22 seconds running across wobbly platforms.
But we’d be remiss in not pointing out that during his run, one of the wobbly platforms was still wiggling, thus letting him know not to trust it. For subsequent rounds, Julie waited until all platforms had stopped wobbling.
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Houseguest Report Cards
While it’s obviously too soon to start grading or ranking the Houseguests in any meaningful way, we feel it’s safe to say that Codi Calafiore is currently in the strongest position in the house as its first HOH.
From here, it’s going to depend on relationships. Like “Survivor: Winners at War,” many of these players know each other from either their time in the house or outside it. Could those come into play?
Memphis and Keesha worked together in Season 10, while Janelle and Kaysar have played two seasons together. Plus, there’s always the chance the old-school players will try to align. Janelle could also try to reconnect with Ian, whom she played with as a Coach in Season 14.
On the fresher side, David and Nicole know each other from last summer’s season, while Tyler and Bayleigh have a connection via Season 20. Cody and Nicole F both battled it out in Season 16, while Nicole F and Da’Vonne squared off in Season 18.
Will any of this matter or will new an unexpected alliances emerge instead? Only time will tell. But certainly in these early days, pre-existing relationships can be a place where someone might feel a little more trust than with a veritable stranger.
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- “I really don’t think I get enough credit for my win in ‘Big Brother 18.’ I’m not sure why the fans think Paul was robbed, but he was not robbed. I feel like I have to prove I deserved my last win by doing well again.” –Nicole F
- “My Big Brother legacy is definitely how intuitive I am. But the problem is I talk too much. That’s something that I need to work on.” — Da’Vonne
- “My strategy going into ‘Big Brother 19’ was to be a comp beast, and then on Day 13– I mean, I broke my foot getting a piggyback. Who does that? This girl does that. It shifted my game from being a competitor to needing to b a complete social game, just working that angle as much as possible.” –Christmas
- “Going into the house this time is going to be totally different. I can’t rely on my whole dumb surfer dude act. I feel like the biggest flaw in my game is I wrote too many checks I could not keep– Wait, was it? I wrote too many checks that I couldnt’ cash. Yeah, that’s what I did. Including 500,000.” –Tyler
- “I feel like my ‘Big Brother’ legacy is I stabbed America’s sweetheart. I was one competition away from winning my season, and losing the final HOH lost me the game.” –Kevin
- “I got a three-floor house. My aunt is in the basement who shaves my back. I got my mom on the second floor who cooks for me, and I’m upstairs in the penthouse with my kids. I love my life.” –Enzo
- “I’m gonna be in this house with a bunch of all-stars, but legends laugh at all-stars.” –Enzo
- “My ‘Big Brother’ legacy is most competition wins in a season, and that I got rid of Dr. Will in ‘All-Stars.'” –Janelle
- “Even though I finished in 11th place, I got the love of my life. So this time a showmance is not really an option.” –Bayleigh
- “Clearly!” –Swaggy C
- “I’m trusting my gut this year. This gut knows what it’s saying, and I’m listening. Ring, ring. What’s that? M’gut.” –Nicole A
- “But you’re gonna make it far, right? You’re not gonna like come home the first week?’ –Cody’s girlfriend
- “I don’t plan on coming home the first week. Why, are you still gonna be here if I get booted in Week 1?” –Cody
- “I’ll be here for you, but it would be really embarrassing.” –Cody’s girlfriend
- “My ‘Big Brother’ legacy is definitely being one half of the Hitmen alliance, one of the best duos that have played the game, but also falling short because I chose to go to the Final Two with that duo instead of somebody that I had a better chance of beating.” –Cody
- “You probably remember me from ‘Big Brother 10.’ I was the losing half of the Renegade squad.” –Memphis
- “I think I have everything to prove going back into that house because I played a whole game and I lost 7-0.” –Memphis
- “If I can deal with Swaggy, I can deal with these people.” –Bayleigh
- “Houseguests… Houseguests… Bueller?” –Julie (no one is listening)
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