Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Big Brother is back! And this time, they are rolling out the red carpet for the all-star experience as 15 of our favorite former houseguests and one person named after a holiday reenter the Big Brother house.
A season of Big Brother seemed highly unlikely in the time of COVID. As the scientific community calls for social distancing, it didn't seem wise to put a group of almost 20 individuals plus a large crew in the close confines of a locked house. To Big Brother's credit, though, they managed to find a solution that maintains the safety of all houseguests and crew. So let's get excited about a fall of fun!
We have to meet our houseguests! Due to the pandemic, Big Brother couldn't release the names of the 16 houseguests in advance of the premiere because the show didn't know who would be medically clear to play. It's a good thing they waited, as speculation is that rumored returnees Josh (winner of season 19) and Kaycee (winner of season 20) both tested positive for the virus before entering the house.
For the first time, the houseguest moved into the house on live television in groups of four, two groups of men and two groups of women. To make things more interesting, each group would compete against each other to determine who would be eligible for the Head of Household (HOH) competition later in the evening.
Group one consisted of Nicole F., Dani, Da'Vonne, and Christmas. Nicole F is entering the game at the center of some pre-game conspiracies, as fans theorized she had Derrick and Dan removed from this season. She enters the house with a chip on her shoulder, hoping to prove that her win against Paul wasn't a mistake.
This group also features the contestant people who feel is least worthy of an All-Stars nod, Christmas. Only time will tell if this narrative is corrective. Maybe she will be the Erika Landin from this cast and make a run at the final two when no one expects it. The most suspect thing about Christmas, though, is that she sold her gym and moved to an online business over a year, well before COIVD. What did she know that the rest of us didn't?
It is exciting to have fan favorites Dani and Da'Vonne back in the house. Dani plays hard and is determined to show she is more than just one half of a partnership with her father, Evil Dick. Da'Vonne is an intriguing addition to this cast. She is strategic, and her stints on The Challenge have her in the best shape of her life. She has the potential to go deep into the game if she can play her cards right.
As the group entered the house, they immediately started the completion, which required them to find a predetermined item hidden throughout the house and then complete a large table maze where they had to land their ball in the correct room on the board. Throughout the night, the competition seemed to be unfair for both women's groups. Producers had them find items in the rooms that were at the very end of the board. The male groups, on the other hand, had to get a ball in the hole that was at the very top of the board and one in the middle, which provided lots of guard rails.
Due to the difficultly of maneuvering the table maze, only Christmas can complete the puzzle in the time frame allowed and will be the only one from her group eligible for HOH. This game was not the right choice for night one as it is time-consuming, repetitive, and each subsequent group struggles with the maze.
The second group to enter consisted of Tyler, Ian, Kevin, and everyone's favorite meow meow, Enzo. Ian and Kevin manage to pull the win out for this old school group made up of three contestants having appeared on season 14 or earlier.
Enzo looks to be in great shape, but I am concerned about who will shave his back now that his aunt isn't living with him. In contrast, Ian looks like he has aged 20 years since he last played! But his frenetic pace will be nice to have in the house once again. Tyler is a chameleon who can fit in anywhere. I have a feeling he is coming into the game with some pre-made alliances, so expect a good showing from the South Carolina surfer. The most intriguing name, though, has to be Kevin Campbell. He has a strong social game and looks to be in good physical condition. If he can find a group early, I think he will be able to float to the background.
The third group includes Janelle, Nicole A., Bayleigh, and Keesha. While speculation of the potential cast list has spread for weeks, it is still crazy that both Janelle and Keesha are standing a socially responsible distance from one another on stage. I honestly never thought we would ever see either of them again.
Keesha is a great social player with trust issues (more on that later). Janelle is the beloved competition beast who came in third twice but did not fare well when she entered the game during season 14. Bayleigh is a smart player who won't be distracted by a showmance this time. And Nicole was America's darling last season. I am excited to see how she plays without any Jackasses....sorry, I mean Jacksons.... in the house.
Like the other two groups before them, they enter the house and proceed with the first challenge. And this is the time of the episode it became clear the table maze just did work. The women really struggled, the audience had to watch the same challenge four times, and there was very little drama. While Bayleigh and Janelle both came very close to completing the aze, only Nicole can complete the maze.
Entering the house last are Memphis, Kaysar, Cody, and David. Memphis and Cody won their heat and will be joining the other winners in the HOH competition.
I am glad David is getting a second shot at this game, but he doesn't feel like he belongs in this group. Then again, being sent packing after a terrible twist will do that to you. But, hey, at least there isn't a night one eviction, so he is guaranteed to last longer in the game this year.
Kaysar is by far the biggest get this season. He hasn't played in 14 years! The game has changed so much since the first All-Stars, so I'm excited to see him try and adapt to the new style of play. Unfortunately, I feel like his lack of connections outside of Janelle is going to be a hindrance to his game.
As for Cody and Memphis, their arcs will be similar this season as they both look to break out of the shadow of former alliance members that are considered two of the greatest players ever. Julie wasted no time in comparing The Hitmen and The Renegades as the two walked on stage. There seems to be an uneasiness between them, but I think they should form their own dynamic duo and run this game. Hitegades anyone?
Let's be real though, any discomfort between Memphis and Cody will be nothing compared to the uneasiness between Keesha and Memphis. Remember when we said he has trust issues? Well, that's all thanks to Memphis and Dan from season 10, as they double-crossed her, in the end, to take Jerry to the final three, guaranteeing themselves spots on finale night. Seeing as Keesha mentioned this in her intro package, it stands to reason there will be some baggage there.
Whew, that was a lot. I am happy with the cast overall, especially in comparison to some of the names floating around the last few weeks. While Christmas's prescience is a little underwhelming, it is much better than the alternative of reliving BB19 with Paul, Josh, and Christmas. Wouldn't that be the most 2020 thing ever, though?!
As the night winded down, Julie finally introduced the cast members to each other, and she was also in full sass mode. As the group continued to ignore and hug each other, Julie threatened the group a whopping three times to immediately evict the last houseguest to sit on the couch. It was a joke, but still, I AM HERE FOR SASSY JULIE!
At this point, Julie invited the houseguest outside for the HOH competition. To win, houseguests had to traverse elevated pads from one platform to the other. What's the rub, you ask? Some of the pads were stable, while some weren't. If the houseguest fell, they had to return to the start and try again. Whichever houseguest completed the course the quickest would win the first HOH.
Competing for HOH is Memphis, Cody, Christmas, Kevin, Nicole A., and Ian. I don't want to go into a long diatribe about the competition as a whole, so I'll just say that Cody wins. It wasn't necessarily fair as some of the pads were still wobbling from Memphis's run when Cody when went, but Julie made all the other houseguest wait until they came to a rest. Cody could see the path to the finish while the rest had to figure it out themselves.
Okay, I won't complain anymore about the competitions. Those who lost the HOH competition had to select an envelope when they lost. One envelope contained a $5,000 prize won by Christmas. The other four became the first have nots for the season. To get to the have-not living space, Julie asked the contestants to crawl through a small door. "Well," Julie says when the door won't open, "just sleep in the hallway for the week."
Sassy Julie is everything.
Alright, that is about all we will cover for the premier. Not a lot happened despite being two hours. Then again, that is probably a function of introducing a brand new cast and holding five total competitions. To Big Brother's credit, it is hard to produce a live premier under normal circumstances, let alone a pandemic. All in all, they did a decent job of making sure everyone was healthy and able to compete.
We will be back on Sunday night/Monday morning with a recap of the nomination and hopefully some more information about the safety suite twist.