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Congratulations Big Brother. I spent all year crowing about how great you are to watch, and now that I’ve convinced all these people to give you a try, what do you do? You send them packing with a bloated, idiotic new catchphrase: “Project: Do Not Assume”. And then how do you make that worse? You abbreviate it with the oh so clever nickname “Project: DNA”. Now I have to spend all of tomorrow insisting that no, the show really is good and not some dull surveillance camera feed trying to spice things up with insanely self-important titles. Of course, for those of us who are already converts to the idiosyncratic ways of the show, we loved these campy additions. There really are so few joys as pure as listening to Julie Chen mechanically spew out the words “Project: Do Not Assume” without any hint of ironic delivery. Yes, only the finest wooden phrases for our most wooden of hostesses. Let the Julie Chen bashing begin. The summer’s guiltiest pleasure is back! We knew we’d be in for quite an opener when Julie greeted us in an outfit that can best be described as astronaut chic; although, when the light hit her fresh coat of body glitter, she looked more like a disco ball than a NASA byproduct. As for her actual clothes, I’m not sure, but I think she took the aluminum sun blocker from her windshield and made pants out of it. All I know is that I needed a pair of sunglasses when she came on screen. Luckily, midway through the ninety minute bonanza, she changed into the sensible white business suit we’ve come to expect from her. Of course, I will be most excited when Julie inevitably breaks out the bizarre cocktail dresses that have punctuated seasons past.
But enough about Julie’s sartorial missteps. Tonight we met our new cast of shut-ins, and I have to admit, I was quite pleased. Already we have an eclectic mix of heroes, enemies, oddballs, and wallflowers. Some people had more airtime than others, especially cowpoke Michael whose dorky rodeo veneer housed an extremely likeable, poignant, and gentle personality. Whether he was running like a cartoon on the treadmill or eagerly latching onto the alliance of alpha males, his kid-like earnestness was truly endearing. But more on him in a bit.
Will, the gay nurse, was quick to employ some shrewd strategy as he sized up groups and power structures. He’s waiting to play his big gay card, although if he thinks he’s going to catch anyone off guard, well, he’s in for an anticlimactic letdown. Marvin the mortician provided some great slapstick when his cot collapsed, and Holly managed to annoy everyone with her squeaky wheel voice. Amazingly, she displayed a few signs of a dry sense of humor, and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe there really was more to her than meets the eye. Probably not. We also met Mike, a single father who proudly announced that his kids are staying with both their mothers. This resulted in a series of high fives and “Dawg!” type exclamations. Classy. Every kid should have a dad who cares so much.
Topping the list of most annoying would have to be Jase, who descended on the house looking like a reject from “The Real Cancun”. He and Scott instantly hit it off. They both love bandanas (or bandeezees, as I’m sure they call them) and both made it a point to accessorize missions with matching armbands. Jase managed to win Head of Household and tried his hardest to be as goofy as David from last season. Instead he wound up grating and less cool than Scott, who surely will be the dangerous Roddy figure this season.
Jennifer, who I originally pegged as a hipster, turned out to be just a general oddball. Her love affair with 90s grunge fashions is admirable, and she did provide one of the greatest “Whaa??” moments when she announced that she prefers to be called Nicomus, or something like that. It was therefore sweetly appropriate that the two quirkiest people – Jennifer and Michael – were actually half brother and sister.
The producers decided to exploit this twist as a motif for the entire show by ponderously dubbing the season “Project: Do Not Assume”. Now why exactly is this a project? Suitably, I would assume the producers would employ some sort of logic to their clunky titles, but as Julie Chen advised me EVERY FIVE MINUTES, I should not assume anything. I can still hear her cautioning “Do Not Assume”. I wonder if there is a drawstring on her back that causes her to say that.
Well, poor Michael. Normally, I would find this relative twist to be pretty cool, but then we jumped into his backstory of having a fatherless childhood and all the turmoil that obviously caused. This was intercut with Jennifer extolling her dad and saying how wonderful it was to have him as a father. It’s clear that Michael will probably have a lot of anger or rage directed at the man who Jennifer loves so dearly, and I feel like it’s sort of shitty for Big Brother to exploit that for ratings. At the same time, it was curiously fascinating to see Michael put the pieces together in his head as he slowly realized Jennifer was his sister. I don’t really know why he didn’t just tell her right then and there who he was. There are some things that even a game shouldn’t interfere with. Oh my, am I preaching? Anyway, the situation went from fascinating to devastating as Michael then learned that his father never told Jennifer about his old family. Poor guy. Reality TV can be a real bitch sometimes.
Future iterations of Project: DNA promise that a set of identical twins will tag-team in and out of the house. To what effect, I don’t know. It seems rather gimmicky and probably puts those twins at a disadvantage. These twists are all fine and good, but the truth is that all we care about are the dynamics. Big Brother doesn’t have to sell us. Just let us watch these silly people preen around the yard, flirt in the pool, strategize over PB&J, and crawl around on an oversized DNA segment. Okay, we might not need to see that last one, but I’d be willing to watch that silly food challenge twelve times if it meant I didn’t have to look at Jase and his stupid bandana fetish again.