Once again, CBS has inexplicably turned over hours of its prime-time schedule to a bunch of pinheads and schemers and called it Big Brother. One of the opening-night tasks for the 16 “house guests” was to come up with names for their teams; “Big Sister” and “Team Unicorn” were among the inventions — how come no one thought of “Pinheads and Schemers”?
The summertime series’s 18th edition began Wednesday night and featured a Julie Chen whose smile said “Hello” but whose eyes blinked “Please, God, take me now.”
Alas, the torture has just begun. How many weeks before America is relieved of the sight and sound of “rocker”/”clothes designer” Paul, whose all-over facial hair seems to have been sculpted by beavers that chewed randomly around his skull, and who says things like, “For some reason, she wants to be spicy with me; don’t spice up my life”?
Chen opened the two-hour premiere by counting off the coming attractions for the Wednesday and Thursday episodes as though she was reading a trial verdict: “Four competitions, three twists, two nights, one eviction.” The first twist was that, after introducing us to 12 houseguests (Bronte is a math wizard with a baby-girl voice who says she’s “pretty stinkin’ feisty”), another four (veterans from previous seasons) popped out of prop steamer trunks, as though they were forgotten assistants from an old David Copperfield magic trick.
Speaking of old, the most senior houseguest this season is 50 year-old Glenn, a retired cop/dog groomer who hails from the Bronx — excuse me, the “Boogie Down Bronx!,” as he yelled repeatedly — and who has the biggest target on his back because… he’s 50 years old. Big Brother is nothing if not the most ageist reality show on the air; if Betty White wandered into the Big Brother house, she’d probably be pelted to death with contact-lens cases and used condoms. One of Glenn’s most generally contemptuous colleagues is Jozea, a “celebrity make-up artist” who not only ridiculed Glenn to the Diary Room camera, but also managed to scorn both a competition and the show’s host in a single sentence. Told that they’d all be competing in something called “Hit The Road,” Jozea snorted, “Really, Julie, ‘hit the road’? How about you hit the road!” This incoherent insult also had the distinction of being a complete non sequitur.
Big Brother has become our nation’s annual report card on the failure of the American educational system. In the opening moments, squeaky-voiced Bronte generously tried to give the other house-guests an easy way to remember her name. Did she say something like, “Just think of the author of Wuthering Heights!” Nope: She said brightly, “Think of the dinosaur, brontosaurus.” Too bad, Bronte — from now on, in my mind you’re always going to be “Jane Eyre-Head.”
The competitions included “Ride The Rocket,” which found the house-guests “riding” some “rockets” that were actually much more disturbingly similar to wet, thrusting phalluses. Even for Big Brother, this was a bit early in its season to start with the barely-double-entendre symbolism. Then again, the sooner we get to the usual BB shenanigans the better. How many weeks before twosomes start peeling off to snuggle in bed, their muffled-under-blankets declarations of showmantic hotness subtitled by the producers to be understood in all their inchoate horniness? As one of these pinheads proclaimed, “I don’t have any creative juices in my brain!” Sister, I can feel my own drying up as well.
Big Brother airs Thursday night at 9 p.m. on CBS.