The Insider: Big Baaaaaaad ‘Brother’

Mar 9, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Despite enduring a variety of humiliating expressions of disapproval from friends, The Insider has adamantly remained addicted to “Big Brother” through seven of the first eight summer installments (she was a year late joining the cult) of the CBS reality show.
It’s a human ant farm that ritually evicts one resident each week. Strangers are locked in a house on a studio lot in Los Angeles with no access to outside news, contact or entertainment. It’s a house in which every corner is visible and audible to cameras, microphones and producers, which gives viewers a chance to watch people who they will, if they’re lucky or have good people sense, never have to spend any such intimate time with in real life. Let’s face it, anyone who wants to live in such a spotlight probably is more of a narcissist and exhibitionist than most of us.
The first winter run, which started in February, has been a sometimes stomach-turning test of the bond. “Big Brother: ‘Til Death Do You Part,” started by assigning contestants a “soulmate” with whom they would have to compete—win, lose, scheme and sleep—as one.
The Insider’s request for a conversation with executive producer Allison Grodner about this season was declined.
Perhaps the difference this time around is that most contestants now are students of previous “BB” seasons and come in determined to top the outrageous behavior that earned earlier contestants a following. They want 15 minutes-plus of fame and are willing to do or endure almost anything to get it, even if they don’t win the $500,000 prize that goes to the last contestant standing after weeks of conniving and competitions that range from grueling to just plain silly.
Perhaps it’s because this is the second installment in which CBS sister cable channel Showtime Too has carried three hours of live feed from the “BB” house seven nights a week starting at midnight Eastern time. The houseguests’ awareness of the presence of the live audience and presumption that it didn’t tune in to see nothing happening may have something to do with why The Insider has felt the urge to reach for hot water and disinfectant after watching “BB” this winter.
As a whole, this group of contestants seems less literate book-wise and pop-culturally but wilder and emotionally wobblier than any previous casts. There have been more meltdowns, sexual hijinks and blatant exhibitionism and fetishism.
All the houseguests curse like “Sopranos,” which has produced some bleep-bleep-bleeping dialogue seldom almost-heard on network TV at 8 p.m., where two of the three “BB9” editions air each week.
One houseguest, Adam, has made headlines for his past drug felony and for being fired from his job while he’s in the house because of an unacceptable label he applied to autistic children during an early conversation in the house. His soulmate, the sour Sheila, took one look at him—think mutant Michael Kors—and cried “foul.” She’s the mother of a teenage boy and a former model and Penthouse Pet who says she lived in Bob Guccione’s mansion for a decade and wants to come out of “BB9” with a deal for a memoir.
Another houseguest, James, has become an Internet sensation for same-sex porn and for amateur video documenting his apparent penchant for out-of-control behavior like extreme intoxication and public defecation.
James, who is most fond of showing off his penis, is one houseguest who is not keeping all his body fluids to himself once he goes to bed. Does Chelsia, his so-called soulmate, know his past or should she? He also has a pink mohawk that is downright mangy-looking.
James is not the designated gay houseguest this season. That’s Joshuah, who has talked about using “BB” as a launching pad to an entertainment career. Joshuah is this year’s “Evel Dick,” triggering the two biggest meltdowns this season by unleashing a torrent of abusive and unprintable words and behavior that have taken on “Lord of the Flies” proportions more than once.
His first target, the sexpotty Amanda with major daddy and intellectual issues, was picked to emotional pieces in a wilding scene in which many housemates, including the soulmate who was doing his best to ignore her, participated.
The other Lolita-like showoff in the house is the pigtailed, fake-boobed Natalie, a so-called bikini barista and former pole dancer who also has sad relationship problems with her soulmate, Matty. She has a whole wardrobe of low-cut tops, short-shorts and coordinated knee socks. Matty, a Boston roofer, succumbed to some kind of sexual urge under the covers one night with her and has since generally tried to keep her at arm’s length, not something easy to do when the game rules say they have to share the same bed and when she is begging him to let her do this or that to him and promising she won’t fall in love. Watching her ways of seeking everyone’s attention and Matty’s affection is a very Nabokov-meets-Albee experience—and not in a good way.
Joshuah’s next target, Allison, was more capable of taking care of herself and is to blame for much of her own misfortune.
It was actually satisfying to see her evicted twice last Wednesday.
Yes, twice.
She and her soulmate Ryan lost the eviction vote as a couple. Then “BB,” which always warns everyone to “expect the unexpected,” sent them back to the couch, changed the rules and declared everyone is competing as individuals, which led to another vote in which Amanda was evicted unanimously.
Ryan then won head of household, which was just the sort of twist that has made most seasons of “BB” so watchable. You see, he and his girlfriend of nine months, the very unteacher-like teacher Jen, had come into the house pretending not to know each other in an attempt to work a secret alliance. That didn’t last long after the producers, who knew they were a couple in real life, assigned them to sleep and compete with other soulmates. Ryan and Jen revealed their secret and Jen soon was voted out with her “BB” partner, the paparazzi Parker, who coveted (to say the least) Amanda.
Now Ryan gets to decide which two people will be nominated for eviction. But he and the other houseguests are unaware that, in another twist, the public is voting on which former houseguest should be sent back into the house for a second chance in the competition.
The candidates for return include Alex, the deejay who had the misfortune of being paired (and evicted) with Amanda. There is Neil, Joshuah’s gay soulmate, who left mysteriously and suddenly early in the game. There is Jacob, the cheater who surprised ex-girlfriend Sharon by being in the house and being named her soulmate. Sharon returned to the house as Joshuah’s platonic soulmate. They quickly became inseparable.
She also has become inseparable from her little blue “blankie” that she wears and fondles constantly. Since she had little profile in the house except as Joshuah’s motor-mouthed shadow, The Insider expects thumb-sucking to ensue.
The other candidates are Amanda and Allison. The house would be better off without either of them.
To return Neil, Jacob or Jen would mean instant new alliances the house also is better off without.
Alex is getting The Insider’s vote. He seems reasonably intelligent and grounded (within the context of “BB,” of course) and capable of helping steer “BB9” back from the gutter and keeping it on the middle of the low road where the show is at its most entertaining.
Indeed, the new solo rules seemed to have a quick and beneficial effect on behavior in the house. In the wee hours of Friday morning, most of the houseguests gathered in Ryan’s room for a free-wheeling chat that at one point turned to religion and evolution. It didn’t last long. But it was the sort of absurdist scene that is the essence of “BB.”
Alas, Natalie, who is just the latest improbable Bible belter in “BB” history, chose that moment to confide to all that she was such a “fertile Myrtle” that she has had two abortions.
Get this creature a keeper.


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  2. neil isnt coming back into the house- we still never find out why he left tho

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