With the 2020 season of Big Brother U.S. officially kicking off, 16 former houseguests returned for another shot at winning $500,000.
As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, Big Brother producers made the decision to make the 22nd season of the show another All-Stars instalment, the first in 14 years. Former winners, legends, fan favourites and second chancers made up this year’s cast. And it wasn’t a Big Brother season without some twists and turns right from the start. This is an Australian fan’s review of Big Brother U.S..
WEEK 1 RECAP
Host Julie Chen welcomes viewers at home to a new live move-in episode, with a new house, new stage, but 16 former houseguests to enter for another three-month adventure locked in the Big Brother bubble.
A full cast list and assessment can be found here, but in short, the houseguests returning to the game include:
Nicole Franzel – Big Brother 16 & Winner of Big Brother 18
Dani Briones – Big Brother 13 & Big Brother 13
Da’Vonne Rogers – Big Brother 17 & Big Brother 18
Christmas Abbott – Big Brother 19
Tyler Crispen – Big Brother 20
Ian Terry – Winner of Big Brother 14
Kevin Campbell – Big Brother 11
Enzo Palumbo – Big Brother 12
Janelle DeSanto – Big Brother 6, Big Brother 7 & Big Brother 14
Bayleigh Dayton – Big Brother 20
Nicole Anthony – Big Brother 21
Keesha Smith – Big Brother 10
Kaysar Ridha – Big Brother 6 & Big Brother 7
Cody Calafiore – Big Brother 16
Memphis Garrett – Big Brother 10
David Alexander – Big Brother 21
For the first Head of Household competition (split into two parts), where the winner will be safe and can nominate two houseguests for eviction, houseguests competed within groups of four to earn a spot in the final round, where the winner will be named the first HOH. Christmas, Ian, Kevin, Nicole A, Cody and Memphis succeeded into the final round, where Cody was named the first HOH. For the losing five, four were named Have-Nots while one (Christmas) earned an early $5,000.
As the houseguests settle in, Nicole F already brings out the tears, Janelle and Kaysar reunite after 14 years since they played as allies, and Cody relishes in taking the first hand of power and preventing him from being the first evicted houseguest of the season. Believing Kaysar and Janelle to be a potentially tight duo who have had much success in previous season, Cody intends to take a shot at the old schoolers by nominating them both for eviction.
The first twist of the season is revealed, the Safety Suite, where houseguests will have one chance to use a VIP pass over the next three weeks to enter the secret room, and potentially keep themselves safe, including a +1 who must endure a punishment for the week, while staying safe. With uncertainty over their safety with Cody, both and only Kaysar and Janelle decide to play in the Safety Suite competition. Ultimately, Kaysar wins the competition, and chooses to keep Janelle safe; who must wear a star mascot costume for the week.
With his options limited and targets safe, Cody reconsiders his Nominations decision, ultimately deciding on Keesha and Kevin, for feeling least connected to them than the others in the house. Kevin is game on in trying to stay safe, and with the POV competition up soon, he asks Ian and Enzo if they would consider playing in it to save him. Meanwhile, alliances are formed between Da’Vonne and Bayleigh, and Ian and Nicole respectively.
At the POV competition, Cody, Kevin and Keesha are joined by Ian, Enzo and Tyler, selected by random draw, to compete in the Power of Veto competition, where the winner will have the chance to save one of the nominees or choose to keep them intact. Houseguests must stack fruit and vegetable shaped blocks, with the houseguest locking in with the most blocks stacked winning the POV. Cody, Ian and Kevin all time out, and in the end, it is Enzo who wins the competition.
Kevin attempts to convince Enzo to use the POV on him, and while he and Cody consider using it and backdooring a threat in Ian (as a former winner), Enzo ultimately decides to leave the nominations as they are, meaning Keesha and Kevin will face the first eviction of the season.
While the other houseguests deliberate over evicting Keesha or Kevin, alliances begin to form in waves, including a mass six-person alliance of Cody, Nicole F, Dani, Tyler, Christmas and Memphis, led by the latter; as well as the ‘Connect 4’ alliance of Da’Vonne, Bayleigh, Enzo and Cody. Keesha and Kevin campaign for the votes, but it comes down to personal preference of the two for the 13 houseguests voting.
At the eviction, Keesha makes an emotional yet cryptic comment to her fellow houseguests, but the house votes in unison as Keesha is evicted by a vote of 13-0. Keesha exits with mask on her face and socially distanced from host Julie Chen (who isn’t wearing a mask, despite not being isolated from the public). Keesha explains that her eviction wasn’t a surprise, but feels betrayed by houseguests such as Cody and Enzo who avoided her on the day of her eviction.
At the next HOH competition, houseguests are shown a video where they must answer a series of true or false questions based on what was shown. After six questions, Memphis claimed victory and became the 2nd HOH of the season.
We had a pretty enjoyable start of the season, especially for All-Stars. There are some phenomenal casting choices, both in the old school and new school section. Given the current climate, I can only imagine how difficult it may have been to get a decent cast list together just to make it out to LA, let alone make the final cut. What I like most of all is some original lists had other houseguests that would make up three, sometimes four from one season. Instead, there are maximum two houseguests from one season on the show, with some crossover here and there. That’s great for alliances and such, so I’m glad we got what we got, even if it meant some cast members aren’t nearly as strong as others.
I think production did extremely well with a live premiere, keeping it entertaining and interesting without having the advantages of a pre-recording. The competitions were fun to watch, although the decision to make the holes for both female groups in the competition further down the table than the men – it’s probably why four men competed in the first HOH and only two women. A balance of one far and one close for each sex would have been a better decision. There were some awkward blunders and more, but all in all, it was a good premiere and a solid start.
Cody being the HOH, it’s a tough position to be in – absolutely. But I truly love the fact he couldn’t target Kaysar/Janelle, and needed to rethink his strategy for Week 1. Nothing really came up for him to make an impact, instead he used the power to form strong alliances, which he’s got a few of. He’s even got Kevin somewhat fine with the nomination and thus might be safe (relatively) for a while. But he certainly could have done something bigger, and backdooring Ian could have been it. Nevertheless, it was a somewhat successful HOH reign, but time will tell just how much.
Kaysar and Janelle have a lot of ground to cover. Currently, they’re still in the minority position of the house and I think it’s going to come down to luck to getting the right HOH who won’t nominate them. They are going to need to come into that power themselves if they really want to make an impact, however. Right now, the house is running scared of this duo (especially Janelle), so obtaining power will be crucial to alliances and deals forming in their favour. But the fact they’ve even returned is amazing! I really hope they both stay as long as possible. They’re just so fun to watch, especially because they are some old school greats.
Kevin vs Keesha, I really love them both and it’s clear Kevin had a lot more motivation to stay in the game but his reads on the game and his fellow players are just not working at all (credit to the live feeds for getting this understanding). Keesha really began campaigning the day before, and it cost her, people weren’t going to flip their decision after one day when Kevin tried getting their votes the moment he was nominated. Keesha is just much more fun for me personally, however. I wish she could have done more. And being the first evicted, despite such an impressive debut on Big Brother 10, it sucks just statistically. I hope she does get a chance to return, although if she does I don’t see much chance of her winning it. Nor do I think she’ll be the only person I’ll want to come back anyway. But hopefully Kevin makes a good run from this early knock on his resume… hopefully.
Others I’m liking:
Dani – Great position in the game, really making good bonds and not being brought up as a target in the house.
Enzo – Just really funny and he’s got some great strategy, I like it.
Da’Vonne – She’s pretty level headed this season, I think her reads on her fellow houseguests could be better, but she’s doing well.
Tyler – He’s fitting in well and making the necessary bonds and strategic relationships he needs to. I could see him making it to 1st this time.
Ian – I think Ian is playing very well off the bat, but it’ll take a bit of work to shake off his ‘winner’ target.
Bayleigh – I remember liking Bayleigh going into BB20, then not when she came out. Again, I like her this time. So we’ll see how it pans out.
Nicole A – Just a genuine soul that I really like, but her reads have GOT to get better if she wants too stay further. Know your allies, girl!
Others I’m needing a little bit more from:
Christmas – Quiet in the episodes and on the feeds. Not too sure where her game is at, and not too sure I care.
David – I get playing the dumb ‘I don’t know how Big Brother works’ is a smart strategy, but other than that, I don’t know what David’s doing to work on his longevity in the house.
Memphis – Just seemed really off all week, happy to cut Keesha? Sure. But I expected some kind of BB10 loyalty… much like in the actual season, I guess not.
Nicole F – Just… so much crying! And all she talks about is Janelle, it’s getting really annoying. I’m not enjoying Nicole at all.
To finalise, I think we’ve got a lot more to come as the season progresses. This was a very fine week, but it’ll crank up. We’ve got some good social players, a lot of alliances, and already some divides. I hope the minority of the house can bounce back and we some real good gaming happening. I’m looking forward to it.
Bring on Week 2, see you soon!
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