It’s that time again: A summer filled with alliances, back stabbing and manipulative showmances is just around the corner. The voyeuristic reality TV staple “Big Brother” returns on July 5 for its eighth season. And while some things never change in the “BB” house, a new season promises a couple of twists and turns and, if viewers are lucky, an interesting cast of characters to boot.
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead, so stop reading now if you want the show to surprise you.
The theme this year is “Worst Enemies,” with some of the 14 contestants getting an unwelcome surprise in the form of an old foe who's also been installed in the house. Once again, the producers have eschewed the original concept of a house full of strangers in favor of insta-drama. Sometimes it works (see season five’s “Project DNA”), and sometimes it doesn’t (see the fourth season’s awful “X-Factor”), but it’s always an early game shaper. Hey, with vendettas to mete out, this could be one time when flying under the radar actually works.
As usual, along with the new hook comes new décor. Getting a facelift from last year’s “Good vs. Evil” scheme, everything has taken a turn for the fanciful in an “Alice in Wonderland”-like house. How do tiny beds, huge dressers and a backyard teacup ride relate to the “Worst Enemies” theme? In no way, that’s how. It appears to be a completely random “wouldn’t it be neat” addition.
Then there’s the twist: “America’s Player.” This covert houseguest is a puppet for the viewing audience to control. After each episode, watchers are given a chance to vote on the next personal or strategic move the mole makes. Of course with no special immunity in play, an early eviction could make this more of a fizzle than a twist. No word yet on what happens if the other houseguests figure out something’s up.
In the end, the game’s not about the gimmicks. It’s about the desperate attention-seekers who sign up for it. It’s the good guys, the baddies, the flirts and the manipulators that make it all worthwhile.
Amber, 27, cocktail waitress
With such favorite outdoor activities as swimming and “laying out,” it’s a safe bet Amber will rarely be seen sporting more than a bikini. Not bad really, considering that was the winning strategy for Lisa Donahue in season four.
Player type: The vixen
Carol, 21, student
A member of the University of Kansas Spirit Squad (as a Rock Chalk Dancer), Carol’s destined to be a team player. Expect her to find an early alliance and stick with it, possibly to her detriment.
Player type:The loyal ally
Danielle, 20, waitress
“Hooter’s girl” Danielle is easy on the eyes and shouldn’t have any trouble fitting in the mostly 20-something crowd. And given that her CBS bio lists margaritas as her favorite alcoholic drink, it’s safe to say she doesn’t let the legal drinking age hold her back.
Player type: The party girl
“Evel” Dick, 44, bar manager
While 44 is still young in the real world, on “Big Brother” it practically qualifies for the senior discount, but with tatts and a rocker style, Dick won’t fall into the old guy role. In fact if his angry, cursing MySpace rants are any indication, he may be the star of the show. Possible spoiler alert: That MySpace page reveals something else, too: Dick is the father of Daniele. Familial enemies?
Player type: The troublemaker.
Dustin, 22, shoe salesman
According to Dustin, his favorite hobby is laughing. He doesn’t really get what a hobby is. And considering that his Friendster page states, “i hate tv.…it numbs the mind,” he probably doesn’t get what “Big Brother” is, either.
Player type: Cute but clueless
Eric, 25, talent-management assistant
There’s something about this guy that makes him not seem like the typical reality TV type. Eric’s online profile is awfully dry and his favorite picks are mostly brand-name items, like “Motts Apple Juice,” “Tropicana Orange Juice” and “Entenmanns’s Chocolate Chip” cookies. Could this shill be “America’s Player?”
Player type: The mole
Jameka, 28, school counselor
With an ample list of favorite food items, including six different types of cereal, don’t expect Jameka to fare well during slop-only weeks. On the other hand, her hobbies are filled with board games, so she’s up for a mental challenge.
Player type: The strategist
Jen, 23, nanny
Jen’s profile may say nanny, but there’s no mention of that in her long list of jobs (mostly modeling and acting) and personal stats (including her bra size) found on her own Web site. One look at her and it’s easy to see what the producers were hoping for when they cast this hottie.
Player type: The showmance star
Jessica, 21, student
Good thing “Big Brother” provides booze. Jessica’s faves are “Coors Light, José Cuervo, Margarita, Pinot grigio, Crown & Coke, Summer Brew, [and] Jungle Juice.” Combine that with her hobby of “going out partying,” and she’s guaranteed to bring some action to the house. Possible spoiler alert: Jessica, who’s on more than one football dance team, shares her age and home state with Carol, the other team-spirit type. An obvious guess would put these two as cheer-squad rivals.
Player type: The other party girl.
Joe, 23, receptionist
While it’s difficult to get an idea of Joe from his profile, in an “Early Show” clip producer Alison Grodner described him as “smart and evil.” He’s also 6'4", so he’ll be towering over other houseguests as he practices his evil arts.
Possible spoiler alert: Joe is one of two openly gay houseguests from Chicago (the other is Dustin). Coincidence or enemy exes?
Player type: The villain
Kail, 37, business manager
The game hasn’t even started and it’s not looking good for Kail. Again, 37 is long in the tooth for this game, and it’s not helped by the fact that she’s married, conservative and really into gospel music. How many different ways can she not fit in with this group? Unless she’s particularly charismatic or a complete wallflower, she’ll find herself an early target.
Player type:The first evictee
Mike, 26, painting contractor
This is another occupation that should be listed with “/model” after it, as Mike’s MySpace page is clogged with his stylin’ pictures and an announcement that he’s signed a one-year contract with BMG. He’s also a reality TV veteran, having already appeared on “Gay, Straight or Taken.”
Player type: The other half of the showmance
Nick, 25, former football player
As a former NCAA player who turned pro (well, in Finland anyway), Nick’s pumped physique could pay off in physical challenges. And if not, he makes for good beefcake.
Player type: The hardcore competitor
Zach, 30, graphic designer
Um… Zach really enjoys scuba diving. That’s about the most interesting thing about him so far.
Player type: The bore
Ree Hines is a writer in Tampa.