'Big Brother' recap: Julie Chen goes for the jugular
I'll be honest -- I usually find Julie Chen's interviews with the hamsters pretty tedious. Lots of puffball questions, lots of useless fluff. Of course, this season of "Big Brother" has lent itself to more serious discussion, but that didn't mean I ever expected Julie to call anyone on the carpet. But, as we know, expect the unexpected on "Big Brother."
Okay, live feed followers, don't be shy about telling us how much worse Amanda's behavior became this week. We can take it. Given that tonight's show kicks off with her stomping around the house acting like an extra from "The Sopranos," I'm guessing things got far worse than what we can see in a primetime show. "Do you feel threatened or scared? I'm very threatening and scary," she says to Elissa with a psychotic grin. Then she asks how many doctors Elissa has needed to make her face look like that. Wow. Amanda seems to have forgotten this is a televised competition and not an isolated corner of an all-girls school play yard.
Amanda isn't stopping with Elissa, mind you. Next, she yells at everyone for being nice to Elissa. She orders Andy to listen to her bitch about Elissa, which may have been said in a half-joking tone but I don't think Andy took it that way. Andy finds her behavior appalling, and I can't blame him.
Amanda announces that if she sees anyone talking to Elissa, she'll make them her next target. I'm so glad Amanda has never run for office, and I desperately hope she never gets a job in management, because I can see her camping next to the time clock with a butcher knife and announcing anyone who arrives five minutes late to the office loses a finger.
The benefit of Amanda acting like a raving nut job is that the other hamsters have someone to align against. Gina Marie thinks Amanda is psychotic. Spencer thinks her behavior is repulsive. Andy tells Spencer, Gina Marie and Judd that he's ready to cut ties with McCranda. Judd suggests they call their alliance the Exterminators. Poor Elissa can't even join the alliance that clearly shares her agenda, but I am excited about the Exterminators.
The irony, of course, is that McCranda will think that, if Andy survives, it's because of their influence and total domination of the game. In reality, the other hamsters are clearly making it their agenda to get them (or at least Amanda) out as soon as possible.
Pssst, live feed people? If Amanda wins the HoH, I'm not sure you should post in comments. Even though I want to know, I'm really not sure I could handle it.
Amanda tells Aaryn that she really wants to keep her, but, um, she won't. Still, Amanda cries. She tried so hard to help her! She adores Aaryn, more or less! She hugs Aaryn and tries to console her with fake empathy. Aaryn doesn't seem to mind, but then, Amanda isn't gay, African-American or Asian-American, so it's okay.
Soon, Aaryn is running around the house, trying to salvage her game. She talks to Spencer and Judd about her loyalty. She admits she was in the 3am alliance and throws Andy under the bus. Spencer and Judd aren't sold, as Andy has already promised them the world. A little too late, Aaryn!
Aaryn then decides to work on McCranda. She says Spencer is targeting them, so Amanda demands a confrontation with Spencer. Lounging on the sofa, she orders him to come over to her and tell her what's going on. All Amanda needs at this point is a crown and a scepter. Spencer denies, denies, denies, but Amanda is sure he's lying.
Back to Julie, who announces that season 10 winner Dan is in the house. Yay. I never liked Dan but he may have insight into what has made Amanda criminally insane.
Julie also shares the important information that the person who has the lowest score in the HoH competition will face a punishment -- wearing a chicken suit or a bunny suit for 48 hours. I wonder if Julie Chen ever reports to work, looks at the teleprompter, and wonders why she bothers.
Anyway, Dan shows up, looking like Dan. He thinks Amanda is one of the few people playing the game, though it's hard to watch. He also thinks that being mean is just who she is, and he thinks she's playing the game like a brat. Well put, Dan! He also explains that, as much as he backstabbed, he never made disgusting racial slurs, so his fellow housemates have forgiven him. It's interesting to hear Dan talk about what the game really requires -- emotional control, strategy -- and then see the full-out crazy parade that this season has become in comparison.
Also, Dan's a huge fan of Judd. Me, too.
Then, it's time for a montage of cuteness. Let's see all the showmances that survived! Amazingly, I think "Big Brother" has a better track record for lasting love than "The Bachelor." Rachel and Brendon are the first "Big Brother" marriage. Dani & Dominic from season 13 also just got married. Jeff and Jordan from seasons 11 and 13 have been together for four years now. Golly, it's like Match.com, and you get to cuddle overnight on the first date!
Time to grill the hamsters. Julie asks Amanda why she was such a bitch to Elissa. Amanda just shrugs and says Elissa pushed her buttons (read: existed) and says they've made up. Seriously? Elissa gives her version of events, which is basically rambling and a non-answer.
Time for the eviction vote! And meaningless speeches. Aaryn loves her family and her fellow hamsters. Andy makes up a quote by Abe Lincoln, who is not a native of Illinois even though Andy claims he is. Then, he swears his love for Anderson Cooper. Yeah, I think the hamsters have lost sight of the reason for these speeches. It's not Twitter, for crying out loud.
Judd votes to evict Aaryn
Spencer votes to evict Aaryn
Gina Marie weepily votes to evict Aaryn.
Amanda votes to evict Aaryn.
McCrae votes to evict Aaryn.
That's it, Aaryn's out. That means Julie Chen will be talking to the show's resident racist. The resident racist who made Asian-American slurs against Helen. What I want to know is whether or not Julie is going to tiptoe around Aaryn, fearing she may become so upset she'll head home instead of to the jury house, or if she'll call her out. I desperately hope Julie comes out with guns blazing. Aaryn will make excuses, of course, but I hope Julie doesn't let them stand.
When Aaryn walks out, she gets booed by the audience. This is promising.
Julie starts with easy questions. Why does she think McCranda kept Andy? Loyalty. Aaryn also says she told Gina Marie to vote with the group so she didn't get a target on her back. Julie thinks that was very nice of her. Oh, Julie. Don't be nice to Aaryn, even if she's seemingly been behaving herself lately.
Still, Julie isn't asking the hard questions. Why did she hate Elissa? Aaryn was hurt when Elissa didn't tell her she was Rachel's sister. Yeah, that's it. Julie doesn't argue with this, either.
Then, it happens. Julie says some of the things she said in the house seemed pretty darn racist. Did she not realize she was being filmed 24/7? Does she remember Amanda trying to tell her to take it down a notch? Aaryn's big, blue eyes widen just a smidge, and she replies that anything she said was just taken out of context. There is laughter in the audience.
For a lot of celebrities, any bad behavior is shoved under the carpet with this phrase. Magazines are bullied into printing retractions or apologies, reporters move on to the next item, sins are forgiven. But Aaryn is not a celebrity, and she is not getting a pass.
Julie coolly refers to her notes and reads some of the things Aaryn has said on the show. About Candice, Aaryn said she "might not be able to see the bitch" in the dark. To Helen, she said, "shut up, go make some rice." And her Andy comment? "No one's going to vote for whoever that queer puts up."
Aaryn blinks. A lot. She doesn't even remember saying that stuff! She loves Helen, Candice and Andy! People says crazy stuff in Texas! The audience is laughing like they're watching a sitcom. At this point, Aaryn must have an inkling that popular opinion is against her.
Julie turns down the heat for a moment to let Aaryn watch her goodbye messages, which are largely toothless except for Elissa's. But Elissa says only that she has nothing to say to Aaryn, which is classier than what Aaryn deserves, really.
Aaryn, realizing Julie has not shrugged off her racist comments, then tries to defend her raging racism. She just feels horrible about it! Julie looks at her calmly and doesn't slap her (which takes great restraint, if you ask me). Julie tells her that she has a unique opportunity to go home and watch hours and hours of footage of herself, and she thinks and hopes she has a new perspective when she sees it.
Julie doesn't tear Aaryn apart, but she pulls no punches. She approaches this exit interview calmly, dispassionately and covers the bases that need to be covered. It's not a lot to ask, but it so rarely happens that it's a huge relief.
This is just "Big Brother," of course. It's not like Julie's interviewing a Supreme Court justice or even Lady Gaga. There's no reason to handle Aaryn with kid gloves. But when a host or journalist doesn't just go to the default option of tossing puffballs, it's a relief. And if there was ever a time to call someone on the carpet, it was this houseguest. Aaryn and the other racists in the house did more to hurt this franchise and turn fans against this show than any other season's players. The only greater crime they could have committed was being boring.
Finally, it's time for the HoH competition, which is called Big Hopportunity. Lots of bunny ears, lots of
Easter eggs. It's all about hopping around and collecting eggs in a basket. Okay, any hamster could win this. Oh, their feet are tied together, so they really have to hop.
Oh, the loser has to wear a chicken suit. Next week is a double eviction. I'm sure it will be exciting. But I'm not sure it will really match tonight's episode for pure viewing satisfaction. Weirdly, a slice of summer fluff delivered a big wake-up call to one competitor (and possibly some viewers) that some behavior can't be excused away.
What did you think of Julie's interview with Aaryn? Do you think Amanda has lost her mind? Who do you think is going home?