Summer isn’t summer without a trip to CBS’s Big Brother house. This time around, the cast is made up of past houseguests for an iconic Big Brother: All-Stars season. It’s been nearly 15 years since the veteran reality TV series has launched an All-Stars iteration, so fans and past players have been clamoring a return to the format since the Old School years (no more half-trips this time – this is a full cast). Unfortunately, Week #1 of Big Brother: All-Stars was an uneventful round of players too scared to make a move due to fear of being the first one out.
You would think that a cast that included legends like Janelle, Daniele, Tyler, and Da’Vonne would be better versed in the structure of Big Brother. However, the first live week consisted of mostly secret large alliances, players constantly making bad reads of each other, and sloppy gameplay (which they should know better by now). As a fan, it’s frustrating that players who are considered “All-Stars” are making one bad move after another and lacking common sense. Sure, the status of COVID-19 put stress on casting this season and we should be grateful there is a season at all/a full cast, but the players need to smarten up or else they’ll get blindsided next. This is Big Brother: All-Stars; not their newbies seasons.
Based on the house dynamics of Week #1, Cody and Enzo set themselves into a great position. While it’s not The Brigade alliance of Big Brother 12 (i.e. a secret core four alliance with connections outside of the alliance), the two intersecting alliances they crafted seem strong and well-structured. No one is targeting Enzo or Cody, and even though others have barely spotted the different formations of their groups, no one has the numbers to topple them either way. From a viewer standpoint, this strategy is dull and boring! Large alliances steamroll the game and hold it hostage (like Big Brother 12 and Big Brother 16); we’re left waiting until the members turn on each other. However, from a player strategy standpoint, this is a smart move. Cody and Enzo did a good job, and players like Nicole Franzel, Daniele, Bayleigh, Memphis, Da’Vonne, and Tyler are benefiting from this makeup as well.
Da’Vonne, Christmas, Bayleigh, and David are doing better jobs this time than their previous seasons. Christmas is being more likable and forming connections with people who are bringing out a better side of her, so that’s a major win. Bayleigh has genuine friendships and people seem to want to work with her, including Tyler (which is shocking after Big Brother 20). Da’Vonne is one of the early frontrunners based on how well-connected she is with everyone; she has a good report with Cody’s side and the outsiders, like Janelle.
And David… he didn’t get the first boot this time, so he’s already doing much better than his first season. Though, David has to stop playing stupid about his Big Brother knowledge. The early moves gained him sympathy from others about not wanting to get him evicted first, but his continued ignorance has started costing him opportunities to form alliances. Houseguests are considering him a wild card, so he could either become a pawn or become an easy boot. David has the strategic potential; he just needs to put it into action in a way that doesn’t hinder his position in the house.
Daniele has emerged as a manipulative threat; she’s playing a “rat floater” strategy (i.e. manipulative and sharing information with everyone) that’s working in her favor. Cody, Nicole F., and Janelle have all entrusted her with secrets to the point that they think they can trust her. If she plays her cards right, she could slide to the jury phase. However, Daniele needs to be careful because she’s talking and spilling too much. Why are you sharing every secret Janelle tells you and giving it to Cody? Why are you trying to get players like Janelle, Bayleigh, Kaysar, and Da’Vonne nominated when they could work with you? It’s a lot of bad moves that will lead to long-term repercussions when she needs the votes.
That same fault has affected a few others in the house. For instance, Nicole Anthony’s reads on the house dynamics are awful. In what world are Janelle and Kaysar running the house when everyone else keeps saying bad things about them? Her spilling all her chats with Kaysar and Janelle to everyone will only put a target on her back. Kevin thought Tyler and Janelle orchestrated his nomination, but he didn’t place any blame on Cody at all. (You know… the Head of Household who nominated him.) And, everyone keeps thinking Janelle and Kaysar are running the house when they’re actually at the bottom and not involved in the plans. The sloppy gameplay and misreads are bountiful here.
Speaking of Janelle and Kaysar, they didn’t help their cases either. Sure, they walked in with huge targets based on their past legacies, but they need to build their connections and think carefully about their next moves. Everyone is looking to them as huge threats and talking points; Kaysar and Janelle are living rent-free on everyone’s minds. Janelle should limit what she says about Nicole F., and Kaysar should focus on his social strategy instead of declaring war. Janelle is the queen because she’s a challenge beast and speaks her mind, and Kaysar is a likable man who easily understands the game (his quick deduction of Cody’s strategy was masterful). But, without allies behind them, they’re sitting ducks if they get nominated soon. They’re lucky that they won the Safety Suite competition – one of them would’ve been evicted had it not been for it.
The competitions during Week #1 of Big Brother: All-Stars was a mixed pot of fun-yet-flawed games. The Power of Veto balancing challenge is a standard Big Brother game that frustrates the players, but it looks fun as a viewer. Plus, adding in riding the banana to restart the clocks was a cheeky twist! The Safety Suite DJ music-mix was a complicated game that would’ve been perfect as a POV game. However, it was the HOH competition that brought the games downhill for the round.
Firstly, did anyone else notice the unfair disadvantage the women were given with their ball puzzles? Both sets of women received the farthest options to roll to while the men were given close-to-middle options; it’s not surprising the women had hurdles to complete their challenge in time. Secondly, the star-hopping favored anyone who didn’t go first. Cody had an unfair advantage going after Memphis because he could see all the stars still spinning AND Julie Chen didn’t force him to wait until they stopped spinning (she enforced this afterward). Did no one playtest these games?
Based on the two nominees, Kevin did a better job of campaigning compared to Keesha; however, he made a lot of messy moves. Why did he have to cut-and-paste his strategy pitch? People talked and they easily deduced he offered the same deals to everyone; they made him look shady and expendable. Plus, his constant crying did him no favors for true lasting alliances. Just look to Nicole F.! She cried a lot and even her own alliance has gotten tired of the theatrics. Kevin could still play the middle for a while, but his actions have made himself into an easy pawn.
Keesha, on the other, didn’t try. Like, at all! Her campaigning was so bad that the houseguests didn’t even realize her light comments were her trying to campaign. Big Brother: All-Stars is a different world than Big Brother 10: the players are much more direct with their strategizing. If Keesha truly wanted to stay, she would’ve needed to start earlier and made deals with people to note vote them out or nominate them (and lie in the process). If it’s come to the point that Janelle is risking her game and campaigning harder for Keesha than Keesha is doing for herself, there’s nothing anyone could do. It’s a shame because a Keesha/Da’Vonne/Bayleigh/Daniele/Janelle/Nicole A. alliance would’ve been an epic girls’ alliance, and Keesha is a fan favorite. Her heart just wasn’t in it this time around.
Week #1 of Big Brother: All-Stars set the foundation and pieces for what the season could be. Some players are thriving in this world; however, the pieces are forming into a troubling picture. The worst-case scenario here is a potential steamroll; that no one eventually topples the two big alliances being formed. Though, that’s not to say Big Brother: All-Stars is terrible. In fact, there’s a lot of potential here!
Based on their original seasons, the overall cast is strong and could make this an exciting season. The house is beautiful; plenty of great nods to past houseguests and moments throughout the 22-season history. The Safety Suite is a great subtle twist that could send big ripples in the game (Kaysar winning changed everything this week – and I loved it!). Plus, the players are starting to notice the actions of the secret alliances and calling them out. There are some good pieces in the mix, but a messy first week isn’t a reassuring sign.