“Big Brother” recap (17.1-17.3): Meet the Contestants

Big Brother is watching you all over again! A new season is among us—#BB17 to be exact—and it’s the queerest season yet! If you’ve never tuned in, Big Brother is a reality game show where houseguests are isolated from the outside world and sent to a house where they are cut off from all forms of technology. Each week, they must compete to win competitions that will either make or break their mainstay in the house. The goal is to last as long as you possibly can (because the grand prize is $500,000, baby) and that requires a few major components: social game, physical game, mental game, keen observation skills, the ability to play multiple roles in a team, and best yet for our entertainment value—massive, constant scheming and lying.

Here in the BB House, cameras are always watching and recording you. Who you talk to, what you say, if you repeat it to someone else, whether you join an alliance, break someone’s trust, gossip, or sleep the entire time is up to you—but it will determine how far you make it. In this season, many of the contestants are self-declared BB superfans who claim to know the game like the back of their hands, so will that knowledge help or hurt them? Things aren’t always what they seem and the motto of the game is: To expect the unexpected. But here’s something you can expect: Three LGBTQ contestants who are adding plenty of flavor to this new season.

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In the season opener last Wednesday, we met our first BB group to enter the house. Host Julie Chen (affectionately known by superfans as Chen Bot) introduced us to: Audrey, Austin, Clay, Da’Vonne, Jace, James, Meg, and Shelli. As this first group settles in and begins to get to know one another, Audrey reveals she is the first transgender contestant to play on Big Brother. The houseguests are stunned, happy, excited, and generally show their support to Audrey by applauding her—but their faces suggest they’re a little shocked by the reveal. James seems the most dazed by the revelation, while Clay admits he’s never met a transgender person before and welcomes the new experience. Clay hides the fact that he’s a former football player for fear of putting a *target on his back. (If you aren’t used to Big Brother terminology, a handy footnote is waiting for you at the end of this recap!) Some guys who enter the BB house will flash their machismo to impress and intimidate—they can’t help but manifest a false sense of hierarchy so that the others recognize how they want to be seen. Other guys will avoid this at all costs because they know that a beefcake in Big Brother who gets too cocky will gain few supporters.

Da’Vonne also hides something: She’s a poker player IRL but tells the houseguests she’s a second grade teacher. She too feels like if she exposes her real job, she’ll have a target on her back for being a skilled bluffer. Austin is a big grizzly bear with loads of tattoos and a brain ready to go to work—but he’s about to make his first mistake: he’s buddied up with Jace, a surfer guy with a big personality who will surely rub everyone the wrong way. Clay and Shelli are scoping each other out because they recognize each other’s hotness, so a *showmance is bound to happen sooner than later. Pop the champagne, pick your bed, count the seats at the table, study your surroundings, and know that at any time, that doorbell could ring.

Speaking of, Julie Chen has a surprise for everyone. Their first competition starts right now. Someone will be crowned the first *HOH of the season. What’s an HOH, you ask? It’s the Head of the motherfucking Household. HOHs are power queens who live up in a pimp room on the second floor where they have ultimate control of the house. They are immune from going home for the week (and get loads of snacks, letters from loved ones back home, etc.) Getting cozy with an HOH is a smart move because your game is in their hands. As HOH you nominate two people for eviction and you can be dethroned when those nominees play in the *Battle of the Block.

In this first HOH comp, “Flying Tomatoes,” James won and was crowned the first HOH of the summer. But before the gang could shower off the tomato gunk, Julie Chen alerted everyone to the living room—she communicates via TV screen. This year will feature something entirely new: BB Takeovers. They happen each week, and we won’t know what they are until they’re happening. She doesn’t say anything else to the houseguests and reveals only to the audience watching that there’s another twist—a Twin Twist. It turns out one of the houseguests has an identical twin who can come and go as they please, swapping out with their twin already in the house to both play the game. Who could it be? That’s all for tonight, BBers.

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