Big Brother 17 Week One: The Lay of the Land So Far

As we all know, one’s standing in the Big Brother house is all about relationships. And after about sixteen hours of feeds underway, it can be difficult to navigate where everyone stands and how well everyone is integrated socially.

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It’s still a bit of a struggle to decipher who is with whom and who is against whom, but I’ll do my best to lay out my thoughts on the house dynamics.

Feel free to chime in with yours in the comments section below.

Let’s start with the people who are in the worst position, socially speaking. For me, this is Jace and Austin. From the moment the feeds kicked off, the two were inseparable, constantly going into rooms alone or whispering in crowded rooms. While it’s become apparent that they have other ties, the two have isolated themselves somewhat and Jace has a decent chance of being backdoored this week as a result. It doesn’t help that they are both incredibly over-the-top and irritating, but they need to work on integrating better socially.

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At one point last night Jace said he didn’t want to speak to anyone. Good move, bro. They talk crap about others, particularly Jeff  who they dislike because of an argument that apparently spun from Austin and Jace making fun of his “dad bod” within earshot, which isn’t surprising since we heard them do that incessantly last night. They are clearly not savvy in terms of hiding their connection and keeping their feelings contained. It very well might be too late for Jace, as James is pretty sold on backdooring him, but Austin is generally will-liked and could make some waves if he lets Jace go without too much of a fight.

Onto the people that need to step it up, at least from my perspective: Liz, Vanessa, and John. Of course, these players may be doing more than meets the eye, but Vanessa spent the night crying about missing home and feeling that people were two-faced, never a great look. She’s a Have Not so I cut her some slack, but she needs to pull herself out of this funk if she wants to stick around for the long haul.

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Liz is somewhat in the Jace and Austin camp, and while others don’t dislike her, being associated with them isn’t good for her longevity. Much like in Big Brother 10, when Brian and his friends were all targeted, it could play out similarly here. And especialy with the desire to keep the twin twist going, Liz needs to play it cool if Jace is backdoored and make other inroads. She has ties, she just needs to be more aggressive in terms of game talk.

John, believe it or not is much lower key than expected. I’m not sure where he stands because we haven’t seen much of him. But he’s not anyone’s target and maybe if he keeps doing what he’s doing for a little while he’ll be alright. He was nominated earlier this week though, so perhaps he does need to be more socially active than what we’ve seen thus far.

Let’s talk about the people that are doing far too much now, and for me this is Steve, Audrey, and Jeff. These three are all doing different things that are making others uneasy, but they are letting paranoia and boredom force them to play the game harder than they should be.

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Steve, bless his heart, is socially awkward as can be. From hugging Vanessa thirty times last night to awkwardly breaking into conversations when he wasn’t wanted, he needs to contain his nervous energy. Easier said than done, but he’s been given some advice for how to creep people out less, as he does have people looking out for him. If nominations were to stay the same, he’d be in trouble, but if he survives the week, maybe not being on the block will do his social game a massive favor. Of course with Battle of the Block, it might not last long.

Yikes at Audrey’s game kind of falling apart, already. While she has her clear supporters in Meg, Clay, Shelli and James, there are a growing number of non-believers ready to pounce. Jace and Austin spoke of it last night, and today Da’Vonne, Jason, and Liz were a part of these conversations as well. She is playing this game hard. And she really needs to remember that Big Brother is a marathon, not a sprint. I think her past as an ORG player is going to hurt her, because she wants to make big moves and be a social operator, but too much is never a good thing.

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She goes from one group to another steering the conversation how she wants and pushing her agenda. I actually think she can be very charismatic and convincing but she needs to temper that with letting others feel important and not making it so obvious to those she’s not with that she doesn’t care about them. Da’Vonne called her the “Ronnie” and while I don’t see it like that exactly,  I understand the sentiment that she is playing a months worth of game in a week.

Jeff is kind of a strange case, he’s let paranoia and emotions run his game. He was already under a microscope coming into the game with Jackie, his Amazing Race partner, but he’s managed to not play it as well as she has. He let some personal conflict with Austin cloud his judgement, and something as basic as James sleeping downstairs drive him mad. It’s a very bad idea to say bad things about the current HoH before his reign is effectively over.

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Jeff could be a prime backdoor candidate if James wasn’t so adamant (and thankfully so) about taking out Jace. He should have time to calm his nerves and he needs to. He has a great connection with Meg who can help him immensely if he doesn’t let petty bullsh*t get in his way.

Let’s move onto a few wildcards for me: Becky and Shelli. I think they are similar in terms of personality so it sort of fits to talk about them both together. Becky is inherently social, but she can come off a bit bossy and domineering. That’s fine, as long as she knows how to temper it. I think she showed great conflict resolution skills last night when Jace confronted her about shushing him. He brought up that he felt she was after him, and she simply explained that it was a difference in personalities and accepted fault in her flaws. She knows herself and to be self-aware is important. If she can continue to recognize when she’s being too dominant, she could really extend her shelf life in this game, as a number of people want to work with her because she’s a good competitor.

Shelli is a harder nut to crack, she wasn’t really seen apart from more flirting and some game chatter with Clay, which I’ll be honest didn’t really interest me. But after hearing her conversation with Audrey today, I was pleasantly surprised to hear she has some game. It is apparent though that she has people who aren’t that into her, similar to Becky. Jace and Austin spoke of her not being as social with everyone and Da’Vonne wasn’t speaking highly of her former ally either. She needs to make sure she’s not just focusing on a select few and can spread her wings a little to make more connections that keep her around.

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The remaining houseguests are mostly playing great so far, but the ones with more apparent flaws for me are Da’Vonne, Clay, and Jason. Da’Vonne is well-situated, along with Jason, but there names have both been in the conversation in terms of people who could be targets down the line. There was some personal conflict between Clay and Da’Vonne, that isn’t completely resolved. Clay seemed more willing to move past it today, and Day seems to not be bothered by it either. The more I see of her and Jason, the more I like in terms of what they are doing. While they both talk quite a bit, they are being observant too, and their conversation about Audrey is a testament to that. I think these two are capable of sweet-talking if they find themselves in a precarious spot, they just might need to spend time smoothing things over with those they’ve alienated or been alienated by.

Clay is actually much more game-savvy than I ever would have expected, but somewhat like Shelli, he needs to not just focus on the same group of people. He’s spoken extensively with Meg, Shelli, Audrey, James and Jeff, and as far as the others go, they like him but don’t know where his head is at. And assuming he comes across as a decent competitor, that could be threatening down the line if he doesn’t bother to make connections with some of the others. He doesn’t need to be an Audrey, but he can try to make his intentions somewhat more clear.

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That brings us to the three people I feel are playing best at this moment: James, Jackie and Meg. I feel as though James is playing his HoH week perfectly so far. As a bonus, spending a night downstairs with the peasants so he doesn’t isolate himself, is a good move. Of course, it freaked some people out, because paranoia runs rampant, but that sort of humility will pay off for him. He’s not wavering from his initial plan even when presented with new information, and that’s something I admire. He had his mind set on taking out Jace, and while maybe there’s some personal bias in wanting to see that happen, I like that he’s not waffling on it at all.

Despite being nominated, Jackie is playing brilliantly. She’s keeping calm, much calmer than Steve, and just not making any waves. She is speaking to the right people (James in particular) in terms of making sure she is okay whether or not she comes off the block, and she has a few key ties that might pay off for her, particularly Becky who is competing in the Power of Veto and wouldn’t hesitate to take her off the block.  Liz and Austin like her, Audrey’s “side” likes her, she is covered on all fronts and while volunteering to be a pawn can be risky it could keep her off the block in the future if she continues playing it as well as she have.

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That leads to the houseguest whom I think is playing the best socially at the moment, and believe it or not, it’s Meg. She sort of has an infectious personality and while I did think she could have spent more time with some of the other “side” she is insulated by bigger targets, particularly Clay, Audrey. and Jeff. She is well-liked and unassuming, and for me she is positioned very well to go deep. There are certainly things she could be doing better, as is the case for every single one of them, but she is riding that perfect balance of having her head in the game without being obsessive about it like Jeff, Audrey, and Jace. If I had to put my money on someone right now, it would be her.

Alright, that covers it. I look forward to seeing how things evolve and take shape in the days and weeks to come. I’m very pleased with this cast and think we could be in for an explosive and exciting summer!