Riding Coattails: No, You Da HoH

Note: This column was written before Saturday’s veto competition and eviction with Janelle as HoH.

Thursday’s episode made me cringe. Based on the behavior of many of the house guests, Big Brother appeared to be some sort of reincarnation of The Breakfast Club gone horribly wrong, with Howie and Janelle taking on male/female versions of the venomous John Bender, April as pouty, weepy Claire, and Kaysar as Brian, the brainiac who gets left on the outside at the end of it all. The antics in the house this week were so reminiscent of high school that I halfway expected a cafeteria-style food fight (although if the players wasted their food, they’d be back to PB&J) and a wedgie ceremony (emceed, of course, by Mr. Evil himself, Howie).

I’m starting to wonder if Howie lied about his age in order to get into the Big Brother house. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, but perhaps Howie really is some overgrown child strung out on steroids and PB&J. I mean, look at the way he wears his baseball caps. Or the fact that he can’t seem to control his Tourette-like urges to whoop and scream when he gets his way. Of course, when Howie doesn’t get his way, he becomes downright abusive, especially in regard to his treatment of April.

While I can’t say that April is my favorite house guest (doesn’t seem too bright, denies having a nicotine addiction), I certainly don’t think she deserved the vicious personal attacks that Howie continued to sling at her this week. In particular, his nickname of her as “Busto,” which refers to her ample bosom, was completely out of line. In the past, I had criticized Michael for going too far with the sexual innuendos, but, as an astute reader pointed out to me, Howie may be worse. In any event, he’s certainly been in the house long enough to prove that he’s a total pig with a mammary obsession.

It would have been bad enough if Howie had contained his insults to April, but he had to go and criticize her “fat hubby” and “ugly dog,” Pepperoni, insinuating again and again that a dog with that name should be cut up and used as a pizza topping. I would imagine that with a name like that, April has heard such jokes before, but they were probably made in good fun. It might have been easy for April to dismiss those comments if Howie had made them only once, but he kept after her until she was reduced to crying and praying in the bathroom. Maybe I’m too much of a softie, but I felt bad for her.

And what up, Kaysar? I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that the man I voted to return to the house got shoved right back out the front door. I was particularly shocked that the other house guests unanimously voted to send him packing given Janelle’s appalling behavior. Not one vote for Ms. Polyester hair? I guess everyone really was aware of Kaysar’s brilliance and felt too threatened to give him a second chance.

Blondie, who, as I think Jennifer pointed out, has been incredibly lucky in this game, remains in the house after, oh, what is it now, her third nomination? That woman has impressive staying power, as well as a 50-mile mean streak. She couldn’t help but join in Howie’s fun, calling April and Beau gold digging bitches and practically getting into a drunken fist fight with the latter. I take back any previous compliments I may have dished out to Janelle. She clearly enjoys name-calling and getting people upset. And while I won’t be a hypocrite and deny that I like calling people names from time to time, too, I rarely do it face to face. Janelle may have grown up in Minnesota, but she certainly didn’t internalize the passive aggressive M.O. that most Midwesterners apply to interpersonal conflicts. We backstab all we want, but avoid confrontation at all costs. I’m not saying this is necessarily productive, mature behavior, but it was certainly what I expected from a girl born and bred in Grand Rapids. Janelle obviously doesn’t roll that way, which is probably why she high-tailed it out of Minnesota after she reached legal adulthood. Emotional adulthood, however, seems to be something she hasn’t arrived at yet.

Of course, the fact that Janelle won HoH was the cherry atop Thursday’s sundae of an episode. It would have been satisfying to see April get it and put Howie’s bubble butt up on the block, but I knew it was unlikely that she’d win. Speaking of which, did Janelle win the tie-breaker against Beau and April fair and square? When Julie Chen asked the remaining players how many light bulbs were part of one of the challenge sets, Janelle first held up 300 upside down. Julie pointed that out and instead of simply turning her answer around, Janelle wrote down 275 and showed that, thus winning the competition. The correct answer was 286 bulbs, but if Janelle had stuck to her original answer, she would have gone over and HoH would have been bestowed upon Beau, who guessed 175. Julie had stated that the person with the closest guess without going over would win, although she didn’t talk about any rules forbidding a player from changing his or her answer. Still, it just looked a little funny…

As has James for the last few episodes. So certain he was a goner because of Jennifer’s original plan to backdoor him, James started to get up during last Tuesday’s veto ceremony before Jen called Kaysar’s name. While he’s undoubtedly pleased by the turn of events, James also has to be feeling a little confused and friendless at this point. He said that the only person he trusts is Ivette, but she’s part of the “Friendship” group (whose name has kind of a lofty, Lord of the Rings feel to it, making it sound a lot more respectable than it actually is).

The Friendship certainly doesn’t want James around, but at the moment, card holders and eviction nominees Maggie and Jennifer have more pressing concerns, such as saving their own asses during the veto challenge. Janelle will almost certainly pick Howie to be her partner for that, while Maggie and Jen will have to pair up with Beau, Ivette, or April, all three of whom have been fairly weak in this challenges thus far. Things are not looking good for the Friendship, but things could turn around quickly when Janelle’s brief reign as HoH comes to an end. One can only be a diva for so long before the consequences kick in.

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