Things get really weird

Episode 43 (Tuesday, Aug. 29): Brittany makes Josh squirm, Cassandra gets livid and George says "water" from his "hose" makes womens' breasts grow.

By Jeff Stark - Bill Wyman - Carina Chocano
Published August 30, 2000 7:50PM (EDT)

Never has the creepy announcer voice been so thick with anticipation as in the first few seconds of Tuesday night's episode. "Josh and Brittany," he murmurs, "are about to get serious."

We feel the urge to take a shower, but we have to stay tuned for the seriousness. The Moptop and the Orgasmatron are in bed in the dark as others slumber. There is rustling and stroking and snuggling and almost a kiss -- and then Brittany gets up.

"I want to talk to you," she announces to a shocked and disbelieving nation. "Let's go outside."

You can almost hear the piteous wails rising from Endemol productions. Actual filmable hamster sex seemed at hand, and here's that Brittany screwing things up gain.

They sit on the ground on the patio. Josh remains calm. His teeth are ground to powder, but he's calm.

"OK, clearly I want to kiss you, that's obvious from the fact that we almost just kissed?" Brittany begins in Minneapolitese, clearly on to something lengthy. "That means ..." Pause. Josh taps his foot.

"This is the thing, I was thinking aboat it. It's like, OK ..."

Tap, tap, tap.

"I really want to kiss you really bad? And I want all that stuff, you knoo?" Tap, tap. "But I don't want it to be because you've been stuck in a house and haven't gotten any in two months."

We know what Josh is thinking. He's thinking it's just like that Meat Loaf song where the couple's making out in the car and are about to have sex and the woman yells, "Stop right there!"

This is not a happy thought. We fear/hope Josh's head will explode right then and there, but Mr. Torso manages -- perhaps by visualizing himself in a similar situation with someone he actually finds attractive -- to stay calm and feign "coolness with it."

Visualizing. Visualizing. Visualizing.

Brittany, meanwhile, seems to think they'd be having this conversation if Josh weren't just now being held captive by his dreams of millionairedom. And the fact that memories of Jordan are now fading. Denial is truly a soft, pillowy thing.

"And, like, I want to feel that I'm special. Like, if I made out with anyone I'd want them to feel like they were really lucky to be with me ... I don't wanna be with someone that's just like ... "

Isn't being the first American girl to get laid -- much less lose her virginity -- virtually live on national TV special enough?

Mercifully, before Brittany can perpetrate any more crimes against meaningless recreational sex and trigger a spate of painful flashbacks in frat boys everywhere, Josh interrupts.

"Uh, let me tell you how I feel. The reason I don't want to kiss you is because is because I like you so much."

Episode 43, continued

A stunning riposte! But can Fern-head take a laser-guided clue? No, frustrated viewers, she cannot not! This little booger will not be flicked!

"I just don't want it to happen in a bed."

"Me -- neither."

"It's just so cheesy!"

"I know. That's why you'll go back to your bed, and I'll go back to my bed."

And then in an instant, we're back to watching Brittany play with hair-dye. She opts for a funereal black, to symbolize the death of love.

Then it's time for a little one-on-one with Eddie in the Red Room. The producers are trying to dig up dirt on what the residents think about Jamie having blown off her mom to spend two minutes gratuitously touching a casting director in the Red Room.

He concedes that his own mom would kill him for the same deed. But "I think Jamie's mom is very, very supportive of her," he says stiffly. "And I believe that Jamie's mom is glad with the decision Jamie made."

Sure, she is. But what "Big Brother" wants -- what "Big Brother" is begging for, is a little bitchiness, a little back-stabbing.

They thought Eddie would at least be good for some old-fashioned filial outrage. They were wrong.

So: The houseguests are given questionnaires designed to reveal their opinions of each other. Who's the smartest, most messy, wishy-washiest. They have 15 minutes to fill them out.

Curtis, springing into action at the sight of paper, falls upon the form and dutifully starts writing.

But the others aren't so quick to hop to.

"I can't believe they're asking us this," Jamie says.

She thinks the questionnaire will be used to hurt people's feelings. Cassandra doesn't see how it can be useful. Jamie wonders what "they" will do if they refuse to fill it. George observes that "there are some very loaded questions in that one." Brittany wonders if she should put herself down for "most cowardly, wishy-washy and uninspired."

For once, we think Brittany is on to something.

Jamie briefly considers barbecuing the questionnaires. Her lip quivers. We know what she's thinking.

Mean people are not nice.

But she then obediently hands in her quiz, cracking under the pressure of no pressure.

Eddie says: "The last one's good though, it's got some balls."

No one else seems up for balls, though.

Cassandra's steaming mad.

"I've had enough!" she says to the Red Room man.

In honor of this rare glimpse of backbone, we are treated to both sides of the conversation.

"Hi, Cassandra, what's up?"

"Hi. Nothing. I've had enough now. I'm not gonna fill out the questionnaire, so you know, I'm ready to leave the show. Because I'm not going to do any more of this kind of stuff."

"But Cassandra," the Red Room man tsk-tsks, "you knew from the beginning that 'Big Brother' had to do with honesty --"

(And oh! How we laughed!)

"-- had to do with honesty -- with people sort of challenging each other and bringing honest feelings to the table. That's the essential aspect of what this show is."

Then, in a bizarre Dickensian twist, Red Room man shows a clip of conversations past -- conversations in which Cassandra could have had it out with somebody but didn't. Like the time Eddie said he didn't think racism was that much of a problem in America anymore. Cassandra didn't say anything.

"You know that as the only black in this house," she says, "I cannot push discussions about race. And you know that this week the public is voting on us. And I do not want to be out there three times this week talking about race. "

Cassandra returns to the Ikea showroom a broken woman. Something sinister is afoot. They must have told her about the ratings, because the fightin' Cassandra that entered the Red Room emerged a morose "Big Brother" mouthpiece.

Episode 43, continued

"I guess their position," she tells the others, "is just that these things are just meant to elicit some deeper interactions between us and encourage us to get to know each other a little better.

Curt throws his head back and whinnies.

"They feel that we're being very superficial in our daily lives," Cassandra continues. "I think that our failing as a group is that we're happy-go-lucky and that it's like summer camp."

You know, we don't like the "Big Brother" producers much, but that is as succinct an analysis of the problems with "Big Brother" as we've heard recently.

"Gosh," Brittany says. "I don't think I'm any deeper."

This, too, is putting a finger on the problem.

Then "Big Brother" does the strangest thing.

The producers divide the houseguests into teams and challenge them to guess who won in each category. But for the most part they show only the cute, fun harmless questions.

Most brave: Cassandra, Josh and Eddie

Neatest: Josh

Longest in bathroom: Cassandra

Funniest: Brittany

Smartest: Curtis.

Most attractive: Josh

Most loyal: Jamie

Most two-faced: Jamie

Does the least chores: Who cares?

So the whole point was to get one dig at Jamie? Someone at "Big Brother" must be mad because she didn't gratuitously touch them.

It makes us wonder if there's more to Eddie's Red Room observation than just Vichy-style collaboration when he says: "This is one of the many tasks that 'Big Brother' asks of us," he says. "You're foolish if you even think twice about not complying with it."

Then he hints at fallout from the really mean questions -- none of which we saw.

"Quitcher bitchin'," he advises, "and do what you have to do."

That's our motto, too, as we face another month of "Big Brother" recaps.

For all the faults of "Survivor," the producers of that show managed to come up with a compelling cast of characters. Some were definite stars. We see one or another "Survivor" castaway on TV every time we turn the damn thing on. The "Big Brother" hamsters, having seen a bit of their bigger, more popular and better-liked TV cousin, speculate from time to time on their post-show opportunities.

The episode ends with another psychotic break from George. He is dressed up again, this time as Karen. Only she's sexy and Southern.

He's got a bottle of what he calls his "hose water." He has some tin cans, it looks like, under his shirt, serving as breasts. He says "water" from his "hose" helps his breasts grow -- and can work for other woman as well.

"If you'd like a set of these babies, keep George in the house."

Yeah, those post "Big Brother" opportunities are going to be amazing.


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Jeff Stark

Jeff Stark is the associate editor of Salon Arts and Entertainment.

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Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman is the former arts editor of Salon and National Public Radio.

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Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

MORE FROM Carina Chocano

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