'Big Brother' Season 23 premiere: Brandon "Frenchie" French wins Head of Household and turns down huge offer after 16 new houseguests are divided into teams
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/08/2021
Big Brother crowned the first Head of Household, Brandon "Frenchie" French, for the summer and featured Frenchie turning down a "double-or-nothing offer" that was supposedly too good to refuse during the Season 23 premiere episode that aired Wednesday night on CBS.
Big Brother's special 90-minute premiere also featured the 16 brand new houseguests moving into the house and host Julie Chen revealing the cast will be competing for a huge $750,000 grand prize this year.
The BB broadcast kicked off with Julie teasing how Season 23 will be all about big risk vs. big reward in which one wrong move or gamble could cost a houseguest everything.
Julie then welcomed the first four houseguests to move into the house dubbed "BB Beach Club" this summer.
Travis Long, a 22-year-old start-up tech sales consultant from Austin, TX who currently resides in Honolulu, HI, described himself as a well-educated businessman and "a hardcore people person." Travis said there's a lot more to him than just a laid-back, surfer-guy attitude.
Derek Frazier, a 29-year-old safety officer from Philadelphia, PA, said he planned to get to know each houseguest one-on-one in attempt to make everybody like him.
"I'm Black and I'm gay; I represent everything a Big Brother player should have," Derek F. said.
Frenchie, 34-year-old farmer from Camden, TN who currently resides in Clarksville, TN, called himself "a strategist" and said he's not a dumb farmer like many people might believe. He was also previously in the military.
And Xavier Prather, a 27-year-old attorney from Kalamazoo, MI who currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, was a former athlete who models on the side. Xavier said while he doesn't want to necessarily get involved in a showmance, he wouldn't mind flirting a little bit to get his way.
After the four men moved into the "BB Beach Club," it immediately became time for a "Kickoff Competition" in which the players were instructed to rearrange giant beach-vacation images on a stand so that, once in the correct sequence, they would match the original travel poster.
Julie explained the winner of the "Kickoff Competition" would immediately have the power to change the course of the game and also be eligible to compete for Head of Household later in the evening, which would guarantee his safety for the week.
Frenchie won the competition and would learn his reward a little later on.
The next four houseguests to move into the house were Azah Awasum, a 30-year-old director of sales operations from Baltimore, MD, whose family is from Africa. Azah grew up as a pastor's daughter and confessed she's "a tiny bit" boy-crazy but doesn't want a showmance.
Britini D'Angelo, a 24-year-old Kindergarten teacher from Niagara Falls, NY, was diagnosed with autism but became her college valedictorian and went on receive her Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. She's also a karate master!
Alyssa Lopez, a 24-year-old swimwear designer from Sarasota, FL, said she wears her emotions on her face but will probably have a great social game, and Whitney Williams, a 30-year-old makeup artist and business owner from Portland, OR, has been a single mom for five years and admitted she has "horrible taste in men."
Azah told the cameras she didn't want to win the first "Kickoff" competition and instead intended to target the winner.
Whitney won the competition, but eight more houseguests still had to move in -- including Kyland Young, a 29-year-old account executive from San Bernardino County, CA who currently resides in Venice Beach, CA, and volunteers for many nonprofit organizations.
Kyland said he's not easily defined and has African American as well as Mexican roots. He said he embraces "every corner of life" and "definitely doesn't fit in one box."
Christian Birkenberger, a 23-year-old general contractor assistant from Harwinton, CT, currently lives with his parents but said he's ready to leave. Christian revealed he's single and predicted a showmance would happen, especially because of his awesome hair.
"With my fun-loving and puppy attitude, people are going to underestimate me," Christian claimed.
Derek Xiao, a 24-year-old start-up founder from Baltimore, MD who currently resides in New York, NY, said he's extremely competitive, especially when he plays tennis, and his parents -- who hoped he'd become a doctor or lawyer -- weren't happy about him going on the show.
Brent Champagne, a 28-year-old flight attendant from Cranston, RI, shared how he loves to travel and experience new cultures. Brent, who boasts some charm, admitted he's very competitive and may have to tone that down or else he'd have a huge target on his back right away.
"I'm going to backstab with a smile, and they'll never see it coming," Brent bragged.
Christian won the "Kickoff Competition" out of the four guys, and then the final four women headed into "BB Beach Club."
Sarah Beth Steagall, a 27-year-old forensic scientist from Boiling Springs, SC who currently resides in Fort Myers, FL, said she loves designing costumes and knows how to stay strong under pressure. She predicted the houseguests would view her as sweet and non-threatening.
Hannah Chaddha, a 21-year-old graduate student from Chicago, IL, told the cameras she's good at fashion and loves going to school for her Master's.
Hannah, a proud Black and Indian woman, graduated college with a degree in Biological Science at the top of her class, but she planned to tell her fellow houseguests she's studying fashion so no one would overestimate her intelligence.
"I want to be evil in this game. I want blood to be up to [my neck] when I play," Hannah said.
Claire Rehfuss, a 25-year-old artificial intelligence engineer from Chagrin Falls, OH, who currently resides in New York, NY, gushed about possibly being in an all-female alliance. Claire told the cameras she is bisexual and open to finding love.
And finally, Tiffany Mitchell, a 40-year-old phlebotomist from Detroit, MI, is a single mom who claimed she knows how to "smell crap a mile away." Tiffany said she wasn't worried about being the oldest player in the game because she's incredibly strong and fit.
Before moving into the house, Tiffany declared how she's definitely a risk-taker.
The final champion of the "Kickoff Competition" was Claire.
Once all the houseguests met each other, Julie announced how they'd be playing the game in teams of four, which resulted in mixed reactions from the cast.
For winning the initial competition, Frenchie, Whitney, Christian and Claire became team captains and were afforded the chance to draft their teams based on first impressions only.
One at a time, a team captain would pull the handle of a slot machine, which would reveal two fellow houseguests.
The team captain must listen to very brief introduction videos of the two selected houseguests and then be forced to choose only one of them to join his or team. In the end, each of the four teams needed to have two women and two men.
Frenchie, team captain of "The Jokers," got to choose between Hannah and Azah, and he selected Azah.
Whitney, captain of "The Aces," chose Brent over Travis, and Christian, captain of "The Kings," opted to have Alyssa join his team over Tiffany.
Claire, captain of "The Queens," selected Kyland over Xavier.
In Round 2, Frenchie chose Britini over Sarah Beth, and Whitney selected Derek X. over Derek F. Christian then picked Xavier instead of Derek F., and Claire opted to have Tiffany join her team over Sarah Beth.
In the third round, Frenchie recruited Derek F. for his "Jokers" team and Whitney had Hannah join her "Aces" team over Sarah Beth. By default, Sarah Beth was sent to "The Kings" because of her gender and Travis joined "The Queens."
It then became time for the first Head of Household competition of Big Brother's 23rd season.
The four teams competed against each other and the team captain would become the first HoH of the summer. In addition, Julie said the entire winning team is rewarded because any time a team captain becomes HoH, his or her entire team is safe from eviction for the week.
The competition, dubbed "House of Cards," required the teams to successfully build a triangular house of cards on a platform.
However, the challenge was tricky because three team members had to balance the platform while the fourth team member attempted to build the structure.
And to make things a little more interesting, giant cards suspended above the players' heads would occasionally topple over into the houseguests' working space.
"I have some bad news for the last-place team. They will become Have Nots for the week. Have Nots must endure cold showers, eat only Big Brother slop and sleep in the most uncomfortable room in the house," Julie explained.
"The Jokers" team, led by Frenchie, finished the competition in first place, and so Frenchie became Big Brother's first HoH.
"The Queens" finished in second place, and "Aces" claimed third. "The Kings" therefore landed in last place and would become Have Nots for the week.
After the first HoH competition, Julie advised the houseguests to expect the unexpected.
Julie said things were about to change this summer, explaining, "In the past 21 years, the winner of Big Brother has received a life-changing half-million dollars for making it to the end. But not this summer. We're adding a quarter of a million dollars to the grand prize."
Julie therefore announced the winner of Big Brother's 23rd season will receive $750,000.
"However, there is another huge reward that could be handed out tonight," Julie continued.
Julie asked Frenchie to step forward and made him "a double-or-nothing offer." Frenchie and his whole team was guaranteed safety for the week, but Julie said Frenchie could take a gamble for a second week of safety.
All Frenchie needed to do to win a second week of safety was gently throw two giant dice and attempt to land them on a small table in front of him. Frenchie had 45 seconds to do it.
Julie clarified that a new HoH will be crowned next week but Frenchie and his entire team will still be safe if Frenchie successfully accomplishes the task.
"However, if you take the offer and fail, then you are no longer HoH," Julie revealed. "And you and your entire team can be nominated this week."
If this happened, Claire -- whose team finished in second place -- would become the new HoH and her whole team would be declared safe for this first week of competition.
Frenchie was given a few minutes to think about his options and whether he wanted to put everything on the line for two weeks of safety.
In the end, Frenchie decided not to take the risk or gamble away his status as HoH, even though Big Brother has never offered something like this to a houseguest before.