BANTER BLENDER #94: Catching up with Big Brother 15 Winner Andy Herren

It’s “Big Brother” season, and what better way to kick off the latest edition than by interviewing last year’s winner? Join Ben Mandelker ( as he welcomes Andy Herren ( to The Banter Blender to discuss all things BB: life in the house, life outside the house, relationships with other cast members, thoughts on the new ones.

It’s a Big Brother lovefest! Come listen!

And remember to follow Ben on Instagram ( and Twitter (

Oh and don’t forget: use the promo code “banter295” on checkout with to get a new dotcom or transfer for just $2.95. It’s an amazing deal (and the perfect price to start up a Big Brother fan page, right?).

You can also just use this link:


Big Brother 16 Cast Preview!

Well, it’s that time of year again. The air is warm, the birds are chirping, and the days are getting longer (although, technically they’re getting shorter now, which is the exact opposite of what I said, but what’s life without contradictions?). What I’m trying to say is that it’s Big Brother season, and I derive no greater joy than doing my annual cast preview.

For those of you who are new to the process, this is a time when I scrutinize the new cast bios and draw superficial conclusions, often based on very little and at times my own projected insecurities. I use nothing but the photos and the written info (I don’t have time to watch all the videos) and attempt to paint a vivid story about each person. It’s a hit or miss process, and while I’ve definitely missed the mark egregiously, I’ve also nailed it a few times too. I’m still patting myself on the back for stating last year about Aaryn, “I have a simple rule: never trust anyone whose name is an anagram for ARYAN (or Hitler, for that matter).” BOOM.

After the jump, check out my flash impressions (and then feel free to come back at the end of the season and laugh at me):

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BIG BROTHER PHOTOCAP: The Last BB Photocap of the Year (Sniff Sniff)


Well, another season of Big Brother is in the can. There was plenty of controversy to be had, but overall, I’d say this was the strongest showing in several years. We had great enemies in Amanda and Aaryn, decent heroes in Elissa and Howard, and plenty of stupid arguments involving wine, mattresses, and bathing suits. Honestly, who could want anything more?

After the jump, check out the last Big Brother photocap of the season. SADDDDD!!

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BIG BROTHER PHOTOCAP: They’re Gonna Take You By Surprise and Make You Realize, Amanda.


First off, huge apologies. I have been busy with work and traveling and all sorts of nonsense over the past week and have barely been able to post about Big Brother, which is a shame because the season has come BACK to life. Ever since Helen’s ouster, things in the house have been perfectly crazy. We saw Elissa come into power, Amanda lose her grip, and Aaryn head out the door. New alliances formed, Andy finally came to his sense, and the McCranda rule fully dissolved. It’s been wonderful and all culminated with Sunday’s show, which was primarily dedicated to Amanda’s blindside nomination at the hands of GinaMarie.

For the first time that I can remember, the producers didn’t even bother creating any misdireciton over possible nominees. We learned pretty much right off the bat that Amanda and McCray were going up on the block, and yet even with that predictable outcome, this proved to be one of the most suspenseful episodes of the season. Why? Because we all knew that Amanda’s reaction would be PRICELESS. And it was. Sure enough, the spoiled lady brat cried her way through the ceremony after receiving the blindside of the season (even more so than Judd’s initial ouster).

Yes, Amanda thought she was not only safe but that she was also running the house. That’s why she spent a majority of her time bullying Elissa around (and then subsequently declaring that it was she who had been bullied). Amanda also made sure to kiss plenty of HOH GinaMarie’s ass, which was amusing for a) her transparency, and b) her lack of irony later when she bashed Elissa for doing the same thing. Ah, but God bless Elissa. The last time we saw someone so blissfully foil a bully was Jen Johnson on season 8, who stymied Evil Dick with her oddly unflappable demeanor (until, of course, she snapped). Elissa has mastered the art of the bully defense — something that school kids around the world should learn: she just laughs. And laughs. And laughs. And sometimes snorts out water. Everytime Amanda says something outrageous, Elissa just turns away and smiles. This is how you treat a bully, people.

Don’t get me wrong, Elissa is not innocent. She knows how to hurl a passive aggressive barb. But they’re all so richly deserved that we give her a pass. Can’t wait to see how this week shakes out… On to the photocap! Continue reading

BIG BROTHER PHOTOCAP: Will the Mom Squad Survive This Week in One Piece?


So this has turned into one of THOSE seasons. Big Brother 15 has become one of the single-most frustrating shows on TV this summer, thanks to a cast that seems blindly happy to follow in the path of a fearsome duo. This happens to the best of reality shows — lest we forget Boston Rob and Amber on Survivor: All Stars? — and it’s never fun to watch. Amanda and McCrae have created an illusion of power, and much like the great dictatorships and tyrannies of the past, it could all come crumbling down if the masses realized all that’s required is for them to rise up and say no. Just say no, people.

Instead, we have Aaryn trembling in her cowboy boots, afraid to nominate Amanda. She’d rather just go with the plan instead of shake up the house. I know some people have not appreciated my jokes comparing Aaryn to the Aryan Nation, but she makes it increasingly difficult not to, especially when her main line of defense seems to be “I’m just following orders.”

Anyway, Helen looks royally screwed, but hopefully tonight’s twist will save her. I guess we’ll see…

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Jessie Kowalski was annoying, whiney, and a glutton for attention, but she was also one of the few hopes we the viewers had left for this season of Big Brother. That’s because Jessie recognized the threat of Amanda and McCrae earlier than anyone else in the house and was perhaps the only person left with the power to do anything about it. Unfortunately, Jessie (and Candace before her) didn’t have the social game to pull off a big move the past few weeks, and now we’re looking a household with Amanda and McCrae happily calling all the shots without any meaningful opposition in sight. Sure, Helen tried to get them on the block, but stupidly she put her faith in Andy, who has been blindly sailing along with McCranda (even though neither of them will ever take him to the the final two). I still don’t know why Helen was reluctant to make a power move a week and a half ago when Amanda was on the block — her only excuse then was that keeping the larger target of Amanda in the house was beneficial to her, but even that I don’t fully buy.

Nevertheless, Helen has incurred the wrath of 3 AM, and with Aaryn back in control, I can’t imagine things shaking out very well for her. She simply does not have the numbers to save herself this week should she be nominated or backdoored. We’ve seen crazier things happen, but I think Helen’s luck is about to run out. Of course, there’s this whole returning juror twist that Julie has promised us, and that could lead to some excitement, but even then I think Amanda and McCrae will have a cakewalk to the end. I’m just shocked that it’s taken Helen so long to realize Andy wasn’t on her side. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Photocap after the jump…

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THE TV CLIQUE: Big Brother – Week 8 In Review

Need your weekly dose of Big Brother analysis? Check out the video above to see Matt Whitfield (Yahoo!), Ronnie Karam (, and me analyzing everything we can remember from this week of BB. It’s lots of fun with NSFW language and plenty of wailing GinaMarie impersonations. Fun times!

And remember you can subscribe to our YouTube channel by simply clicking here.

Don’t have an hour to spend in front of YouTube? Then download the audio podcast here or check out our new Two Minute Drill after the jump…

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BIG BROTHER PHOTOCAP: Andy Proceeds Gingerly


So much has happened in the Big Brother house, and yet… nothing has happened at all. The people in power remain in power, the targets remain the targets, and as far as I can tell, despite the chaos of a double eviction and backdoor blindside (bye Judd!), we’ve still got a double barrel aimed at Jessie and Spencer and not Amanda and McCrae, where it belongs (metaphorically speaking, of course). Helen did try to sway new HOH Andy to nominate the loathsome duo, but little did she realize that he’s oddly loyal to them, and therefore he nominated JesSpencer (see what I did there?) for eviciton for the umpteenth time. This made me livid, but at the same time, Helen had her chance last week to oust Amanda, and she was entirely too cautious about it. Make your moves when you can, woman!

My only fear is that Andy will now tell McCranda about Helen’s intentions, and soon their wrath will be upon her. I won’t have it! Yes, Helen is aggressively phony (her whole spiel to Aaryn about being the next Janelle nearly made me puke — actually, it did. I got a stomach flu later that night and spent hours over my toilet spewing all sorts of unpleasant things). But nevertheless, Helen’s got a brain, and that’s more than I can say about most of the people in this house.

Anyway, on to the photocap…

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BIG BROTHER PHOTOCAP: Amanda Goes To The Dark Side


Wow. What an episode. I’m loving season fifteen of Big Brother, even if its contestants tend to be heinous specimens of humanity. I could go on at length about last night’s excellent episode, but why bother when my friend Louis Virtel has so expertly spelled it all out at The Backlot. Read his coverage for the analysis, and when you’re done, come back here for the photocap, which is located conveniently after the jump!

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