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 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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BIG BROTHER PHOTOCAP: Is Amanda The Stalin to Aaryn’s Hitler?


Hey, remember those days on Big Brother when we hated Aaryn but liked Amanda, mainly because Amanda stepped up to Aaryn and called her out for being a racist? Seems like forever ago because nowadays, we’re hating Amanda just as much as Aaryn. It kind of got me thinking: is Amanda the Stalin to Aaryn’s Hitler? Think about it. Back in the thick of World War II, everyone hated Hitler (obvi) to the point where it made other assholes look like cool dudes. Stalin was our friend. But then as Hitler lost power, we came to realize that Stalin was an utter tyrant and killer and evil dude, and the only reason we liked him in the first place was because the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Well, I’m starting to think that Amanda may be following a rather Stalin-esque arc of public perception. All this time that we thought she was so funny and outspoken, but the truth is that she’s ready to send everyone to the Big Brother gulag. And if I were McCrae, I’d sleep with one eye open. We all remember what happened to Trotsky…

Anyway, with Howard out of the house, Amanda had to set her sights on a new enemy, and this time it was Jessie, who complained about being excluded from a backyard BBQ that Helen had won during the HOH competition. Granted, Jessie was whining like a spoiled brat, but I still found myself rooting for her when she eventually locked horns with Amanda, who had no tolerance for Jessie’s gripes. Ultimately I was pretty impressed with Jessie during the argument whereas Amanda’s growing cockiness and self-righteousness is continuing to grate me. I guess I have a thing for bullies who act like they’re the ones being bullied, and that’s pretty much what Amanda did. Not cool. Classic Stalin.

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BIG BROTHER PHOTOCAP: Once You Vote Black, You Never Go Back


Well, another week has come and gone in the Big Brother house, and Head of Household Aaryn has managed to live up to expectations: she dropped a few questionable bon mots (that whole “axed” thing with the Cheez-Its) and of course managed to put the two black people in the house on the block. Admittedly, I honestly don’t think that Candice and Howard were nominated due to racial bias (at least not overtly), but then again, when one looks at why Candice and Howard were forced together as a duo in the first place, the picture becomes murkier.

Yes, the summer of racism has certainly been an intriguing one, and joining Aaryn on the list of terrible people has been Amanda — a fan favorite just two weeks ago. Amanda has been leading a witch hunt against Howard that has at times seemed totally nonsensical. She’s clearly become the power player in the house (along with Helen), but unlike the latter lady, Amanda has shown a brash, brutish side — to the point where I think most of America probably didn’t mind when Spencer told her to simply SHUT THE HELL UP. Normally, we’d be crying “misogyny!” especially since Spencer is, you know, a misogynist, but it’s amazing what context will do for a guy. There’s something great about hearing a bully like Amanda being told to shut up (especially after SHE pulls the “You’re bullying me” card). Never mind that she’s been saying more and more racist and homophobic things on the live feeds these days.

Nevertheless, Spencer tried to help his buddy Howard by rallying troops against Amanda and McCrae, but as usual, he placed trust in the wrong people (seriously, everyone in The Moving Company is an idiot), and naturally Andy went and told Amanda that Spencer was trying to target her. When she later confronted him, Spencer lied and said Candice was his target, and of course Helen overheard this and told Candice. Unfortunately, Candice isn’t always the smartest player. Yes, she sniffed out The Moving Company, but she’s also halfway insane. Rather than consider the idea that Helen might be playing her, Candice stomped out in to the backyard and called out Spencer, one of her few allies. At that point, it was clear there’d be no saving poor Howard. Indeed, the racists finally won, and the meek muscleman was sent packing. Aw.

To the photocap! Continue reading