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Big Brother house experiences a surprise exit

By: Matthew Lutey

Boca Raton resident Joe “Pooch” Pucciarelli knew he’d be safe this week after becoming the “backstage boss” last week on the Season 24 premiere of the CBS reality show Big Brother.

What he couldn’t prepare for was a houseguest leaving the game unexpectedly, which is what happened to 22-year-old interior designer Paloma Agular. 

Big Brother has two elements: three televised episodes a week and the 24/7 live feeds where viewers can keep track of the houseguests online. However the feeds were down for an extended period late Wednesday and all day before Thursday’s episode, leading to speculation something out of the ordinary happened. 

Thursday’s episode showed clips of Paloma experiencing anxiety and not getting sleep. She decided to leave the game for personal reasons, and the houseguests found out via a note. Her decision led to an emotional response from the houseguests who were worried about her health. It also threw a week’s worth of gameplay into limbo. 

The objective of Big Brother is to be the last houseguest remaining, which results in a $750,000 prize. Houseguests are cut off from the outside world, followed by cameras and vie for power to be the Head of Household and nominate players they would like to see eliminated. A weekly vote is conducted to evict one of the nominated houseguests. 

Further complicating matters was that Paloma was involved in the backstage twist, which was not fully explained until Thursday night by host Julie Chen Moonves. As the backstage boss, Pooch chose Paloma, Alyssa Snider, a 24-year old marketing rep, and Brittany Hoopes, a 32-year-old hypnotherapist, to join him “backstage.” 

It was explained earlier that no one backstage could be nominated for eviction, play in the Power of Veto competition, be chosen as a replacement nominee if the veto was used or vote in the first eviction. But unlike Pooch, Paloma, Alyssa and Brittany were not fully safe.

How those three weren’t safe was still unknown as of Thursday. Chen Moonves announced that the original plan was to have one of the two nominated houseguests battle one of the players that was backstage, and the loser of the battle would be the first one evicted. However, since Paloma left, that plan was scrapped; no one else went home, and the week reset. 

Sunday’s episode showed that Pooch was cognizant he selected all girls to go backstage as he was talking to Monte Taylor, Kyle Capener and Joseph Abdin soon after all the houseguests entered the house for the first time. Pooch was banking on avoiding repercussions since his selections were based on who did poorly in the first competition.

“I’m playing the game like I’m coaching, I’m keeping it fair,” Pooch said in one of the show’s diary room sessions, when contestants can speak in private to the viewers. 

It didn’t seem like Pooch received direct backlash for his backstage picks, but selecting three women, along with the self-proclaimed “bros” quickly bonding, may have indirectly led to the formation of a women’s alliance of six known as the “girls’ girls.” 

Thursday’s episode showed Pooch briefly getting into an alliance with Alyssa, Paloma, Monte, Kyle and Ameerah Jones, but Pooch was unknowingly replaced in the alliance by Michael Bruner, a 28-year-old attorney. 

“I think Pooch long term might rub people the wrong way,” Kyle told Paloma and Monte, and opted for Michael to join their alliance because, according to them, he keeps a lower profile.

Before Paloma’s surprise exit, a normal week of Big Brother played out. Head of Household Daniel Durstson, a 35-year-old Elvis impersonator, nominated Michael and Terrance Higgins, a 48-year-old city bus operator, for eviction.

Micahel won the Power of Veto competition on Wednesday’s episode. He used that power to take himself off the block and Daniel replaced him with Taylor Hale, a 27-year-old personal stylist. 

Taylor immediately rubbed some of the houseguests the wrong way by saying she was a pageant queen and spending more time with the guys in the house than the girls. She was likely the house’s target to be voted out, but will now advance at least another week. 

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