Luckily (or not, depending on your view of your premiere), that didn't work, and the show kicked off properly last night (though it's been running for a little while on the website already). But did it manage to prove that it was something more than just a Big Brother lookalike?
Largely, yes. The impressive-sounding voiceover kicked things off by proudly describing this as "the show they didn't want you to see" - without explaining why - but on first impressions it was hard to see quite how ABC would be able to get away with this. There was a hot tub, some overexcited contestants, a similar-looking house (glass walls and amazing entrance tubes aside) and people insisting they won't be fake.
That said, The Glass House also introduced some intriguing enough changes to the format, largely that the viewers are influential throughout the entire competition. If anything, that makes it closer to the UK version of Big Brother, where viewers get to choose who stays and who goes, but The Glass House takes it to a completely new level.
It seems like everything is decided by the viewers - which rooms people sleep in (which will apparently change weekly), which teams people are on, even which party accessories they receive. But one of the most intriguing aspects of the premiere episode came when the contestants received answers to questions they'd posed the viewers.
Some of the questions were frankly bizarre - cocktail waitress Erica was keen to know whether Arie was still on The Bachelorette, while poet and figure-of-endless-calm Apollo wanted to know if people had smiled today - but there were also some strategic moments too, as Gene asked whether he should align with men or women, and Alex asked the biggest gamechanger of all: "Should I turn into the most epic villain in reality television history?" Unsurprisingly, the viewers voted yes.
Alex is certainly one of the most intriguing contestants in The Glass House right now; the first one in, he was immediately infuriating his fellow contestants with his inappropriate comments and attempts to hit on pretty much all of the women (and if he doesn't stop referring to himself as "Primetime 99 Alex Stein", there may be remotes flung through television screens across the land.)
But when he received word from the viewers that they wanted him to be a villain, he stepped it up another notch. Whether he was comparing Joy to a prostitute, questioning Andrea about her religion or telling not-overweight Erica that she's fat, Alex suddenly became properly nasty (and seemed to revel in it, laughing his head off.) Even Robin, who's taken on the role of house mum, didn't seem to be able to stop him.
The question is whether Alex has peaked too soon - viewers may think they want a villain, but do they really? And can he keep it up? Hearing him describe Erica - who seems quite lovely and harmless - as a "fat cow" will probably get old pretty quickly, so Alex is going to have to come up with something new if he wants to keep this schtick going.
Of course, he may not get the opportunity - after Team West lost the first challenge (possibly thanks to Alex forcing Jacob to become team captain and then shouting all over everybody as they tried to complete it), and Alex began his campaign of cruelty, it wasn't a surprise that he found himself going into "limbo" with Jacob. In fact, it's perhaps more of a surprise it wasn't unanimous (Erica picked up one vote and Ashley two, one from Alex and one as a result of Apollo's random voting procedure, which is based on people picking cards.)
Jacob quit the show shortly after getting into limbo, disappointingly, but ABC to their credit didn't blink - instead, the vote became a referendum on Alex. Should he stay or should he go?
Putting the trust in the viewers is a big leap on ABC's part, as if the people watching don't rate Alex's tactics, they could be about to lose one of their biggest characters in the very first week (when Joy said she was a person of character and Alex replied that he's the only character in the house, while he was being annoying, he wasn't entirely wrong). On the other hand, it is intriguing to wonder what the public will decide, and it's almost enough to hook you back in.
In other words, though there are tactics being discussed and alliances already forming, it's difficult to accuse The Glass House of being Big Brother in everything but name - the audience interaction seems enough to make a real difference, and after all, it's not like there aren't a tonne of very similar-seeming singing shows out there.
For the moment, The Glass House is a reasonably entertaining prospect, but all of that depends on the decisions the viewers make over the next few months. And for ABC, that's probably scarier than any lawsuit.
Glass House Gossip
- Alright, who is it that Alex reminds me of? It's a television actor who may have been in some kind of sitcom or Life Unexpected-style drama, but it's bugging the hell out of me.
- Call me easily pleased, but those entrance-exit tubes are kind of cool.
- So is the weird voting system, which sees the contestants making shooting or smashing gestures with their hands.
- As a first challenge, that puzzle looked great but wasn't the most exciting thing I've ever watched (most of the entertainment came from Team West yelling over each other.) Hopefully the producers have some more interesting tasks planned for future episodes.
- "At least we're all starting off with hugs, right?" Oh, Joy.
- Mike is 48 and thinks this is his "last hurrah". Surely he's got a few more years in him than that?
- Gene gets Alex sussed quickly: "My Tool-O-Meter exponentially went off."
- The creepy female robot voice that speaks to the contestants is super unsettling. Especially when it said Jacob was going to limbo and added: "So sad."
- Jacob doesn't know his home state of Oregon is in the West. "We discovered who the moron was," Mike sighs.
- Apollo announces that he's going to choose who to vote for each week randomly. The shocked faces are something else.
- Robin on Joy's sexual nature: "She's not a black or white girl - she's a Fifty Shades of Grey girl."
The Glass House continues online at www.abc.com/theglasshouse and on TV Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.