Welcome folks to our third week of Big Brother Analysis for Season 10. This weekly article is not a recap of the episodes, live feeds, BBAD or any other “play by play” of the action, but rather a discussion about the show and its wacky characters. Unlike pretty much every other reality show, success or failure on Big Brother is almost always a result of interpersonal relationships between the houseguests as it is really just a “popularity contest” or is often the case, an unpopularity contest. Each week we’ll look at different strategies houseguests are using in their “social game,” evaluate its effectiveness in the house, and sometimes ponder how that strategy would work in real life.
This week’s article is about romantic (or perhaps not) hook-ups occurring in the Big Brother house. We’ll focus on this season’s first couple, Ollie and April, as well as couples from past seasons to see just how well being half of a show-based couple has worked out for contestants in prior seasons.
Season one had no hook-ups because it was brand new to American tv and Chicken George was in the house almost the whole season. A pudgy, balding, middle-aged man dying his hair weird colors and talking to the chickens, yup, that’s a mood killer. The producers were disappointed by the lack of hooking up in season one and started stacking the house with more younger, attractive, single folks, many of the actor slash “mixologist” variety who may be more willing to engage in an intimate relationship even though they are 1.) currently starring in a nationally broadcast television show, and 2.) almost every moment in the house is available online for the live feed viewers.
I think that must be one of the questions in the application:
“Would you be willing to be in a romantic relationship with someone you meet only in the house during filming (circle yes or no):
If so, how much alcohol would you need to be provided by the house in order for you to boink this as of yet unknown person:
a) in a bedroom
b) in the hottub
c) in a bathroom stall
d) in the storage room by everyone’s food
e) up against a mirror behind which is a camera
f) anywhere else we suggest while you’re in the diary room?”
How does being involved in a Big Brother showmance impact a player’s chances and strategy in the game? Most often, it results in posing a threat to the other players who feel somehow less than convinced that these folks will really honor their “final two” pacts with them anymore. Hoping to avoid some type of All Star Survivor Romber “we win either way” final two, hooked up couples are usually quickly divided by the other member of the house, with someone quickly sent to the Sequester House, or even worse, anonymity. However, once one half of the couple is gone, the remaining person often does quite well in the game. Perhaps there is some residual sympathy from the other players. Maybe the remaining half is able to focus more on his or her (it’s usually his, though) game and may be motivated to “win one for the gipper” or whatever. Maybe being in a fake romance was part of his strategy all along. If anyone can remember a female half of a show romance that thrived after their male counterpart was booted, please post to remind us.
Season two introduced us to two Chilltown romances: First up (and first separated by the cruel, cruel fate of the house) was Dr. Will’s romance with Shannon. Season two also gave us Mike Boogie’s vomit-inducing season finale live proposal to Krista. Over the seasons there have been faster and more aggressive hookups, showmances (a term coined by Dr. Will in the “celebrity” season filled with prior contestants to mean a sham romance – on one part anyway, entered into for game strategy), and at least one couple who met in the house and survived dating long enough to continue a romantic relationship outside of the house (last year’s Eric and Jessica). Over the year, the Big Brother couples have provided plenty of reasons for Showtime’s Big Brother After Dark (for those who are interested in that type of thing).
Early on, other houseguests learned to sniff out and seek to separate any players in the house who are playing as “couples” rather than individuals. Shannon was the first evictee to be kicked out due to being on the block against her show paramour, Dr. Will. Season two pre-dated the whole notion of the veto, so the head of household was assured to break up the couple by nominating both halves. Sure, there was lots of finger waggling and toothbrushes in toilets, but there was really nothing the couple could do if someone who wanted them out won head of household. Other contestants understandably wanted the “fairness” of competing against others as individuals, rather than couples. The show’s producers, however, loved the hook-ups and introduced the vetoes, I think, at least in part to give couples a fighting chance to stay on the show together (and provide more fodder for the live feed viewers).
The one couple that was probably hampered in their game strategy the most by the show itself was the one couple still dating (as far as I know, I’m not stalking them, you know): Jessica and Eric from last summer’s season. Eric was the first “America’s Player” and as such he had no control over his votes for eviction, and was often asked to do despicable things, like advocating for Evil Dick and his spawn. Eric’s ability to really be in control of the game was hamstrung by “America’s” apparently love of the Donatos. Doing America’s bidding certainly didn’t make things easier for Eric, who had to weasel his way around stray votes and illogical changes in position. Eric and Jessica persevered, and apparently have found an additional 15 minutes of fame with their continued couple status. Kudos to them for that.
Last winter’s writer’s strike induced “Till Death Do Us Part” season was premised on the notion of couples, and that theme carried through for half of the season while pairs were head of household and evicted as couples. First we got bathroom entertainment from real life couple Ryan and Jennifer (was that her name?). Following longstanding Big Brother traditions, the couple was deemed a threat and was promptly divided. It did not hamper Ryan in the game, however, following the pattern that he was no longer considered a threat after his girlfriend was a pre-jury evictee.
Also in the “Till Death Do Us Part” couple-centric season, we viewers were “treated” to rather icky hookups between homeless star of adult entertainment James and unsuspecting hippy chick Chelsia, who seemed to hit it off from very early on. James and Chelsia played well as a team, but fell apart after the “uncoupling” when all of the contestants started playing as individuals. James took that as his cue to declare himself a free agent (to anyone, not just the ladies), Chelsia went crazy and destroyed someone’s Easter eggs, and both of them were quickly dispatched to the Sequester House, where they got to spend time with Matt and Natalie, a couple who hooked up, but it was only a “relationship” in Natalie’s mind. The pairing from that season seemed most like a real “old married couple” however, where Sheila and Adam, who hated each other from the first episode but played more like a team than most “real couples” in the game (until Adam dumped her for Ryan). They bickered, they nagged, they sent each other on guilt trips, and I’d like to think that they still keep in touch.
There have been fans and haters of pretty much every romance on the show, and this season’s April and Ollie are no different. Is this the real McCoy, or is it pure showmance? I can’t speak for Ollie’s feelings, but April staked her claim early on. My husband noticed in the second episode of the how April over-reacted when she found out that Ollie had made an alliance with Brian and Dan. Mr. LG noted that April was more than just casually interested in Ollie, as she would never get that upset that he was making an alliance without telling her (a part of the game, for anyone who has ever watched) unless she was planning to be more than just an acquaintance of Ollie’s. He was right and they were probably the fastest hookup of any previously strangers couple in any season so far. Both April and Ollie are jeopardizing their positions in the house by openly being a couple, and both have made some risky game maneuvers (rounding up a gang of eight to confront Jerry and make him change his nomination choice) in furtherance of their relationship, as Ollie spearheaded that effort I think mostly as a show of loyalty to April (over Brian and Dan). How will it turn out over the long run? We don’t know yet, but I think it’s a safe bet that they’ll be around another week (unless Ollie ends up in the doghouse with April again).
Tune in next week so we can discuss what other boneheaded moves folks are making in the Big Brother House this season.