By Amanda Festa
In the early days of reality TV — you know, when strangers were chosen to live in a house and have their lives taped — it was a social experiment in exploring human differences. Now it has become a social experiment in exploring communicable diseases and making out under strategically placed blankets. The reality TV show romance — the “showmance” if you will — was bound to happen. Find enough young, attractive type A personalities and throw them in a house together without television, internet or inhibitions — and add a hot tub for good measure. If you want to play dirty, as in the case of Big Brother, don’t provide enough beds for all the house guests to have their own. I’m sure there are contestants who will make out with someone for less than a good night’s sleep.
If done correctly, a showmance can be a very lucrative career move. Many of the below couples have turned up on “All-Star” seasons — regardless of whether or not they were actually “All-Star” players on their own. And if you feel your fifteen minutes slipping away, may I suggest a wedding special? Free swag, a designer dress, and a surefire way to make next season of The Amazing Race. And, if all else fails, who knows, you may at least get a lasting relationship out of the deal.
10. Jeff and Jordan, Big Brother 11
Face it, ladies, Jeff is kind of a tool. I mean that in the best possible way. After all, he was one of my BB favorites, and sure, he’s a nice guy in that smooth talking, Don Draper adman-turned-reality-show-contestant-dating-the-girl-a-decade-younger-than-him kind of way. But he has a soul patch, and I’m pretty sure non-ironically. However, Jeff and Jordan are one of the few reality TV success stories, so they have that going for them.
9. Amaya and Colin, Real World 8: Hawaii
This was an early “showmance” — before the term was even used to describe Reality TV pairings. Fortunately, the term “passive-agressive” was well-defined by Merriam-Webster. Everyone knows a couple like them, and secretly hopes they break up — for their own good, of course. And the good of anyone within earshot.
8. Brendon and Rachel, Big Brother 12
As disgusting as their PDA was, as much as watching them embrace made me want to bathe in hand sanitizer, as much as I worried that Rachel’s voice might actually shatter the glass of my television screen — they had each other’s back. And actually genuinely cared about each other. Which is good, since no one else ever will. “No one gets between me and MY man.” Don’t worry, Rachel, I speak for womankind when I say, he is all yours. They burn the sheets between seasons, right?
7. Boston Rob and Amber, Survivor: All-Stars
The ultimate reality TV super couple — they are a how-to guide for future showmances to parlay their hook-up into financial gain. She came in sixth place on her original season of Survivor, but with the help of her
better more cutthroat and less widely-liked half, she managed to take home the gold on Survivor All-Stars — if only because people preferred to give her the money over Rob. He definitely knew going into the final two that she would take it down, so he locked it down — proposing to her and in the process securing a wedding special and legal rights to half her winnings. Plus, they met on Survivor – so basically, no matter how much she lets herself go, a hot shower will still be an improvement on their first month together.
After 24 seasons on television, how do you keep things fresh? Racism, politics, AIDS, a hot tub threesome? Been there, done that. How about a showmance between a clueless doormat and a charismatic pathological sociopath who admitted to dabbling in gay pornography to make a buck — But it wasn’t really porn, he insisted, he just had to live in a house loaded with web cams and let them record him hooking up with other guys. Later, he rationalized to US Magazine that the site, Fratmen [dot] tv is a small website. It doesn’t even end in dot-com.” So he couldn’t even make it onto a good porn site? Pshhh. Heather, are you sure he’s a keeper?
5. Nate and Jennylee, Beauty and the Geek 3
This one was almost a tie, and it almost went to Cher and Wes from season 2, but UFC ring girl Jennylee and funny guy Nate took it down because I had a little crush on Nate myself — I mean, he was part of a Star Wars tribute band, which is hot. I’m serious. Even though it is a total cliche, there is something compelling about narcissistic “hot” chicks finding out they have a lot in common with someone that they might not typically get to know in their real lives. And watching the guys squirm and awkwardly navigate the situation is like watching a National Geographic special on early human interaction — but the best part is the growing and the learning about yourself, etc., etc. I mean, obviously they give the guys makeovers so they aren’t gross — but it’s just so refreshing to watch a showmance where the guy is not flexing his oiled up man boobs for the camera. If you are looking to have your dreams of finding TV romance crushed, Nate demystifies the reality television love story in this video about his experience.
4. Frank and Ashley, Big Brother 14
Frank was the easygoing, likable guy on season 14. Although, come to think of it, not many of the other house guests liked him. Maybe because he was also BB veteran Mike Boogie’s protege and a beast in competitions, which had him walking around the house with a target on his back. Yet, while he was great at the Big Brother game, his other game may have needed some work. (Or did it?) After inviting Ashley up to the Head of Household room for “ice cream,” Frank got lazy, dropped the pretenses, and tried out this gem:
“Do you wanna make out on the couch for a little bit?”
Well, I want to watch the new season of True Blood and check my e-mail — but that’s not going to happen, so I guess so.
3. Amanda and McCrae, Big Brother 15
I just love them. McCrae is a 23-year-old pizza boy who looks like he dumpster dived for his clothing in a Martha’s Vineyard Salvation Army parking lot. Amanda is a smoking hot 28-year-old with a quick wit, smart game, and huge boobs. McCrae and Amanda’s early interactions and their first kiss in the HOH room were classic because even viewers could tell this kid did not know what was happening. Can you get Punk’d in the Big Brother house? McCrae was part of an all-male alliance called the Moving Company — but they brought on their own demise when they asked him to ditch Amanda. Did any of them really think he was going to pick the testosterone fueled sausage fest over intelligence, smart game play, and boobs? And, while I do believe this showmance is a smart move for both of their games, the best part is, she really, really likes him. Just catch an episode of Big Brother After Dark and Peeping Tom them laying in a hammock for a couple hours. After doing so, you will be sure of two things: their feelings for each other and the fact that you need to get out more.
2. Dr. Will and Mike Boogie, Big Brother 2
The most compelling and effective alliance in Big Brother history consisted of this infamous duo — the slick plastic surgeon and the offbeat restauranteur — who dubbed themselves Chilltown. While they weren’t technically a showmance, they both had enough showmances on their respective plates — in fact Dr. Will coined the term. Will brought home the $500K their first season together, but Chilltown was reunited for Big Brother All-Stars, and Boogie took home the prize. Their chemistry was unparalleled, and their cocky diary room antics were always fun to watch — because in the end, while they could be obnoxious, they were there to play the game.
1. Trista and Ryan, The Bachelorette 1
Look guys, The Bachelor totally works!