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Big Brother, Summer Love, and Showmance

*Warning* This article does contain spoilers for the current season of Big Brother, and previous seasons

Summer love, urban dictionary defines the term as “a brief yet passionate relationship. because of commitments, you each go your separate ways but the time spent together was meaningful to you.” I think we’ve all experienced this type of relationship, whether it was continuous hookup or we actually caught major feels for another, summer love is truly something special.

Some may say the best place to witness this spontaneous seasonal romance is at the beach or the local bar scene, maybe even your friend Kyle’s garage party. However, I would argue the best way to become a spectator of raw summer romance is to start watching the reality television show, Big Brother.

Now currently in its 20th season, Big Brother has held its place as one of the most popular reality television shows ever. If you are not familiar with the show here is a very general explanation. Big Brother is a reality game show that follows a diverse and many times unique group of individuals known as houseguests.


Big Brother: A summer tradition like no other

The current seasons house guests in their bathing suit cast photo, each season of Big Brother has a bathing suit cast photo.

These house guests live together in a house, cut-off from the outside world, with constant surveillance. The houseguests compete in weekly competitions, and evict a house guest each week. By the end one of the final two  houseguests is chosen by a jury of previously evicted houseguests to win an award of $500,000.

Big Brother airs three times a week, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The competition is happening in real time, unlike other reality television shows that are taped in advance like survivor. Big Brother airs every summer, and the competition lasts from late June to late September (This current season is 99 days long).

The show is known for being psychologically challenging as houseguests must use their personalities and wit to often manipulate others in the game. The show is also known for its twists that shake up the competition and often throw a wrench in whatever strategies the houseguests have planned. In fact Big Brother host Julie Chen’s favorite phrase to use is “Expect the unexpected.” There is another factor Big Brother is famous for, and that is it’s summer “showmances.”


Showmance: A raw spontaneous romance between two individuals…and on average 5.2 million viewers

Will Kirby, Big Brother winner of season 2  

Big Brother legend and season 2 winner, Dr. Will Kirby, actually created the term “showmance” during his tenure on Big Brother. Now widely used throughout various reality television shows, a showmance is a romantic relationship that blossoms  between two contestants (in this case houseguests) on a reality television show during the duration of shows season.

Now for a reality television show like the bachelor obviously this is not unusual, nor should the term be applied due to the fact that falling in love is the objective. The term is applied to reality competition shows such as Big Brother because the objective is not to fall in love but to win a different prize, in Big Brother’s case $500,000.

The idea of the “showmance” is related to the reason why many Big Brother contestants describe their experience as life changing. Due to being isolated in a house with the same individuals for possibly over three months, houseguests can’t help but develop relationships with one another. Now many of these relationships are just friendships, sometimes best friendships, but often every season there is a couple relationships that blossom into something more lust driven and romantic.


Blockholm syndrome: Surviving in the Big Brother game through the use of a showmance

James Huling and Natalie Negrotti, a Big Brother season 18 showmance, sitting on the block waiting to see who gets evicted.

A condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance (trust, affection, etc.) with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity, that is a description of what is known as Stockholm Syndrome. Now I know what you’re thinking, “the houseguests on Big Brother are not hostages.” Yes I know that the houseguests are not hostages and are allowed to quit the game at anytime. Nevertheless,  it is interesting to ponder about how this condition may be related to how showmances are formed in the the Big Brother house.

Big Brother houseguests feel the need to “survive” every week, the feeling of survival fueled by the desire to stay in the game and a chance to win $500,000 rather than the fear of death. That is what the houseguests are “surviving” for, that is their goal, no one wants to go home and realize that they just missed out on half a million dollars. To make it to the final two spot houseguests turn to forming alliances to make it there.

Alliances are more than often formed almost immediately between two or more houseguests within the first hours of the competition, with some alliances being formed periodically throughout the game. You can see this need some houseguests have to work closely with other houseguest to progress through the game. In the past, showmances have been both the cause and effect of alliances. It is a classic Big Brother strategy while in the house, a survival strategy while in captivity.


A Showmantic-Comedy: Finding true love in the Big Brother house? Expect the unexpected

Jordan Lloyd & Jeff Schroeder, Big Brother season 11 contestants and possibly the shows most famous showmance.  

Over the years many Big Brother houseguests have found themselves in a showmance. More often than not these relationships soon dissolve once the summer is over and houseguests leave the Big Brother house. This is most likely due to the fact that these individuals are not in game mode anymore and are not going through “blockholm syndrome.” They don’t feel the necessity of this other person anymore because their chance at winning $500,000 is over.

Is Big Brother love ever true? Yes it is. Although most showmances fail after leaving the Big Brother house, there are houseguests whose showmance was true of heart and have thrived in the real world. One of the most famous being the romance between Jordan Lloyd & Jeff Schroeder who started a showmance during season 11 back in 2009, and since then have gotten married and have had two children. Rachel Reily and Brendon Villegas of season 12 have also married, and have had children since the start of their showmance eight years ago.

When the showmance between two houseguests actually blossom into a real-life romantic relationship it makes you, as a viewer, wanna go back and watch how it all started. Watch how these two first met, and watch how they interacted with each other. In a way Big Brother has actually given us the chance to watch a real true love story unfold in front of our eyes. It is not just some dumb romantic comedy anymore, these relationships are real and there is just something beautiful about seeing the beginnings of a relationship from the perspective of a fly on the wall.


Summer Love: Summers come and go, but love can last forever

Big Brother season 18 Houseguest Victor Arroyo proposing to fellow season 18 houseguest and girlfriend Nicole Franzel Big Brother during season 20.


For some people summer love is just a short term adventure that needs to be wrapped up by Autumn. For some people summer love is their chance to fall in love within 90 days. For a special few summer love is unexpected and can catch you by surprise while you’re trying to win half a million dollars. Either way, the Big Brother showmance and what it can do to houseguests and for viewers is possibly one of the most fascinating sites to witness. Although Summer 2018 is officially over, love is not seasonal, so if you’re a fan of romance I suggest you check out Big Brother sometime. Maybe if you’re brave enough you could audition for it yourself, just be careful because you could find yourself in a classic Big Brother showmance.

Most recent Big Brother showmance between Houseguests Angela Rummans and Tyler Crispen. They’re adorable trust me.

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Name: Nicholas Anderson DOB: 12/25/1996 School: University of Wyoming Major: Communications Fun Fact: "My friends say my spirit animal is the Golden Retriever"
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