Finding love on reality TV- for news.com.au.
Finding love on reality TV- for news.com.au.
Last night was a big night for romance and reality television.
Channel 10 saw us in the deepest depths of South Africa for the finale of the second season of The Bachelor while over on Channel 9, Big Brother housemate Cat was confessing her forbidden love to Lawson, the magician with a girlfriend.
First and foremost I would be amiss not to mention my very own reality television romance.
Watching first Sam and Sandra and then Cat and Lawson’s awkward fumbling through the initial stages of a full-blown Big Brother romance- I cringed and hid behind a pillow.
Did my friends and family really have to watch me do this? Is that what Drew and I looked like? Were we that obvious? That ostentatiously flirtatious? And perhaps more importantly, that blatantly disrespectful?
Tuning into Cat tearily confessing her attraction to Lawson in what us old housemates called the ‘circle of love’ (aka. THE place for all big deep and meaningful conversations in the Big Brother house) I found myself yelling to the television screen, probably similar sentiments to the rest of the Australian public:
“Do you REALLY have real feelings for him? It’s only been a few weeks!”
“Oh god Lawson what do you mean ‘she’s not alone in this’? Does that mean you also like her, or that you feel similarly awkward about the situation?”
“Poor Lawson’s girlfriend having to watch this!”
And then I realised I was a total hypocrite.
The truth of the matter is I could relate to a lot of what Cat and Lawson were saying.
Cat, who was feeling attracted to someone who was very much off-limits, and was so worried and acutely aware of said attraction that she had begun to avoid Lawson in the Big Brother house, which is not an easy feat.
Something that felt especially true to me was when Cat said she “missed Lawson” and felt like she hadn’t seen him in ages.
To the general public- that might sound ridiculous. You’re trapped in a house together 24 hours 7 days a week, how could you possibly miss someone?
But I used to feel similar about Drew.
I would get so anxious and worried that we were spending too much time together, so would try hanging out with different housemates, or avoid areas of the house he was in. Come dinner time, it would feel like it had been a week since I’d seen him and all I would want to do is hang out and play Frisbee.
Lawson is probably feeling equally confused and wary. He clearly loves his partner on the outside world, as I did mine. But the mentality and situation he is now in is so bizarre and foreign, he’s probably loving spending time with Cat as much as she is. And isn’t quite sure if it’s real or if it’s the house making him feel that way.
That mentality is something I’ve struggled to explain to people since leaving the house- my poor ex especially- and something I’ve since decided no one else will ever fully understand, unless of course you were also in the Big Brother house.
The Big Brother experience puts everything under a microscope and I mean this in more ways than one.
Firstly, every single thing you do is filmed, noted and then put on national television for the whole of Australia to watch, judge and scrutinized.
It also however, makes every little thing seem ten times bigger/better/worse.
For example, you wake up to discover that your real-life housemate has decided to use the last bit of Vegemite on their toast in the morning. No biggy. You’ll grab some on the way home from work.
Your Big Brother housemate commits the same crime? All hell breaks loose! You worked HARD for that shopping budget! You danced for 24 hours straight/scarified some face time with your husband/completed some sort of task! You, as a group, chipped in and voted to splurge and add the jar of Vegemite to the shopping list, sacrificing the second block of cheese.
You’d all discussed using it sparingly, agreeing to only having one piece of toast a day. You have to wait a whole week to do the next grocery shop and what if you lose the task and can’t afford luxuries such as Vegemite?
Now imagine this kind of amplification on a crush.
In the real world, Cat would probably never have met Lawson. There is a an eight year age gap between the two of them, so I doubt they’d be hanging out at the same pubs on the weekend.
She also probably doesn’t normally make a habit of going after taken men.
But it’s the Big Brother house. And she’s starving for affection and what feels like a real, genuine human connection. Not a surface ‘frenemy’ friendship with somebody she’s pretty sure nominated her that very morning.
She’s missing friends and family.
And he’s a nice guy, sweet, funny, saved her the last bit of potato salad at dinner last night.
I don’t blame Cat and neither should you. It’s a crazy, messed up minefield in that house and these things happen. You really have no right to judge unless you’ve been in that very same situation and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you haven’t.
That being said, never have I felt more horrible for making my ex watch the #Drully saga unfold than watching the conversation between Cat and Lawson last night.
Lawson’s girlfriend will now be replaying that conversation, pulling apart Lawson’s facial expression and the specific words he used over and over again in her head, trying to decipher what he meant.
Is he serious? Is this real?
The time it takes a Big Brother housemate to forget the whole of Australia is watching their every move- including loved ones- is scarily short. In their heads, they were having a private conversation away from the rest of the housemates. Except they were both wearing microphones. And sitting in front of a one-way mirror which had a camera guy pressed up against the glass mere centimeters away from their heads.
Is the romance between Cat and Lawson genuine? I don’t know. Will Lawson stay faithful to his girlfriend? I can’t tell you.
Are Cat’s feeling’s real or a result of her situation? Not for me to say.
And what’s the go with the other love triangle, Sam and Sandra? Who bloody knows!
What I can tell you is that it IS possible to fall in love with someone on reality TV. It’s possible for it to be real, and not a ‘showmance’. It’s possible to make it work on the outside, away from the cameras.
And it’s possible, and very probable, for humans to make mistakes.
I know, because I’ve done all of the above.