For the second summer in a row, I’m balls deep in my “Big Brother” obsession. I subscribe to the 24/7 livefeeds so I never miss a second of what actually is going on in the house, where the cast members are cut off from the outside world for three months. There’s such a massive difference between what’s really going on and how the televised episodes are edited to make things appear; the livefeeds also give you a glimpse at how production pulls strings throughout the season to instigate fights, cause drama and save the players they want to stay in the house from eviction. This season, production is going above and beyond to keep one player in the house, and it’s all because he’s got a famous sister and a large social media following that CBS hopes will continue to drive viewership. That player is Frankie Grande, the older brother of singer Ariana Grande. And he is the ABSOLUTE WORST.
Frankie entered the house with the intention of keeping his famous sister a secret. He also kept mum about his own fame, which is marginal compared to hers, but gives him an advantage in the game compared to the other houseguests. Thanks to his large social media following, the YouTube star and sometime Broadway actor was voted to be one of three members of Team America, which covertly performs stunts throughout the season (stunts chosen by viewers who vote every week). Each stunt that Team America completes scores each member $5000 (that’s in addition to their weekly stipend and first or second place winnings). Additionally, at the end of the season, America will vote on who should win the “America’s Favorite” title, and that person scores another $25K. Thanks to his existing fan base, not to mention the favorable way he has been edited, Frankie is basically a shoo-in to win.
But the biggest example of how Frankie has a serious advantage in the game took place this past week. Nominated for eviction, Frankie and the other three nominees had a chance to pull themselves off the block in a weekly competition called Battle of the Block. The four nominees are always nominated in pairs and compete as a team during the BOTB — whichever team wins is safe for the week, while the other team remains nominated. Frankie was nominated with Caleb — the psycho stalker houseguest that I’ve written about before — and Caleb had every intention of throwing the competition so that he and Frankie would remain nominated, because Caleb and his alliance knew they had the numbers to evict him at the end of the week.
Unfortunately, Caleb made the idiotic decision to mention his plans to throw the competition to production during one of his diary room sessions (that’s where houseguests are interviewed on camera in private). Livefeed watchers started to get suspicious when the Battle of the Block competition ended up starting way later than usual on Saturday, theorizing that production was up to something. Sure enough, the comp turned out to be one that was more easily won by one person rather than two working together. Caleb tried to throw the competition as planned, and was barred from jumping back in when it became clear Frankie was actually helped by doing it alone. Frankie eventually won BOTB over the other nominated pair, making him and Caleb safe for the week. Those of us who watch the feeds and have seen production manipulate the game to benefit specific players knew immediately what had actually probably happened — production scrapped their original BOTB competition and came up with something new that Frankie would have an easier time winning on his own. That’s why the comp started so much later than usual. Needless to say, this kind of shit destroys the integrity of the game. (I know, I know, I’m talking about integrity on a reality show, but shit, a lot of money is up for grabs!)
But that’s not all! Frankie, all on his own, is pretty much the worst. He stirs up shit in ways I think cross the line, like telling one houseguest (Jocasta) that another male houseguest (Zach) has been violent towards women, which is a flat out lie. I’m all for playing dirty, but not by secretly attacking another player’s character. But as much as I could not stand Frankie when he was hiding the fact that he has an OMG FAMOUS SISTER, I loathe him now that he’s revealed his big secret. On Saturday, after winning BOTB and making sure production was ready with their cameras (CBS even tweeted about it before it happened!), Frankie decided to try to save himself from elimination in the weeks to come by A) telling the other houseguests that his sister is Ariana Grande and B) saying that he was planning to use the prize money to “build schools in Africa.” The strategy is two-fold: he hopes his large following and famous sister will scare and/or bribe the other houseguests into keeping him — the fact that he is allegedly playing for charity is an appeal to their softer sides because, to quote more than one houseguest, “Who’s going to vote out the guy who’s playing for charity?” HEY DUMMIES, I WOULD. This isn’t “Big Brother: Charity Edition.”
For starters, “charity” doesn’t automatically equal “good charity.” There are plenty of badly managed, dubiously fronted, damage-causing charitable organizations out there. Secondly, if Frankie is running his own charity, I would have major questions about HOW exactly he plans on spending the money to “build schools in Africa.” Where in Africa? It’s a large continent! Is he planning on working with local organizations and community leaders? Or is this just another case of some Western savior swooping in to “help” the brown people? It’s obvious that Frankie is, yes, hoping to win the money, but his ultimate goal, and the reason why he decided to finally reveal his BIG OMG SECRET is that he’s looking to use “Big Brother” to build his brand, grow his social media following and, duh, make more money when he’s back in the real world. The “playing for charity” angle, whether it turns out to be true or not, is just a good story to cover his real motivations. Unfortunately, quite a few of the people in the “Big Brother” house with him are either idiots, or Ariana Grande fan girls, or small town dorks who are dazzled to be in the same room with someone connected to a famous person.
And no one is more dazzled by Frankie than Frankie himself. In his big reveal, which you can watch above (part one, telling the dudes in the house) and below (part two, telling the women in the house), he touts himself as a “social media mogul” with “1.5 million followers” — a lie, by the way (he has 702K on Twitter as of this posting). He calls himself “famous.” He talks about how it’s been soooo niceeeeee to spend the summer with “normal” people. He repeatedly shouts out his social media handle, because you know it has literally been killing him not to be able to brag and appeal to his “fans.” He’s dangled introductions to Ariana and Justin Bieber as carrots. His behavior is utterly insufferable and if I were his sister, I would be MORTIFIED. I boycotted last night’s show and won’t be watching Wednesday’s episode either, as I seriously refuse to watch what has become “The Frankie Grande Show.” And if he makes it much farther, especially thanks to production’s meddling, I might stop watching entirely.