Big Brother Canada’s perfect rivalry
A fifty-three-year-old realtor versus a twenty-five-year-old poker player equals one unanimous winner… but should it?
On the recently concluded fifth season of Big Brother Canada, Kevin Martin won unanimously over Karen Singbeil. Kevin was portrayed as a mastermind who won and threw competitions when needed, and manipulated the other houseguests, while Karen was portrayed as a crazy, paranoid old woman who couldn’t win a competition and irrationally hated That Slithering Snake, Kevin Robert Martin.
In actuality, that image broadcast to a wide viewing audience is more complicated. Karen, a fifty-three-year-old woman with bad knees, did actually win the first head of household and a later advantage competition; and because of her good social relationships and the general perception within the house that she was not a threat, she was rarely even mentioned in nominations conversations.
Additionally, because competitions in Big Brother Canada tend to be much more physical than those in the United States, she and fellow final four member Ika Wong had little chance against Kevin and Demetres, who beat the North American record for most Head of Household wins in a season. In fact,
In fact, Demetres and Kevin won every single competition from day 45 (when William won the Veto) until the games end on day 69. Also, Kevin was a returning player (having played in Season 3) while Karen was a new player; his previous existing relationships with jury members Neda, Sindy, Bruno, and Ika, along with their dual desire to see a ‘vet’ win and to not appear ‘bitter’ to the viewing public, gave Kevin a further edge.
Kevin had no allies after William’s elimination in the triple-eviction, and survived (along with competitor Demetres) due to ‘winning out’, meaning that if either had failed to win Head of Household or Veto (and therefore immunity) they would have likely been eliminated. Actually, during the season’s final five week, Demetres did in fact fail to win the veto, and remained nominated along with his ally and ‘showmance’ partner Ika. Thanks to some manipulations by Karen, Kevin actually did remove Ika from the block and nominate Dillon, assuming that Karen had a closer relationship with Dillon and would be better off evicting half of a showmance who would take each other to the finale two over her. However, Kevin underestimated Karen’s social bonds and desire to get him out (she really did have some sort of grudge against him, although they had buried the hatchet on a personal level) and she voted against Dillon in order to prevent Kevin from getting what he wanted. She somehow managed to frame it so Dillon was mad at Kevin, rather than her.
Karen also lacked another facet that the other house guests have; the ability to ‘showmance’. Karen and Bruno, a veteran with other advantages, were the only married houseguests unable to utilize romantic relationships. Kevin had had such a relationship with Pilar in his first season, who he also dated outside the house. In this season, Kevin had early romantic ties to Gary, and later with William. He and William remain in such a relationship until William’s elimination during the triple eviction, and William saves Kevin from almost-certain eviction by using a secret power of veto (he also won the regular power of veto that week, so he would have saved Kevin regardless). Despite her pre-existing social relationships hindering rather than helping her, Karen still made the best of her abilities and placement within the house.
These showmances can either help or hurt a houseguest’s public portrayal or perception. Ika, who had previously played, and Demetres, a new player, get into such a relationship, despite their rapidly different social and life positionalities in the ‘real’ world. Their relationship is portrayed positively on television and online, and they even get a fun couple name. By contrast, Kevin is portrayed as manipulating William into helping him; on the live feeds his conversations imply he still loves previous showmance Pilar, and he tells the other houseguests at one point that Karen licking whipped cream off his face was ‘the most action he had in months’ while William made faces in the background. It is unclear to what extent ‘using’ was a problem on either side, but many in the online communities felt that Kevin must be using
It is unclear to what extent ‘using’ was a problem on either side, but many in the online communities felt that Kevin must be using William, because William was a few months younger than Kevin and had never had a boyfriend.
So should Kevin have won? He did, so he deserved it. His win does, however, prove that the ‘perfect’ win is never all that ‘perfect’.