Dick Donato defeats his daughter Daniele to win Big Brother by a 5 to 2 vote

By a vote of five to two, Dick Donato defeated his daughter Daniele to win Big Brother 8. Only Jameka and Jen voted for Daniele.

Although I’ve not hidden my disdain for Dick’s unacceptable abusive behavior, he played the game exceptionally well. To be a gigantic asshole and not only end up in the final two but also win the votes of the jury members who you ridiculed, betrayed, and abused during the season is quite an accomplishment. “We’re all pretty much stupid for not voting them out,” Jen said before the jury questioned the final two.

And his strategy wasn’t always entirely about being a big ass; he made some smart moves and alliances at the right times, and remained the most interesting player from the start. Dick is clearly a student of the game, and as he pointed out Thursday, he and Daniele were able to accomplish what no other pair in the show’s history was able to do. And that’s impressive. Still, he also had the producers on his side. By the way, after writing the linked essay about that, I wasn’t surprised to hear from people who like Dick or didn’t find his behavior as appalling as I did; that’s the fun of reality TV, because sometimes reasonable people disagree about what we’re watching. What was surprising to me is not necessarily the amount of passionate love for Dick, but the amount of vitriol or irrational arguments some of them direct toward his critics (apparently, I’ve never watched the show and/or am bitter that Amber didn’t win and/or should keep my opinion out of commentaries).

Anyway, the jury discussion and Q&A focused somewhat on Dick’s behavior; Eric said he’d “slandered” all of the jury members, but campaigned for him anyway, since that’s what the final America’s Player vote told him to do. Jameka had perhaps the most interesting comment, identifying Daniele as “the pimp, and E.D. is the ho,” because “Daniele just collected all the benefits from” their relationship, Jameka said.

Besides the revelation of the winner, the other big moment of the evening was the revelation that Eric was America’s Player. The houseguests all took this remarkably well, laughing and smiling; perhaps they were in shock, or they just don’t care–or maybe they’ll care more once they learn that Eric received $40,000 for his efforts, which the producers left out. Amber looked confused, but then, she always appears confused. Jessica seemed to be the most horrified, and Eric immediately whispered something to her. When asked by Julie Chen what she said to him, and what she thought of the twist, Jessica said, “I’m thinking, oh my God. He just said that we could talk later. … I’m just in shock; I can’t believe it.”

Julie Chen, by the way, was especially sparkly with body glitter during the live show, as were all of the female houseguests with names that start with J. Perhaps they just get liberal with the glitter for special occasions, or maybe there was a glitter accident backstage near the J dressing room; Jen was drenched in it, and Jessica and Jameka each had noticeable amounts. Alas, the body glitter couldn’t help Julie keep control of the crowd or deviate from her cue cards. But like unlikable people ending up at the end, that’s what we expect from Big Brother. Only nine and a half months until the next season.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.