Big Brother reveals a death to a second houseguest

For the second time in less than one week, Big Brother 16 informed a contestant about the death of a family member and later broadcast that tragic news. Both times, that death was of a grandfather: first Frankie Grande’s grandfather died, which he learned of last Wednesday, and then on Friday, Derrick Lavasseur was told his grandfather died that morning. The day before, Derrick actually threw the live HOH challenge so Frankie could win and see a photo of his grandfather.

Both Frankie and Derrick were told via letters delivered in the diary room, and both referenced the fact that the letters contained messages from family about wanting them to continue playing the game.

This is notable because it happened on the same series that keeps its cast in such isolation that the final three in season two weren’t immediately told about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and even then, only told a limited version—though one cast member, Monica, was told her cousin was missing. (Her cousin, Tamitha Freeman, died in the second World Trade Center tower.)

In my memory, never before has a houseguest been told about external events, perhaps because nothing of this scale has happened to anyone. The only thing close is when, three years ago, Dick Donato left for unexplained “personal reasons.”

As Derrick said on Wednesday’s episode, it “just puts in perspective how much we’re missing.”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.