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Was Claim to Fame’s ‘Domfather’ called out after a game of telephone?

Was Claim to Fame’s ‘Domfather’ called out after a game of telephone?
Kevin Jonas reads a limerick to Claim to Fame players for their game of telephone. (Photo by John Fleenor/ABC)

The answer to the headline’s question is Yes: A game of telephone led to the downfall of Claim to Fame’s perceived strategic threat, Dominique Sharpton, aka The Domfather.

Well, that and the house working together against her.

But yes, telephone! On the one hand, it’s amazing how budget Claim to Fame is, with its frugality on display this week in a challenge that was just about, well, running from the pool deck into the mansion and through some of its rooms. At least that’s a change from the usual challenge location of the pool deck.

On the other hand, it’s amazing how effective that budget challenge was, because it created a lot of team tension and set The Guess Off events in motion.

The basic idea: Kevin Jonas gave, via an actual telephone, a limerick full of clues.

Those clues were passed to another teammate, who shouted it up the stairs to the third teammate, who went into a room and called teammate #4.

That person had to find objects on a shelf that matched the clues, and line them up, with Frankie Jonas in charge of checking their work and making awkward asides while he was waiting around.

The losing team’s conflict started before the challenge even began, with Pepper not wanting to be in the first position—but after the challenge, she told team leader Kai, “If we lose, you can’t put me in the bottom. I didn’t want to do that; I did it perfectly.”

I wouldn’t describe her performance as perfect, mostly because she didn’t do it perfectly, though memorizing a full limerick and/or its key phrases after hearing it once is certainly not easy.

Still, when Logan said, “I know first graders that can do this shit better than us,” I don’t think that’s much of an exaggeration.

The task was so challenging that, on the other team, Louise just laughed while trying to take in information from their #1 and pass it along to #3 L.C.

The remaining Claim to Fame players: L.C., Lark, Amara, Louise, Kai, Pepper, Dominique, and Logan
The remaining Claim to Fame players: L.C., Lark, Amara, Louise, Kai, Pepper, Dominique, and Logan. (Photo by John Fleenor/ABC)

My biggest gripe about Claim to Fame—which I repeat every week in the hopes that the reality TV gods will hear my cries and make adjustments for season two, which I hope we’ll get—is that it does not allow us to play along.

That continued during the challenge. The editors kept the store logo on Kai’s plastic bathroom bag more concealed than the clues.

When Kevin Jonas read the limerick, Claim to Fame spoiled itself again, giving us all the answers.

The very first time we heard the first limerick, not only did the correct clue appear in a picture-in-picture bubble (CAT = CAT!!), but the text in the limerick was highlighted to show us the key phrase—and it turned green to show us real clues, and red to indicate fake clues.

If you ever have a secret that you need kept secret, do not tell it to Claim to Fame, because it cannot keep one.

The other issue the show has is that the clues are inconsistent; some just point directly at a person (quarterback of the Green Bay Packers), while others are much less obvious (speaker at the Million Man March).

The rebus clue that Louise about Kai got was a mix. The answer was “Fun Knee Woman in Girls Trip”; that’s a movie with several funny women. But I have a question about its construction. The symbol for “Woman” and “Girls” was the generic woman-in-dress symbol, just with three of them to represent “Girls.” But if one symbol is a singular “Woman,” then the other would be “Women,” right?

The clues in the challenge were mostly just repeats of things we’ve seen before: a nun’s outfit (Amara’s relative Whoopi Goldberg), a gold medal (pointing directly to Louise’s sister, who everyone already knows). But there were also some things that were less obvious, like a joke buzzer, a reminder that there are still a few players whose relatives haven’t yet been revealed.

Dominique Sharpton randomly chooses a team as the people who would eventually plot against her wait their turn
Dominique Sharpton randomly chooses a team as the people who would eventually plot against her wait their turn. (Photo by John Fleenor/ABC)

Louise’s team won, and as the winning team captain, she was immune, which took away the house’s safest guest.

The bottom two were team captain Kai and the person she chose to also be eligible for the Guess Off: Dominique.

“Checkmate, baby girl,” Kai said in an interview, but she didn’t hide her chess game. In front of the cast, Kai said, “I’m hoping my choice will bring peace to everyone.” Shade!

Dominique knew she was in trouble, and told us that if she was selected to guess, she had “two strong theories”:

  1. Dom thinks Amara looks like Whoopi Goldberg (the story Amara told about her grandmother having a fart war with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal didn’t seem to give anything away)
  2. Dom is confident that L.C. is related to Laurence Fishburne based on the Akeelah and the Bee costume L.C. wore

Interestingly, L.C. didn’t want Dom to guess her, even though Dom would be wrong. That, L.C. said, would “blow my cover,” another dimension to the game: trying to keep the wrong guesses intact.

So the plan was basically to not vote Dom into the guess-off, but choose Kai instead, so she could take out Dominique. Logan told us, “Dominique’s sitting up top on the throne. We call her the Domfather because she’s the one pulling all the strings in the house.”

L.C. had a nickname for Logan: “the GOAT of this game.” Most recently, that’s because he figured out Dom’s relative: The Reverend Al Sharpton.

While L.C. read her rebus clue as referring possibly to Martin Luther King, Jr., who was long dead by the time the Million Man March happened, Logan did some last-minute studying of the board. It had sharpening tools, plus religious iconography—which, along with the Bible, convinced them that it was Al Sharpton.

Kai was reluctant to do the house’s bidding. “I’m going to go with the one I’m sure about,” she said, without saying who that was.

But then! Kai blindsided everyone and chose Dominique! Louise’s widening smile after Kai called out Dom should become a GIF, and probably get an Emmy, too.

“Last minute change of heart,” Kai explained to us. “I don’t like how she’s playing the game.”

I wish the editing would fill us in a little more on the dynamics in the house. Dominque is clearly playing hard, but Kai’s dislike of that game play is not something that was developed in this episode or others. I’m not saying this needs to be Survivor, but I want more about the relationships that are developing and/or being strained by the game.

The show has done a good job of showing us Dominique’s game play. “I feel like I have the power to persuade people to go my way,” she said in episode three, and we saw that play out multiple times, including with with her orchestration of Brittany Favre’s exit—until it backfired.

What was most incredible about the Guess Off was that Kai looked more surprised than Dominique that her guess of Al Sharpton was correct.

“It was right?!” she almost yelled. Then she called out the alliance of, well, the rest of the house: “Thanks, everyone. Thank you!”

Louise made sure to give proper credit: “Thank Logan,” she said, and he was like, WTF.

About her dad, Dominique Sharpton told everyone, “I’m proud of him for being unapologetic in everything that he does, and I’ve tried to carry on in everything I do, including being here.”

I appreciated her unapologetic game play, and while it backfired on her the way it has for so many players in strategic reality TV competitions over the years, I appreciate what she did to help establish Claim to Fame’s game.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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