In Claim to Fame’s seventh episode, Frankie Jonas tells the remaining six players: “It is time to strategize, and up your game as much as possible.”
They did—and so did Claim to Fame, which delivered by far its best episode yet, complete with an epic blindside that was planned and executed on screen, which made it even more thrilling to watch, since we knew what might happen, or might backfire.
The ABC competition between relatives of celebrities has been a surprise for me this summer: strategic, funny, and with an appealing group of people.
My biggest complaint was the show’s insecurity leading it to spoil itself, instead of letting us play along. But tonight, it did not dump any major spoilers.
Claim to Fame did not reveal any new relative identities that we didn’t already know, nor deliver any surprise information. Even Lark’s confirmation that she is not related to either Martha Stewart or Sandra Bullock is not surprising considering the clues we’ve seen.
It did, alas, immediately solved the rebus puzzle on screen; the rough cut press screener that I watched earlier Monday did not have that graphic, so I was disappointed to see it on the final episode. It was fun for me to watch the cast struggle with the first three parts of the clue—an orange, a door with an arrow, and a beer, because I couldn’t figure that out, either, as I was stuck on the beer being, you know, a beer. (It translated to Orange In Ale Rat Pack Singer, which translated to Original Rat Pack Singer.)
While I’ve made fun of how cheaply Claim to Fame was made—mostly because I want the people who make reality TV to be paid more, and be given higher budgets to do their best work—I admire how much they the production team does with so obviously very little.
This week’s challenge was yet another that took place in the house, but it was well-designed. The six players were split into teams of two, and while the winning pair did not receive immunity, they received something even more powerful: the ability to choose the two eligible to be voted into the Guess-Off. The pairs:
- Amara and Logan
- Pepper and L.C.
- Lark and Louise
All six players entered the house together, which had been filled with a pretend estate sale, i.e. a lot of crap. After 10 minutes, they left, and the producers swapped out 12 items with 12 clues.
Each pair then had to identify what had changed. A few were rather obvious, but there was so much stuff that some were not. The episode did end up highlighting the clues the players missed for us: a View-Master and a tractor.
Lark worried that one of the clues, a fake cover of a (fake?) magazine, Couture, with an illustration of a woman with red hair, gave her person away: “The poster is basically my aunt,” she said. But even knowing her relative is a model from the 1980s, that red hair didn’t make a name pop into my head.
For the challenge, Amara didn’t want to be teamed with Logan, because “his memory is trash,” she said—though she also persuaded him to switch a clue that, had they gotten right, they would have tied for first place.
L.C. said she hoped to be on Logan’s team, but don’t you want your closest ally on a different team, so that no matter who wins, you have the power? Double your chances! But L.C. also pointed out she wanted Pepper’s clue, and obviously couldn’t get that if she and Pepper won.
While Frankie hosted the challenge, when it was time to reveal the results, Kevin was there instead, wearing the same clothes. “Spot the difference?” he asked. If only Nick and Joe Jonas had showed up for that bit, but I’m sure this show can’t afford them.
Louise and Lark won the challenge. That’s Louise’s fourth challenge win, making her this season’s challenge beast. Maybe all those (way too obvious) gold medal clues are actually be for her challenge performances.
As Louise and Lark strategized about whose clue to get, and who to choose for the Guess-Off, there was fun editing: When Louise said “Pepper’s clue,” the image cut to a quick shot of Pepper’s eyes bulging open.
Even though they were working together, Lark smartly steered Louise toward wrong guesses. Louise suggested Amara would pick Lark and guess Martha or Sandy, and Lark just said, “maybe she shouldn’t be guesser.”
They went with Pepper’s clue, which had “rat pack singer” at the end, but they misread the first part as “Sinatra,” as if a clue would be that obvious. The clues on Claim to Fame give away a lot (Packers quarterback, anyone?) but never a name.
Louise and Lark took that clue to L.C. and Logan, and that produced a bedroom conversation alliance that, if this was Big Brother, would have paused to give itself a dumb name like the L-Squad (GET IT?! Their names all start with L!!)
Their plan: Lark and Louise nominated themselves to be in the Guess-Off, with Lark volunteering to be the person everyone else would vote in. She’d choose Amara, and send her home.
Meanwhile, the alliance planned to tell Amara and Pepper that Lark was going to take out Louise, thus encouraging Amara to vote for Lark. “We’re basically getting Amara to perform her own hit,” L.C. said, succinctly summarizing that plan.
Meanwhile, L.C. and Logan tried to figure out the clue, and thought the dinosaurs on the wall might be related. “Was the other guy in the Rat Pack named Dino?” L.C. asked. Pack = two guys? Both Logan and L.C. searched for clues in the interview room, trying to find something related to Dean Martin.
Amara delivered a string of deliciously cocky and often hilarious jabs and over-confident statements, focused on Louise and Lark:
- “Tweedeldee and Tweedledum,” she called them.
- “It’s great for them to have clues because I know they’re not going to put shit together.”
- “Put me up, bitch, because I know you’re not going to figure out my clues.”
- “[Lark] did this dumb-ass move”
Meanwhile, Louise didn’t deal with the pressure too well, mostly avoiding Amara, which made Amara suspicious. And when they finally talked, Louise snapped, “You didn’t win this challenge, and it’s not your decision.” Not the best way to conceal a blindside.
At the Guess-Off, Louise and Lark did indeed put themselves in the bottom two, which seems like a remarkable outcome for challenge winners. Of course, this is not an Erik-in-Micronesia situation; it’s a smart decision in the context of this game’s structure. Because everyone in the house was vulnerable, the guesser ultimately had the most power to control their own fate.
The editing did a bit of a fake-out, making us think Lark would change her mind and blindside Louise, just because she knew for certain that Louse is related to Simone Biles. That fake-out included train sound effects provided while Logan, in an interview, mimed two trains crashing into each other, which made me laugh.
Lark did choose Amara, and correctly identified what we’ve known for a while.
I’ll let her introduce herself: “I’m Whoopi Goldberg’s granddaughter—I’m gonna go out cussing like a motherfucker,” she said, and then turned toward a camera. “And you better bleep every fucking thing I say,” and ABC did.
Her goodbye was rather sentimental, even if she concealed her emotions rather well: “Fuck you all, but all right. Call me.” Then, as she went down the stairs, we could hear her say, “Fuck this house. Louise is fake, L.C. is fake, Logan’s fake, Lark is fake…”
In another comedic moment, Frankie and Kevin Jonas tried to wrap things up, but were interrupted by Amara continuing her rant wherever eliminated contestants go. It was a perfectly dramatic exit for Claim to Fame’s best episode. I hope the game play and intrigue keep ramping up from here.