The current versions of Big Brother in both the U.S. and the U.K. feature what appear to be serious romances. But while there are some similarities, there are even more differences between the two couples.
By now the viewers in North America are familiar with Shannon and Will's romance on the American version of Big Brother 2. What they may not know is there as a romance that is just as hot and heavy across the pond, with Helen and Paul on the British version of the show.
Helen and Paul, like Will and Shannon, are seen in various flirtations and snuggling in bed. Both sets of love birds have the same thing in common - each of the women had boyfriends prior to entering the houses. Shannon has/had Jim, and Helen has/had "Big G". Big G, unlike Jim, dumped Helen when he saw her cavorting and kissing Paul. Since she's been locked inside the house, Helen doesn't know it yet; Big G announced it to the media instead. All this has led to people writing in newspapers calling Paul and Helen the most romantic couple since Posh and Becks*, or even Charles and Diana in their early marriage. They have been shown on camera snuggling inside the house and outside under the stars. They have shared stories about their childhood, their families, and their lives. In the last few moments they shared together before Paul's eviction, they were caught in an embrace so touching that, according to online news source Ananova, "Online viewers saw Helen's top momentarily slip as Paul hugged her, exposing one of her breasts." The live cams have Helen saying. "Can you imagine what its going to be like when one of us is by the door and has to go? It's going to be fine isn't it - we'll just have a big hug and then go." Ananova reports the pair spent most of their last night together under a duvet in the den, but returned to their own beds about four in the morning.
Contrast this to the behavior of Will and Shannon, the two lovebirds who have been nominated together here in the U.S. The only things they seem to be chatting about when they snuggle is how much they hate all the other guests. Shannon seems to have more philosophical discussions with Nicole than her friend, Will. In the very first episode shown on CBS, when the houseguests were sitting in the living room introducing themselves, Will said he is a doctor , and the camera cut to Shannon, listening. It's hardly perceptible, but one eyelid went up and her whole demeanor changed. She moved closer, wet her lips, and turned her entire attention to what Will was saying. A single doctor! Wasn't it just shown on Saturday's program that Jim, Shannon's boyfriend, is unemployed? Is Jim going to follow in Big G's footprints and dump Shannon after seeing her shower with Will?
One big difference between the two couples is that Paul and Helen seem to be real, unlike the narcissistic couple of Will and Shannon. Paul and Helen seem to be real people, capable of real emotions, including love, empathy, and friendship - not thinking they are the cynosure for the entire universe.
That is the problem with Shannon and Will. Both are very handsome people. Both could be professional models if they wanted; not only are they beautiful, but they are photogenic. Both are total narcissists that seem to be only in love with themselves. Now there are different types of love; there is the puppy love of the first time you fall for someone, or a crush you have on a member of Nysnc or a Beatle or Britney Spears. Somewhere along the line, as we grow to be fully functional adults, we realize that love is a give and take and involves making sacrifices. I personally have sacrificed theatre tickets to go to a baseball game because it made a boyfriend happy. And the guys I have dated have put up with a classical concert at Carnegie hall, because it had Mozart or the like, and they knew I would like it. Will is making no such sacrifices for Shannon; he feels she should leave because he wants to stay.
In the long run, when the lights and cameras are off and these two couples can go out on a date without the whole world watching, I hope it works for Paul and Helen. Finding true love in this crazy world is a beautiful thing, often missed by most of us because we are too busy not looking for it. When it happens, it is the best thing. The fact that it can bloom and be nourished under the most trying of times makes it all the more special. Now that the UK BB is winding down, I will keep reading the British tabloids but, this time I will be reading the engagements columns as well.
As for Will and Shannon, well, first they have to get over themselves before they can even consider getting on with any real relationship with each other - or anybody else.
Susan Schechter works for a multinational Financial Markets/News company as a Research Analyst/Biographer covering the UK, Australia and other Commonwealth countries.
* "Posh" is Victoria Adams Beckham, otherwise known as Posh Spice, a member of the Spice Girls. "Becks" is David Beckham, a soccer player of Manchester United, and a hero to many European boys and girls the way Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods are to American children, or what Joe DiMaggio was to my father's generation.