Remember when Paulie Calafiore was actually leading the house and people thought he might actually win Big Brother? And remember when fans actively hated him so much for his behavior in the house that they created a #WeHatePaulieCalafiore hashtag party on Twitter? But let’s get something straight: Calafiore wasn’t the only offensive, misogynistic male houseguest. We’ll touch on that in a second.
Calafiore didn’t start out as the most hated in the house; he was actually considered more of a pawn that the veteran Big Brother players could use to get their plans executed. He’d spent a lot of time in the background, and a few of his fellow contestants were being more obvious about their terrible behavior, so for a while Calafiore was just assumed to be a nice guy.
When you’ve got a house that has Frank Eudy calling women sluts and slapping girls on the ass, it’s easy to look like a nice guy. Or Paul Abrahamian, who wished actual death to Tiffany Rousso. And then there’s Corey Brooks, who had a past problem of calling people “fag.” So really, the men on Season 18 could be the grossest collection of people in the history of reality TV.
Next to them, Calafiore was a quiet guy who played an honest game. And then the cracks started to show. He started a campaign to get Da’Vonne Rogers out of the house. He thought she was loud and caused a lot of drama that the house didn’t need. In plain English, that loosely translated to, he didn’t want someone in the house who wouldn’t allow him to continue to be a total sexist.
And then he all but berated his showmance partner, Zakiyah Everette. He picked an outrageous fight with her, accusing her of lying to him and not giving him all the information even though he’d given her multiple chances. If you thought he sounded like a terrible, abusive father, you weren’t alone.
After he was done being a crazy person toward Everette, he bragged about it to the other men in the house, saying how proud he was that he’d made her cry.
Calafiore had been giving these subtle jabs all season long, but they’d gone unnoticed next to the other, more in-your-face contestants. But once that protective barrier was gone, it exposed him as a terrible person.
Now that the show has ended — and Nicole Franzel made history as the first woman to beat out a male houseguest (Paul Abrahamian) in final two — Da’Vonne Rogers is speaking out. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Rogers said the BB house “felt like hell.”
“I’m a parent, first and foremost,” Rogers said. “I have morals, and I have self-respect, and I’m not about to let you do whatever you think you want to do to me. At some point, I had to tell him to back off.”
But it wasn’t just Rogers who spoke about the misogynistic men and their actions in the house. Natalie Negrotti told BuzzFeed: “You can only take so much when you hear comments being thrown around about women or their bodies. I was livid. That really strikes home for me. I’ll always stand up for women, I’ll always stand up for myself.”
She continued: “I definitely thought about self-evicting numerous times just to escape all of the bashing towards me. And that was the hard part. I was so excited to be there, and I felt like people were attacking me constantly… This was the hardest and most difficult thing I’ve done.”
And then remember when Abrahamian called Michelle “Big Meech” Meyer a “fucking cunt”? BuzzFeed confronted him about that as well, and he actually, surprisingly stood by it. “In real life, I don’t take that shit from anybody, and I’m not going to change that in this game,” he said. “I think Michelle was a little bit of a bully; she would poke and prod at everybody this season, and she poked the wrong person in that moment. Don’t think you can walk over me because there’s money at stake. I don’t care what’s at stake; nobody talks to me that way.”
But can someone please tell him that that word is never OK to use? OK, thanks.
But the best part is when BuzzFeed approached Eudy about his much-talked-about behavior toward Rogers. And be warned: His response will upset you as much as Abrahamian’s did.
“I never did it to be mean,” he said. “I did it out of a sense of camaraderie.” Wait, what?
“I think sometimes when you sit there and you’re talking with the guys in the house… it’s not necessarily stuff you mean, it’s just the way guys talk to each other.” Hey, fellas, can we change this?
He continues: “I still try to stay as PC as possible, but at the same time, sometimes you forget where you’re at. You’ll be sitting there, having a conversation, you get up, see a camera and think, ‘Oh shit, I’m in the Big Brother house, and people heard that.'”
Sorry not sorry, but this is all inexcusable.
It makes you wonder what the producer’s responsibility is in all this. Finding people controversial enough to create an entertaining show is one thing. It’s a formula that every casting director has had to deal with since reality shows blew up. But this seems irresponsible — they shouldn’t reward this disgusting behavior, much less cast these people to be on the show. It’s the subtle hate that ruins people, and putting Calafiore, someone who is so comfortable spewing it, front and center just doesn’t seem like the right choice.
Sure, it’s been a week since the winner was crowned, but after reading the guys explain away their behavior, we’re pretty fuming mad. Let’s do better.
Before you leave, check out our slideshow below:
This article was originally published on Aug. 4, 2016 and updated on Sept. 26, 2016.