Unless you’ve been living in Narnia for the last few weeks, you will be aware that this year’s series of Celebrity Big Brother was by far the best and most explosive in the show’s history. The media has been speculating over why that was, but it’s mostly been attributed to having the right mix of controversial characters in the house. My theory about the success of this year’s show in particular, is this. One man. Lee Ryan. Jim Davidson may have been voted the winner, but it was the ‘love triangle’ between Ryan, Jasmine Waltz (face of Courtney Cox, voice of Joan Rivers) and Casey Batchelor (she of the boobs the size and shape of Baby Houseman’s watermelon) that had us all glued to our screens.
If you were indeed in the land of fauns and talking lions, here’s a summary of what happened. All the housemates were handcuffed in pairs before they were sent in. Lee was paired up with Casey, who within 24 hours in the house, he had kissed, spooned in bed and said he wanted to go on holiday with. As we hear time and time again, because things are so intense in the house, 24 hours feel like weeks, so they were practically a couple by this stage. Bar the odd half hearted “I’m single,” thrown in by Lee, usually right before he probed the contents of Casey’s mouth with his tongue, he gave no indication that he wasn’t interested in anything more. Unless you count the fact that he is Lee Ryan. The problems started when the handcuffs came off the following day and Ryan came to realise there were other attractive women in the house he may never get to probe if he tied himself down too soon. Jasmine’s new BFF in the house, Luisa Zissman had informed her that a relationship would probably help her, come eviction time. “Are you serious?” rasped Jasmine, while eyeing up Ryan in much the same way Homer eyes up Duff beer, just stopping short of licking her lips. It was all the encouragement Lee needed and he was off, looking deep into her eyes and foraging deep into her mouth in a bizarre Groundhog day scenario where Casey’s bouncy boobs had been replaced by Jasmine’s bouncy lips. Word travels fast in a small house filled with big mouths and in a show of uncharacteristic maturity, Casey sat Lee down for a chat to discuss their “relationship.” A visibly squirming Lee tried his best to avoid answering, but Casey was having none of it. “Do yous want to try with me or not? I don’t care if it’s a no, I just need to know.” A distracted Lee said yes, gave her a kiss and shot off straight back to Jasmine. That is the moment I believe, that he became the face of every man who has ever wronged a woman in the UK, EVER. The words “Everyone has dated a Lee Ryan,” came up again and again in every conversation I had about the show and twitter was full of women scorned who finally had a public figure upon whom they could unleash their wrath. When he was booed by the crowd during a fake eviction, Lee was completely clueless. “How am I being PERCEIVED?” he cried, over and over again, while the nearest woman, be it Luisa, Casey, or Emma Willis, calmly rattled off a list of all his indiscretions. “But I’m single!” soon became his mantra, the final nail in his coffin firmly secured when he told a tearful Casey “You crying is making ME look bad!” It was all about him.
When realisation finally dawned that he had become somewhat of a hate figure, he tried one last tactic to defend himself by telling everyone she was a jealous psycho who wouldn’t leave him alone and had a game plan to create a fake romance for the fame. This was interesting because as viewers, we’d had the benefit of seeing both sides of the story, but how many times have we heard people talking about jealous and possessive exes and taken them at their word, never stopping to consider the other person’s perspective? I’ve also found that some men use their version of their bad relationship to garner sympathy and affection from other women. I say men specifically, because I think women are more susceptible to this tactic. It was evident that poor Casey, who was busy consoling a fellow housemate by telling him she found him “admiral” (she meant admirable,) probably couldn’t plan her way out of a paper bag. Undoubtedly, the best episode was the one where Jasmine re-entered the house briefly to confront Lee and he finally got his comeuppance. It was a delicious moment, though Lee still failed to apologise, continuing to plead his innocence. I’ve yet to work out if it was a complete lack of self awareness that meant he couldn’t see what he was doing, or if he had somehow blocked out his behaviour so he wouldn’t have to confront it. This, I believe, was why the series was such a hit, because most of us have dated a Lee Ryan at some point, some of us even more than once, because sometimes we really are THAT stupid.
Lee Ryan and Jasmine Waltz in the Big Brother house
Twitter exploded that night. Women rejoiced, (me included, not least because one of my Lee Ryan exes actually looked a little like him) and even men tweeted their disgust and tried to distance themselves from him. Amusingly, some of the harshest comments were being tweeted by men who had Direct Messaged me their numbers, or sent me pictures of a part of their anatomy I really didn’t need to see. Men who I knew had wives and girlfriends.
While the series was on air, a friend at work was dumped by her boyfriend. She came into the office I share with my colleague Paul, in tears and told us the whole sorry tale. How he had pushed for them to make things serious every step of the way, even asking her to move in with him, before suddenly changing his mind. She had heard through the grape vine that he’d been getting friendly with another girl who just happened to have broken up with her boyfriend the same week. I work with a wonderful bunch of people and by lunchtime, the kitchen was heaving with cake, cookies and medicinal cups of tea. We did the usual thing of telling her she was too good for him, he’d done her a favour etc. Then the stories started. Everyone had a tale about their bastard exes. Both male and female. By the time we put her in a cab home, via the pub of course, she looked much happier.
There is nothing quite like knowing you’re not alone. That other people have been there too.
People who play games or cheat or lie, don’t always realise the effect it has on their partner. It’s not only the betrayal or the physical act of cheating, but when you’re on the receiving end of it, you start to doubt your judgement, your sanity, thinking you’re going mad when you question something that doesn’t seem quite right, only to be told you’re imagining it. How it leads to paranoia and a lack of confidence, feeling like you’ve been made a fool of, a lack of trust, feelings of despair, feeling unattractive, feeling stupid because in hindsight, all the signs were there, and so much more. But knowing others had been there too helped not only my friend, but all of us who’d been there. There were tears, but the conversation was dominated by laughs. Laughing at how stupid we’d been mostly, and at the sheer incredulity that people could be so callous.
We all agreed that it felt like group therapy. Reassuring and supportive. Despite how it sounds, it wasn’t about slagging people off, but shared experiences and knowing that despite every relationship being completely different, we’d all shared the same emotions. So, until next time, don’t let the fuckers win and do try not to be a dickhead, especially to those who’ve done nothing but put their faith in you.