WOW! After ten weeks, Big Brother Canada ends not with a bang or a whimper but a collective gasp of "WTF?" On a night which should have culminated with Gary screeching through a storm of glitter and confetti, we instead were left with one of reality TV's most bizarre moments.
In case you haven't heard it by now or seen the clip on YouTube, Big Brother jury member, Topaz, unwittingly cast the deciding vote to win the game for the wrong person. Instead of voting for her best friend in the game (Gary), she somehow voted for his opponent in the final two, Jillian. The woman famous for sleeping through most of Big Brother Canada had now officially fallen asleep at the switch.
Up until Topaz's vote was revealed, the night belonged to Gary. The underdog in the Big Brother game, and in life, looked poised to become the first winner of Big Brother Canada. Gary won the final HoH and evicted the odds-on favourite to win, Emmett, from the game. On a week when Jason Collins came out as a gay man in the NBA, Gary was equally as eloquent with the jury when he spoke to the audience about growing up as a young man who was clearly different than everybody else around him.
After almost two hours filled with umpteen highlight reels of all of the wackiest moments from this season, the most absurd moment was yet to come. After Arisa Cox revealed Topaz's vote, Topaz stormed the stage. She demanded a recount and accused someone of switching her vote (was it just me or did it look like she went directly to Dan Gheesling sitting in the front row?). Arisa Cox threw the show to an impromptu commercial so the judges could make their decision, but it was clear that no foul play had occurred. It was simply a case of Topaz concentrating so hard at getting her witty voting barb against Jillian out that she didn't concentrate on the task at hand and gave the game to Jillian.
While I'm confident most people today will be making the case that Gary got robbed of his rightful victory, I will not be beating that same drum. While I rooted for Gary to win once he returned, Jillian also played a strong game, whether or not the jury members saw it that way. She got more blood on her hands than you would ideally like to see, and she relied heavily on her showmance partner, Emmett -- but isn't that what made them a successful alliance? While Jillian was rather unremarkable as a finalist in dealing with the questions from the jury, it's never easy trying to win over a small but angry mob. While it's clear that Gary should have won the game, Jillian is still a worthy winner of the title.
I don't mean to slight Gary but I don't feel bad for him at all. Gary was voted out of the game once and came back because of a twist. While it would have been great to see him make history, somehow it seems karmic that an act from the reality TV gods cost him his chance to win.
Gary made $20,000 for second place as well (In U.S. Big Brother, second place only gets $50,000 which is 10 percent of the grand prize -- as opposed to second place on Big Brother Canada which is 20 percent of the grand prize). Gary is beloved by his fans. Most importantly, Gary is the ultimate winner of Big Brother Canada. Gary became a star over the last few weeks ... or at the very least, a reality star. While reality TV fame can be especially fleeting, I do feel like Gary will have any opportunity that he'd like to pursue, whether it be for his own financial gain or to continue to fight for the acceptance of all types of people.
I don't claim to know Gary particularly well, but I think in some ways this was the perfect ending for his story. Instead of the narrative being about him winning, which would have always had it's own asterisk due to him getting a second chance at the game, Gary's story completely changes. Everybody will hear about this story and learn about Gary and he will become more famous for this. Gary Levy didn't become Gary Glitter to not be a celebrity. Now that he's gotten his wish, it's going to be interesting to see what the next chapter holds for him. While many Big Brother fans will lament the crown Gary could have won, his supporters ought to remember that all that glitters isn't gold.