Last year’s season of our favourite ode to claustrophobia was rough. Plagued by unpopular houseguests who disappointed the viewers with both generally weak strategy and seriously questionable personalities, Big Brother 15 was one of the most aggravating seasons in show history. But it was saved by a couple things, one of which was the charmingly odd pairing of a 23-year-old pizza boy and a 28-year-old high-end real estate agent.
Best Reality Team nominees McCrae Olson and Amanda Zuckerman may be broken up now but they’ll be remembered as one of the most successful showmances Big Brother has ever produced. Amanda stopped by the Nominee Interview Series to reflect on their controversial time in the Big Brother house.
Why did you apply to be on Big Brother? Were there any other reality shows you contemplated (or also applied to)?
I was a finalist on The Bachelor and, a week before, I found out I didn’t make it. When I applied to Big Brother I really loved that this was one of the reality shows that was REAL! I know my strengths as a person and felt like I could go far in this mindgame of a tv show.
What would you say is the single biggest trick to getting cast?
I think the key to being cast on a tv show is be unique, yet still be yourself. Casting directors are really looking for entertaining people, whether it’s in a good or bad way. I think a lot of people put their best, goody-goody foot forward, and for this show that’s definitely not what they are looking for. They want someone who can stir up drama, play the game and envoke emotion, no matter what emotion that is, from an audience.
What surprised you the most about the Big Brother experience compared to just seeing it on TV?
People don’t realize how long it feels like in that house. Even if you make a mistake one day, you’re fine, because the next day the focus is on someone else. A day feels like a week, no joke. Everyone who has been on the show would tell you that.
I’m surprised how strong my intuition was in the game. It tought me outside of the house to trust your instincts. If something doesn’t sit right with you, or if someone else’s human behavior is slightly off, there’s a reason.
What did you learn from watching the preceding seasons that helped you the most with both life in the house and game strategy?
You go into the house with a “strategy.” But that strategy quickly changes when you interact with the other houseguests and form relationships. The game becomes less about strategy, and more about human interaction. I don’t think my game was comparable to any previous alums, because I think I’m not really comparable to any alums.
Did you really believe McCrae was lying about being a pizza boy to cover up his real identity as a tech billionaire?
Everyone thought McCrae was lying about being a pizza boy in the beginning. McCrae is a very smart person with an extensive vocabulary, which led me to believe he wasn’t telling the truth. At one point I remember he has a pair of Duke University shorts, and I was convinced he went to Duke. I got a hard slap of reality in an HOH competition, where america votes: “who’s more likely to…”, that McCrae actually was a pizza boy, since he was voted most likely to live in his parents’ basement, lol.
Did you have your eye on McCrae from the start or did the spark begin when he won that HOH?
The spark really initiated day 2 during our bathing suit photo shoot. I kept making my usual inappropriate sexual comments, and he would be the only one laughing and getting it. Initially I thought we would just be really close friends, but it just blossomed from there.
At what point did you realize that the showmance wasn’t just strategy on either of your parts?
We both knew that showmances really only make it to a certain point, so initially we tried to keep it a secret. Then eventually we realized our dynamic was very good cop, bad cop, which worked for a pretty long time. We always planned on eventually “divorcing,” but unfortunately our emotions got kicked into high gear and we never got to that point.
How do you feel the MVP twist impacted your game? Have you thought about what your season might have looked like without it?
Although MVP was geared towards a certain someone, I liked the twist. To me, having 2 people sit up on he block next to you was better than one, especially because we were in a showmance. We quickly found a way to beat the system and we did.
Even when I was nominated twice by MVP, I didn’t ever have one vote against me. I think the game would be a lot scarier without MVP and I’m glad that this was the twist. The game would have been a lot different for sure. Elissa would have been gone week 1, 100%. But then the moving company would have gone a lot farther and who knows what would have happened.
Was the possibility that the MVP might be America something you considered or did that come out of left field?
Initially I knew it was America. I knew that there would be some sort of uproar from BB fans if Elissa got it one more time. I could just hear Julie “America, now YOU’RE the MVP…” So the only other option was America. Then I definitely was over thinking it and thought Judd could be the MVP because of his abnormal behavior at the time.
The Moving Company is one of the biggest failed alliances in show history. Is there a world in which you stick with those guys to the end?
In a normal 2-nominee game of Big Brother I think the moving company could have gone further. They didn’t factor in the fact that alliances are built on trust and relationships, and essentially McCrae trusted me, Andy and Judd over any of them.
Not to mention myself and a couple others controlled that 3rd vote thanks to Elissa and the twist.
For a large part of the game, you controlled which way the unanimous vote went. How did you choose your targets? Some (like Howard and Judd) still seemed fairly harmless when they were evicted.
I always convinced people to go with the majority of the house, and not gain any enemies…being me and McCrae, lol. Howard really was only gunning against me, but he was gaining the trust of Elissa, Candice, Helen, Jessy, and Spencer. Howard didn’t know the game very well, and I couldn’t read him whatsoever…and he had power of people I needed, so he had to go. I was in an alliance with Judd for most of the game, but after a while I started not to trust him. He began lying within our alliance, and causing arguments with Andy. He made up this amazing lie in solitary confinement, which kept Aaryn, and got rid of Kaitlyn, but completely lied to us as well. Although it benefited us, once you lie to me, I can’t trust you. There’s no 3 strikes in this game. But Judd also had power over Aaryn and Jessie, and I needed to have the power over them, which is why he was J-U-Double Evicted.
Were you the least bit wary of Andy and the possibility that he might be playing every side of the house?
We both knew Andy was playing all sides of the house, which worked for us. He was the “agent” of our alliance until our alliance crashed and burned when Aaryn got evicted. I did trust Andy a little too much, because I really loved him as a person. So that’s something you most definitely have to keep in mind… TRUST NO ONE!
During the controversy at the beginning of the season, you were among the people in the house who seemed most aware of how things were likely coming across to the audience. Was there any point when you started to feel like you might be in a somewhat infamous season of Big Brother?
My goal in that house was to play a good, strong game. That is what I wanted as my legacy in Big Brother, and I think that I accomplished that.
While McCrae’s edit was fairly steady, Amanda yours portrayed a pretty different person in September from who was there in July. Watching the season back, did that feel like a fair portrait of the pressure and isolation getting to you or did the editors turn on you in August?
To be honest, I don’t. I was the same person in the beginning of the game to the end. There is a lot more stress as the days go on and it can definitely wear on you.
But I noticed as the other “villains” were evicted my funny, sweet, moments were not aired, my apologies weren’t aired. Really my edit became about the outlandish, bad moments I had. But that’s the name of the game really. I was a strong player, I had my ups, and I had my downs, but I’m still so grateful for the opportunity and was so honored to be a part of it. And again, whether you loved me or hated me, I had control over that has for most of the season, for about 70 out of 90 days, and that makes me feel accomplished.
How much of what we saw in late August was your honest behavior and how much was you playing a part or playing the game? (ie: torturing Elissa).
Torturing Elissa was a game move. I was desperately trying to keep Andy from going up as the replacement nominee. My strategy was to “torture” Elissa so badly, break her down, and have Andy go up there to console her so she would feel a bond with him and not put him up on the block. I call this the wounded animal method. Nurse a wounded animal back to health, and they will be loyal to you forever. Unfortunately for me, and my edit, Idiot Andy had already become a part of “The Exterminators,” and didn’t care if he went up on the block because he knew he would be safe. And even after that day of torment, I did apologize to Elissa, and we moved past it…she did vote to keep me after all when I was evicted. So basically, I blame Andy for everything that went wrong lol.
Do you feel that the aired version of the show was a fairly accurate representation of most of the people in the house as they really are? Did anybody get a free ride from the editors?
I think the show is edited for entertainment. I think some people were glorified for certain reasons, and some people weren’t. In the end it’s a tv show and the network wants ratings. Everyone in the house had their moments of weakness and strength.
You came under a lot of fire for some of the comments you made in the house, but the live timeline of Big Brother results in most of the conversation about the season taking place when you can’t participate in it. Do you feel like you’ve been given enough opportunity to explain your side of the story?
I think there are no “sides” when it comes to inappropriate comments, no matter what the intent was. The fact is, I made comments, whether it was in jest or not, that offended people. Because of the severity of comments made by other houseguests, all of us were immediately put under a microscope and weren’t aware of how careful we needed to be with our words. I definitely feel remorseful for the comments I made, and the people I offended because that was never my intent.
The final veto competition that split the two of you and McCrae up was one of the most heartbreaking moments of the season. Did either of you think about throwing it?
No. I was there to win, and I was too close to just give it up. And I knew McCrae wasn’t about to throw it either. McCrae and I are both game players, and would never sacrifice ourselves for the other.
Other than McCrae, which houseguest would you have been happiest to cast your jury vote for in the finale?
That’s a tough question. I would probably pick Aaryn, because she was in such a bad position in the beginning of the game, and due to her ability to kill it in comps, and shmooze with the right people, she made it very far.
What were your favourite and least favourite competitions of the summer?
I really hated the froyo have not competition, and the bar-b-que competition. I enjoyed the Veto competition I won, because it was one of the toughest physically, and I killed it. I also liked that last veto because I knocked out all of the people I wanted to when everyone underestimated me.
Is there anything you wish you didn’t do on national television?
Yea, a lot. But I have no regrets.
Is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had?
What’s the one move you think you could’ve made to get yourselves to the end but couldn’t see at the time?
Keep Aaryn and vote out Andy. I wanted to, but someonnneeee didn’t want to. Ahem.
What was one of the biggest aspects of your season that didn’t make it to TV?
The Goof Troup! Our alliance with me, Andy, Judd, and McCrae dominated most of the season.
Would you play again? Would you consider returning for a duos season if you could do it together?
I would. We’re not much of a duo anymore, but I would play with McCrae again.
If you could play against any former houseguests, whom would you pick?
Someone easy to beat lol.