One contestant learned a harsh lesson on Wednesday’s 18th season finale of “Big Brother”: If you’re going to make vulgar comments about women and not apologize when given the chance, maybe do not be surprised if your fellow contestants decline to give you the $500,000 grand prize.
That’s one possible reason Paul Abrahamian lost CBS’s long-running “Big Brother” competition series to Nicole Franzel, even though nine eliminated contestants (known as the “jury” that decides which of the final two wins the prize money) nearly unanimously thought that Paul was the better player.
So it was almost shocking that Paul, a 23-year-old clothing designer from California, lost in a 5-to-4 vote to Nicole, a 24-year-old nurse from Michigan. (As the runner-up, he gets $50,000.) But it was not too surprising if you considered that two of the votes that went to Nicole were jurors Da’Vonne Rogers and Natalie Negrotti, both of whom expressed disgust at Paul’s behavior, particularly his language toward women.
The most notable incident was the one during an episode last month, when Paul – frustrated at being nominated for eviction – got in a nasty argument with another houseguest, Michelle Meyer, who was not sad at the thought of him leaving the house.
“You think you can talk to anybody how you want with no repercussions,” Paul shot back. “You’re a f–ing (four-letter expletive).”
Michelle looked taken aback. “You just called me the (bleep)-word.”
While it was bleeped out, viewers could easily fill in the blanks of his outburst. Of course, misogynistic comments on “Big Brother” are not new. This season, the men criticized the women for being too emotional; Paulie Calafiore declared the female jurors “catty” and “petty” – and Frank Eudy made derogatory insults, including calling Da’Vonne a “slut.” There are many other incidents, which drew headlines as the season went on.
But Paul’s words especially struck a chord. Plus, viewers who watch the 24-hour live feeds reported he made other comments throughout the season, including crude remarks about Natalie. So when the jurors debated the merits of the finalists in the finale during a discussion moderated by former “Big Brother” champion Will Kirby, they zeroed in on Paul’s actions.
“There’s Paul the person, and then there’s Paul the player. Paul the player is phenomenal … Paul the person?” Da’Vonne said, gesturing to Michelle. “Calling you a name, rubbing people the wrong way.”
“So he’s what kind of person in real life?” Will pressed.
“Obnoxious,” Bridgette Dunning said.
“He’s mean,” Natalie added.
“But he’s admitted to everybody that he’s a (expletive)!” piped up Victor Arroyo, trying to defend his closest friend in the house.
“He owns it,” Da’Vonne admitted. “He does own it.”
“Does that absolve you?” Will asked.
“No!” Natalie and Da’Vonne said at the same time.
“At the end of the day, he’s played a great game, but words that come out of his mouth are very unforgivable,” Natalie explained.
“So if someone says something rude to you, you’re not going to give them the money?” Will asked, sounding suspicious.
Natalie paused. “I am bitter towards Paul,” she said. “I’m not going to deny that.”
When the jury questioned Paul and Nicole at the end of the episode before they voted for the winner, Natalie’s query focused on this issue: “Paul, as a jury we believe that you are a very good ‘Big Brother’ player but that some of the things you said were vulgar and crossed the line,” Natalie said, reading off an index card. “Why should I give you my vote when you didn’t give me respect?”
“Ohh, that was spicy!” Paul said. “Guys, I hope you realize that the second I walked in this house I was just as crazy as the way I’m going to walk out of this house. So I can’t hide my personality. I can’t hide my craziness. There’s nothing but love for you guys, just having fun.”
Apparently, the “just having fun” defense did not work out so well. Could an apology have helped? We’ll never know. Da’Vonne and Natalie (who were not particularly close with Nicole during the game) helped tip the votes to Nicole’s side, along with Paulie; Zakiyah Everette; and Nicole’s showmance partner, Corey Brooks.
And as Nicole was crowned the winner, host Julie Chen had a special announcement: “For the first time ever in ‘Big Brother’ history, a woman has won the game against a man in the final two.”