Playing It Straight – Episode Six

I’m now so ridiculously invested in this show that I sort of wish I’d been blogging it from the beginning, but better late than never, I suppose.

The nature of this week’s challenges was interesting – sure, we’ve had things like the “undoing a bunch of bras” challenge in the past, but (correct me if I’m wrong) I feel like this was the first time an entire episode has revolved around trying to be good at things that are stereotypically “heterosexual”, as opposed to trying not to be too good at things that are stereotypically “gay”. I’m not going to get on my soapbox about these binary assumptions because I feel that to do so is to miss the entire point of this show, but I’m sure somewhere in the world Reichen and Chip from The Amazing Race are wailing “but we proved that gay people can do anything straight people can do back in 2003! Why did we even bother? Oh, right: $1 million.” Anyway, the whole episode had a rather different feel to it as a result – even the straight guys have enjoyed camping it up on things like the drag queen challenge the other week but in tasks like these where the gay guys were less easily able to hide in plain sight, everything tends to get a little bit more po-faced.

Having said that, there were clearly occasions where this was not the case, as the boys themselves seem to have been listening to Alan Carr’s voiceover and trying to upstage him at his own game. Exhibit A, Dean: “I like staying at the rear end…when it comes to large groups.” Exhibit B, Sam: “Where the fuck are all the straight poles? There’s no straight poles left, these are all fucking bent!” And so on.

So it came to pass that Levi was eliminated this week, after a series of complications. I have to say that his date with Cara was one of the most awkward things I’ve witnessed all series, and I’m not even sure I know why. I can’t decide whether it was just that they didn’t fancy each other, whether he’s just shy, or whether it’s one of any number of other explanations, but getting out of a woman’s bed in the middle of the night to sleep on the sofa does seem a rather risky move in a show where the sole goal is to demonstrate your heterosexuality. I had, on occasion, questioned Levi’s role in the cast as a whole, because I never really had any cause to doubt that he was straight and I don’t really think anyone else did – I’m sure the producers had their reasons, but while the rest of the contestants all had a question mark hanging over them to some extent (except David, although that was mostly because I had confirmation of his sexuality from a friend of a friend on Facebook), I felt pretty certain Levi was straight from minute one and never really wavered on this. Then again, so much of this show is about making people second-guess their own assumptions that it could all just have been a fairly spirited double-bluff from the casting people.

It’s perhaps not surprising after The Night Of Awkward that Cara chose to eliminate Levi, but I still think she’s playing a very interesting game. Twice now she’s eliminated people whose heterosexuality I really don’t buy she ever genuinely doubted (Andrei and Levi), so I can only assume she got rid of them because she didn’t really want them around any more – Levi because of the AWKWARD, and Andrei because he was creepy. That’s all fair enough, but I do wonder about the wisdom of this approach: to win the show, she only has to pick a straight guy in the final – I’ve not heard any mention that she actually has to date/marry them – so in her shoes, I’d probably be wanting to keep my surer bets of straightness around as long as possible, whether I liked them or not. Of course, there are a number of variables here: Cara’s gaydar may work very differently from mine, and she might feel that she’d rather lose all the prize money to someone she enjoyed spending time with for the duration of filming rather than split the prize with someone she detests, and so on. Again, I feel I am perhaps applying far too much thought to a cheap E4 dating show, but as someone who watches a lot of reality TV, I can’t help analysing the way people choose to play the game, and I really am finding Cara’s tactics fascinating.

So, the remaining guys, with my predictions at present:

Ben & Sam: I’m still sticking with my original prediction that they’re either both gay or both straight rather than any sort of mix-and-match situation, just because the structure of the show would seem to indicate that. Trying to make a call either way, however, is still difficult. Having finally found a coworker this week who is as obsessed with this show as I am (hooray!), I found out that she agrees with me on this, and is leaning towards them both being straight, just because she knows quite a lot of straight guys who are quite camp in a similar way to this pair. So, considering my inability to make a decision, I’ll defer to her for now.

Danny: To be frank, I don’t care what Danny’s sexuality is as long as he never sings on my television ever again. Dear God. My gut reaction is saying straight for him – much like with my friend from work with the twins, I’ve just met a fair few straight guys who were camp in the same way that Danny is, so I’m going to hope my prior experience is going to serve me well here.

Dean: Pretty much everyone inside the show and outside of it, as far as I can tell, thinks Dean is gay. I concur.

Jordan: I feel quite sorry for Jordan – he hasn’t had a lot of camera time, and I don’t think he’s had any one-on-one time with Cara either, so I feel like he’s fighting a losing battle. Bearing that in mind, I’m having to make a deduction based on very little info, so I’m pretty much just shooting in the dark here: Gay.

Sven: Sven’s grown on me hugely since the start of the series, especially this week when he wrote Cara a Pokémon-themed love song (and favourited one of my tweets about him during the show). I’m still inclined to think he’s straight, and I feel reasonably confident about that, but I’m still not without my doubts.

DISCLAIMER: My gaydar hasn’t worked properly since the year 2005, so the above is based entirely on supposition and not intended in any way to provide an accurate assessment of the sexualities of the gentlemen in question.

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