Why Secretly Rooting For Big Brother’s Tully & Drew Reunion Has Left Me Conflicted

Image courtesy of Channel 7
Big Brother Australia: Royalty vs New Contenders contestants Tully Smyth and Anthony Drew
Ever since the cast of Big Brother: Royalty vs New Contenders was announced earlier this year, most of the hype and fan hysteria has been related to Tully Smyth and Anthony Drew returning to the series after nine years.
Tonight, Smyth makes her entrance into the Big Brother house, and one of the biggest scenarios that Channel 7 promos and viewers are leaning into is: Will they or won't they hook up again?
Long-time Big Brother viewers like myself will recall Smyth and Drew's relationship in the house back in 2013. The pair turned to each other for physical affection and emotional support, with many fans and media labelling it a 'cheating scandal' at the time as Smyth had a girlfriend, Tahlia Farrant, on the outside.
When Smyth was evicted, she learned that her girlfriend had dumped her after watching her relationship with Drew evolve on screen. Despite viewer backlash, she followed her heart when she later re-entered the BB house for a freeze challenge. All housemates, including Drew, had to remain still while Smyth came in and tried to make them react and unfreeze. Smyth walked up to Drew and passionately kissed him, before whispering in his ear, "I'm single."
When Drew was eventually evicted, Smyth was on stage to congratulate him with kisses, and the pair tried to give their relationship a go on the outside before calling it quits a few months later.
Now, almost a decade later, we're about to see Smyth and Drew come face to face in the BB house again. And while their fling was no doubt one of the biggest storylines in the show's history, I question why so many of us are fixated on seeing whether Smyth and Drew will get back together, myself included.
Channel 7 has also been heavily leaning into the potential storyline, even teasing that all of Australia wants to see what happens when she arrives to see Drew — who has been in the house for a few days now — hooking up with housemate Sam Manovski.
"This is the night Australia stops," a voiceover projects in the latest promo showing Smyth's arrival. "Her explosive arrival will spark the biggest love triangle in Big Brother history." Watch the promo below:
Love triangles are intrinsically dramatic and can provide great entertainment value at times. But let's not forget how Smyth and Drew's relationship began in 2013. A third person (Smyth's ex-girlfriend) was a part of the equation, and she felt that her trust was betrayed. Did Smyth and Drew's behaviour in the BB house represent, at the very least, emotional cheating, and if so, are we glorifying infidelity by being so engrossed by (and perhaps encouraging of) the possibility of them rekindling a romance?
Or should we accept their history as merely entertaining television that we should watch guilt free?
The more I think about it in the lead up to Smyth's arrival tonight, the more conflicted I feel. Being in an environment like the Big Brother house is obviously like no other. You're thrown into a bubble, cut off from technology, social media and the real world, emotions are heightened and you inevitably turn to the strangers you've been forced to grow attached to.
Perhaps that explains Smyth and Drew seeking comfort and affection in each other's arms when they were last on the show. Perhaps it also explains why so many of us are supportive of their relationship, and secretly hope they give us round two of (guilt-free) romance on TV.
In an interview with the POPCAST podcast in 2018, Smyth said that the situation with Drew wasn't as simple as her cheating on a partner she was in a steady and committed relationship with.
"Something that I have never really spoken about publicly, just purely out of – funnily enough, respect for my ex is that we weren’t in a good place prior to the show," she said. "I probably should have had the balls to end it before I went in… I just didn’t."
Smyth has made it clear on social media this past week that she already had a boyfriend, Daniel Parisi, when she entered the BB house this time around. She assures us that there's no chance of her trying to romantically pursue Drew, or come between him and Manovski.
Nonetheless, many of us Big Brother fans will still tune into Smyth and Drew's reunion tonight, because there's something thrilling about watching a TV cheating scandal we don't personally have to suffer the consequences of — whether we'd like to admit it or not.
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