Step aside, Chris Harrison. Julie Chen is the hostess with the mostess when it comes to reality TV romances. The Big Brother host, who has helmed the CBS reality show every summer since 2000, has bragging rights when it comes to the most marriages spawned from a currently running reality show.
“We’ve had more marriages come out of Big Brother than The Bachelor,” Chen told Entertainment Tonight, comparing the wedding tally from her show to the marriages spawned from the male-led version of ABC’s rose-filled reality show.
To date, The Bachelor has only spawned two marriages out of 22 seasons, and one of them wasn’t even with the star’s original pick. Meanwhile, Big Brother can boast at least three marriages: Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Lloyd, Rachel Reilly, and Brendon Villegas, and Danielle Donato and Dominick Briones. There’s also currently engaged couple Cody Nickson and Jessica Graf.
On Big Brother, it all starts with a showmance. Big Brother Season 2 contestant Will Kirby famously coined the term “showmance” during the second season of the CBS reality show back in 2001. Since that time, dozens of reality TV romances have been formed, with some used strictly for gameplay and others turning into real-life romances.
For Big Brother’s landmark 20th season, contestants Swaggy C and Bayleigh Dayton are this summer’s lovebirds. Chen told ET she thinks the two could be moving too fast.
“They did jump in too soon, but that’s Big Brother,” Chen said, before acknowledging that they are at least keeping it on the down low.
“They’re not flaunting their showmance in everyone else’s face,” the Big Brother host said. “We’ve seen that in the past where, you know, [dating houseguests] will walk around, arms hooked over shoulders. …But they’ve been keeping it somewhat low-key. [And] you can’t help who you fall in love with.”
Chen also weighed in on budding showmancers Faysal Shafaat and Haleigh Broucher. Broucher has been trying to keep the sparks between the two at bay.
“It might be [like] a Jeff and Jordan showmance, where they say, ‘OK, we like each other, but we’re going to wait until we’re out of the house to actually, you know, date,'” Chen said, referring to Big Brother Season 11’s now-married couple Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Lloyd.
Chen also revealed there could be a possible love triangle with Faysal, Hayleigh, and Tyler Crispin, whom she thinks Broucher could also have feelings for. Throw in Kaitlyn Herman, who may or may not like Faysal too, and you’ve got what Chen describes as “a real-life soap opera!”
Of course, Julie Chen is not always right when it comes to Big Brother romances. Last season, the CBS host downplayed a relationship between Cody Nickson and Jessica Graf because she thought Nickson had his eye on fellow houseguest Alex Ow.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly last summer, Chen predicted, “My guess? Cody is slowly falling in love with Alex. He seems to love her spunk, spirit, athleticism, and the way she is brutally honest and kind of ‘in-your-face!’ about it.”
Chen was way off base on that one, considering Cody and Jessica went on to win The Amazing Race together and are currently engaged.
Julie Chen also previously predicted that Big Brother 18’s James Huling and Natalie Negrotti has the potential for a real-life romance outside of the house. While the Big Brother couple did try to make a go of a romantic relationship after their season wrapped, their romance ended very badly. The two reality stars no longer speak.
Big Brother Season 20 airs Sundays, Wednesday, and Thursdays on CBS.