Liz & Austin Vs. Christine & Cody On 'Big Brother': Why Have These Controversial Relationships Been Treated So Differently?
The big topic of discussion on Big Brother 17 is the Austin and Liz showmance. Will they stay together? What will Liz's family think of him? Is Austin cheating on his girlfriend with Liz? However, a lot of these questions have been blown over by the CBS broadcast, as it has ignored the adulterous undertones behind the Liztin relationship, which has become official and gotten physical. This is in strong contrast to BB16, during which the married Christine was given a lot of criticism in and out of the house for supposedly cheating on her husband, even though all she ever did was flirt with Cody. At this time, CBS has not responded to Bustle's request for comment on the portrayal of Liz and Austin this season.
So why is what Austin doing in the house OK, but Christine was booed when she was evicted? CBS dedicated time during the network broadcasts last season to show that other houseguests thought what she was doing was wrong, but Austin's girlfriend has barely been mentioned, save for a quip from Zingbot on Wednesday night. It doesn't seem fair that while Austin is entering a serious, intimate relationship on TV despite saying he had a girlfriend earlier in the season, he's barely getting any criticism, while Christine is still harrassed for becoming close with Cody last summer. What is the difference between what Christine did and what Austin is doing?
Austin's Ex-Girlfriend May Not Allow Herself To Be Mentioned On Big Brother
The live feeds often cut out whenever Austin begins to mention his ex-girlfriend. Fans suspect that Austin's girlfriend (who he has said did not approve of his decision to go on Big Brother) didn't sign a release, barring her from being mentioned during the show. It's hard to construct an "Austin is cheating" narrative when the show isn't allowed to mention who it is that Austin is cheating on. If Austin's girlfriend had signed a release, it's likely that CBS would've made a really big deal out of him cheating, as it would've made amazing television to do a "back-home" session with her watching what Austin was doing.
Christine Was Married
Christine was thrown a lot of criticism for how she behaved around Cody, which involved a great deal of cuddling and friendliness. Liz has said that she thinks what Christine did was worse because she was married, however her husband Tim was fully supportive of his wife, and they were able to sort out any issues about how she behaved after the show had ended. The level of trust Christine shared with her husband was strong enough that despite having gotten cuddly with another houseguest, her husband Tim saw no reasons to end a marriage over it. Austin, although having not been married, is hooking up with Liz. However, it sounds more scandalous to say "A houseguest is cheating on their husband" than "A houseguest is cheating on their girlfriend."
Christine Is A Woman
CBS might think it's less entertaining to hear the details of Austin's infidelity because, as Vanessa put it "[I've] caught every guy I was ever with cheating on me. Pretty much thought it was a thing of the gender." If Christine was a married guy getting cozy with another houseguest, I wonder if he would've gotten so much attention for his behavior. I think the fact that a married woman was possibly cheating on her husband became a huge scandal at least partly due to double standards regarding male and female romantic expression.
CBS may not be paying much attention to Austin's infidelity, but when Austin and Liz leave the house they're going to face the hard truth that all of America knows what they've been doing behind closed doors. Christine and her husband are stronger than ever after her time on Big Brother, but I don't think Austin is going to get his happy ending.
For more on this season of Big Brother, check out Bustle's podcast The Diary Room.
Image: Sonja Flemming/CBS