Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS
Throughout her time on Big Brother, Aaryn Gries has established herself as a beacon of prejudice. And on a season notable for its mean-spirited competitors, that's saying something.
So when Gries was finally evicted on Thursday night and strode onto the stage for her exit interview with Julie Chen, the show's studio audience had an understandably mixed reaction. Amidst the polite applause expected of them, they also offered up boos and jeers. Watch the clip here:
On and off for weeks, viewers have heard Gries disparage housemates with racist and homophobic remarks. Chen herself has made it clear that she was personally offended by Gries' slurs against Asians. So it was almost pleasurable to watch the smiling and clueless Gries take a seat across from Chen, seemingly expecting questions about game strategy. She got one or two of those, but Chen's controlled, yet simmering, anger was palpable, and soon gave way to a different line of questioning.
"In the early days of this game you said some pretty harsh things about your housemates," Chen said. "Some of your words, others interpreted as being racist. … Let me just read a few of the things you said." As Chen rattled off three of Gries' most bigoted comments, the 22-year-old looked startled by her own words. "I do not remember saying those things," she said, and was immediately drowned out by the audience's laughter. "That was not meant to be serious, and if I said those things, I feel horrible for that, and I regret that."
Asked if she'd learned anything about herself while living in the house, Gries replied that she learned "so much about life in general." But as she fumbled for words, she was clearly still processing the idea -- apparently for the first time -- that she'd been perceived as racist.
“I love everyone in there," she said, and then specifically named each of her targets: the gay housemate, Andy; the African-American woman, Candice; and the Asian woman, Helen. The skeptical audience continued to giggle.
After Chen played the farewell videos from Gries' housemates, she asked whether Gries had any final thoughts. To her credit, Gries stopped talking about the game and again addressed her own mean behavior. “In Texas, we say things," she said. "Sometimes we joke and we don’t mean it. I really feel bad that this is how it was being seen and how I’ve come across to people. I don’t want to seem like that person.”
Chen maintained a professional coolness to the end. “When this is all over you’re going to get to… watch a whole lot of footage," she said somberly. "I hope and I think you might have a new perspective on things.”
Chen did not say: "On the bright side, your terrible behavior boosted our ratings!" Or: "And by the way, your modeling agency dropped you."
Gries will find that out soon enough.
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.