Reality TV's summertime guilty pleasure, "Big Brother," felt a whole lot guiltier this season, thanks largely to the bad behavior of several houseguests. Racism, sexism, homophobia — you name, they said it.
But one of them said more than the others. Aaryn Gries, a 22-year-old college student from San Marcos, Texas, stood apart from her fellow contestants by offering up the worst of the worst remarks. In fact, her comments — many of which were aimed at now-eliminated black contestant Candace Stewart — were so bad that the modeling agency that represented Gries when she entered the house, Zephyr Talent, dropped her as a client.
On Thursday night, Gries was dropped from something else: the "Big Brother" house. A unanimous vote sent her packing on the latest eviction episode, which meant she had to face host Julie Chen for the usual post-elimination interview.
But the interview wasn't usual. Instead of simply talking gameplay, Chen also asked Gries, who was greeted by the studio audience with a mixture of boos and tepid applause, about her racist remarks.
"Being Southern, it's a stereotype," Gries said of the accusation. "I have said some things that have been taken completely out of context and (are) wrong, and I do not mean to ever come off racist. That's not me."
The audience laughed at that claim before the former houseguest added, "I apologize to anyone I've offended for that."
Of course, Gries has no idea whether her comments were taken out of context or not, as she's yet to see any portion of what's been broadcast. Besides, as Chen pointed out, online viewers were able to watch it all as it happened — and all of the houseguests knew the cameras were on them every hour of the day.
After being confronted with a list of her worst remarks — which included telling another player to "be careful what you say in the dark, might not be able to see the b-----," of Stewart; saying that Korean American contestant Helen Kim should "shut up, (and) go make some rice"; and in reference to gay contestant Andy Herren, saying, "No one's going to vote for whoever that queer puts up" — Gries seemed baffled by her own words.
"I do not remember saying those things, and those things were not meant to be ... that was not meant to be serious," Gries insisted as the audience laughed again and even groaned. "If I said those things, I feel horrible for that, and I regret that. I don’t even know what else to say about that."
Gries claimed she learned a lot during her time in the house and now feels "like a completely different person."
"And I love everyone in there and honestly," she said. "Andy and I are great friends. Candace and I are great friends. I love Helen more than anything."
Again, the audience laughed, so Gries tried to explain her behavior.
"In Texas, we say things that ... sometimes we joke and we don’t mean it," she said. "I really feel bad that this is how it's being seen and how I've come across to people."
That's the last "Big Brother" fans will hear from Gries until the show's season finale on Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. She's now sequestered with several of her former fellow houseguests in the "Big Brother" jury house.