Discovering the Limits of Microcelebrity on 'Big Brother': The Frankie Grande Story

Ariana Grande's brother made a big deal of revealing who he really is on last night's Big Brother. Too bad another contestant thought his sister's name was Amanda.

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Big Brother contestant Frankie Grande, of the Boca Raton Missile Boob Grandes, came out as a Frankie Grande on last night's episode of the show. After being called out as a liar, he revealed to his male castmates that he is the brother of Ariana, a YouTuber, a "TV star," and "a social media mogul."

In a moment that was supposed to be a confession of sorts, however, Frankie found a lot of room for more lying. (A quintessential Big Brother maneuver, to be sure.)

Frankie is a YouTuber, yes, and one who celebrates the proud tradition of Topless Tuesday. But his claim that he has 1.5 million followers, either on YouTube or Twitter, is pure bull. Even combined, you don't really get close — 711,000 Twitter followers; 271,000 on YouTube. That also somewhat invalidates his argument that he's a "social media mogul," to the extent that one could ever validate or invalidate a phrase as squishy and meaningless as "social media mogul." And TV star? Not exactly.

He is the brother of Ariana Grande, though. He nailed that one. And that did him approximately no good.

"My sister is a mega, mega pop star," Frankie told his housemates, who were probably expecting to hear him say his real last name was Spears. "What's my last name? Grande?"

"Amanda?" housemate Derrick guessed.

"Ariana," Frankie said.

"Ari? Is that Ari?" Derrick said. "I thought Ari was a dude."

Frankie, unfortunately, was working to an audience of straight men. Not only that, but Ariana has seen her star rise considerably since the cast was first sequestered on June 25.

Frankie clearly thought he had a grenade on his hands – he even called it his "coming out" on the show. Yet in a culture that has, for the most part, sacrificed its macro elements (massive hit TV shows, universally beloved singers) for the micro (YouTubers, fandoms), his bomb-drop was a bit of a dud. The reason he kept his starry sibling a secret to begin with was presumably because he was worried the truth might ... drive his housemates mad with jealousy? Act as a wedge between the grandiosity of his fame and the paltry ordinary lives of his competitors? Unclear on all counts!

The past weeks on Big Brother featured a lot of buildup to this moment. Frankie with the Superstar Sister. Interestingly, the show only treated Frankie's familial relationship as a big-deal secret. It's Frankie who led his big announcement with the news of his massive internet fame. Not even the great Julie Chen was going to try to package that as any kind of bombshell.

So where does this confession of viral notoriety leave Frankie? Between the revelation, his other lies and exaggerations within the contest of the game, and because he confessed to feeling "paranoid" in the house, Frankie didn't exactly come off as stable this week. Not that anyone on Big Brother usually does, but that's another story.

While it's clear Ariana loves her brother to death, one thing Frankie said in his breakdown is absolutely true: She is a huge deal in the pop music world. It's just that that doesn't mean as much as it used to anymore.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.