The first participant enters and is met by the silent gaze of multiple cameras,
angled to capture her face, for the dawning moment of arrival, as well as an overview of her
appearance—dressed business appropriate, pulling a wheeled suitcase. Her uneven steps
echo ambivalence through the empty house. We too feel it, doubting the arrangement’s
presentation, which has historically required the presence of others.
Lauren: It’s exciting to see the place for the first time. I wonder when I’ll meet my housemates.
Before the woman can linger too long in puzzlement, a man enters. Tall, handsome,
muscles bulging at the seams of his too-tight shirt. He and the woman both emit a highpitched
note of excitement, not in recognition of past intimacy, but the intimacy they are
bound to share in the months ahead.
Chad: So stoked to be here! I walk in and see Lauren and think, Hey, this is gonna be fun!
The meeting is interrupted by a second man, a blond-haired version of the first, who
now steps back, the space of his masculinity confined. The men shake hands, and the
blonde eagerly hugs the woman, for he is moments late and has ground to make up.
Troy: Chad seems cool enough, but if there’s only room for one head honcho, I doubt he’s going
to be much of a threat.
The imbalance of the sexes stalls the gathering with crosscutting tensions. That is,
until another woman arrives, midriff bared, blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. The
camera pans to her hips, sashaying through the entryway. She not only hugs the men
but kisses them each lightly on the cheek, suggesting what might come if they play their
cards right, or play them at all.
Ashley: The house is amazing! And the guys are super cute! Talk about lucking out.
The girls embrace, too, for the new addition has provided equilibrium. Everyone
seems to revel in the feeling of being generously rewarded, privileged to represent the
population at large, to encapsulate sprawling reality to a system of monitors focused on
their exceptional faces.
Then enters the fifth and final housemate: seen first in silhouette, an impossibly dark
shadow symbolic of impenetrable gloom. It is a man, older than the others as evidenced
by the silver hairs littering his temples. He sets down his small bag and mechanically
shakes each of their hands in turn.
This new arrival has upset the assemblage’s symmetry. The previously smiling faces all
turn to the door, anticipating the final piece that will restore harmonious balance. But no
one comes. And this, we realize, is why they were brought here—to live in a world that
simulates reality, a world that is almost perfect. Almost.
The Producers: That’s the point. The show is called, Room for One More? and it’s a social
experiment unlike anything we’ve seen on television. These shows are typically put together
to create an illusion of variety. Contestants may be different races, different ages, they may
even have incompatible personalities. Think The Odd Couple—Felix and Oscar. Sure one
was a slob, the other obsessive-compulsive, but what kept them from completely coming apart
was the fact that they both had wives who left them, both knew what it was to suffer that
Rather than focus on trivial differences in character, this show is going to hone in on something
more profound and essential. In short: the weight and severity of our suffering is what
creates the sensibilities that bond us. So what happens when you add someone to the mix who
has suffered so badly that his mental landscape bears little resemblance to ours?