TV Recap: Brother Vs. Brother Finale

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Last night on the season finale of Brother Vs. Brother the teams were as follows: Rick and Adi versus Melissa and Eric.

The reasoning behind moving Rick back to Team Jonathan, I believe (as the producers didn't see fit to tell us) was that Rick was floundering on Team Drew, and we already knew he worked well together with Adi.

In order to finish this challenge on time and give Adi a fair shot at winning against the other team, it made sense to move a team member, and Rick was the obvious choice.

The challenge
Teams Drew and Jonathan were given four days and $30,000 to fix up the master suites in a pair of identical tract houses in California. The homeowners walked through with the camera people and explained exactly what bothered them about their master suites.

Both pairs mentioned the carpeting in the bathroom, the dated decor in both the bathroom and bedroom and the overall non-functional layout of the bathroom.

Because Teams Drew and Jonathan had identical floor plans to work with, their individual design choices would stand out.

(You can watch the final episode here.)

Team Drew
Melissa and Eric opted to divvy up the rooms between themselves. Eric took charge of the bathroom and Melissa wanted to use the bedroom redesign to highlight her interior decorating talents.

Eric also took on the budget, which seems a bit much. When Drew mentioned that to him, Eric had a nice little moment where he undercut Melissa, shrugging, smiling ruefully and saying, "I'm used to it."


His little stab at martyrdom wasn't completely true, either, as Melissa had helped him demo the bathroom as well as with tweaks to his design plan.

With her input, he ended up putting in a soaker tub where one of the closets was, as well as picking out a showerhead and floor tile.

While Drew told the camera he wanted Eric and Melissa to put a tub in the room, he didn't tell his team that, most likely because the rules of the competition prevented him from giving input on the design.

(Again, this is a guess, as we've never been told that.)

Eric was determined to only include a large shower.

He felt that adding in a tub would take away too much space and make the bathroom feel tiny, but Melissa was concerned that no tub would detract too much value.

She went to bat for her convictions and in the end they compromised on a smaller soaker tub that wouldn't take up more space than the closet would have.

Melissa ended up going with bamboo hardwood flooring in the bedroom, which contrasted prettily with the sandstone tile in the bathroom, and laying it diagonally which added an interesting angle to the room.

She was going for a "zen spa" feel, as she said repeatedly, painting an accent wall in avocado green and using lots of greens, whites, and browns to pull in the natural feel.

They carried that theme into the bathroom with light browns and whites. Eric built a magnificent sandstone shower with glass inset for light and visibility and they put in a large double vanity with a lot of room for counterspace.

Getting rid of one closet meant they had to make the only one left doubly functional, and there they failed.

While they installed lovely-looking teak shelving, the swing on the door was in the wrong spot and it not only collided with the shelving but also prevented one from getting at the clothes behind the door without stepping into the closet and shutting the door behind oneself.

Throughout the four days tensions between Melissa and Eric ran higher than usual, as this was the deciding challenge. Eric undercut Melissa repeatedly, and she did not deal very well with his change in amicability towards her.

To her credit, she stepped up and discussed her problems with him and they were able to work together for the duration of the challenge.

I'm not sure they'll be exchanging holiday cards any time soon, but that's not the point of the competition.

Team Jonathan
Adi and Rick had a few issues working together at first.

The weeks away made things difficult on them, as they each were used to working with different personalities, but they ended up resolving their differences quickly after a talking-to from Jonathan.

The two ended up splitting the load in the bedroom and the bathroom evenly. Adi crafted beautiful wainscoting around lower third of the bedroom walls, creating a statement in the bland space and adding value for only $400.

They followed the same basic layout as Melissa and Eric, getting rid of the second vanity and putting their vanities (of which they used two smaller, standing vanities instead of one large double vanity) at the far end of the bathroom.

They added frosted-glass front pocket doors to create a more dramatic entrance, and instead of eliminating one of the closets for a soaker tub, combined the tub and shower into one.

They experienced no real issues with the closets, but once again, Adi was unable to finish the shower in time and did not hang the shower doors.

Something, I hope, that Jonathan fixed before the homeowners came back to look around their newly-renovated space.

The judges
Hilary Farr and David Visentin from Love It or List It were back, as were Christina and Tarek El Moussa from Flip or Flip.

HGTV just loves those cutesy little ultimatums as titles, doesn't it?

While we all know I love Hilary and David to death and love to make fun of Christina and Tarek more, they were all very reasonable and normal last night. Christina didn't say anything looked expensive (I make fun, Christina, but secretly I agree) and Hilary didn't get the sudden urge to redesign the basement with no input from the homeowner.

(I make fun, Hilary, because I really don't understand. Why the basement? Why every single time?)

Starting with Team Jonathan's house, they were wowed by Adi's wainscoting, appreciative of the "his and hers" closets, and liked the new bathroom layout.

They did say they wished the shower doors had gone up, but unlike last time, it didn't seem to be the huge problem it was before.

Over at Team Drew's house Christina and Hilary had it out over the soaker tub versus closet.

Christina thought losing the extra closet lost Melissa and Eric money, while Hilary was sure that the tub was worth the closet and more.

None of them liked Melissa's accent wall, but were particularly fond of Eric's extra-large sandstone tile shower and the diagonally-laid bamboo flooring.

The judges then exited to debate how much each redesign should be valued at, and this is the part that frustrates me.

The judges come back and give us a random number without telling us how much each aspect was valued at by them.

What is the soaker tub worth versus the extra closet? What did Adi's wainscoting add, and did it make up for Melissa's diagonal flooring?

The verdict
When all four judges come back, we find out that they valued Team Jonathan's house at $739,000, up from $700,000.

The only thing they seem to pick on is the unhung shower door, and Adi and Rick are given kudos for everything else.

Moving on to Team Drew, after careful consideration of the tub versus closet, Melissa and Eric come out ahead. Their house is valued at $756,000, up from $712,000, winning them the competition.

Adi and Rick bid their fast adieus and we move on to Jonathan and Drew, who now have to pick a winner from Melissa and Eric.

They very quickly reach a conclusion as to who was the most valuable team member: Melissa. I am not surprised, and in fact am happy she's the winner, but I'm left frustrated by the show.

Once again, the producers failed to show us Jonathan and Drew's reasoning behind their choice.

All we were left with as viewers was a brief "you were great" from each of the twins to Melissa and a question of what concrete evidence they had to support her claim to the $50,000.

My take
While I am delighted Melissa won, I have a bone to pick with her feminism.

She said she wanted to win -- not for the money, but rather "to show that a girl can do anything a guy can do."

Okay, that's nice.

The trouble with that is anyone who's met a woman and has a working brain (note that this does not include everyone who's met a woman) knows that already.

To borrow from a fantastic article, women have always fought. (Go read that article if you haven't before. I'll still be here when you get back.) We have always fought, but we have not always been remembered.

Our contributions have been ignored or covered over with male faces later, with only a few women left in (male-written, male-dominated) history for posterity.

To me, what is truly important about Melissa winning this challenge is not that a girl can do anything a guy can do, but that there is video evidence of this.

That a woman, up against three men with solid construction or designing experience won a competition based on designing for a space and constructing that vision.

I'll admit, I wasn't always kind to Melissa. She and the others rubbed up against each other, rough edges splintering and scraping at flesh.

She didn't have Peggy's kindness or Adi's optimism, but she had grit and she had it aplenty.

The producers didn't care enough to show us more of her personality, instead preferring to highlight her competitive side, which didn't always paint her in a great light.

But as this finale progressed, I began to see her value.

She was collaborating with Eric, finding ways to improve his ideas and designs, and put in the energy to battle for upgrades she believed were necessary.

Her budgeting improved tremendously, as we saw last episode, and her sense of style was the best, barring Peggy's, who I still think was unfairly ousted before her time.

Melissa's style was the X factor I believe Drew and Jonathan were looking for. She had an eye for flow in layout, wasn't afraid to go big and fought for the elements that were truly important to her.

We saw quality construction out of Adi and Rick, but not real style, and Eric's ideas too often were good, but wouldn't have added enough value to the home.

Out of the final four standing Melissa deserved this prize the most.