‘I would do anything for that show’ As the Russian reality show ‘Dom-2’ celebrates its 15th anniversary, fans explain why they can’t live without it
On May 11, 2004, Dom-2 (House-2) released its first episode on the Russian TV channel TNT. Hosted by celebrities like Ksenia Sobchak, Ksenia Borodina, and Olga Buzova over the years, the reality show features contestants dating while building a new house. Despite being accused of “making a negative impact on the younger generation” as early as 2005, Dom-2 remains one of Russia’s most highly rated shows to this day. Meduza asked its regular viewers why.
29, bus driver, Ukhta
I saw an ad for Dom-2 when I was 14, and then I watched the first episode. It was like a drug. Everything was like in real life, and I liked it. The show began with the contestants working together and getting into serious relationships. They ended up marrying each other, having kids, and leaving the show to live like everyone else.
Honestly, I even thought about competing in Dom-2 myself. I called the hotline a couple of times but never heard anything back. The last time I sent in my application was in 2017. I was divorced then, and I was in need of love and companionship. I realized that I had always been used by the people I had trusted in the past. But after I shut them out, I felt rather lonely being on my own. Dom-2 appealed to me as a shortcut to find trustworthy friends. It’s a place where you can be with the same people 24/7 so you get to know who they really are.
Dom-2 used to be more interesting. Nowadays, it is full of debauchery, show-offs, and “magic.” By saying “magic,” I mean sex. That’s what they call it in the show, and I’m just very used to it at this point. The contestants have gotten worse. The fame spoils them — they would sleep around and still not be happy with what they have. They’ve also gotten presumptuous, with all the swearing and harrasment. They bullied Irina Pingvinova and called her a worthless piece of shit, for example. But I think she’s doing just fine at figuring her life out — at least she isn’t sleeping around like everyone else is.
The show disgusts me sometimes, but I can’t help watching it. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like a drug: watching once can get you hooked forever. My favorite is Valeriy Blumenkrants. I still follow him in real life. I’d love to meet him, but it’s kind of out of the question. For one, Dom-2 only wants skinny girls. And even then, I’m not his type anyway. Plus, I’ve already gotten back with my first husband. He’s actually against me watching [Dom-2]. He says I’m addicted. But why would I care?
My daughter was the first to watch the show. She was 15 at the time. So, out of curiosity, I also turned on the TV.
At first, the people on Dom-2 were very interesting and unique individuals. Styopa Menschikov, for example, worked as a clown. It wasn’t until later on that the strippers and escorts started to pour in.
I suppose that Dom-2 gained popularity primarily because it’s so real. People can learn a lot about different ways of living and communicating with each other in society. All kinds of circumstances can arise [in the show]. So the contestants have to learn to pick out the gold diggers among the men, so to speak — to see people for what they really are. Especially for the youth, it’s almost the only survival guide available out there.
Me, on the other hand, I learn about what the young people are like these days [by watching Dom-2]: how they live their lives, or what their interests are. The people [in the show] are from all kinds of cities and family backgrounds. Some are orphans, others are from working families — you never know. It’s really interesting to see how their lives change. I even care a lot about their future sometimes. I know that we’re by no means related, but I feel like we’re acquaintances at least.
Many of them came to Dom-2 not having enough confidence in themselves, but they all learned to get over it by the end. For example, [wildly popular pop star Olga] Buzova comes off as an outstanding character in general. But many years ago, when she was bullied and abused in the show, she would always cry. Well, take a look at her now. She’s finally gotten what she wanted.
But I wouldn’t let my daughter be in Dom-2. It would’ve been a huge psychological burden for her. You’re filmed 24/7, you’re always asked to be active, and you can’t even quit the contract. If you don’t like anyone there, you’re still forced to date someone. It’s not always comfortable.
Now, I don’t talk about Dom-2 with anyone, not even with my daughter. I’d only watch it on my own after work — just putting on those headphones to relax. We did have a conversation about Dom-2 at work once though. All my colleagues poo-pooed it at first. But as the discussion continued, I realized that everyone still follows it and even knows what’s going on in there — “I just happened to saw it when the TV was on.” To be fair, Dom-2 is generally considered a guilty pleasure. But I don’t fully agree. We all have our personal tastes — some like TV series, and others prefer action movies or thrillers. I never judge.
25 years old, army brigadier, Nizhneudinsk
I’ve been watching Dom-2 since 2010. My family knows about it, but none of my friends do. I don’t know why I don’t tell people. There’s probably no particular reason. I don’t chat about it at work because I barely have the time to. I’m a brigadier, after all — my team members saw and load lumber every day. I’ve got to supervise the whole process.
I do talk about it with my mom — she can’t stop watching it. She even has a special TV just for it. When I miss an episode, she fills me in with what happens. Sometimes, we joke that it’d be cool to be on the show together as a family.
I think that the show’s gotten better over time. Yes, some people roll their eyes at it, but more just want to be in it themselves. I know that they abuse women and swear a lot in the show, but that’s only to attract viewers. If things had stayed calm, no one would’ve watched it. Sometimes I just wanna see people getting beat up. I wanna see how they throw things at each other or argue with each other.
But most of the contestants have also just been in the show for way too long. It would’ve been better if those who don’t immediately match with anyone, say, within a week, were forced out of the show and passed on the opportunity to someone new. There should be more circulation. Some girls have slept with everyone already, and they’ve gotten bored.
Personally, I want to be in the show, too. I like their lifestyle. I would just be an ordinary guy among them. I like one girl there — Nastia [Yakub], Saimon [Mardanshin]’s girlfriend. She’s quiet and not spoiled. She’s also not ethnically Russian, just like myself — my mom is Tatar, and my dad is Uzbek. Nastia and I would get along and communicate with each other perfectly. Although it wouldn’t be a bad idea to date a Russian girl, either.
If I weren’t able to win Nastia from Simon, I’d take another girl. I’m single now. It would be no problem to find someone, but I want a girl I could be with forever. I hope I can make it happen on Dom-2. But I’m a really jealous guy — if I find a girl through this show, nobody will ever dare to come up to her. That’s just who I am.
I’ve never told my family about this. I’m planning it as a surprise for them. They’ll turn on the TV, and I’ll just be there! But first, I need to earn enough money. I can’t come to Nastia empty-handed — I need to buy flowers and some jewelry at least.
I’m ready to do the most horrendous things in the show: smashing furniture, shouting at people, or beating people up. By the way, they haven’t had any man-to-man fights for a while now. I can make it happen. I would do anything for that show.
Translation by Nastia Kozhukhova and Yolanda Zhang