On CBS’s “There Goes the Neighborhood,” insurance agent Tom Bussiere knew his family were outsiders from the start and winning the $250,000 would mean having to win all the elimination challenges.
They could have also done what the Schindlers did and work a secret alliance with an insider “core” family but chose not to. That cost them the game but Bussiere said he has no regrets.
“We were approached by folks in the ‘in’ crowd but Susan [his wife] and I agreed. We wanted to avoid that. We didn’t want to join an alliance we’d later have to break.” One of the stronger families, in fact, asked them to join in an alliance and they declined. “We wanted them eliminated,” he said.
But then again, strategically, sometimes it’s smart to keep your friends close, your enemies closer. And latching onto a strong player could keep you around a long time. And if you ally with one team in this game, there would seldom be a need to break that alliance — unless you do the same thing with another team. (As you can tell, I’ve probably watched way too much “Survivor” over the years.)
Even though his family did not win big bucks, he felt CBS was very fair to them in terms of compensation. (He didn’t say what the basic fee was.). And he got a new lawn out of it, too.
Plus, he got to know his neighbors, something he hadn’t done before. “These folks were strangers to me before the project,” he said. “I feel I can walk right up to any of their homes and walk inside now. The Bussieres have been winners. We now have a bunch of friends.”
The lack of air conditioning didn’t ultimately faze him too much. “When you think about what’s important about life, air conditioning is not one of them,” he said. “Life is more complex than air conditioning.”
They had two of the youngest kids on the show and both enjoyed the adventure. “They had fun,” he said. “I don’t even think they really understood what it meant.” Since the Upshaws warned them that they were going to be put up for elimination, they prepped the kids ahead of time. And neither appeared too upset.
He told his daughter after they were ousted, “your daddy still has 14 days with you. We can just go to play in the pool and have fun.”
Bussiere said they were indeed isolated at a hotel for two more weeks without a TV, Internet or phone. “We didn’t even know Michael Jackson had died until we got out,” he said.