What’s The Only Thing Better Than A Celebrity Romance? A Showmance Of Course!

In this week's ShowbizBrief Sophie Wilkinson is so serious about Showmances.

What's The Only Thing Better Than A Celebrity Romance? A Showmance Of Course!

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Love is a lovely thing made only lovelier still when two famous and beautiful people fall into it. As bystanders to the gorgeous union of two people we’ve probably never met, fans (including me, I’ve watched enough amateur YouTube collage videos of Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan to know) can project their hopes and fantasies onto the coupling. Fans who ‘ship’ a couple, do so safe in the presumed knowledge these famous sorts are far too otherworldly to be met by the humdrum obstacles of insecurities, jealousies, or arguments over who left wet clothes to fester in the washing machine. When they do argue (see previous reference to 2008’s lesbian, Red Bull-fuelled rendition of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton), it’s all the more delicious, because fans can paradoxically insist that these poor famouses would be fine, if only the media backed off!

But what if some celebrity romances are nothing more than carefully manufactured fairy tales, just hammed up collaborations, like that DJ Khaled song where he assembles Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne and Quavo to tag-team their mild disrespect towards women?

Because just this week, Ashton Irwin, drummer from boy-band Five Seconds Of Summer, hinted that his and Kendall Jenner’s 2014 relationshipwasn’t quite the star-crossed entwining of limbs their fans were sold.

Asked by an Australian radio presenter about his relationship with Kendall, Ashton responded: ‘I haven't spoken to Kendall in a minute... we weren't doing...She was actually a good friend of Harry's (Styles) for a while and I guess... same crowd, that's what happens.’

When the presenter suggested that fans drew their own conclusions after seeing a photo on Instagram of Kendall with a bunch of people, including Ashton, he responded: ‘Yeah some people might want you to be seen with a certain person or you know... it works two ways. I think the sad thing is a lot of people will plan what everyone sees so I don't get involved in that shit. I don't like that.’ Jenner was more recently reportedly dating NBA player Blake Griffin. Fake or real? We may never know.

The showmance - a famous faked relationship - is nothing new; in Hollywood’s golden age, gay actors like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift were set up with women in order to project an image of robust, palatable heterosexuality for homophobic audiences. Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn were coupled up for 26 years, appearing together in nine films together and, rather more separately, a flurry of same-sex affairs. The question, though, is why the showmance - as Ashton hinted - is still a thing?

In the spirit of investigative journalism, let’s follow the money. Couples make money, not only through tax breaks but through combined star power. Look at the Beckhams, the Carter-Knowleses, the Pinkett-Smiths, the Rooneys and even the freshly-parted Olivia Attwood and Chris Hughes of Love Island.

The Most Famous Showmances


Debrief Celebrity Showmances

Celebrity Showmances1 of 9

Michael Jackson and Madonna

Celebrity Showmances2 of 9

Kendall Jenner and Lewis Hamilton

Celebrity Showmances3 of 9

Harry Styles and Kendall Jenner

Celebrity Showmances4 of 9

Cara Delevingne and Harry Styles

Celebrity Showmances5 of 9

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown

Celebrity Showmances6 of 9

Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard

Celebrity Showmances7 of 9

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson

Celebrity Showmances8 of 9

Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston

Celebrity Showmances9 of 9

Chris Hughes and Olivia Attwood

If fame can be measured in the amount of free stuff you don’t need but still get sent, then it’s worth noting what an anonymous fashion PR explains to The Showbiz Brief: ‘When a woman who’s not that famous starts dating a guy who’s famous, she’ll be sent far nicer clothes to wear, from far more exclusive brands.’ When they break up? Tough shit. ‘Unless the woman becomes more of a draw than him’, like, say, Sienna Miller, who emerged from her relationship with Jude Law as a boho fashion icon, all Ugg boots, frayed skirts and bronze-riveted belts, ‘she won’t get sent those nice things anymore.’ It happens to the less famous partner regardless of gender, she assures me, and the conclusion remains: the people love a power couple. That goes from A-list to Z-list, because really, it’s only the artsiness of Brangelina’s joint photoshoots or the attempted artsiness of their rubbish film together (can you believe Mr and Mrs Smith was their best collaboration, you know, beyond the kids?) that separates it from Peter Andre and his wife doing a photo shoot with a glossy weekly magazine to explain through shiny smiles that they’ll never breastfeed their dog.

But as Sienna Miller shows, there’s opportunity to be just as successful (and a lot less heartbroken by infidelity) outside a relationship than in one. Cheryl whatever-her-surname-is-now is another case in point - years on from her split from Ashley Cole, that pairing seems like the one thing more ridiculous than her relationship with Liam Payne.

Ashley spent much of his time with Cheryl - when not cheating on her - denying accusations of using his relationship to cover up his alleged dalliances with other men. As bizarre as the rumours - one including a phone’s vibrate function - were, the underpinning logic - that a top-draw football player might want to hide a sexuality that apparently jars with the macho image of his sport - isn’t that strange.

As we’ve already established, plenty of women have ‘bearded’ for gay men, pretending to go out with them in order to preserve their star power in a showbiz world which can be summarised by the story that Cara Delevingne was warned by Harvey Weinstein that being too publicly ‘out’ could damage her career.

READ MORE: Matching Celebrity Couples


Debrief Matching Couples

Phoebe Collings-James and Adam Bainbridgetching couples dressing fashion clothes1 of 11

Phoebe Collings-James and Adam Bainbridgetching couples dressing fashion clothes

Sartorial symbiosis courtesy of Phoebe Collings-James and Adam Bainbridge (otherwise known as Kindness).

matching couples dressing fashion clothes2 of 11

matching couples dressing fashion clothes

Brooklyn Beckham and Chloe Moretz are a masterclass in matchy-matchy.

matching couples dressing fashion clothes3 of 11

matching couples dressing fashion clothes

Both Jada Pinkett and Willow Smith look bewitching in long black gowns.

matching couples dressing fashion clothes4 of 11

matching couples dressing fashion clothes

Lessons in monochrome from Cleo Wade and Mia Moretti

matching couples dressing fashion clothes5 of 11

matching couples dressing fashion clothes

DJ sisters Simi and Haze are proof that a little planning goes a long way.

matching couples dressing fashion clothes6 of 11

matching couples dressing fashion clothes

Zendaya and Aurora James show that a perfectly put-together pair makes a singularly fabulous fashion moment.

kanye and kim kardashian7 of 11

kanye and kim kardashian

Kanye and Kim Kardashian West oversized leather revs up their relationship.

matGigi Hadid and Zayn Malik8 of 11

matGigi Hadid and Zayn Malik

Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik are the cool factor squared.

matching couples dressing fashion clothes9 of 11

matching couples dressing fashion clothes

David and Victoria Beckham almost got scratched from this list for their crimes against fashion two decades earlier, but this his'n'hers suiting is too smooth to ignore.

Pharell Williams and Helen Lasichanh10 of 11

Pharell Williams and Helen Lasichanh

Look at Look at Pharrell Williams and Helen Lasichanh and then ask yourself, do opposites really attract?

matching couples dressing fashion clothes11 of 11

matching couples dressing fashion clothes

Relationships aren’t only pushed to present heterosexuality, though - in a world raised on romcom, unity is just as saleable. Take Colin Firth and wife Livia, who recently admitted they weren’t actually together when pictured side by side on the red carpet to promote a film called - no, I’ve not just made this up - Loving, which he’d produced and starred in. Or Made In Chelsea’s Ashley James, who cosied up to 90s R&B star Ginuwine on Celebrity Big Brother knowing couples stay in the house that bit longer (viewers rumbled her, and she came eighth).

Kendall, whose whole life is one big reality show, recently denied having ‘a bisexual or gay bone in my body’ in an interview with Vogue - so let’s, for the sake of kindness, not accuse her of lying about that. Even though she never denied having a lesbian bone in her body, it’s more damaging to assume that LGBT people are scheming liars than to understand that the Kardashian-Jenners know how to rig the spotlights of fame in their favour. What is worth waving at her, though, is the white flag of giving up - because the reason showmances endure, is that they’re just hard to identify.

When Tom Hiddleston can swear blind that his and Taylor Swift’s relationship was the real deal, and there are photos out there proving that Chloe Green, the Topshop heiress, has dated both Marc Anthony (Jennifer Lopez’s ex) and Jeremy ‘hot felon’ Meeks - who she is now having a baby with! - working out what’s a showmance and what’s a romance is, without verifiable sources, a tricky game. And that’s before you consider that maybe even celebrities experience that nebulous stage of are-we?-aren’t-we? relationships.

What we do know is that the truth will out one day, perhaps far in the future. So if you want to find out whether Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeranactually went out, or whether it was a ploy to hype up revenge songs about each other, you’ll have to wait for everyone to die, and for 2058’s Quincy Jones to rise up and tell-all. Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting for Lindsay and Sam to reunite, if only for the photo opportunity.

**Follow Sophie on Twitter **@SophWilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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