I started this season with no hope at all that Boring Ben would be even remotely interesting. The season premiere, with its annual parade of women who have career titles like “Chicken Enthusiast” gave me an inkling of hope that the casting would offset Boring Ben’s bland personality. I was wrong. Boring Ben is not only stupidly boring, he clearly has favorites and everything that doesn’t involve those 3 is an exercise in prolonging the inevitable.
After last week’s first “To Be Continued” of the season, we pick back up with Ben talking to Olivia about the things other girls say about her behind her back. Olivia says the other girls like painting their nails and she likes to “read books and talk smart things.” Ben doesn’t send her home because there’s literally not one other interesting person on this show and the producers are smart.
Okay, confession time. Last week, I was in Toronto and missed most of the episode because I couldn’t figure out which channel it was on (did you know we export this?). This week, I fell asleep during The Bachelor last night. And by “during,” I mean I had the brilliant idea to lay in my bed in total darkness, under the covers, at like 7:30. And so, I fell asleep. Also: my DVR did not record the episode, so I’m watching this episode on Hulu at 5:30 in the morning, because I love all 10 of you who read these recaps and I want to provide you with entertainment.
Do you know what’s really difficult? Having a Word .doc in full-screen mode and trying to discern the different voices while The Bachelor plays in the background—everyone except Olivia has a case of Kardashian vocal fry.
At the end of last season, I decided I wouldn’t write recaps of this season because I thought he wouldn’t be interesting enough to snark on. But it’s cold and dark in Seattle, my blog hasn’t been updated in 5 months, and I’ve decided to bring a little extra light into my winter evenings (also people repeatedly asked me if I was recapping, and I’m a little vain and so of course!).
We begin with a tour of Ben’s little town, which looks a lot like Chris, Hamster King of Iowa’s town if his town hadn’t been abandoned by all the other little Iowan hamsters. We learn that Ben was the wholesome all-American boy of every insane Bachelor lover’s dreams—the high school quarterback, homecoming king, with a heart of gold. We pause for an uber depressing chat at Ben’s family’s beautiful, lakeside home. Ben’s parents tell him that he’s not unlovable and that he’s a wonderful man. And man, I really don’t want to make fun of him! Either he’s a gifted actor or he’s genuinely a good dude and I can’t mock him because I’m not a monster.
Looking back on this season, I’m regretting the fact that I didn’t have some sort of drinking game prepared. I mean, it would’ve been based purely around the word “intimate” as a catch-all for everything that goes on below the neck between two consenting adults. I’d have renal failure by now for sure, but it would’ve been quite the ride. In any case, we pick up where we left off last week, with Walmart Ryan Gosling confronting Nick, the “dirt” that collects between your toes when you wear flip flops while walking through any downtown area in the middle of the summer. Nick brings up the “eskimo brothers” story again and I have some real questions about the producers of this show—Kaitlyn is forced to say “intimate” instead of “sex,” we cannot see tampons inserted on a dummy, but Nick is allowed to repeatedly say something I am absolutely terrified to look up on Urban Dictionary.
I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home from Happy Hour Monday night, and while I won’t say what exactly I purchased, the checker said “ooh, you’re having a little party.” I leaned in conspiratorially, glancing to my left to be sure that none of the gluten and reality TV eschewing Whole Foods shoppers could hear me say “I’m going home to watch The Bachelorette.”
“OMG!” she exclaimed, and then quickly clapped a hand over her mouth. We whispered theories about Kaitlyn and Nick and Walmart Ryan Gosling and it was a delicious break from my shameful solo viewing of this show. The checker said she’d have to wait until Tuesday night to watch, but would be following my meal plan (okay fine, pretzels, Theo Dark Chocolate, and Framboise Lambic beer) for viewing.
And so I rolled into this viewing on amazing high, geared up for the BIG REVEAL. We start this episode with Kaitlyn staring “pensively” outside the ruins of a castle as she contemplates revealing her secret. Kaitlyn and Ben go to a beautiful island and play hide and go seek in the ruins of another castle. They make out, Kaitlyn says it feels good and it feels right, blah blah blah when is the big reveal? Next, Kaitlyn and Ben H. (AKA Lesser Ben, #bringbackbenz) head off to a cozy nook to discuss their feelings and whether or not Ben is loveable. The dates this season have been decidedly boring and run of the mill—more romantic comedy set in Europe than Hunger Games Dating Show dares as in seasons past—I would very much love a Pinterest board of all the places Kaitlyn visited. During their heart to heart, Kaitlyn asks Ben if he is a virgin, then the scene cuts away to Walmart Ryan Gosling and Bargain Bin Josh Hartnett and then back to Kaitlyn again. Honestly, would they cast a man virgin on this show? A real virgin, not a born again virgin like Sean (admirable though it may be to reclaim your virginity, it does not make you an actual virgin).
We’re a little less than two weeks away from the world premiere of everyone’s favorite Twilight fan fic turned best-selling novel turned Valentine’s Day movie, 50 Shades of Grey, and the world has gone mad. While The Bachelor frequently traffics in the absurd—for example, the Bachelorette season when they did a tie-in for the movie “Brave” and had the men dress in kilts and engage in caber tossing…wait, actually, I really enjoyed that. But the show isn’t known for subtlety or shying away from a good double entendre, terrible sexual pun, or long, lingering shots of “swimming in the ocean.” Yet, in spite of all that, as I watched comma eyebrows straddle Chris’ lap, I could feel myself blushing. This came on at 8:19 in the evening! On ABC! In primetime! E.L. James, what have you done to us?
But before we dig in too deep with the “intimacy session,” let’s begin with Comma Eyebrows Cruise Ship Singer. I can’t stop looking at her eyebrows. They are horrific. While I admire her commitment to plucking, and the fact that she has eschewed false eyelashes in favor of approximately 6,000 coats of mascara, she does herself no favors. However, she’s incredibly excited to get her first one on one with Chris. We are treated to several shots of Chris, trying his level best to look pensive as he gazes off into the middle distance. More often than not, he looks mildly constipated and/or confused. I feel for the guy, because he has no business on this show. Despite all of my hamster brain comments, I do believe he might be a good guy, and every time they set up incredibly staged shots for him, he looks painfully out of place. So it’s genuinely refreshing to see him light up when he catches a glimpse of Comma Eyebrows Cruise Ship Singer decked out in a sweater plucked from one of Urban Outfitters’ more culturally sensitive Navajo-inspired collections.
Right before I sat down to write this post, I decided to take my dog for his pre-bedtime walk. I put on a coat I borrowed from Hagrid over my TV watching outfit (people who know me will assume I am perfectly put together always. This is not true.) of a WWE t-shirt and paisley pajama bottoms, paired with UGGs. It is a charming ensemble, meant only to be worn in the dark of night and seen by my color blind dog. My brain, fogged over with Prosecco and visions of Kmart Kardashian’s thick, false eyelashes peeling away from her eyelids, didn’t think to pick up my keys and I locked myself out of my building. So, I stood outside in a horrible outfit, repeatedly dialing my landlord, who put me in touch with the building manager WHO DID NOT ANSWER. I stared down at my dog, considered whether or not being small gave him feline reflexes and maybe he could scale the wall and…no. No. Too many bubbles floating into my mind grapes. All sorts of terrible eventualities popped into my head and I was mere seconds from ugly crying, when an elderly Russian woman carrying a snifter of Brandy shuffled towards the door. I shouted “I AM LOCKED OUT, WILL YOU LET ME IN?” at her. She looked me up and down, and said “I save you” and then smiled and let me in.
As I walked up the steps to the 2nd floor and bathed in the warmth of my apartment that is almost never really that warm, I thought “you know what? The women who didn’t get roses tonight? They were saved, too.” From a life of being with someone so incredibly boring that he makes Jimmy Kimmel bearable.
A couple months ago, I went to an incredibly depressing Petco. It was in an otherwise bustling strip mall, but the Petco itself was empty. A grooming salon without dogs looks like a sex dungeon, and the straps swayed slightly in the air conditioned breeze. A handful of stray cats from a local rescue wandered an enclosure out front, pawing at a moth eaten fabric mouse. Behind a display of Princess Leia Slave dog costumes was an end cap of hamsters. There was one hamster in an exercise wheel, moving incredibly slowly. I watched it for a while, probably longer than I should have, when a Petco employee came over and asked if I wanted to see the hamster. I said “No, he just looks so sad.”
“No, he’s just always like that,” replied the teenaged boy matter of factly. “Just moves slowly.”
As I watch this season of The Bachelor, I am reminded of that hamster. I looked at Chris’ eyes as he contemplates which Palisades/Betty Ford Clinic escapee to keep around for another week, and I can almost see the tiny hamsters slowly walking on the exercise wheel that fires off synapses in his brain.
I never, ever agree with the fan favorite contestant for the next bachelor/ette, but my faith in the collective ability of American women to successfully choose a man who would at some point say “I love you” to them has been restored with the selection of Farmer Chris as this season’s Bachelor. I must confess that I find Chris to be boring and maybe a little bit dim. I mean, he seems sweet, successful, close to his family, and likely charms little children and old ladies with a bashful flash of his pearly whites. Adorable bluebirds probably help him put on his Carharts every morning. But not a single one of those characteristics provides for good television, and it makes me wonder how someone like him could still be single. Though I’m all in for a wonderful fairy tale love story, complete with trips to far flung destinations and dates that seem like they are crafted by throwing romantic words against a whiteboard, I am not in for three months of schmoop fest.
Because Chris is aggressively boring, it is clear to me that the producers of the show will distract us with an army of women culled from psychiatric wards across the country, and we will watch as they guzzle wine and test the limits of their liver vs. the anti-psychotic meds they are obviously taking and/or in need of. Then, the producers will edit out the real connection between the genuinely good dude Chris and some super sweet girl (a la Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici) until the very end.
“I can feel the cinnamon in my brain, like it’s frying or burning or something,” I shouted at friends at a bar this past weekend, to a smattering of laughs and also slightly worried faces. That is how I feel as I’ve watched this season of TheBachelor...my brain feels vaguely entertained, but also fried, and like there might be lingering side effects from prolonged exposure to Juany Pabs. Last season, Juan Pablo emerged as the delightfully earnest, hunky, foreign dude on The Bachelorette, all abs and honey hued hair and a winning smile. Desiree said she didn’t have chemistry with him, and women across the country smacked themselves in the head–“LOOK AT HIM,” we all shouted.
It turns out that Juan Pablo is kind of the worst. I won’t judge his language skills because there are definitely millions of French toddlers who speak better French than I do. But the beautiful, deep blue eyes that dazzled America (note to self: American woman are not to be trusted in picking out boyfriends) appear to have no life behind them, and belie a person who is about as deep as a kiddie pool. He also seems a little slow on the uptake. Like, there’s a tape delay because English is his second language which is fine, but also a tape delay because maybe there’s just not a ton going on upstairs. And it might be okay if maybe he was a little bit stupid, but he also seems mean, and a touch cruel. Much has been written about the fact that he willingly went “swimming in the ocean” with a contestant only to turn around and slut shame that same woman. His double standards regarding kissing and not kissing contestants, in addition to the fact that he is probably a homophobe have left a bitter taste in my mouth. And to cap it all off, he has made a catchphrase of that most male of instincts–glossing over bad behavior by saying “it’s okay.” That is literally his only answer to being confronted, and it is galling not just because no girl wants to hear that, but also because this show is built on easy, scripted platitudes suited for Hallmark cards. He can’t even deliver bad cheesy, let alone the good kind.
I am of two minds about this season–on the one hand, it’s the first season of the show that I’ve watched that has really highlighted (instead of making oblique references and explaining those away with chivalrous bullsh*t) the double standards The Bachelor/ette brand traffics in. But on the other hand, I absolutely don’t watch this show so I can have sociological discussions about the implications of dating on national television, nor so I can engage in watching assholes casually mistreat women–if I wanted that, I would pick up with one of my ex-boyfriends. I watch this show for the occasional contestant who may or may not have borderline personality disorder, for contestants who inexplicably (and adorably) bring along dogs, to see contestants with occupations like “Mineral Coordinator,” “Dog Lover,” and “Free Spirit,” for the amazing dates in exotic locations, and of course, to witness people falling in love. This season has ruined that, and I hope the producers have taken note–and will pick out some suitable suitors for the inevitable next Bachelorette, Andi.