As I noted at the end of last Monday’s post, I attended an exercise class with my friend that night called “The Celebrity Workout” that was supposed to draw inspiration from the routines of Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Hudson. It would have been more tempting to share a full account of this experience had it been more campy or ironic, but it turned to be just a regular class in a facility that charged a dollar to rent a towel. This detail wouldn’t normally affect me, as I am not an insane sweater, but that changes when you’re encased in an 85 degree room with little to no ventilation, and you’re doing something instructor Saul refers to as hot potato squats—which, for the record, are not nearly as fun as the game Hot Potato. More importantly, this class had nothing to do with the celebrities du jour. You can’t just say “We’ll be doing the strength training of Mark Wahlberg and the cardio routine of Jennifer Hudson,” and it’s just automatically true. I mean, for God’s sake, they didn’t even play “Good Vibrations,” nor did Saul refer to me or any of the other women in the class as “fly honeys.” It was just disappointment, after disappointment. The routine itself still kicked my ass, so plus one, and I discovered that I am now capable of completing a full set of mountain climbers. This is a really big deal because when I first started personal training back in January and our trainer introduced us to the mountain climber, I moved like a paraplegic, before collapsing completely after about five seconds.
Anyway, what I’m really here to offer, over a week after it’s conclusion, is some insight into the Bachelor finale. What was easily the worst season in Bachelor history (and I am including that season when the Bachelor was a 40 year old man named Byron), is finally over, and if we had any questions about how someone could grow to love Ben Flajnik, none of them were answered last Monday. I didn’t even get around to cuing up the two-hour long finale until after my 60 minutes of hip-thrusting with Saul, a trip to the grocery store, and a shower, so you can imagine my energy level was low, and therefore particularly ill-equipped for listening to Lindzi and Courtney explain to me how the next obvious step in this concocted relationship is MARRIAGE. TO BEN. But I would be remiss if I didn’t drudge my way through every last detail, including but not limited to, the capes Courtney and Lindzi adorned during the results portion of the episode—even if it is ten days later. Sometimes I wish the winner was announced American Idol style with the final two standing shoulder to shoulder, looking down at the floor, the host calling out the stage manager’s name into the ether to bring the lights down, and then eventually fireworks bursting from the stage as Ben gets down on his knee, and the camera pans to the loser’s family, who sit somberly in the audience, still wearing their homemade t-shirts that have phrases written on them like, “Lindzi Is Going To Be Zee Winner!” Onto to the recap.
I didn’t track many details during the debriefing session at the top of the episode when Ben shared crucial information with his family about Lindzi and Courtney (like how the former likes horses and the latter is a model), due to the fact that I was eating dinner at the same time and I didn’t want Ben to take away from how happy I was eating risotto. I did sense from her body language, however, that Ben’s mom was extremely uncomfortable discussing matters of the heart in front of television cameras. I always feel bad for the family members that get dragged into this show, forced to lend a supportive voice for their child’s idiotic ideas. Like parents at a dinner party who have to explain, with confidence, that their child has decided to pursue a career in DJing. Lindzi is the first to meet Mrs. Flajnik and sister Julia, who welcomed her with open arms despite the fact that she has the most unfortunate blemish on her face. And really, blemish is putting it nicely. I point this out, one, because my friend Lara screeched out at me as soon as it appeared on the screen, “Write about the zit!’ and I hate to let down a friend, and two, because it must be noted that it could not have arrived at a worse time, and if anything is going to knock you off your game when it matters most, it is a horrendous zit on your face. The poor girl was so out of sorts, she couldn’t even get a good grasp on her silverware, and kept dropping it on her plate during lunch. Honestly, they should have postponed production for a few days until it had time to heal, because in real life, if your boyfriend requested you meet his parents and you had an outrageous growth on your face, you would probably knee him in the groin. Bad skin brings out the worst in us. After lunch, things went slightly smoother, with Julia escorting Lindzi out onto the terrace and getting down to brass tacks on the whole marrying her brother situation. “I think he wants to dig a little deeper with you…because if you don’t you could lose out, or vice versa.” That’s nice, to offer your guest a padded threat on the first day you meet. Can someone please explain to me how Courtney has opened up and appeared vulnerable to Ben in ways that Lindzi has not? We all recognize Ben’s argument that Lindzi has kept her guard up this whole time, making it difficult for him to really know her is complete BS, correct? Great. After the pushy-cloaked-in-friendly conversation was over, Julia tells the camera that Lindzi is a “really warm and easy person to talk to.” Which is kind of a non-compliment, if you ask me–like describing someone as a go-getter. What is that? Ben steps out onto the terrace once Lindzi leaves, looking for any revelations Julia may be able to offer him. “Did you like her,” Ben asks. “Yeah I really liked her,” Julia replies. Ben: “Ughhhhhh!” Wait, what? It makes you groan to learn that your sister is enjoying the company of the woman who you just said you feel confident you could spend the rest of your life with? Ben, you just made it abundantly clear that in having Lindzi meet your family, you were hoping for a circumstance to arise that would allow you to dump her guilt-free. We’re only 20 minutes into the episode and now I have an hour and forty minutes left to spend reaching into the shallowest wells of my imagination to consider the uncomfortable way in which Ben will propose to Courtney.
The next day, Courtney arrives for her own version of a Flajnik-themed interrogation. Julia made her opinion on Courtney’s modeling career known when she first arrived in Switzerland, eye-rolling so hard at the news, slamming Ben with disgust. “A model?!” I’m surprised she didn’t tie it with an exasperated, “Oh, brother!”
Courtney, on the other hand, was absolutely thrilled to meet Ben’s family. You see, she understands how important an opportunity like this is: “They could potentially be my family. We could be getting engaged…I’m really nervous!” I’M SO BORED! Why can’t, just once, someone come on this show who has just an ounce of perspective on the ridiculousness of this entire concept, and the Bachelor falls in love with her because she’s smart and snarky. I could relate to that girl. I could BE that girl. (The obvious hole in this request is that girls with perspective like this don’t aspire to be on this show. I’m moving on.) Courtney sits down with Julia and Mrs. Flajnik, who cuts right to the chase: “You hear model and you think ‘Ahhehhhh.’ Do you get that a lot?” I’m learning that tact was not a gene Ben ever had a shot at inheriting. Throughout the meet and greet, Courtney works overtime to guarantee herself a thumb’s up from Ben’s mom and sister. I imagine these desperate pledges of love and commitment she keeps making are a result of a lifetime of seeming unlikeable when meeting a boyfriend’s family. “When I get home from being with him, my cheeks hurt. He’s just so funny! I love him,” Courtney tells Ben’s mom. Courtney, she’s his mother. She knows better than anyone how humorless he is. If I brought a man home and he told my parents, “I just love how athletic she is! And how well she comprehends NOVA specials,” they’d be like, who is this joker? Red flag. Ben’s mom does the polite thing by smiling and nodding at Courtney’s misplaced enthusiasm. Oh Mrs. F, thanks to your son, you just signed up for a lifetime of smiling and nodding, and you don’t know even know it yet. Courtney and Julia also have a moment to chat and after Courtney leaves, and Julia does the classic reality TV slow-reveal, where she phrases her critique in a certain way so that it starts out sounding like it could be heading in a negative direction, right before blossoming into a rave review, with a music shift. “I’m blown away. She’s a really amazing girl. I learned an important lesson today…you can’t judge a book by its cover.” You absolutely can. So Lindzi and Courtney both receive approval from Ben’s family, and now it is up to him to discern the qualities in each woman that he feels best match what he is looking for in his life partner. I believe Ben’s analysis will start and end with their faces, and yet, we’re not even halfway through.
The final one on one dates were both nonevents. Unless you find two adults playing in the snow together with nothing in common except the task at hand captivating. Lindzi was first, and got scooped up by Ben in a horse drawn sleigh. I wonder if Lindzi is kicking herself for making such a big deal about her passion for horses, because she can’t seem to get one date away from them. Kind of like on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when one of the designers would find a toy dinosaur under a kid’s bed and then the designer would build his bed in the shape of a T-Rex’s mouth? And the kid would walk into his new room and you could tell by the look on his face that he actually hadn’t played with that toy dinosaur in three years? I think it’s like that. Anyway, Lindzi and Ben arrive at the Matterhorn and hop into a gondola for a quick picnic, before arriving at a height appropriate for skiing. I myself have never been skiing, but Ben and Lindzi certainly didn’t make it look appealing—what with her pinned to his back as they skied down the Matterhorn together. Is that an activity where we need to be that close? It reminds me of when a four year old sits on your lap on a 90 degree day: “Just…can you please…ugh…maybe adjust your…hold, ohh…JUST GET OFF ME!”
Later that night, while Lindzi and Ben shared a romantic dinner together, I transcribed the following pieces of dialogue:
- Do you think I’ve been more open?
- Can you see an “us” in our future?
- It’s nice that you can be serious at times too. It’s something I haven’t had a lot in my life, and it’s something I continue to look for.
- There hasn’t been anyone in my life worth letting in.
- I see a life with you.
- I feel like the way this woman loves me is true and good and honest.
My issue here is not just that this is all so sappy I want to die, but that there cannot be any authenticity to this conversation, when it is tied so tightly to the pressure of winning a competition. This is the last opportunity Lindzi has to convince Ben to pick her to marry her. When you’re this far along, you would never have a conversation like, “I like you, but in terms of our future, I think we need to spend more quality time together before making any big decisions,” even if that’s how you’re really feeling. No. Instead you say something moronic like, “I see a life with you,” because your mind is so warped into thinking that you need to win. That you’ve earned a proposal, rather than truly considering whether or not you want one. Seriously, if I turned The Bachelor into a drinking game and took a drink every time Lindzi said, “I see a life with you,” I’d be sent to a hospital. Their date ends and I secretly suspect that Ben breaks up with Lindzi on the top of a mountain by saying, “Welcome to Dumpsville…population you.”
The next day Ben prepares to meet up with Courtney, but before the date begins, Courtney offers us her assessment on the finale. “What’s that other girl’s name? *hahaha* Ben’s got a lot of depth, and I never saw that side of Lindzi.” Yay! Catty Courtney is back! I hardly missed you! She and Ben are reunited and it’s not long before we hear a helicopter approaching in the distance.
Courtney: Tee-hee! That’s our helicopter, isn’t it?!
Ben: No, it must be a rescue helicopter or something…I lied it’s our helicopter.
Way to let the joke land, Ben. The two fly over the mountains, while Ben announces that their relationship is “progressing to new heights” and I really hope that is the final relationship metaphor of the season. I’m not holding my breath. They get dropped off on the side of a mountain for some carefree winter activities: sledding, snow angel making, sitting around and talking about their feelings. Just like when we were kids. Like I said, a nonevent. As they transition off the mountain and into a lodge for a romantic dinner for two, Ben comments, “We’ve had our struggles, but it’s nice to be where we are. To overcome that.” It occurred to me when Ben said that, that Courtney is exactly the kind of woman one falls in love with before you actual settle into the day to day realities of a longterm relationship. Everything about her seems wonderful and beautiful, but then suddenly you’re a year in and you don’t know how to get her to stop accusing you of cheating every time you go to the gym. Courtney makes Ben a scrapbook filled with candid production stills of the two of them shot by a production assistant, and uses this tender moment as an opportunity to tell Ben that she feels like she’s doing everything she can to tell him how she feels, and she’s not getting enough in return. “I’m out on a ledge waving my arms! I love you! I love you!” To which Ben replies, “In my defense, I have to explore all options.” That may be your defense Ben, but it is also pretty much the rudest thing you could have said. A woman tells you she feels alone in her commitment to you and you respond by basically saying, “I understand you feel vulnerable, but at the end of the day, you aren’t my only option.” How comforting. Ben is like that kid who nobody paid attention to in junior high, and then for some inexplicable reason he became popular in high school and didn’t know how to handle the newfound fame, so he decided to play it like a James Spader character from the 80s, and just be an asshole. I don’t know if that archetype actually exists, but it suits Ben perfectly.
The helicopter rides, and mountains, and candles, and wine are finally exhausted and there is nothing left for Ben to do but make his decision. After Ben has a quick therapy session with non-therapist Chris Harrison, and Lindzi and Courtney each spend some time on a balcony looking somber, we finally (FINALLY!) arrive at the season’s conclusion. Lindzi and Courtney each top off their proposal look with floor length capes that make them look like the narrator from a children’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and climb into separate helicopters. The first one lands, a heeled foot steps out, and we have to wait ten seconds before the camera pans all the way up to reveal the face of the loser. Lindzi. To make it all the more painful, the producers add a voice over of Lindzi going on and on about how she wants to spend the rest of her life with Ben, as she walks towards said Ben, who couldn’t disagree more. “I’ve fallen in love with you. BUT [and it’s a big but, Lindzi] I need those moments to last a lifetime. And I found that with someone else. I’m sorry. I’m in love with someone else.” Lindzi is speechless, but graciously allows Ben to escort her back to her helicopter. Just before she leaves, he tells Lindzi, “I’m still shaking. I feel so bad,” and Lindzi sweetly tells him “It’s ok,” while rubbing his back. That’s really my favorite. When the one in pain ends up comforting the one who caused it. For someone who handled rejection with such surliness on The Bachelorette, I had hoped Ben would have taken a bit more time to think about how to break up with Lindzi in the most considerate way possible, but he failed me again. Once inside the helicopter, Lindzi becomes slightly more defensive about Ben’s decision, saying, “If he does want to marry Courtney [he does!], I would be shocked. He’d look like a fool [he did!].”And off she went, sentenced to a life of trying to meet a man the regular way.
After a quick commercial break, we are back on the mountain, and Courtney arrives, taking Ben’s breath away. Supposedly. As they come together, it is terribly awkward, as is every moment between them, and I wonder what it would feel like to accept a marriage proposal from a man with whom you haven’t even developed a conversational rhythm. “I think you’re an incredible woman, BUT [oh, this is the good but]…I promised myself I wouldn’t get down on one knee again unless I was certain it was forever and I want to tell you that…you’re my forever.” “AHHH! I WON! I WON!” She didn’t actually say that, but you know she was thinking it. “With all that said, Courtney, will you marry me?” “Of course I will. I love you so muhhchhh!” Ben gets down on one knee, and jimmies the Neil Lane sponsored ring on Courtney’s gloved finger. Ben then must ask if Courtney will accept the final rose, which feels completely superfluous and ridiculous after a marriage proposal, but at least it reminds us that we are in fact watching a television show. “You’re stuck with me!” Courtney exclaims with glee. This sentiment was a direct lead-in to the After The Rose special, where we receive confirmation that Courtney and Ben are not together. Lucky for me, my DVR cut this program off after seven minutes and I didn’t have to sit through Chris Harrison tritely encourage them to re-engage in front of a studio audience.
So there you have it. Ben and Courtney. Engaged. Broken up. Engaged again–under the specific instruction of Chris Harrison. A fairytale ending if I ever heard one. Thanks for reading! Until next season!