Tag Archives: The Bachelor

Ten Pop Culture Events That We Missed While TFA Was On Hiatus

This is not a post of the top ten moments in pop culture of the last seven months. Just a list I created in my head, while lying in bed thinking about ways I could spend my afternoon that avoided looking for a job, but didn’t make me feel like a slothy loser. Poking fun at Amanda Bynes it is! Enjoy.

1. Kim Kardashian is pregnant with Kanye West’s baby.

This I care very little about. I don’t much care for him (although the first 15 seconds of “Jesus Walks” still gets my blood pumping and inspires some embarrassing interpretations of hip-hop dancing when I am in private) and she is, well, you know, just like a thing we think about sometimes and an easy punch line for comedians who are talking about shapely bottoms/work ethic. I stand neither with the “She’s a millionaire for doing nothing! Shame!” haters or the “She’s the best example of the American Dream! Creating something out of nothing and creating an empire!” lovers. What Kim Kardashian provides for me is an excellent program to watch when I feel like napping off a hangover or painting my nails. But I will tell you this, if I announced that I was pregnant and the feedback I received was, “OH GOD THE END OF THE WORLD REALLY IS COMING!@$!!!$@!#!!%!!”, that would hurt my feelings. So I felt bad for her. Especially when Kate Middleton announced she was expecting around the same time and everyone’s reaction to that was, “You are a goddess and in an incarnation of God’s most perfect maternal creation. Tell me what you’re thinking for maternity wear. No don’t—I want to be surprised. You’re perfect.” Kim will have that baby and the  jokes will return, and maybe she will deserve them because she will dress that baby in Louis Vuitton onesies and booties adorned with Swarovski crystals that everyone else understands to be a choking hazard, but for now, let’s just be happy for her.

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2. The Beyonce documentary.

My friend Lara and I were determined to have a Beyonce documentary premiere party the night this first aired, back in February. I ended up having something mandatory that night and she found something better to do and the plan to watch it together never real came up again. So when I was asked to babysit on a Saturday night a few weeks back, I indulged in my HBO OnDemand options, and gave it a chance. First of all, the ratio of footage of random trees to footage aboard Jay-Z’s yacht was like 50:1. Terrible. Second, Beyonce has a lot of thoughts on her career and the various stressors that come with it, but the only way she knows how to express them is by taping herself on her laptop so you can only see very specific angles of her face. Lord knows she’s gorgeous and she can work any angle and if you filmed me that close right after I got out of the shower, my face would look more like something film artists use as a tool on which to build prosthetic noses, but after so many of these shots it just began to feel a little MySpace confessional.

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My ears perked up when she mentioned to her computer diary that she needed to go make love to her husband, but then it cut to her in an elevator and I was bored again. The documentary was about an hour and a half long and as much as she wanted to believe that it provided all this deep insight into her life and psyche, I feel like I learned more about the super private Adele in her ten minute 60 Minutes interview. There was a sweet moment when she and Jay-Z serenaded each other in Belize or somewhere with Coldplay’s “Yellow” and she changed the lyrics to “Jay Jay I love you so” which was adorable. And then of course this happened and I forgave her for everything:

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3. Miley Cyrus cut her hair short.

I still don’t understand why anyone has ever forgiven her for the way she talks, so this haircut did not strike me as anything I needed to be that concerned about. Here are two things I think: 1. If you can pull off short hair, then girl, do it. Every time I see a woman with short hair and she looks amazing I am jealous. I know if I cut my hair short I would look like Tina Fey in a 30 Rock flashback sequence. So good for you, Miley. Change up your look. You just made yourself ten times more interesting. But still, please do not open your mouth or share with me anything about your life. Miley Cyrus becoming ten times more interesting to me makes her about as interesting as a hair model in one of those books you thumb through while waiting at a salon. I’ve never wondered about their boyfriends. 2. I’m no psychologist (just ask my Acting degree), but we all know Miss Cyrus has a history of negative attention-seeking. As someone who sought a great deal of attention as a child (one time I wrote my sister a note telling her I was running away because she was so mean and held the note under the sink so water would drip on the ink and she would confuse it for tears), my parents handled this problem by simply ignoring me. Have we ever thought what would happen if when a celebrity does something “extreme” like cutting seven inches off their hair, we just said “Cool look, Miley.” and let that be the end of it, and then we would hear from her less?

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4. Blake Lively married Ryan Reynolds. 

No one cares about this.

5. Anne Hathaway

Yes, you are correct, I am among those who absolutely cannot stand Anne Hathaway. This isn’t blind, mob mentality loathing I am expressing. I feel like I have spent an adequate amount of time experiencing her personality these past three months, and what I have taken away is that she is one who shows no awareness or understanding for why we the public find her choices/personality so grating, and I find that infuriating. This problem is not celebrity-specific. We see it all the time. Moms who casually mention how surprised they are that their four year old has already mastered the clarinet, friends who post pictures of  delivered bouquets on Facebook with the caption “I’m a lucky girl ;)” (For once I wish someone would caption that picture “Someone’s getting a hard bang tonight” just to keep it real), brides who talk about only eating egg whites for the next ninety days. This is Anne Hathaway. The woman you don’t even know how to be happy for because she is already so goddamned pleased with herself. At some point during the Anne Hathaway hate-a-thon that was this awards season, I saw more and more articles coming out trying to explain or nail down the root cause for all this loathing. I don’t know what was so confusing about it. This is what she said when she won the Golden Globe: “Thank you for this blunt object that I will forever more use as a weapon against self-doubt.” The problem here isn’t just the totally gag-me-with-a-spoon-faux-poetics, it’s that she is soliciting our sympathy when she is at the top of her career. You cannot have the odds and be the underdog, Anne. When Michael Phelps won eight gold medals he wasn’t like, “Oh gosh, I’m just a boy with ADHD and a dream.” No. He was like, “Bring on the shoe deal that doesn’t even make sense for my career, bitch.” And then he smoked pot and we forgave him because he is arrogant, and owns it, and makes America look good in front of China. When we finally arrived at the Oscars, Anne won and she came to the stage and my worst nightmare, well, you saw. It came true.

Relax.

6. Sean The Bachelor chose Catherine to be his wife. Also, he’s a virgin?

At one point in this blog’s history, I provided a weekly recap of The Bachelor for our readers. This was super generous of me because I really do find that show incredibly painful to watch. Not in a feminist “Get a backbone, ladies!” way, but in a “Oh my good God, must it take 15 minutes to hand out three roses?” kind of way. It’s a super tedious show. So I decided to use my seven month long blog abandonment as an excuse to also not watch this season with Sean. I did catch a few snippets here and there while my roommate watched. I know there was a great deal of fuss over “Tiara” and her “eyebrow.” I also noticed ABC finally entertained the idea of having some women of color contend for the bachelor’s heart for longer than the first episode. That felt pretty progressive. And then I heard that Sean is a virgin. Let me clarify: a man who spent many years having sex but decided he wants to be a virgin again. So he just is? Sure. In the end he chose Catherine for his wife, who, in the little time I spent with her, seemed like someone you discover gets more and more annoying the more you get to know her. I do like hearing my own name on television, though. I don’t know why. It’s like finding your name on a mini license plate in a Florida gift shop. It’s just nice to be acknowledged.

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Also, Sean is my brother’s name. So hearing the names Catherine and Sean paired together as a couple is not like, something I feel great about. Do you think they call each other Tawn Tawn and Caffer or is that just my mom?

7.  Amanda Bynes lost. her. shit.

Ahh! Face pierce! What happened, Amanda? You look like a contender on The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For The Next Doll who gets kicked off after episode three for hair pulling. Get it together. You were so great in She’s The Man. Seriously I LOL’d like six times. You can do this.

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8. Kristen Stewart cheated on Rob Something with that director who had a smokin hot wife.

I swear on my mother I am not trying to be funny or above the fray here. I am honestly sitting up in bed racking my brain to remember Rob’s last name but the only names coming to mind are “Reiner” and “Kardashian.” and “Stewart.” Can’t be Stewart. Thinking of Rod Stewart. Did they have one of those morph names Hollywood press use to save themselves a syllable? Was it Robstew? That’s not helping. Anyway, I’ll check the Internets in a moment to confirm. (Ed. Note: I started this post on Thursday afternoon. It is now Friday afternoon. Still can’t think of it.) What I found most fascinating was that this young actress who is normally so pouty and “get out of my life!” about her career in the spotlight, made such a fast and public apology. Were the pictures even that damning? I remember lots of hugging on balconies. Maybe a kiss? I’m around actors a lot and they love to touch each other. It’s there way of showing how liberal and loving they are as a community by greeting each other with a kiss right on the mouth while standing beside their respective spouses. Free love. I mean obviously Kristen and director left the balcony shortly after  the weirdo photographer hiding in the bushes got his shot and proceeded to have lots of sex. I’m not a naive child. I’m just saying maybe let your PR people do a little spin for you and see what you can get away with. The best thing I got out of this event was an introduction to Liberty Ross (the previously mentioned smokin hot wife of the director) who is awesome and does edgy editorials with Kate Moss. She is the only one I wanted to know anything about during this entire escapade.

Work.

Work.

9. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett announced their divorce.

While preparing this post, I g-chated the already mentioned Lara and asked her to freshen my memory on a major celebrity divorce that occurred in the last seven months and she said “Probably still Kim Kardashian” which happened in 2011. So I searched the Internet for celebrity divorces of 2012 and scrolled through the slideshow Us Weekly had created on the subject (the poor intern who’s job that was–don’t forget Chris Harrison or Richie Sambora and Denise Richards! Again!). And then I fell upon Amy Poehler and Will Arnett’s photograph and I remembered and re-saddened. I choose not to be shocked by most things related to celebrity relationships, but I had just recently read Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns, and in her chapter on marriage she shares a story about being at a party with Will and Amy and how they just seemed to be on the same team. Teammates. So I was rooting for them. Because when two smart, funny people get together, I want that to be enough to keep them together. When it’s not, reality sets in, and we realize that marriage is infinitely complicated and none of this is any of our business and I still love them both.

10. I watched the entire series Rescue Me in approximately two months.

This is not a pop culture event, but more a recommendation for the next series you tackle on Netflix Watch Instantly. I spent a lot of time alone in my old office in the last few months I was there and also just dedicated a great deal of evening and weekend time to this show. There was one Saturday where I genuinely had a full day of social activities—lunch with a friend, a trip to the grocery store, tidied up the apartment, etc.—and still managed to watch eight episodes. It is such a well-written, well-acted show that is hilarious and heartbreaking and ladies, if ever you are looking for some level of insight into the male experience, particularly regarding sex and relationships, Rescue Me would be the show for you. If you are wondering what kind of insight a terribly written, terribly acted show provides, you can borrow the first four seasons of Entourage from me and then never return them.

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That’s all for now! Please share with me anything I missed, if you are so inclined. Enjoy your weekends. Be safe out there celebrating St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll share with you my adventures next week if I can even remember them. That’s hilarious. I’m too old to still enjoy this.

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Bachelor Recap: I’m Still Shaking

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!

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Bachelor Recap: I Didn’t Come To Make Friends

This week we took a slight pause in our study of Ben Flajnik’s search for love in all the wrong models, to gather the gaggle of his scorned lovers together under one sound stage, for a two-hour long venting session.  If you’re exhausted just from reading that sentence, imagine how I felt experiencing the shriek fest firsthand. Chris Harrison was the designated moderator, there to lead the women through what I assume was intended to be a discussion of the highs and lows of the season. But the 20 something women before him clearly had an agenda of their own. It felt like every last one of them–even those we had long forgotten–saw this as an opportunity to redeem herself by pointing out the inanity in others. Little do they know they’re all insane, and there is nothing any of them can do for their reputation to fully recover from the decision to go on this show, including—and listen closely ladies—signing up for Bachelor Pad. That’s not to say I have a problem with the Bachelor off-shoot (it’s actually my favorite of the three series, as competing in blindfolded kissing contests for money feels so much more on par for what this franchise is about), I’m just saying should these women choose to participate, America will, collectively, continue to think of them as vapid boobs.

The episode, aptly titled The Bachelor: The Women Tell All, focuses on the season’s most talked about moments, rehashing each and every one through montages and poorly moderated question and answer sessions. But tonight, before Chris Harrison could even say, “go,” these women were squawking and spitting anything and everything that came to mind, all talking over one another, in a poorly conceived effort to prove their point. It was an over-the-top showcase of all the qualities we like least in the lady gender.  Rather than dissect all that transpired by writing a long-winded narrative, I thought I would shake things up a bit and instead provide a timeline of the most memorable moments. The little nuggets of hormonal, insecure, desperation that left me with a stomachache and a few less brain cells. Here we go!

Before the women appeared on stage, Chris Harrison welcomed us to the reunion, rattling off a few adjectives to describe this season’s love-capades, using words like  “outrageous” and “awkward.” All of this, though, was just flowery language used to delay the inevitable tension that would fill the room when it came time to address the villainous antics of one contestant in particular: “And then of course there’s the woman that all of America is talking about. The woman many fans love to hate. Of course, I’m talking about Courtney.” Of course. Cut to a sassy lady audience member giving us her best “mmm-hmmmmmmm” face in response to this summation. (This exact same audience-insert was used at least two more times during the episode. So this anonymous woman’s sass may have been taken out of context.)

Shortly after, Chris Harrison confirms what we all hoped in our hearts was true: “And later in the show, one of the final two will be here tonight [dramatic pause]…That’s right, Courtney will be here to defend herself.”  I wish confetti had exploded from the sky in that moment.

The first montage of the night is set-up to be a “Where Are They Now?” montage of former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants, but it quickly turned into “They’re All in a Dark Bar Making Out With Each Other” montage.
During the aforementioned segment, I learned that Kasey from Ali’s season, who famously tattooed his wrist with a heart and shield in order to prove his ability to guard and protect her heart, and went on to date Bachelor season 14 winner Vienna Girardi, is now single. How did I learn this? From the gag-tastic footage of him sloppily circling his tongue around the mouth of another woman. Gross.

The montage as a whole was clearly a teaser for season 3 of Bachelor Pad, which, as I’ve already mentioned, is my fave. It’s the best kind of summer programming: mindless and catty. I can only hope that Bachelorette contestant Frank (who left Ali’s season because he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend) and Ali (who clearly still thinks they’re soul mates) reunite at the “Pad” and there are a lot of awkward, “But seriously, I’m not that into you.” conversations between them.

Ben’s scorned lovers arrive on stage, and Chris begins to break down the ins and outs of the season. Blakely, following the advice of every contestant on America’s Next Top Model ever, tells Chris that the reason the women found her so off-putting was because she “wasn’t there to make friends.” Really? That cliché felt stale in 2006. Come on now.

I actually didn’t realize anyone still had unaddressed resentment towards Blakely, who clearly turned out to be totally harmless, yet out of nowhere an unknown blonde began attacking her, swearing and gesticulating so ferociously I thought she was going to knock the women to her left and right out of their chairs. “Who the fuck is this loud mouth,” I wrote in my notes. “Wasn’t she sent home for being such a loud mouth?” Upon closer review, I remembered that it was Samantha, who, yes indeed, was instructed to leave because she was so annoying. Comeback Grade: F.

Brittney, better known as the girl who brought her grandma on the first night, told Chris the main reason she decided to leave the show right after receiving an invitation for a one-on-one date was because, “I had no attraction to Ben.” Yay! Me either! Let’s start a club!

Samantha continued to purge her unpleasantness on the whole reunion show experience until finally Brittney lashed back: “You’re like the Chihuahua in the house, you just don’t stop talking. Shut up!” It was kind of disheartening how rousing the applause was for one woman telling another to shut up. Especially when you had to watch Samantha’s face invert into itself out of embarrassment for being out-yakked. But then she was quiet the rest of the episode, so…wash.

Shawntel, who caused a world of controversy when she appeared on the show three episodes in, hoping to enter the competition, joined Chris on stage to review the footage of all the nasty comments that were made by the other women at her expense. “Many of which we can’t play on national television,” Chris told us. “HAHAHA!” went the women. No, no. You are remembering this wrong, ladies. It’s actually not funny. It’s despicable, and you should be bowing your heads in shame. “HAHAHA!”

“I could sit here all day and apologize for calling you ugly.” –Erica. Yes, that would be a start.

Emily is next up in the hot seat, and she couldn’t be happier to have the solo attention. You can tell she has prepared some biting one-liners that she is ready to spit out as soon as Chris Harrison asks a question that will match them.

During the montage detailing the Emily-Ben relationship that turned into a dark, finger-pointing mess, we had to relive the moment when Ben tells Emily, “Tread lightly. And be careful.” Is there anything worse than a pompous prick? Yes, one with bad hair.

Emily told Chris “I wouldn’t want to end up with somebody who would fall for what Courtney was putting forward.” No worries, Emily! He didn’t want to end up with you either! Problem solved. When is the next commercial break?

Following Emily in the hot seat was Nicki, who had a much better attitude about the whole process than any of the other women. It was incredibly refreshing.

“I fell really hard for him. Really hard.” –Nicki. That kind of breaks my heart. Only because it’s Ben and I’m positive she’s over thinking it.

This was the first time I found myself really enjoying Nicki. She looked great, and spoke of her time on the show with honesty, humbleness, and perspective. I’m rooting for you Nicki! (But don’t go on The Bachelorette if they offer it to you because that would probs be boring.)

“I would never ask him what I did wrong, because I was myself!” –Nicki. I love when a lady says something to a room full of ladies that causes everyone’s estrogen to start hooping and hollering. It makes me feel like I’m at a self-affirmation lady convention, where everything seems possible and men are just pawns and we talk about breast cancer and the perfect jean fit! True story: my sophomore year of college I went to a National Sorority Convention in Salt

Lake City and I’ve never eaten so many side salads while wearing floral prints in my life.

Why is Chris Harrison’s wedding ring so ugly?

Kacie B. braves the hot seat. Chris starts this round of questioning off with the terribly pandering comment, “Everyone quickly fell in love with you.” Did we?

Kacie B. watches her montage packet (up to and including her Intervention-style departure) with a very serious and somber face. Maybe it’s just me, and my inability to take anything seriously, but how do you not make self-depricating goofy faces when you’re watching yourself tearfully scream into a camera, “THIS IS WHY I DON’T LOVE!” Maybe it requires an understanding on my part that these aren’t “play” feelings, and they’re actually reliving very painful emotions. But whatever, I know I’d be taking it all in with the facial expressions of a Kristen Wiig-Kathy Lee Gifford impression.

“I don’t know, I think when I left [Switzerland] I had a few more questions.” –Kacie B. Seriously? Honey, no. Time is up. Pencils down. No more questions. Trust me.

“It’s time to talk about the most controversial woman of the season. Maybe ever!” Rein it in, Chris. Rein it in.

Before Courtney actually comes out, Emily proclaims, as if it’s a new idea, that Courtney was only on the show to win. Only on this competition show is this perceived as a bad thing. “It could have been Joe Schmo sitting there,” Emily wailed. Oh Emily, it was Joe Schmo.

I wish at some point in her life, Courtney’s mother told her that if she kept making that scrunchy, purse-lipped face, it would freeze that way.

Chris Harrison: You seem scared to death.
Courtney: I am.
Chris Harrison: Why?
Courtney: I’m terrified.
Mmm not an answer to the question, but I feel you.

I realized during this segment how painful it is to watch a pack of women gang up on one. Where are their manners? At least wait until she’s not in the room and do it behind her back. That’s what I would prefer, should I find myself in Courtney’s shoes…someday?

“Who thinks Courtney is here to apologize, or here to repair her image?” Ahh Chris, don’t take a poll! I don’t like all the power these women suddenly think they have to throw around in order to bring down one. My skin is crawling from secondhand shamefulness.

“It brought out the worst in me…I take it all back. I thought I did the best I could…There is no manual for how to act on The Bachelor!” –Courtney. No manual? What do you call fifteen previous seasons? All the rules, nuances, and strategies? I could write a tome.

“If I had known that this X plus whatever is whatever.” –Courtney. Was that Algebra?

Finally it’s time for Ben to come out and face the jury. “Welcome to my nightmare,” he tells Chris as he sits down. What a gracious arrival.

Nicki: You are the best man I have ever met in my entire life!
Ben: Thanks Nicki.
Wow. You couldn’t throw in a “I think you’re wonderful as well?” Or even a cheeky “You’re not so bad yourself?” I fucking hate this guy.

Chris asked Ben if there were anyone he would like to apologize to, for how he may have left things on the show. “Yes, actually. Casey S.” Whwhwhwwhaaatt? Casey S.? The girl you asked to leave because she came to you and told you that she can’t figure out a way to like you, mainly because she’s still in love with her loser ex-boyfriend? You wish that had been handled with more grace?

Towards the end, Ben was flooded with compliments by the ladies, who all suddenly felt compelled to express what an amazing guy he is. You know, guys, that really isn’t necessary, even if you are trying to present yourself as humble and grudge-less. Jamie, best known for her terribly awkward kissing tutorial, once again decided to act on instinct instead of awareness, and offered herself to Ben, should he ever find himself single again. 1. Slow your roll, girl. 2. I thought we were all working under the assumption that Ben is single? Well, I am at least.

Prepared to lighten the mood, Chris cues the montage of silly moments, filled with interview outtakes and lots of giggling. This show would be so much more tolerable if they inserted some of these sincere moments into the actual episodes. FYI, producers. During said montage, I think I learned that the bachelor has to get a bikini wax before the show begins? All I know is that I saw a lot of flesh in the brief snippet of Ben putting on his loincloth.

Kacie B. and Nicki held hands while the final montage, a side-by-side comparison of Lindzi’s and Courtney’s love-journeys, played. If Nicki was asked to be the Bachelorette, maybe Kacie B. could be one of the contestants.

Did you notice how Chris Harrison did NOT ask Ben to confirm whether or not he is currently in love? This is a standard question at the end of The Women Tell All Special. I’m telling you, you guys. Things are not going to end well for Ben Flajnik. I can feel it in my bones.

Next week the big finale! Who will he choose? How will the rejected soul handle herself? Can we hire Lindzi a speech pathologist? If she didn’t talk like that, I know I could really get behind her and then I wouldn’t feel like I’m wasting two hours of my night waiting for Ben to make a decision I feel totally ambivalent about.

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Bachelor Recap: I Just Hope You’re Making The Right Decision

We have finally arrived at the final three, and ladies and gentleman it feels good! Do gentlemen read these recaps? I hate to sexist-ly assume no. This is only the ninth episode of the season, but for some reason it feels like I have been tied up in Ben Flajnik’s affairs since 2007. Just as President Obama’s hair grayed rapidly once he entered office, I too am discovering physical signs of deterioration that were not there when the show began. My skin is drier. My nails are chipping. I’m not getting enough sleep. And why blame the winter air or my poor time management for these ailments, when I can blame Ben who dresses like a Kohl’s model featured in the Sunday coupon catalog.

The women joined Ben in Switzerland, where no one could think of a better place to fall in love. Nowhere? Not one other place?  Not, say, Paris or Venice? Or maybe a tiny island off the coast of Croatia that has slowly, overtime, formed into the shape of a heart? Switzerland it is!

Before the women arrive, Ben walks us through his three remaining wife-options, and his experiences with each thus far. Ugh, we’ve been watching Ben. We know! “I’ve really experienced every emotion in the book. Love, anger, sadness.” And if anyone of you are wondering why Ben seems so emotionally stilted, it’s because, as we now know, he is only capable of three very elementary emotions. I on the other hand, as an active participant of his journey, have experienced frustration, anxiety, lethargy, exasperation, aggravation, earnestness, resentment, animosity, melancholy, and general ennui. Maybe he just doesn’t have access to a thesaurus, like I do. Nicki, Ben told us, “is kind of the dark horse.” Just in case anyone forgot that this show is in fact a game, Ben is now referring to these poor women in competition terms. I’m surprised Ben didn’t just say, “Nicki is kind of like the LA Clippers. No matter how well they’re doing, you always manage to lose interest in them.”  He went on to describe her as “open, gentle, and caring. She’s very nurturing.” This would be a match made in heaven if Ben was looking for a nanny. Or a house cat for his mother. But what Ben is really looking for is a hot girlfriend to have on his arm when he attends the premiere of Dancing With The Stars, so things aren’t looking good for Ms. Nicki. Next, we get a run down of Lindzi, who Ben describes as “a little bit country and a little bit city.” Which is hilarious to me. Doesn’t Lindzi strike you as the kind of woman who would get into a gypsy cab and think she struck a deal? If Lindzi’s a little bit city, then my family vacation to Montana in 2002 is reason enough for me to go buy a license plate frame that says, “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl!” I know the world of ladies is confusing, Ben, but someone wearing a lot of bronzer does not automatically make her a city gal.  “And then there’s also Courtney.” Oh, right. HER! How could you forget?! Especially when you make a fresh mental note every morning you wake up that she is the hottest woman to ever show prolonged interest in you. “I like that she’s a little nerdy. And that’s why I hold her in such high regard.” WHAT! What kind of ass-backwards character description is that? Courtney’s nerdy because she wore rubber overalls while fly-fishing with you? THAT WAS MANDATORY! She’s nerdy because she trotted you out to the ocean to go skinny-dipping? THAT’S NOT WHAT WE CALL THAT! She’s nerdy because she talks in a baby voice and makes weird noises when she can’t remember how to flirt with you? THAT’S BECAUSE SHE CAN’T NAME THE THREE BRANCHES OF US GOVERNMENT! Oy-yoy-yoy. I tell you, I should be a consultant on this show. Like Patti Stanger, but with greater success and less narcissism. An instant hit I tell ya!

Nerd alert!

Nicki is first up for the romantic one-on-one 24-hour day of fun. She reunites with Ben in Interlaken, Switzerland, which is also the name of a theatre arts overnight camp in the Midwest. Fitting, because I find Nicki to be the embodiment of an overnight theatre arts camp: sheltered, naive, and angsty. All rolled up into one overwhelming personality! Ben surprises her with a helicopter ride (although, how can you even pretend to be surprised at this point?) and Nicki exclaims, “This is my second helicopter ride ever. And it’s with Ben!” But, like, wasn’t the first one with Ben? I don’t know, it’s so hard to keep track at this point. I’d research this if I wasn’t already feeling so impatient. Nicki swoons over how safe Ben makes her feel as they ‘copter over the mountains, and how much she admires that quality in Ben. Later, in an unknown effort to dismantle every bit of confidence Nicki had in him, Ben tells her “When we went over that glacier, I saw my life flash before my eyes!” My hero! They unwrap their picnic lunch on a mountaintop that looks similar in size and steepness to the mountain where the Grinch lives. Nicki, I am realizing for the first time, is slightly more literal with her relationship metaphors. As she explains it, the climb up a mountain is like a relationship growing, but then, (my personal favorite), “…there’s also the cliff, which you can fall off of, which would be our relationship ending.” I wonder if this means Ben has the freedom to break up with her by telling her to jump off a cliff. Again, these are suggestions I could bring to my consulting. While picnicking, Nicki announces that she just wants to yell into the mountain air! Ben follows up with the sounds of a sick, elderly owl: “Hoo. Hoouuhhoo.” From the diaphragm, come on now, Ben! With this date clearly losing momentum, the two decide to slow thing down even more, and answer the inevitable sixth-date question, “How many kids do you want to have?” Ben rambles a bit about how he grew up in a small family, and after his dad passed away, he and his sister had discussed each wanting four kids. Nicki then answer with, “And I’ve always had my mind set on two.” Maybe Ben can have the other two kids with his sister. Like what Will and Grace were going to do before Grace met Harry Connick Jr., but weirder.At dinner, Ben faux-shyly presents Nicki with a sealed invitation. (Relax Ben. It’s the sixteenth season. She knows what’s coming.) With a bit of faux-hesitation, Nicki opens it and finds the offer to stay in the fantasy suite with Ben, aka have sex with him in order to stay competitive. “I will accept it,” she says. She’s such a minx. Quick Bachelor trivia question: Has any female contestant ever refused the fantasy suite invitation OR has any Bachelor ever declined to give one to a contestant? Like maybe because he decided he couldn’t get it up for her since discovering that weird thing she does while eating? Someone let me know. Anyway, Ben and Nicki arrive at their fantasy suite and change into bathing suits for some hot tub foreplay. Of all the foreplay that we are allowed to air on TV, hot tub foreplay makes me the most uncomfortable. There’s just so much going on that bubbles can hide. And what I really don’t need to be privy to is how Ben handles himself during foreplay. *Shiver*

The next day, perfectly ready and willing to free all his romantic inclinations for Nicki from his mind, Ben welcomes Lindzi to Switzerland. Lindzi performs her Bachelor due-diligence, running towards a stationary Ben as soon as she sees him. That’s not just physical energy you have to muster, ladies, that’s emotional energy. “Ehh ok, here we go! Ahh, it’s you! Yes! I’m excited! Here you are. Great. I’m running.” Ben escorts Lindzi over to a cliff, where a team of gentlemen are there to greet them and provide them with safety equipment, so that Lindzi and Ben might scale down it. Apparently Lindzi has not yet passed the “physical challenges to prove your love” phase of their relationship. And rightfully so, because remember! Lindzi has not yet told Ben point-blank that she in love with them. And until you do, Lindzi, down you go into the abyss. Here, relationship lessons are learned and re-learned, as they have to trust each other—or maybe just the man in charge of the ropes and harnesses?—and support each other, all while finding ways to keep the flame alive as they are suspended on the side of a cliff. Once they are released from this totally pointless, unromantic, and uneventful activity, the two change into their evening wear, and reconvene over dinner. Ben tells us that “Tonight will be a telling sign for me and Lindzi,” which I of course interpret as, “If we don’t have sex, I’ll assume she’s not serious about us. Ball’s in her court.” But maybe I’m being a cynic and Ben really is just one of those regular guys who presents women with physical invitations for overnight stays in romantic hotel rooms, and is perfectly happy to receive the response, “I don’t know if we’re ready for that.” I imagine that Ben actually was once quite comfortable being sexually rejected by women, but all of this control has gotten the better of him. Ben and Lindzi sit down at one of those tiny Bachelor dinner tables that barely has enough room for a dinner plate, let alone five pounds of roses and my elbows. It’s fine. I’m sure it’s all prop food anyway, so that no one ever wastes camera time actually eating. Kind of like how the Jersey Shore kids aren’t allowed to watch television in the house. It also occurred to me during this discourse, that the reason Ben likes Lindzi so much must be because she secretly reminds him of Ashley. Have you listened to the way she pronounces words like “today?” It comes out more like. “todaayyhhhaaaaayyyy!” If I am so lucky as to have a daughter of my own one day, and she ever speaks to me with that inflection, it would disturb me more than if she called me the c-word. I swear to God. Lindzi finally admits to herself that the only way to seal the deal and make it to the mountaintop proposal in two weeks, is to confess her ever-evolving, yet strong feelings for Ben during dinner: “I absolutely know for a fact that I really like you, and I’m falling in love with you and I’d like to see this with a proposal at the end.” I’ve never heard a woman’s feelings develop so quickly in one sentence. And all it took was really liking someone, being pretty sure you’re falling in love, and having a looming deadline. It’s like sleeping with your boss for a project extension, but less romantic. Ben hands Lindzi the fantasy suite card and Lindzi, sharp city girl that she is, asks, “Is this another invitayaahtion to scale a cliff?” I think it’s her wit that makes her so relatable. She agrees to a night in the fantasy suite with Ben and now she’s more in love than ever: “It feels really real, now that I’m falling in love with Ben.” That’s it, Lindzi. Just push yourself. You can make yourself feel anything if you try hard enough. Like a ten year old who still believes in Santa.

The final date of the episode is reserved for Courtney, and based on the previews, I know that this is because Ben needs to give her a stern talking to and he knows as well as I do that this sort of thing is best left for last, in order to sustain viewers through the 2nd hour. You know, for ratings. Ben waits for Courtney in a tan peacoat and you can tell he’s feeling very J. Crew. I think that’s what gave him the strength to say things to Courtney like, “There are certain times when you can kind of, twist the knife a bit, and I wish in those moments you would’ve made it a little easier on me.” I’m not really one to make jokes about men not having balls, or needing them removed, etc., but if I was, I would insert one here. Upon Courtney’s arrival, Ben tells her he has planned a “very Swiss’ date for the two of them. My brain is swirling from all the possibilities. And then I tell it to stop, because it turns out all that’s really involved in a “very Swiss” date is a train ride, talking down to the locals, and having a picni in a field where the Swiss cows are allowed to roam free. When Ben and Courtney first sit down, Courtney remarks what a different world this is; one where cows are allowed to enjoy the grassy plains as much as the people who leave behind their picnic litter. This is not good PR for America, by the way. Ben tells Courtney about his favorite game as a kid, a game called “Hey Cow.” The objective, according to Ben is to say “Hey cow!” until you get the cow to look at you. Courtney gives it a try:

“Hey cow! Hey cooowwww! Oh, that’s a fun game.”

These two really are amazing. I can only imagine the conversations they’ll have at 80.  The moment of truth arrives, and Ben lays it down for her: the women don’t like her, and she’s given them no reason to. When Ben has needed her to be there for him, she’s only made it harder. And she overuses the line “See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!” Ok, maybe that’s just my complaint. Courtney takes all of this very seriously, confessing to the camera, “Knowing that I’ve made it harder for him, that breaks my heart.” I thought she was going to pull a muscle with how hard she was trying to squeeze a tear out of those eyes in that moment. Ben doesn’t want to ruin the whole day with this confrontational conversation, so he waits until they relocate from their picnic, to the interior of a barn (I think?) for dinner, and then rehashes virtually everything that was discussed in the cow field. Just in case anyone at home was enjoying themselves too much. Courtney defends her behavior to Ben, explaining, “It’s been hard for me to be here, because I felt like I was falling for you early on. And I had my guard up.” I just…everyone just shut up. Seriously. I can’t even listen to this anymore. I get so frustrated. You were so in love with Ben that you had to protect yourself by putting your guard up, by throwing your often naked body in front of him, and tearing down the women around you in the process? Great, got it. I know earlier I offered my services as a consultant on this show, but I would also like to express similar interest in serving as an interventionist for any woman considering applying to be on this show. I’ll just play them snippets of The Bachelor’s web series “Diaries of the Departed.” This is what you’ll become, I’ll say! A shadow of your former self, sobbing in the back of the rejection limo over a man who gave you less affection than the last guy to ring you up at Trader Joe’s. And you know who will be there to judge you? THE WORLD.

The dinner portion of this date wraps up with Courtney telling Ben, “Moving forward, I think you have a good sense of who I am.” I know I do, Courtney! And it looks a lot like what I saw during weeks 1-8. Ben hands Courtney the fantasy suite invitation and they walk to a different romantic love lodge (I wonder what the set decorating budget is for this show) for some hot tub foreplay of their own. I avert my eyes, and feel extremely confident that we will be saying goodbye to Nicki in approximately 23 minutes.

Briefly, before the official commercial break after Ben and Courtney’s date, we got a sneak peak of the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, starring Emily Maynard. Emily, very nervous about her upcoming televised love journey, decided to fly to LA to gain some insight into what she can expect from this experience.  And who better to walk her though it, than former Bachelorettes Ali Fedotowsky and Ashley Hebert. It was all very ladies who lunch. Meaning extremely tedious and self-important. The three also attended a screening of the upcoming Titanic 3D, during which Ashley announced, “I kind of feel like the way Jack looked at Rose, is the way JP looked at me that first night.” And that’s all I have to say about that.

Back from the break, we find a mystery woman walking through the halls of the Swiss hotel where Ben is staying. And just when I thought these recaps were going to get easier, what with only three women left, it turns out, Kacie B. has returned, this time demanding answers, and taking up far too much of my time with her shenanigans. When Ben opens the door, there is of course the initial shock, but then he carries on for way too long. Enough of the exclamatory cursing, Ben, let the poor girl inside. Now you’re just being rude.

Once Ben composes himself and finds his manners, he welcomes her into his hotel room so that she may announce whatever line the producers fed her to explain her return. Kacie B. is in search of answers, in search of the truth! In a confrontation that could have played out as suspenseful as the notorious court room scene from A Few Good Men, if Ben and Kacie B. were a slice as captivating as Jack Nicholson and 80s Tom Cruise. Instead it played out kind of like this:

Kacie B: You’ve had your heart broken and I’m sure you’ve wanted answers. I was so confident in what we had, and didn’t see that coming at all.

Ben: I felt like we were worlds apart in terms of where we were coming from. I don’t think I could have given you all the things you needed….Did I see you in the end? No.

Zzz…

This is what the dialogue would sound like if Kim Kardashian became a ghost writer for the Gossip Girl series. Ugh, I would rather watch syndicated episodes of The Big Bang Theory at this point. Kacie B. gets all the information she needs–that Ben remains confident in his decision to stop liking her–but before she leaves, she decides to take one final swing at Courtney. “If you were to choose Courtney, you would get your heart broken.” Honestly, the whole thing is starting to feel like a witch hunt. There are three women left. Whoever he picks is his own problem. Let’s try and not lose any sleep over it, ok Kacie B.? “Ok,” she says while lying on the floor of the hotel, outside of Ben’s room. My word, what must Denny and Marth think of her now?

Ben shakes off the momentary distraction that was Kacie B., and prepares for his final rose ceremony of the season. After a lengthy chat with his fave gal pal, Chris Harrison, Ben reaches the painful decision of who he must send home. Waiting for him in what looked like a room from the set of Joe Millionaire, Nicki, Lindzi, and Courtney stand side by side, passively aggressively utilizing their peripheral vision to size up the others. How at ease they would have felt, if just one had managed to put on ten pounds during their brief stay. Ben appears at the end of the hallway, and then uses a solid minute of my time to actually present himself in front of the women. He thanks all three for being with him, and for their continued trust. Lindzi receives the first rose. Courtney, the second. Nicki is sent home.

I had so much anxiety surrounding how Nicki would handle her inevitable departure. More than anyone, I thought Nicki would be capable of a truly historical Bachelor limo confessional. Surprisingly, though, she did a fairly good job of keeping with the show’s script: “I’ve never been in love with someone who doesn’t love me back. I’ve never fallen so hard and so fast for someone who wasn’t sure.” Yes, yes, it’s all such a shock. Before Nicki left, she told Ben, “I just hope you’re making the right decision.” To which Ben replied, “Believe me, I do too!”

You’re not, Ben. And you never will. He has the grace of a bull, that one.

Next week is The Bachelor: The Women Tell All, where we get to relive Monica’s lesbian instincts and the tragic moment Jamie decided to be more aggressive with her flirtations. Until then!

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Bachelor Recap: Almost Married

**Below is the original opening to this post, which I wrote on Tuesday morning with the intent to publish later that evening. I can’t bring myself to delete it because I find it so cute how confident I was that I would finally follow my self-imposed deadline.  At least you know I really do have the best of intentions.

Look! It’s a Tuesday-Day-After-The-Bachelor miracle! The post is up, and I don’t have to hate myself for the remainder of the week for falling behind on my responsibilities. [ed. note: I hate myself.] Maybe I’ll reward myself this evening by starting season 1 of Downton Abby or taking a nice bath in the tub I cleaned yesterday. [ed. note: I did not do either of these things. As punishment.]  How was your President’s Day? I cleaned my bathroom and ate more than one bowl of ice cream (two). It was everything I wanted my day off to be. If only I didn’t have to bruise the good mood by tuning into last night’s all new episode of The Bachelor. But alas, I have made a commitment to these recaps, and if I’m not there to dissect what goes through someone’s mind when they start screaming “THIS IS WHY I DON’T LOVE!” then I fear we will never get to the bottom of it. So onward we go.

Last night Ben Flajnik traveled across the country to the four hometowns of his remaining suitors. Four places I hope never to find myself: Ocala, Florida, Clarksville, Tennesse, Fort Worth, Texas, and Scottsdale, Arizona. I feel like these towns are filled with the kind of people who voted for Scotty McCreary on American Idol. Even Ben seemed to have trouble ratcheting up enthusiasm for this high-stakes episode. He presented the kind of ho-hum personality we have come to know and resent, but would leave any loving parent, upon introduction, with a great deal of concern for their daughter’s future.  In Ocala, Florida, Ben and Lindzi were reunited for an equestrian-themed adventure. In homage to the first night they met, Lindzi greeted Ben on horseback, though this time in the more appropriate ensemble of jeans and spurred cowboy boots. Giddy up! Ben admits, “I’d like to say I’m more familiar with horses, but I would be lying.” Well your honesty is appreciated Ben because if my mother taught me one thing, it is to never lie about your knowledge of horses. In the past this has prevented me from attending Kentucky Derby parties and talking through Seabiscuit. Lindzi is really excited for Ben to see her in her element; “Horses have been my life since before I was born. I learned to ride before I learned to walk!” According to a quick Google search, I am told on average, a healthy child will take its first steps between the ages of 10 and 15 months. I don’t mention this to pick apart what was meant to be a light-hearted anecdote, but rather to take a moment to picture what it would like if a tiny baby was riding a horse. This is how I get through the show. After Lindzi and Ben rode around in some horse-drawn, buggy-Gladiator-chariot contraption, they sat down for a picnic. At one point, Ben leaned in for a kiss, and you guys, I tell you my gag reflex kicks in just thinking about it. A mere moment before kissing her, he stuck his tongue out, licked his lips, slurped his tongue back in, and then leaned in to kiss her with his mouth open. I started screaming. When they arrive at Lindzi’s parents house, Lindzi introduces them to her “boyfriend” (oh, Lindzi) and her father immediately gets things moving in the right direction, announcing, “I have some wonderful, chilled chardonnay.” Now there is a man after my own heart. There is more gratuitous chariot racing, before the foursome settle down around a fire, drinking wine out of glasses that appeared to be mason jars glued to wine stems. During a private moment, Lindzi confesses to her mom that she is falling in love with Ben. This concerns Mrs. Lindzi, who explains she doesn’t want to see her daughter heartbroken, should Ben choose someone else. If I were to interpret Mrs. Lindzi’s concern on a deeper level, I would say it served more as a reminder to be wary of falling in love with someone who is unwilling to reciprocate the emotional commitment you’re offering. It’s kind of like marrying a guy who proposed to you only after you gave him a deadline.

Despite the listed concerns from Mrs. Lindzi, both parents offer Ben their blessing, telling him they would be honored to have him as their son-in-law. Really? You just met the guy and he’s dating three other women. Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Yes! Come on, it’s Lindzi. Horse puns are encouraged, if not mandatory! As the Oscala date comes to an end, Ben tells the camera that he might be falling in love with Lindzi, in a tone on par with one thinking he may have solved 15 Across in the daily crossword. You got him, Lindzi! Hook, line, and sinker!

Next up, Ben visited Kacie B. in Clarksville, Tennessee! I picture an Old Prospector at the town border, there to greet you when you enter. But the kind of prospector who has sinister intentions, like Kelsey Grammer in Toy Story 2. Kacie B. welcomes Ben to Clarksville with the saddest rainy day parade you’ve ever seen. Members of a high school marching band accompanied Kacie B. on a damp field, while she twirled her baton in front of Ben, for the second time this season. I’m a little confused as to why she thinks talents honed in high school are the way to keep a man. Though I have been tempted in the past to perform a monologue from The Mousetrap on a third or fourth date (I played Miss Caswell my junior year—a strange, aloof, masculine woman), I’ve always managed to hold back. Ben applauds, the way you applaud for a toddler who has just finished reciting the ABC’s, and then the two sit down for a sad, rainy day chat. Kacie B. tells Ben that the field she performed on was actually named after her grandfather, with a story that felt a bit tired—even to those of us who were hearing it for the first time. So far Kacie B. is 0 for 2 on this date.

Before heading to her parents’ house, Kacie B. warns Ben that her father is a federal probation officer who doesn’t drink. “Well that’s great! I’m a wine maker and my business is booze!” Name a really bland, doofy cartoon character. Ben is like that person’s duller brother. The front door opens to Kacie B.’s home, and we meet her parents: MARTHA and DENNY. You guys, those are MY parents’ names. Except the only people who are allowed to call my dad (Dennis) Denny, are his childhood friends. He has a huge problem with adult men who still have a “y” at the end of their name. He also has a huge problem with bachelor men who can’t keep a tidy bathroom, so he’s pretty much my hero. Poor Kacie B., nothing about this date went smoothly, as her parents spent nearly the entire time reminding both of them how serious marriage is, and if they moved in together before they got married, they would pretty much be burned at the stake. And not by God–by Martha and Denny themselves. During a private conversation with her father, Kacie B. admitted that she had fallen in love with Ben, to which Denny responded, “If he were to ask me if he could marry you, I would say no.” Kacie B.’s timid frustrations tell me she spent the first 18 years of her life under her father’s thumb, then started to assert her independence when she moved out of the house and added the b-word to her vocabulary, but continues to cower under his disapproval whenever they are reunited. Just a thought. Ben appears discouraged by this family dynamic—perturbed by the ruling that an engaged couple should not live together, but rather spend lots of quality time with each other outside a reality show setting, before tying the knot. Dictators! Ben says goodbye and I imagine went back to his hotel room and watched some indecent adult pay-per-view. Just to remind himself who’s boss.

Fort Worth, Texas was the next stop on Ben’s itinerary, and there, was welcomed by a very, very eager Nicki. “Last time I brought a man home under these circumstances, I married him! And now I’m bringing Ben home under these circumstances!” I would not be surprised if Nicki had a life size cut out of Ben in her bedroom. And by bedroom I mean, tucked under the sheets of her bed with smeared lip gloss all over his cardboard face. For the Nicki-planned portion of the date, she decided to take Ben shopping for cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Did Ben pull off this look? I’ll let you be the judge:

But the answer is no. He looked like he was playing The Cowboy in an elementary school variety show titled “The Prairie Valley All-Stars Present: Hold Your Horses!” They stroll over to a local watering hole (is that Texan for bar? I don’t feel like looking it up—but I mean bar), order a couple of drinks, and Nicki continues to act like a pageant kid hopped up on Pixy Stix. A lot of big eyes, superfluous gestures, and way over-the-top laughter: “HAHAHAHAHA!” Doesn’t flirting that hard give you a headache? I know I have one. At the tail end of their afternoon date, before heading to her parents’ house, Nicki admits that she doesn’t want to beat a dead horse with this whole “I’m divorced” thing, but, it’s really important that she keeps talking about it so that everyone is clear she is worthy of marrying again. “People think I gave up, BUT I DIDN’T.” Ahh, its ok! We know! Lots of people get married more than once! No judgment, Nicki. Just settle.

The actual meeting of the parents was a bit of nonevent. Sure you had your typical, “Oh Mama, I really think he’s the one!” mother-daughter moment, but by the third hometown visit, all of this begins to feel stale and so I started online shopping for a desk. Ever since coming across this image on Pinterest, I have decided my life would be more fabulous with a desk in my room:

It will require having a bedroom that fits more than a full size bed and a dresser, but I figure I could buy a desk, and then apartment shop around it. Anyway, the Fort Worth, Texas date really started to pick-up steam at the end, when Nicki pulled Ben into a bedroom to lay all her feelings on the line. Nicki expresses these feelings in vague assertions like, “When you want that and you know you want that, that’s when you know you really love someone.” You said that perfectly, Nick. Whether or not Ben is starting to develop similarly aggressive feelings for Nicki is irrelevant, as I would say this final interaction was more about Nicki guilting him into keeping her around one more episode. What’s the harm right? It’s all just a game that ends in the proposition of marriage. This show is turning me into a greater cynic than I already was.

The final stop on this whirlwind tour is Scottsdale, Arizona, where I think we the audience were more excited than Ben to learn exactly what kind of environment someone like Courtney came out of. The fact that it’s Arizona already says volumes to me. I imagine the people who choose to live in Arizona are the kind of people who get Cheesecake Factory carry-out at least once a week. So I can’t say I’m surprised someone as humorless and unimaginative as Courtney grew up there. Arizona’s cultural shortcomings aside, I come to find out that Courtney’s parents and sister are all perfectly lovely people. It makes you wonder how Courtney turned out to be such a manipulative twit. She’s doing wrong by the Roberts name, I tell you! Courtney’s dad was my personal favorite, sitting poolside, dressed in a crisp, white button down shirt paired with an argyle sweater vest—but keeping it real with blue jeans on the bottom–and sipping a glass of chardonnay. In a proper wine glass, mind you. None of that hobo mason jar, build-your-own wine glass we were introduced to in Oscala. Rick Roberts gave a toast, welcoming Ben into their home, and I longed for the return of summer when I too can sit around a colorful patio table, enjoying a glass of wine, and admiring the cacti-themed tablescape in front of me. Courtney’s sister cut right to the chase, asking Courtney if she is falling in love with Ben, or already in love with him. Only in the world of this show do people ever concern themselves with this discrepancy. Does it really matter? Isn’t the question we’re really trying to get answered here whether or not she plans on accepting a proposal from this bozo? Courtney clarifies her feelings, stating that she likes/loves Ben and somewhere Nicki’s head is exploding from this noncommittal response. Courtney’s mom Sherry, always the skeptic, tells the camera, “I would be very surprised if she was in love with him.” GIRL, WE ALL ARE! But in a private conversation with her mom, Courtney assures her that she and Ben are happy together and this gives Sherry “a newfound appreciation for new love.” That sounds like something a Drew Barrymore character would say in a movie called The Hidden Love Flower’s Treasure. Outside, in awkwardly placed lawn chairs, Rick and Ben discuss the travails of marriage. Now, here is where Rick and I do not see eye to eye. He tells Ben, “Marriage is life’s greatest gamble. And there’s only a 50% chance of winning.” No! I’m sorry, you don’t enter a marriage with a 50% chance you’ll get divorced. That’s not how it works. If two people make a thoughtful and confident decision that they would like to get married, and then spend their marriage working on sustaining the love and respect that their relationship was built on, then they will stay married 100% of the time. If something happens during the course of the marriage that causes one or both adults to decide that they should no longer be married, then they get divorced. But whatever the end result is, it wasn’t happenstance. It’s not a scratch-off ticket, for God’s sake. But to get myself back in Rick’s corner, I agree that, should Ben and Courtney get married, it would be a gamble, and there would be a 98% chance that they would get divorced. So good on you, Rick, for bringing this to young Ben’s attention.

After the Roberts said goodbye to Courtney and Ben, the two headed over to Courtney’s favorite park in Scottsdale. A beautiful, green park, to my surprise, as I imagine all landscaping in Arizona to consist entirely of rock, dirt, and concrete. Courtney explains that this is a popular or perfect place to get married. I can’t remember exactly–my mind wandered over to the home décor section of the Anthropologie website at this point, so I was no longer listening for details. The point is, Courtney staged a wedding in this park so that she could tell Ben she loves him in the proper setting. The proper setting being a WEDDING. They walk over to the dozen or so chairs that had been arranged for all of the guests that had not been invited to the faux-ceremony and Courtney pulls two notebooks out of her purse so that she and Ben may write their vows. She also rummages around in there long enough to find two homemade rings, and a bow tie for Ben. After a few minutes of free-form vow brainstorming, the two reunite under the makeshift altar, and the officiator proceeds with the ceremony. Again, I was pretty tied up looking at sheet/quilt combinations, but I managed to transcribe this much of Ben’s vows: “From the moment I saw you, you took my breath away. Is this too good to be true? The answer I found in Belize was, no. I find myself falling for you more and more.” Better still was Courtney’s reaction to these words: “You just wrote that?!” Um, yeah Courtney. Those sentiments just fluttered out of his brain and onto the page in mere moments. Magic, huh? Courtney’s vows were straight up plagiarized from the Sex and the City series finale when Carrie tells the Russian, “I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.” Unfortunately, she kept going, adding, “I want to treat you right, every day and every night.” There’s nothing like throwing in a bit of Dr. Seuss to show a man you’re serious. This whole charade goes as far as having each person say, “With this ring I thee wed…” before the officiator laugh-mumbles that this not a real wedding. I had started to hope it was real and then the show would be over and we’d all be out of our misery. The two were carted off in an SUV, with “Almost Married” graffitied across the back windshield. I like to think that the two of them sitting in the backseat of that car played out similarly to the final scene of The Graduate.

All four women and Ben arrive back in LA, returning to The Bachelor chateau for the first time since their journey began. Chris Harrison sits Ben down in his study, for a round-up of the four hometown dates. All of this rehashing feels extraneous as we know Ben has made up his mind and Chris Harrison saying things like “They literally rolled out the red carpet and marching band for you!” is just delaying the inevitable. The rose ceremony begins and I am all but certain Nicki is going home. The first rose goes to Courtney—duh, they’re married. Next is Lindzi. And then, in a moment that had me gasp and slap my hand over my mouth, Nicki’s name is announced, leaving Kacie B. rose-less. I. Was. Shocked. Nicki and Lindzi immediately turn to console her, while Courtney slightly edges her body near the group, before stepping away entirely, and looking at Ben like, “Sheesh, what’s her problem?” Ben escorts Kacie B. out of the house, while she meekly tells him “It’s fine!” for totally leading her (and America!) on all these weeks. Once she gets into the limo, things quickly go downhill, revealing an ugly cry I haven’t seen since I followed Farrah’s story on Teen Mom. “I had no clue this was coming. I’m so upset…This is why I don’t love! What the fuck happened? WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED??” It quickly spiraled out of control, going from a Bachelor: Diaries of the Departed moment, to an Intervention: My Family Betrayed Me moment.

So Kacie B. is gone and the final three move on to Switzerland. Just one step closer to the inevitable moment when Ben proposes to Courtney and she responds, “Umm, I don’t know if I feel the same way.” That’s my guess, anyway.

Until next week!

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Bachelor Recap: Maybe I’m Realizing It’s Really Real Now

I’ve been on a losing streak lately, in terms of getting these Bachelor recaps to you in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, my intention is always to have them posted by end of day Tuesday, when memories of Ben’s tank tops and vacation hair are still fresh in your mind. But for the third week in a row, I’ve had after-work commitments almost every night that have deterred me from reaching this goal. Not to say that my ranks as a Chicago socialite are on the rise; this past Wednesday, for example, my sister and I had scheduled an evening blog meeting, which turned into a two hour lecture on how I need to start operating my Pinterest account with more discretion. I’m sure you can understand why, after that lengthy discussion, I just wanted to eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup and go to bed. But this is why I take thorough notes on Monday nights, so that when I finally do sit down to write these recaps, I can transport myself back to exactly how frustrated and flabbergasted I felt during the show. And so we begin!

This week, Ben traveled to Belize to meet up with the six women still contending for his heart. This episode, that brings six contestants down to four in preparation for the at-home dates, is now officially my least favorite episode of The Bachelor season, as it calls attention to the most inherent flaw of this program: this is not a show about finding true love, it’s about winning a competition. And the more these women receive confirmation that they are more desirable than the women around them getting sent home, the more motivated they are to keep pushing until they are crowned the winner, and take home the top prize. In this episode, you can see each woman scrambling to come up with the right thing to do or say in order to guarantee herself a rose. For most, who have already employed tactics like laughing at his jokes and pressing their chest against his when giving him a hug, this means raising the stakes, and announcing to Ben that they are falling in love with him. The fact that Ben (and all other Bachelors that have come before him, mind you) takes this proclamation at face value, not questioning for a moment the sincerity or probability of such a strong emotion forming in such a short period of time, only encourages the women to believe what they are saying is true. And then suddenly, one of them is engaged to a man that has never dated her monogamously, he rolls his eyes when she asks him to text her when he’ll be home, and suddenly their break-up is splashed across the covers of tabloid magazines.

But I’ll try and put my cynicism and smugness on the back burner for now. Ben is in Belize, where the culture is slower, and allows more time to reflect on his experience so far, and prepare for the journey ahead. Really? You haven’t found anytime in the past few weeks for reflection? The beaches of Puerto Rico were too fast-paced for you? Ben is also wearing a tank top while he is telling me this, so I am feeling particularly irked. The only time a man should be wearing just a tank top, is the ten seconds it takes to place a regular shirt over his undershirt. That’s my opinion, but I think we’d all be in a better place if it was shared universally. [Ed. Note: I feel strongly that a man’s shirt should always be thick enough that there is no need to wear an undershirt beneath it, and therefore the only time a man should be wearing a tank top is if it is a beater and he is a sexy fireman. ~Maggie] Chris Harrison announces that while in Belize, there will be three intimate one-on-one dates and one group date. This added description of “intimate” turned out to be a bit superfluous, as the most intimate thing that happened on any of these dates was the likely wedgie Lindzi received when she jumped out of a helicopter into the ocean.  Before we get to the first date card (which arrived 2 minutes into the episode), Kacie B. confessed to the camera that she is as in love with Ben as she can get, which, even for this show, feels a bit early to plateau in a relationship.  Despite her eagerness, Kacie B. was not the first recipient of a one-on-one date, that honor, instead, went to Lindzi. No one took the news harder than Nicki, who tearfully told the camera, “Maybe I’m realizing its really real now.” Hopefully you’re realizing a couple of other things about yourself in this moment, Nicki. Lindzi’s date card read, “Two halves make a whole.” This reminded me of last week’s episode of 30 Rock when Liz and Criss go to Ikea and she finds him shopping in the Valentine’s Day section:

“Look salt and pepper shakers. You put them together, they make a heart!”

‘Take them apart…two, red sperms!”

Exactly, Liz Lemon. Exactly. Ben escorts Lindzi onto a fucking helicopter and I double-check my DVR to make sure I didn’t select last week’s episode. He takes her to the most special location in Belize, which to my surprise was not just…Belize. They arrived at the Blue Hole, an area of the ocean that is surrounded by coral reef—a popular locale for scuba divers and reality television show location scouts. The challenge portion of the date required Lindzi and Ben to jump out of the helicopter as it hovered above the Blue Hole. Now, I’m big on safety—I’m the girl who will push and shove my way into securing a seatbelt for myself when crammed in the backseat of a car with five or six other people—so I was alarmed to see neither of them were wearing a life jacket. Lindzi played the damsel in distress role surprisingly well (I had higher hopes for you, Lindzi), which only perpetuated the idea in Ben’s head that he is some sort all-knowing Brawny man. Lindzi summons the courage to jump, telling us, “He’s worth the fall!” Him? They jump, Lindzi draws a comparison to falling out of a helicopter and falling in love with Ben, and phase one of this date is complete. Back on land, all freshened up for an evening of love confessions, Lindzi and Ben walk along a dock until they come across an array of pillows, blankets, and candles. “Oh, is this us?” You really have to ask at this point? Lindzi tells Ben that she is really falling for him, which led to this conversation:

Ben:I feel like if we can continue down this path of every date getting better and better…….its great!

Lindzi: Yeah!

God, why won’t those two just get married already! Ben did not have a rose to offer Lindzi as roses are not allowed on the one-on-one dates this episode, but its safe to say he’ll keep her around for at least another week. They did jump out of a helicopter together, after all.

The next date card arrives in the lady room, and Courtney assures us that if it is not addressed to her, she may not accept a rose at the rose ceremony. I love when people promise me they might not do something. It sends a chill up my spine. Emily is invited on the second one-on-one date with a card that asks, “Do you Belize in love?” Not anymore I don’t. Ben greets Emily with two bicycles: “We’re going to ride some bikes through town. I have some other stuff planned, but we’re going to start with the bikes.” I have a sneaking suspicion that Ben is the kind of guy who explains why a joke is funny immediately after he tells it. Once they hit Town Square, they ditched the bikes and spent the rest of the day trying on rings and inviting themselves into a game of pick-up basketball. Americans are the best. Later, as they strolled the streets of Belize, Emily and Ben stumbled across a man down in the water, preparing fresh lobsters for dinner. His had already been assigned plates, so if they wanted to have lobster for dinner, they would have to dive in and capture two themselves. I was waiting for Ben to say something like, “If Emily is willing to capture a lobster, it shows me she’s willing to capture my heart.” But I think he was too distracted by those slippery little fellas making him look like an ass. After they successfully captured two, Emily and Ben sat down for dinner, where Ben posed “the hardest question of the night.” Is she ready for him to meet her family? Emily, flustered, can’t find the words to answer his question, so she begins by talking about Courtney. Perfect. Emily expresses her regret for the umpteenth time–how sorry she is for talking about Courtney (SO STOP), but how happy she is that she was able to really focus on Ben today. This is great, because it is such a huge step in a relationship to find peace with your boyfriend dating other people. Emily extends a formal invitation to Ben to come home and meet her family and Ben gives her the “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” look of a man who is drunk with power.

Back in the hotel room, the final one-on-one date card arrives and Courtney assures us that if her name is not on that invitation, she will NOT accept a rose at the rose ceremony. For real this time, you guys, seriously. Courtney is in fact the final recipient of a one-on-one date, and shows no signs of embarrassment for acting like a pouty baby up until the moment she got exactly what she wanted.  Kacie B. said it best, “It’s not because I’m jealous of her, it’s because she’s the shittiest person I’ve ever met in my LIFE.” Yes, that didn’t sound jealous or threatened in the least. On her way to meet Ben, Courtney tells us that this date will be really telling for her; where things are with Ben, etc. “I need more and he knows that.” And I need so much less of both of you. Ben and Courtney walk through the jungle until they come across the temple that they will be climbing in order to reach their picnic basket at the top. Once they get settled up there, Courtney immediately starts rambling to Ben about how hurt she was that he selected Emily for a one-on-one date when he knows how awful she has been to her, and if he hadn’t chosen her for the final date, she would have gone home, and gosh, she’s just doesn’t have that spark anymore! “I lost the spark babe!” You can see the panic in Ben’s eyes, “I’m starting to fall for this woman and maybe she’s not feeling the same way! I would be crushed!” When you read that sentence, don’t you hear his voice cracking? Me too. Ben pacifies Courtney’s doubts and fears by telling her how amazed he is that she’s been able to hang on and how hard it is for him to not be able to console her. If Courtney invited Ben into her house made of gingerbread, how long would it take her to convince Ben to climb into the oven? During dinner, Courtney continues to focus on the other girls and what wretches they are to live with. “From day one I’ve tried to be nice to everyone and get to know them…They’re so vanilla and they’re very into themselves…It’s exhausting when you don’t enjoy someone’s company and you have to spend every day with them.” That sounds like the attitude of the warm, generous person you’re looking for, Ben! Ben, oblivious to all the puppet strings Courtney has tied to him, decides he needs to back off his inquiries before he upsets her even more: “When I bring it up she gets really defensive and I don’t want to keep pushing it because I don’t want her to think that I’m attacking her.” Really? What happened to, “I suggest you try and focus on us. And tread lightly.” Is that not how we treat models? Only PhD students? Noted.

Finally it’s time for Kacie B., Rachel, and Nicki to go out on their group date with Ben. This time there will be a rose at stake, so everyone better be on their best behavior and hope that they’re Kacie B. because we already know, of the three, Ben likes her the most! Ben surprises the women by waking them up at the crack of dawn and telling them to get ready. There is a mad dash to shave armpits and legs, before throwing on a swim suit and meeting him down on the beach. Ben surprises me by wearing a tank top again, and I believe we’re up to three this episode. Seriously, I’d rather see you in a turtleneck. On today’s date, Ben will be escorting the ladies onto a boat where they will eventually swim with the sharks. I’m so tired of these outdoor challenges being used as some scale to determine how dedicated each woman is to Ben. If a man was like “Climb this mountain to prove that you can overcome any obstacle with me,” I’d be like, “I’ll do it for any other reason.” Rachel has a convenient fear of sharks and is able to steal most of Ben’s attention for this reason. Nicki and Kacie B. felt a bit of frustration over this development, which seemed silly to me, as Rachel is the most obvious contestant to go home this episode. After the shark adventure, the foursome came back to the hotel patio and Ben carved out some one-on-one time for each lady so that they could effectively confess they’re falling in love with him. Nicki seems most excited by this, telling us, “Not long after we got here I said the words “falling in love” without spazzing out…I’m falling in love with Ben and I told him that!” No, that was pretty spazzy Nicki. Kacie B. receives the rose (duh) and we move onto another “beware of Courtney” conversation, this time lead by Nicki. Ben looks legitimately concerned, but not concerned enough to actually do anything about it.

At the rose ceremony, most of the women have adopted a more somber tone, knowing that nearly half of them would be going home that night. Save Courtney, who insisted everyone relax and have a drink, “Ben is not the only guy in the world!” Not exactly traditional Bachelor talk, but Courtney is clearly not a rules girl. Chris Harrison arrives and tells the women there will not be a cocktail party this evening, Ben feels confident he has made his decision. As the women line up, Ben arrives and asks to speak to Courtney privately. As much as the producers wanted us to believe that Ben was strongly considering what the other women had said about Courtney, and he was genuinely checking in with her to see if she was in this competition for the right reasons, Ben was clearly just doing his due diligence here. She could have said, “I mean, I don’t know if you’re my type, but maybe that’s because Emily is so annoying!”, and he would have thought, “See! Everything is fine.” Courtney receives a rose, along with Nicki and Lindzi, and Rachel and Emily are sent packing. Rachel cries to the camera, “I feel very rejected. It’s another disappointment. I’m really tired of disappointment.” Well if that’s the case, I would like to retroactively advise you not to go on a show where you are competing against 25 women for one man. Emily holds it together pretty well, and I admire her for it. In fact, I imagine as Emily watches this season unfold at home, she is relieved that goon never made it to her parents’ house.

Next week we travel around the country to visit the four remaining contestants in their home towns! How soon into his visit will Lindzi get Ben up on a horse? What will Courtney say about Ben to her parents? How many times will Nicki cry when her divorce is brought up at the dinner table? Thanks to this late recap, we’re only two days from finding out!

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Bachelor Recap: I Think…Maybe I Need Therapy

This week The Bachelor took us to Panama City, Panama for however many days it takes Ben to decipher which three women he would like to send packing. Realistically, I think Ben could have executed this decision at the airport, and then spent his time actually enjoying the culture and beauty of this Central American country with women he regards as wife-worthy. But however many salsa lessons he wants to take before realizing a 34 year old VIP cocktail waitress is not for him, I say go after it. And so began their stay, with 9 women gathering in the lobby of a Panama City hotel, anticipating the arrival of the first date card. This must be such an ego trip for Ben, to simply walk into a room and have a gaggle of girls receiving his entrance with such over-the-top fawning. He’s wearing flip-flops, you guys.

Kacie B. was the lucky recipient this time around, much to the dismay of Blakely who thought her pronouncement to Ben at last week’s rose ceremony that he is changing her life and she’s not afraid anymore!, would secure her some one-on-one time. The date card requested Kacie B. bring along three items. I tried to think what I would bring, should I find myself under similar instruction. For sure booze. Probably a bottle of wine. Do cheese, crackers, and salami count as one thing? Lets say, yes. And sunscreen. I’ve gotten a sunburn riding in a car so I have to take a lot of precautions. Also, none of these things are to share, correct? Ben picked Kacie B. up at the hotel and took her around back for, what else, a helicopter ride. Could the repetitive nature of these dates make a girl feel any less special? Its like when two girls find out they’re dating the same guy and one says, “And then he told me I’m the first woman he’s ever met who he would consider settling down for!” and the other girl says, “He said the same thing to me two months ago!” And then they scheme to contaminate his body wash so that his pubic hair falls out. Except with The Bachelor contestants, these women have signed up for this kind of treatment, so they just spend their time together drinking wine, trying not to think too hard about their self-worth. Anyway, Kacie B. and Ben enjoy a nice helicopter tour of Panama City, before landing on a deserted island. Where their ability to survive TOGETHER would be put to the test. Kacie presents Ben with the three items she selected: a lime green stuffed monkey, a Swiss army knife, and a bag of candy. This seems like an opportune time for me to note how much I loathe adults who give and/or enthusiastically receive stuffed animals. Seriously, if I were ever gifted with a teddy bear on Valentine’s Day, it would be grounds for dismissal. What do you want me to do with that? Ben presented Kacie with his own items: a machete, a fishing net, and matches. Let it be known that I had to rewind three times in order to write down what he was saying. He kept pronouncing fishing net, “fchknytnnehhight.” Just say it normal! This isn’t the time to be schticky!

It was the ultimate metaphor date, where just about everything those two did together, they compared to the challenges of a real-life relationship. Here, a smattering:

  • Sometimes couples don’t survive when it’s the two of them alone.
  • Relationships are all about overcoming obstacles and fears together, and overcoming hurdles.
  • It all depends on partnership.
  • If we can do this today, we can do just about anything.
  • Watching Ben cut into a coconut is so hot.

In what reality are you living in when you think hanging out on the beach and making dinner for each other is the ultimate relationship test? I am not having this. Why don’t you simulate both of you losing your jobs and then taking a second mortgage out on your home so that your child can continue with her private ice skating lessons? That’s a test. At their real dinner later that night (apparently one small fish grilled in aluminum foil was not enough to sate them), Kacie B. told Ben that she is really looking forward to experiencing the day-to-day stuff with him. Like going to the grocery store, and exercising, and cooking. Ben’s non-reaction to this implied that he had let his mind wander to images of a nude Courtney frolicking in the ocean. And if you really want to know what life with Ben will be like after the show, Kacie B., that right there is a great example. Kacie B. reveals she had an eating disorder in high school and receives a rose. Because lord knows you can’t advance in this competition without revealing extremely personal details from your past to the man you’ve known a few weeks. “On a scale of one to wonderful, today was fantastic!” What scale is she using?

At the hotel, the group date card arrives and Emily, Nicki, Lindzi, Casey S., Courtney, and Jamie are all invited to meet Ben on the bank of a river for a day of fun with the natives! I’m sure it will be a real immersion process for all of them. The women head down to the Chagres River, where Ben awaits them in a really long motorboat. “I don’t necessarily look for a woman who wants to ride on a jungle river. What I do look for is someone who can go with the flow.” Like a river. My patience is wearing so thin. As they travel along, they spot a group of young children playing soccer and realize there may be more to this country than just the green boat they’re sitting in. Nicki tells us, “We kind of stumbled across this village!” which is hilarious because you don’t stumble across anything on The Bachelor. I wouldn’t even be surprised to learn the village was half comprised of extras from LA in order to fill out the shot. The women of the village offer our ladies native garb to wear–beaded tops that are traditionally worn without anything underneath and sarong-style mini skirts. While most of them make the prudish choice to keep their bathing suits on under the loosely threaded beads, Courtney adopts a “when in Rome” attitude, and we are forced to sit through 20 minutes of Courtney raising her arms above her head and shaking her chest at the camera. In case any of you were wondering if Courtney is a woman of many inhibitions, she is not. Throughout the group date, Courtney kept doing that annoying girl thing where she acts surprised that other women are intimidated or turned off by her sexually aggressive approach. Courtney criticizes the other women for not trying hard enough and making it too easy for her to get alone time with Ben. This reminds me of my experience rushing a sorority, when I went into what was considered one of the top houses and I had to sit in a room with members of the sorority and other potential new members, and have a conversation that would determine if we were worthy of their taste. One girl dominated the conversation, fawning over everything the members did and said: “Ohmygod these pretzels are so good, where did you get them? You remind me of a skinnier Jessica Simpson.” It was exhausting and I thought if she wants it so badly, I am happy to bow out and let her shine. I just couldn’t muster the energy to compete. So, maybe, Courtney, it wasn’t that the women didn’t know how to trump your skills, it was that they found them so exhausting, they simply didn’t want to try. Would you want to lower yourself to finding a tactic more obvious than painting on Ben’s back “B + C = <3”? No, you would not.

Later that evening, during the networking portion of the group date, everyone was on high alert for Ben’s attentions and affections. Emily continued her back peddling and assured Ben for the third time that she is no longer distracted by Courtney and her antics. She also made a cheeky joke about how there is a new man in her life and it’s pretty serious and it’s the tribe’s chief! And it’s funny because she’s not really interested in a portly, loin-clothed man. They kiss like two junior high kids matched up in a game of spin the bottle, and Emily has officially redeemed herself. In a brilliant display of manipulation, Courtney fusses to Ben how she’s starting to lose sight of their passion, and special moments like the skinny-dipping night are slipping from her memory. Which is funny because she has told the camera multiple times this episode how confident she feels about Ben, for no other reason than he’s seen her naked. But Courtney knows that if she tells Ben her interest in him is fading, he’ll snatch her back by practically begging her to take the group date rose. WELL NOT THIS TIME! Ben in fact offers Lindzi the rose and Courtney is left to stew in her insecurities just like the rest of them. Before moving on, I should mention that poor Jamie finally took a swing at getting to know Ben on this date and it was disastrous. It was like she gathered every private thought she has had since she turned seventeen and shared it with Ben, in under four minutes. Way to hold your cards close to the vest, Jamie. Things are not going well.

Next up on Ben’s Panama City itinerary was the infamous two-on-one date. This is when Ben takes two women out on a date, and will have to choose one to send home by the end. This would only make good TV if he selected two women who we knew would actually force a tough, climactic decision. Like Kacie B. and Courtney. But to choose Rachel and Blakeley just means one will go home that night, and he’ll send the other home next week. Not exactly a game changer. The date began with salsa lessons, where Blakely and Rachel changed into the same dresses worn by Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. Blakely proclaimed that she was the essence of salsa dancing, very sexual and very sensual, and so for her, the competition was in the bag. Note to readers: anytime a reality show edits footage to show one contestant assuming her victory, it means she is going to lose. It’s like the reverse psychology parents use on toddlers. After the dancing lessons concluded, the three sat down for dinner, interrupted almost immediately by Ben, who invited each woman to step outside with him and prove their love. Rachel did this with kissing and a baby voice, while Blakely offered Ben a scrapbook detailing the history of their “relationship.” I hope in the The Bachelor: The Women Tell All special, the producers release never-before-seen footage of Blakely putting this thing together. It looked like the collages I made in middle school with magazine cutouts of skittles, the word “teen,” and James Van Der Beek. Blakely was sent home (which I have already indicated twice in this post, so I don’t need to go into detail), and her exit was juxtaposed with b-roll footage of a homeless cat roaming the streets of Panama City.  How I would hate to be that cat.

With all of the dates finally out of the way, we were treated to the story behind the Casey S. meltdown we had been teased with in last week’s previews. Here’s the thing. This whole scenario was so ridiculous and I have been working on this recap over the course of three days, so I’m just going to cut to the chase. Chris Harrison pulls Casey S. outside and tells her he has received multiple confirmations that she has a boyfriend back at home. According to Casey S., she does NOT have a boyfriend at home…but there is a man she wishes was her boyfriend as she is madly in love with him and the only reason she’s not with him is because he refuses to marry her. Healthy! Chris Harrison takes Casey S. up to Ben’s room so that she may confess her sins. Ben listens to her sob story, and then tells her, “I don’t sugar coat things. I think you should go home.” Ouch. It’s getting a bit prickly down there in Central America, eh Ben? Chris Harrison escorts Casey S. out of the room and tells her she’s not a bad person–everyone wants to find love! And then she began to cry so hard, upon seeing this same scene last week in the previews, I actually thought a relative had died. “I still have to go, and that other guy doesn’t want me either!” Yes. This is what we call a lose-lose-lose situation. Because your current “boyfriend” dumped you for liking your old boyfriend, who also doesn’t want to be with you, and it all played out on national television. My thoughts go out to you and your family during this difficult time.

So off she goes, and we arrive at the rose ceremony with only seven women left in the competition. I can see the light! Jamie, still on a quest to make up for lost time, pulls Ben aside and tells him she’s ready to start being more aggressive with their relationship. You’ve been warned, Ben.

Here, a taste of what it sounds like when Jamie decides to become proactive, and woo Ben with her sexuality:

I feel as if, um, I haven’t really shown you I like, I feel like I tell you all the time. But I don’t show you! I think about you often and things I’d like to do with you. I had really big plans. Want me to show you? My intention was to be like “Ben I have a really big surprise for you!” And then I was going to sit on your lap. And then I was going to ruin my dress! I don’t know. I feel like I don’t want to be that fancy with someone…unless I really like him…I could get fancier. Ahh I can’t stop laughing!

Ben tries to calm her down by offering to kiss her, and from there it only got worse. Again, here’s Jamie:

Ok mouth open, now mouth closed. No, now your mouth should be closed. Closed! Closed! Closed!

It was so painful I almost had to leave the couch and go outside for fresh air. The poor girl just needed to take a breath and remind herself that chemistry means there is a natural bond between the two of you, and if you have to take a man through step-by-step instructions on how to kiss you, it’s not meant to be.

As if we even needed the pomp and circumstance of a rose ceremony, Ben hands out each rose, until Jamie is the only one left standing empty handed. He escorts her to her limo, and to be honest, by this point, I had stopped listening. When Ben abruptly stops kissing you and tells you he just can’t take it anymore, the episode is over.

Next week they head to Belize and Ben pulls Courtney aside for a confrontation during the rose ceremony! Probably to tell her how beautiful and model-y she looks. Leave any observations, issues, predictions I may have missed in the comments section!

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Bachelor Recap: That For Me Was Rad. SO Rad.

It’s been four days since this week’s episode of The Bachelor has aired, and while many of you have probably moved onto bigger and better things, (like revving up for the Super Bowl? Eh.), I just couldn’t bare the thought of passing up an opportunity to share my opinion on Courtney skinny-dipping and Kacie B.’s Puerto Rico hair. I ended up having to watch the episode over two nights, Monday and Wednesday, due to exhaustion on Monday and a babysitting gig on Tuesday that left me with a bout of PTSD that’s only cure was an episode of Dance Moms and eating salami. So here we are! Friday! The weekend! Let’s get to it. Quickly, before the next episode airs.

This week, the women arrived safely in Puerto Rico, albeit a tad frizzy, and were informed by a svelte looking Chris Harrison that all of the women would be going on dates this week. Everyone was giddy over the good news, but no one more so than Elyse. If it is any indication how little I have paid attention to Elyse the Trainer this season, it wasn’t until this episode that I realized she had never had a date with Ben. Which, how are you even still around then? How do you keep getting a rose when the only time Ben sees you is at the rose ceremony when you’re dressed like Snooki on the red carpet. But then again, I’m not Ben, and Ben’s not me.

This week’s first recipient of a one-on-one date was Nicki, who responded to the invitation as if the guys from Publisher’s Clearing House had just shown up on her stoop. When Ben came to the hotel to scoop her up for the Puerto Rican day of fun he had planned, outside waiting to whisk them away was–surprise!–a helicopter. Helicopter rides on this show are as much a staple as crane shots from a top a mountain. The producers just don’t know how to piece a storyline together without them. As much as I enjoy couples pointing out beautiful landscapes to each other, and commenting on how beautiful they are, this is one date I could stand to see shelved for a few seasons. When Nicki and Ben arrived in Puerto Rico, the rain started coming down in sheets, which gave Ben another opportunity to reach into the bowels of his metaphorically challenged brain and compare their current circumstances to life, where things don’t always work out, but you can’t let anything (like rain?) rain on your parade! Blegh. After getting drenched in the life rain, Ben and Nicki stopped by a local clothier to pick up some dry threads. Nicki found something fun and colorful and Ben decided to dress up like an extra from Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. To each his own. They strolled the streets of Puerto Rico, and eventually came across a church where a wedding was taking place. Hmm, and what do you think about marriage Nicki and Ben? Well for Ben, “Being married…is very different than being engaged.” Uh huh, uh huh. Nicki? “When I do it again, I want it to be the real deal.” Well that settles it. You seem to be on the same page. You have one legitimate date under your belt. You’re ready! Maybe you can just hijack that wedding you’ve been creeping on for the last 15 minutes. Come on! One of you is already donned in virgin white.

Nicki receives a rose and we avoid her nervous energy/anxiety-crying at the rose ceremony. Thank heavens.

Back at the homestead, the group date card arrives and everyone is on it except Elyse! Which means Elyse gets the final one-on-one date! Unfortunately, she is not aware of the fact that statistics show the bachelor always sends home a girl directly after a one-on-one date at least once a season. In fact, I suspect the producers encourage the bachelor to select a girl he knows he is no longer interested in and take her on the doomed excursion just so they can include the shot of the production assistant removing the rejected woman’s suitcase from the suite in the season preview package. Headed out on the group date this week are Blakely, Casey S., Courtney, Emily, Jamie, Jennifer, Kacie B., Lindzi, and Rachel. How are there still so many people left? They meet up with Ben at a baseball field, as Puerto Rico is the hub for America’s favorite pastime. It suddenly makes including Puerto Rico in the Miss America pageant feel legitimate. After an hour or so of playing ball in hot pants, Chris Harrison arrived on the field for a twist! The ladies would be competing to stay on the group date in a game of softball, four against four with one MVP who would be selected by Ben to play for both teams. Too bad Monica isn’t still around. Count it! Lindzi is selected, despite the task at hand not requiring an enthusiasm for horses. What was meant to be a two-inning game turns into a five-inning nail-biter, with the blue team eventually losing and Blakely losing her shit. In fairness to Blakely, she was the only one out there who appeared to have any athletic coordination and to be held back by a bunch of sissies who don’t look nearly as good with their shirts tucked into their bras would be extraordinarily frustrating. Like how every teammate I ever had probably felt about me.

During the second part of the group date, Ben was left with five women, while the losing four headed home on a school bus. Ouch. The only time you want to be on a school bus as an adult is if you’re headed to a college barn dance, or volunteering to chaperone your child’s field trip (and even the latter sounds terrible). Once they arrived at the generic seating area (this time with an ocean view), Ben stole Kacie B. away for some private hammock time. This was when I first noticed that Kacie’s hair was having an unfortunate reaction to the Puerto Rican air. Her perfectly styled locks were no match for the humidity, as they recoiled into an infinite amount of teeny-tight curls. I like a girl who rocks an au natural look in the company of men, so good for Kacie B. She even got the lucrative group date rose, which just goes to show ladies, if you show a man who you really are, rock a Nashville accent, and seem a little needy, love is waiting for you just around the corner. Model Courtney insisted she wasn’t bothered by Kacie B.’s victory, and to prove it she took the not-so-desperate measure of inviting Ben to a naked romp in the ocean. Ben took a rain check because he’s a vagina, and escorted Courtney back to the group.

The next day, Elyse received her date card: “Let’s find somewhere private.” That one I did not make up. Sometimes the real invitations are worth sharing. This one sounds so unromantic to me, it might as well have said, “Can I see you in the other room? This isn’t working.” Ben arrived to pick up Elyse and then took her around back to show her the yacht on which they would be traveling that day. Now would be a good time to note that yachts, and jumping off of them, is right up there with helicopters on my list of Bachelor date ideas that need to be retired. #firstworldproblems  As Elyse and Ben climbed aboard, we cut to an interview with Courtney who said in her Paris Hilton voice, “I’m not worried. I was thinking, ‘I might not see her later. I should get her number. I could use a personal trainer.’” I actually found this quip genuinely funny, and probably the only time during the season Courtney and I will see eye to eye on something. Over on the yacht, Ben told the cameras that it was when he and Ashley were on a boat that he realized he was in love with her, so he believes feelings can really change on the water. That’s foreshadowing if I’ve ever heard it! Sure feelings can change. For the worst! Ben and Elyse accomplished everything one can on a yacht, what with sitting on it and jumping off of it (what is this? Your uncle’s speed boat?), and so it wasn’t long before they were back on land at a private dinner on a private island so they could get to know each other better in private. Ben, looking like a shipwrecked waiter in his tuxedo, slowly started to reveal his true colors as he tried to manipulate everything Elyse was saying into a reason to break up with her.

Elyse: I think I’ve accomplished everything I want to in my adult life.

Ben (with disgust): You HAVE?!

Elyse: Well I just mean, I’ve traveled, I’ve lived on my own, I’ve been in love, now I’m ready to settle down and get married.

Ben (with judgement): You ARE?!

Jesus Ben, give the girl a break. She’s just trying to tell you things she thinks you want to hear. It wasn’t long after that, Ben gave her the old heave-ho, explaining ever so delicately, “Ummm…unfortunately I was hoping for some things today that I just didn’t find. I think that my relationships with a lot of these other women, is so far past what I think we could probably get to. Unfortunately I cannot give you this rose. It’s really, really, really hard for me to say those things. And I’m sorry.” How do you even cry over a break-up so inarticulate? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’M the crazy one.

The girls learn of Elyse’s dismissal when her suitcase is removed from their suite, and Nicki, again revving up a reaction akin to finding out the president has been shot, shakes her head and says, “Just because you get a one-on-one date does not mean you’re safe.” She must be the reason Chris Harrison has to keep explaining the rules. Courtney, on the other hand, decides to beat Ben back to his hotel room, and make him honest on his promise to go skinny-dipping with her. During this next sequence of events, I realized that despite (or more likely, because of) her looks, Courtney has no game. The way she rambled through offering him a night cap and then sat down on the couch with her robe falling open, “Oh my!” she said; it was like watching Mrs. Doubtfire flirt with a man. Courtney reminds Ben of his promise, and out they scamper to the shore. Courtney tells the camera, “I don’t know if he’s ever skinny dipped with a model before.” You don’t? He hasn’t. They were certainly naked and there was definitely skin-on-skin underwater contact. Beyond that, I don’t really know what to make of it. Was it scandalous? Sure. Was it love? No. It was manipulative. Courtney is clearly playing a game, and enjoying the fact that she has the power and prowess to captivate a man she wouldn’t give a second look should she see him walking down the street. It’s sad, almost, to see Ben led around his own competition on a leash, but then I remind myself that Ben is an adult, and his decision to value the novelty of dating a model over the obvious truth that he and Courtney have no substantial future, is going to leave him as single as he was when he started.

Before the rose ceremony, Courtney discussed in her interview what kind of affect her outing with Ben would have on the ladies, should they find out. “It might be game over…or game on.” Followed by a look that indicated to me she didn’t exactly understand the difference between those two statements. Nicki and Kacie B. were both safe from elimination, so it was up to the other 8 girls to convince Ben that they deserved to stay. Jennifer snagged a moment alone with him, which the two spent making out. This would have felt fun and flirtatious if Ben didn’t leave me with the impression that he only likes Jennifer when her tongue is halfway down his throat. Gross. Emily takes Ben outside on the beach where they sit down on the sand (fully clothed—way to play it safe, Emily) and she tells him that she has spent the past week only thinking of him, not Courtney. And just when she had successfully removed her foot from her mouth, she shoved it right back in, warning Ben to avoid Courtney at all costs and reminding him that the other women are seeing a side of her that he does not. Ben responds with a level of aggression that frankly does not suit him, warning Emily, “I would drop it for now. And tread lightly. Be careful.” Yikes. That’s going to be a chilly walk back to the house.

By the time we arrived at the rose ceremony, we knew we were getting set-up for another round of “Will Emily get eliminated because she can’t keep her mouth shut?” She will not. No, Ben instead axes Jennifer, the woman he was shamelessly making out with only hours earlier. In her limo confessional, Jennifer tearfully ponders, “I wonder what I did wrong?” I don’t know. You have a solid career, a good head on your shoulders, and appeared to stay away from all the catty gossip. But that’s just off the top of my head.

Next week we move down to Panama City, Panama for some wet t-shirt contests and keg stands! I’m thinking of the right place, right?

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Bachelor Recap: I Caught The Fish

It took me about ten minutes last night to accept the fact that I had pressed play on my DVR, and was therefore responsible for paying attention to episode four of The Bachelor. I was mainly distracted by the dinner in front of me, which was prepared with love by my roommate and her brother. I just wasn’t ready to sacrifice the temperature of my tomato-basil chicken in order to take detailed notes on whatever asinine connection Ben wanted to make to Park City, Utah and his ruggedness. Is it just me, or does every episode of this season feel like an unimaginative remake of the last? The number of girls hardly feels like it’s diminishing. The dates are starting to look more and more like the itinerary for a weekend at your grandparents’ lake house. And the girls are such a cluster of lunacy, they can’t even stay consistent with who they went to resent the most in the house. Remember when the show premiered and Monica was slated to serve as the resident bully when she caused Jenna to drown herself in tears and champagne? Then the following week, the ladies formed a witch-hunt, targeting Blakely and her corseted overall hot pants. Now everyone has moved on and they are refocusing their animosity towards model Courtney and her “I’m not here to make friends because I need to get something out of this show, like a bag line” attitude. I actually think we’re starting to see some consistency with Courtney, who appears quite comfortable in her role as the antagonist. This would be more exciting if Courtney had the intellectual capacity to spew villainy beyond, “You cross me…like…you don’t even know.” I have no idea, Courtney.

The episode began (at least for me) with Chris Harrison stopping by the ladies’ Park City suite to offer advice on how to proceed with the rest of the season. He must have received word from the top that things needed to start turning in a more titillating direction. Chris went over the rules of the one-on-one and group dates again (way to lead by example Chris) and then encouraged them to really open up to Ben, and not just talk about the weather. This is sound advice, although I would add a stipulation to avoid any real hot topics, as I was once asked my views on abortion during a date, and that wasn’t so much captivating as it was hostile. Chris dropped off the date card, and the lucky recipient this week was Kacie B.! No, she wishes. She was having a really hard time this week. It was in fact Rachel who Ben invited to participate in his complex compatibility tests (read: picnicking in the forest).

During Ben’s date with Rachel, it occurred to me that when Ben can’t think of anything to say once alone with a woman, he starts kissing her to avoid the biting silence that reveals he is totally out of his league here. Not with Rachel specifically, just in general. Ben took her on a date where the two would have the opportunity to sit around in nature and talk about that bird they just saw. For the love of God. Shake. Things. Up.  I am so tired of dates involving picnic baskets, dinner in barns, and mild-mannered activities like canoeing. I would like to recommend the Bachelor team look into hiring the brains behind shows like Elimidate and Blind Date. There, the couples always ended up in seedy bars or hot tub facilities. And it was always awesome. This date in particular kept getting worse and worse, as the topic of conversation turned from what a good winker Ben is, to Rachel’s crows feet. Ben confides to the camera, with a most sincere furrowed brow, “She tells me she’s interested, but I just don’t see it in her actions!” A strange revelation considering she allowed him to kiss her within the first five minutes of the date, on a canoe surrounded by bugs no less. But whatever story you want to write, Ben. By the time they arrived at their barn dinner, Rachel realized she needed to kick it up a notch and start playing to win, so she revealed to Ben what caused the demise of all her past relationships. This feels a bit unfair, that this is the level of exposure required on a Bachelor first date in order to keep yourself in the game. What happened to anecdotes appropriate for a first date, like your favorite course in college or that time you were hungover on Mother’s Day? Rachel gets a rose, which only goes to show that Ben has no spine and we will say goodbye to her within the next 1-2 episodes.

Back at the suite, Kacie B. continues to fall apart at the seams. She confesses that the idea of Ben spending the entire day with someone else drives her crazy, and she just wants to get past all this reality TV nonsense so she can go grocery shopping with him. I don’t know if it’s the sad sack wardrobe she is being interviewed in, or her general fragility that reminds me of the epilogues on Intervention when the cameras visit the subject in rehab. The group date card arrives and Lindzi, Courtney, Casey S., Blakeley, Jamie, Nicki, Samantha, and Kacie B. are all invited to go “jump in a lake.” Or some other such nature pun.

The women arrive in the middle of the wilderness, and Ben greets them on a horse. Or surrounded by horses? I can’t remember. I’m so tired. Regardless, eventually everyone received a horse of their own, and no one was more excited than Lindzi. “Clearly I like horses a little bit. I love a man in a saddle.” Yes, Lindzi. WE GET IT! Once everyone saddled up, they set off on their adventure. Approximately 500 feet later, they arrived at their destination: a river. Waiting at the edge of the river were rubber overalls and fishing poles for everyone. For those of you still hoping to make some romantic headway with Ben this afternoon, here’s an opportunity that is sure to make his tongue wag! Cover up your “Urban Outfitters goes out West” look with orthopedic tan overalls and stand in a river very quietly. Courtney seemed to think her approach to the date would be a novel idea: moving Ben to a part of the river where they could be alone and she could hang on his arm while cooing his name, “Behh-heeennn.” Groundbreaking tactics.  Courtney did end up catching a fish, which I guess was a point in her favor; I’m still just wrapping my head around the fact that fishing even took place on this date.

When the date moved to the patio-mingling portion of the evening, tensions seemed high, as Courtney had clearly stolen the show earlier in the day and all the other women were trying to make up for lost time. Nicki decided to approach Ben with a “I know someone who died” story, which was an instant hit with Ben, who is really hung up on “vulnerability” and “openness” when it comes to his women. They kiss, and Nicki is an episode away from telling Ben she loves him. Samantha was up next, and she decided to go for a more confrontational approach. She sat down with Ben and asked him what the deal was with only getting invited on group dates. She thinks you would really like her if you would just give her a goddamn chance, Ben!  Ben responds, and I’m paraphrasing here, “You’re a mess. You won’t be getting a rose this week, so I think it’s best if you leave now.” I don’t know if it was the American Apparel sweatshirt he was wearing, or the way he escorted her out of there like a bouncer at da club, but a small part of my heart warmed up to Ben in that moment. On her way out, Samantha tearfully declared to the camera how much she would miss Ben and that her heart was breaking. It will heal, Samantha. Trust me, you’re thinking about it too much. Back on the patio, Ben asked Courtney for some one on one time and what transpired next was one of the greatest examples of reality television manipulation I have ever seen. And I watched Joe Millionaire. If you have the resources (and the patience), go back and watch this scene, where Courtney literally pushes Ben away after he kisses her for 2.6 seconds, masking her disgust by stating, “I really like you.” She then begins ranting about how hard the competition is for her, how she hates when he’s around other women, and she just wants to be alone with him all the time. But it’s not an insecure thing! She swears. You can see Ben starting to sweat as he anxiously tries to figure out how to regain control of this situation and appease this poor model. Maybe give her a reality check? “I can’t say that it’s going to get easier, because it probably won’t.” No, that didn’t work. Ugh, just go get the rose and give her what she’s really after, you pansy. Not only did Courtney prove she has the power to get whatever she wants in 30 seconds or less, but now she has a prop to trace her cleavage with the rest of the episode.

The final one-on-one date card arrived at the suite, and this time it was Jennifer the accountant who would be putting herself through Ben’s tests of love. Once again, the date Ben had planned was an outdoor challenge that would evaluate whether or not Jennifer was willing to trust him. I think that’s a reasonable request from a man who is dating 12 women at the same time. Ben and Jennifer approach a fence covered in signs that say “No Trespassing.” Jennifer feigns apprehension about crossing the fence, which opens the door for Ben to remind the audience that, “Relationships for me are all about trust.” So bad ass Ben encourages Jennifer to hop the fence with him, and join the 20 Bachelor crew members already on the other side of it, setting up the next challenge. As they approach their actual destination, Jennifer learned that she would be repelling down into a crater, and then releasing the safety harness in order to fall into a pool of water at the bottom. She didn’t appear to have any qualms about giving it a shot, and thank God because this created the perfect opportunity for Ben to rattle off some truly amazing relationship/crater metaphors. “Relationships are all about trust and diving into the unknown! It was important for her to get out of her comfort zone, to take the plunge!” How on earth will he ever evaluate a date that simply requires going out for drinks? “Her willingness to take that Jager Bomb, proved to me she is ready to take a shot at love!” Lord, help us. Their dinner was interrupted by a rainstorm, which would have been more romantic if they didn’t take cover in what appeared to be a public bathroom facility for the park. Ben gave Jennifer a rose, and then surprised her with a Clay Walker (who?) concert, playing just down the hill, exclusively for them. And a couple hundred local fans in cowboy hats.

Heading into the rose ceremony, three women had received roses, one woman had been eliminated, and everyone but Casey S. had made an enemy out of Courtney. The more Casey S. argued with Emily that Courtney is indeed a genuine person, the more I suspected that Casey S. was brought into this competition by the producers as a mole to encourage infighting. Emily reached a breaking point this episode and felt compelled to let Ben in on what was happening behind closed doors. And with that, Emily committed the cardinal sin of this show. If you want the man you’re courting to think you can keep your shit together and your crazy at bay, never, ever, trash talk another woman to him. Especially when that woman is on the short list of wife contenders. As soon as Emily leaned into “There’s something you don’t know about someone in the house” territory, Ben reminded her that if she continued to focus on this issue, and not their relationship, it would ruin any potential they have. He told her he didn’t expect her to throw anyone under the bus, and it would be best if she tried to rise above the issue. To which Emily basically screamed “Courtney! It’s Courtney! She’s the one you should hate!” *Facepalm*

The fighting that followed between Emily and Courtney was incredibly uncomfortable, and therefore I don’t wish to give it too much attention. All I can say is that I find it unbearable when adult women get into the middle of a senseless argument and one tries to rise above the chaos by screaming at the other, “You’re acting like you’re in fifth grade!” The hypocrisy makes my blood curdle.

During the rose ceremony, it was pretty clear that the producers requested Ben hand out the last rose to Emily, so all of us mopes at home would be on the edge of our seats wondering if she did in fact shoot herself in the foot and scale that bridge last week for nothing. Alas, it was Monica, our resident faux-lesbian, who was sent packing. It was a tearful goodbye, but I spotted a bearded man in the limo she climbed into, so hopefully he’ll keep her company. (They really need to work on their camera framing if they expect me to stay in the world of the show).

Ben toasted the ten remaining women and announced that next up on their tour was a trip to Puerto Rico! Sun! Beaches! Wearing sarongs to dinner! “I was there two months ago.” Ugh, Courtney. I’m going to count backwards from ten and let that one go.

Next week Ben and Courtney go skinny dipping! My prudish sensibilities are already distressed!

 

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Bachelor Recap: Book Smart Can Be A Little Boring

Last night’s episode of The Bachelor transported Ben and the girls to San Francisco; a trip that evoked a great deal of pretentious faux-familiarity from our contestants, as they all kept referring to the city as “San Fran.”  And if that was the least of their offenses last night, I may have been inclined to let it go and start off on a more positive note. But last night’s episode was one of the most abhorrent displays of adult female behavior I have ever witnessed. They were immature, catty, and downright cruel. The show has always been an amalgamation of insecurities, producing unreasonableness in women they haven’t experienced since they were five, but last night was beyond the pale. They were bullies. All of them. I hope this morning they woke up with a shame hangover. And then receive shaming voicemails and texts throughout the day from their family and friends. This is my personal effort. I hope it sends a Google alert to at least one of them.

But all of this that I am referring to came as sort of an Armageddon ending to the episode. The trip actually began at a lovely San Francisco café, where Ben met up with his sister, Julia, and gave her a quick run down of the 15 women still in the running to be engaged to him for 6-8 months. Ben told Julia about Jennifer, who, despite being an accountant, is actually a good kisser. Magic! He also mentioned Courtney the model who is (irritatingly) becoming his favorite. When Ben told his sister, “And then there’s Courtney. She’s a model and I think you guys would really get along.” Julia responded, “Really? Why?” Yes, exactly. Thank you Julia; give that Ben a wake-up call. If my brother ever brought home a model and told me we had a lot in common, my response would be, “Really? Is she also on her way to Portillos?” Julia is my new favorite for being such a straight shooter.  I look forward to her asking Courtney her favorite thing about Ben’s hair during the Flajnik home visit.

PhD student Emily was the recipient of this week’s first one-on-one date. The date card said, “Let’s get high together.” or something like that. I started making up my own card puns to keep myself engaged in the show. Emily was extremely nervous/excited (my favorite feeling combo on The Bachelor) for the special event: “This is my first time with him. What am I going to wear? Is he going to like me?!” If this is what she’s like now, imagine how high maintenance she was when she lost her virginity. Gahd. Emily met up with Ben where he announced with the energy equivalent of a limp handshake (Eye contact Ben! Eye contact!), that they would be scaling the Bay Bridge. Together! Emily is of course afraid of heights, which is probably the only reason she was selected for this particular date. “It’s so boring to watch people who are afraid of heights,” my roommate correctly pointed out last night. Like, we get it. You’re going to hyperventilate in your pink helmet, and then reach for a weak metaphor about how persevering on a bridge is like persevering in a relationship, and then we’ll get a helicopter shot of you from the top at sunset because it took you like, 7 hours to do it.  On the plus side, Emily earned herself the first pet name of the season. “Talk to me goose!” Oop, I take it back. That was actually just another minus. They did not include footage of the getting off the bridge process, but I imagine it went smoothly as Ben and Emily reunited for a quite dinner by the bay. Emily shared the humiliating story of signing up for an online dating service, and then getting matched with her older brother Peter. Is that not everyone’s worst nightmare? Accidentally running into someone from high school on those things is bad enough. They seem to have nice chemistry, and in what I felt to be a rare moment of authenticity, Ben tells Emily he likes her because she’s “quick” and “witty.” How refreshing. Emily gets a rose and fireworks start exploding in the night sky. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, Art Department.

Next up was the group date where Ben led a caravan of Honda CR-Vs through the streets of San Francisco. While Ben was showing the ladies one of his favorite CR-V features—the ability to cycle through pictures of the girls on his dashboard (huh?)—Monica yelled at Ben for stopping on a picture of Blakely. Monica! How quickly does your heart grow cold? She seemed to be satisfied with landing on a picture of Rachel, though, so there is still hope for more lesbian developments.They arrived at their destination: a hilly San Francisco neighborhood, where lowly production assistants had turned a street into a ski slope. The women took off their clothes, and chased shirtless Ben down the slope in bikinis and scarves, one of my favorite looks. After a fun montage of Nashville native Kacie B. falling on her tush a bunch, we moved on to one of those generic outdoor patios where they sit around and wait for Ben to start making out with someone so they have something to look at other than the platters of cheese and grapes.

Back at the hotel, Brittney receives the second one-on-one date, but her heart is doubting whether or not this is the right journey for her. Honey, that’s not your heart talking, that’s your sense of taste—and you are right for jumping ship after receiving that outrageously offensive Neil Lane heart-key necklace. Are there no women who work on this show?! Art Department! Seriously! Brittney crashes the patio party and tells Ben she is leaving the show. Both feign disappointment, and Ben tells her to say hi to her grandma for him. Brittney was grandma girl? How quickly we forget. Rachel receives the group date rose, which would indicate that Ben based his decision on the kiss that tasted the most desperate. (Don’t worry Kacie B., you were a close second. Trust me.)

With Brittney out of the picture, first impression rose recipient and horse enthusiast Lindzi happily accepted her sloppy seconds, and trotted off for the second one on one date with Ben. Ben took her on a rousing trolley tour of the city, ending at City Hall. City government is such an aphrodisiac. Ben unlocked the dark building and as they entered, the entire lobby lit up and a band positioned atop the staircase began serenading them. Lindzi later told the camera that she was super impressed with all of Ben’s connections to the city, and his ability to create such a special experience for her. Is there an eye roll big enough? Lindzi of course got a rose and they ended their date at a piano store in the most pitiful recreation of one of the most beautiful scenes from Once. I hate you, Bachelor.

At the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party, things started out fairly normal, with Emily attempting to diagnose Courtney’s social disorder. There was also a scene with accountant Jennifer working so hard to get Ben to kiss her, I felt like I was going to suffocate. In the meantime, Chris Harrison was fielding phone calls/status updates from our mystery contestant all day, building the anticipation of whether or not it would be Jennifer Love Hewitt to the point of madness. When the car finally pulled up to the hotel, and the car door opened, out came Shawntel, the funeral director from Brad Womack’s (second) season. I can’t say I was immediately thrilled—its kind of like going out on a blind date and then finding out the person is a vegan—but as she explained her position to Chris, it was pretty clear to me that she and Ben had spent time together in the past and she felt there was an honest connection worth pursuing. Good for her.

But then Shawntel entered the party and things quickly skidded out of control. Sure the presence of a new face is going to raise a few eyebrows, but to completely tear a woman apart, whom you have never met, simply because she tossed her hat into the same ring you’re playing in, is pathetic. Here is a list of some of last night’s utterances:

  • WHO IS SHE?!
  • I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t like the bitch.
  • I think she’s uglier in person, which makes me feel better. She’s got thicker thighs than I have, which always makes me feel better.
  • You’re a creeper. And she drains people’s blood.
  • Get over your life. Move on. You fucking loser!
  • We don’t reuse Brad’s dumpster trash.
  • Tonight was hard for me. I saw you talking to what’s her butt.

I had to include that last one. That was Courtney explaining to Ben why she was reluctant to accept his rose. It was like Shakespeare.

What upset me the most was that while these women were spewing all of this hate, no one ever took a breath long enough to realize that they were making fun of Shawntel for doing exactly what they were doing. Thinking she could fall in love with someone based on watching him on a television show? Traveling across the country to meet him? Assuming there’s a connection after only a few conversations? Ladies! You are currently living in the glass house you are throwing stones at! It was such a transparent display of neurotic insecurity, I couldn’t bear the thought of Shawntel putting herself through another day of their misguided harassment.

Ben ended the cocktail party early (he really knows how to throw his weight around), and the women were shuffled outside for the rose ceremony. Shawntel stood tall with the rest of the women, waiting patiently for him to realize he would much rather wake up next to her than Elyse, who I swear I’ve seen on Style Network’s Jerseylicious. Just kidding. I’d never watch that show. Not everyone faired so well during the rose ceremony, as law student Erika became so overwhelmed that she fainted right before the final rose. For the record, she didn’t exactly faint; it was more like consciously sitting down while declaring “I’m fainting!” Now, it is important to keep in mind that we are watching a television show, and it probably takes 2-3 hours to tape the rose ceremony alone. So when Erika sat-fainted, it wasn’t because Shawntel’s mere presence had filled her with anxiety, as the other women would have you believe. It was because she had been standing in high heels, surrounded by soft lighting for hours.

After all the fainting hoo-ha was over, Ben returned to his post, made sure Erika was feeling ok, and then sent her packing. It was kind of brilliant. Also leaving the rose ceremony empty handed were Jaclyn, and, much to my chagrin, Shawntel. Ben felt it wouldn’t be fair at this point in the competition to have Shawntel join the other women, who had been there from the beginning. Or some such bullshit. I don’t know guys. I try not to invest too much into this sort of thing, but I think Ben made a mistake. Something tells me he and Shawntel really had something. They didn’t say it outright, but I’m sure those two met at some Bachelor mixer the producers organize biannually, and they took an instant shine to one another. I feel like in a month and a half I’ll be watching the After The Final Rose special, and Ben will announce he and Shawntel are getting married and she’s having his baby.  And Courtney will be there to flick off the camera as she storms off set. A girl can dream.

Next week they head out to Park City, Utah for more bikini skiing. You might want to wear two scarves this time, ladies.

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