Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Bachelor: I'm Gonna Miss You

If the finale episode of The Bachelor succeeded in anything, it is in becoming a true reality show. The traditional spats and sweeping generalizations about love and its importance to the human condition gave way to something more pragmatic and real this season. There was almost no "here for the right reasons”, “not here to make friends", or even "suck a dick, Chris Harrison".  Nick and his now public fiancée Vanessa were open about the difficulties they face both as a celebrity couple and a long distance couple. Hell, even the scorned Raven was realistic and understanding about Nick's decision, refusing to publicly badmouth either him or Vanessa during her time. For the first time in a long while, I actually agree with Chris Harrison's annual assessment of "This season will be unlike anything you've seen before."

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Chris Harrison is actually right.

The episode opened with the reintroduction of Nick's family, who have grown increasingly nervous about his decision making abilities.  Honestly, they have good reason to be worried. On three separate occasions Nick has had relationships with brunette women end painfully in primetime and now he's bringing home two more brunette women with a smile on his face. At a certain point it's got to feel like watching Sisyphus roll a boulder up the hill. We all appreciate the effort, but let it go. It's not going to happen.

Raven is the first to (re)meet Nick's family, and puts them at ease almost immediately. Nick's youngest sister has been a fan of Raven's since they first met in Waukesha, and his dad refers to her as "mature" and "a good fit". Even Nick's mom liked Raven, an astounding feat considering at this point meeting the women who will eventually crush her son has almost become a yearly tradition for Mrs. Viall.

Paying for Nick's mistakes for the last 35 years.

The family's response to Vanessa was far more tepid. This was in part due to Raven's natural charisma, but also Vanessa's honesty about her hesitations. Not only is Vanessa openly skeptical about accepting a proposal from Nick, she worries that their hard headedness will ultimately be their downfall. "Is love enough to make a relationship work?" she asks Nick's father in a pleading voice. "No," he says after a pause, "that's a cliché… a relationship requires commitment and selflessness." It's actually kind of amazing this conversation made it to air considering it undermines the whole idea of The Bachelor.

 With family time behind him, Nick prepares for his final dates of the season. The first last date goes to Vanessa, whom Nick takes horseback riding to Santa Claus’ cabin in the middle of a Finnish forest. Not one to let an opportunity go to waste, Nick asks Santa for true love, while Vanessa asks him for happiness. Since he traffics in tangible gifts over esoteric concepts, Santa gives them a piece of wood with their picture on it.

I wish I was making any/all of this up, but it was all depressingly real.

Santa and The Bachelor has always been a bad idea.

Leaving Santa in his cabin, Nick and Vanessa sit by a campfire to talk. Vanessa immediately admits that she is not content to simply have the best connection with Nick on the show. She wants to be the one true somebody for Nick. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering if Vanessa had heard of The Bachelor before signing up, because that’s almost a literal description of the show.

Vanessa carried her concerns into the evening portion of the date, where she tells Nick that the show does not feel romantic like she hoped it would. Nick points out that of course it isn’t as romantic as she would like because Raven was still in the running. This makes Vanessa burst into tears. Nick meanwhile looks around confused because he is a stupid, stupid man.

Also, Santa lives is kind of a shit hole.

After Nick left Vanessa crying, he met with Raven for the final final date of the season. Nick and Raven ice skate on a frozen lake, all the while remaining the fun loving, goofy couple they have been all season. After a brief make out session on the ice, Nick surprises Raven with a literal armful of Siberian Husky puppies to play with. I’m not sure how Vanessa got “trip to glorified Mall Santa” for a date and Raven ended up with skating, making out, and puppies, but if I were Raven, I wouldn’t be complaining.

Later that night, Raven tried to console a stressed out Nick. He admits that while he doesn’t know which woman he will ultimately choose, Raven has made his day better. He also waxes rhapsodic about Raven’s loyalty, passion, and sense of humor. Nick even goes so far as to say he knows he would have a great life with Raven and she makes him proud to have her in his life. Boy, if I said all this nice stuff about Raven and didn’t pick her I sure would feel like an absolute asshole…

Pictured: An absolute asshole

Of course, Nick doesn’t pick Raven. When the final Rose Ceremony of the season begins, Raven’s is the first car to arrive. She confidently walks inside and immediately begins telling Nick how in love with him she is and how she can’t wait to spend the rest of her life with him. In return, Nick lets out a long sigh and Raven immediately realizes her time with him has come to an end. Instead of crying or pleading with him, Raven is stoic till the end. When Nick says, “I’m going to miss you,” Raven responds with a simple, “I know.” I can’t believe I just watched Nick Viall get Han Solo’d during a Rose Ceremony. We truly live in a golden age of television.

To her credit, Raven was emotionless until the very end. Even riding away from Nick in the car, she didn’t manage to shed a tear. As someone who was raised in a Midwestern Catholic household, I can respect that level of emotional repression. A+ work, Raven.

Why talk about your feelings when you can pretend they don't exist?

After Raven's departure, a nervous Vanessa arrives to see Nick. The two exchange the usual finale level declarations of love before Nick gets down on one knee to propose. "Vranessa Gummaldi" Nick mumbles, "will you marry me?" Vanessa must have assumed he was talking to her, and accepted his proposal as the episode came to an end.

After The Final Rose was, in large part, a reflection of the season as a whole. Nick came out first and admitted that he had a difficult decision, but was ultimately confident. Raven then joined him and said that she tried to be light hearted for Nick in order to ease the tension. The two left the stage amicably before Vanessa came out and admitted that she might not have had a great grasp on the mechanics of the show or she wouldn’t have acted so awkwardly towards Nick. Upon hearing this, I was perhaps the least surprised I have ever been in my entire life.

Eventually, Nick and Vanessa take the stage for the first time as a couple. Unlike past seasons, there was no love struck talk of marriage dates or excitement. Vanessa admitted that a combination of distance and celebrity made their relationship extraordinarily difficult. Nick even went so far as to scoff at Chris Harrison’s suggestion of a wedding, saying “We’re still getting to know each other.” While I get what Nick is saying, he lost the right to scoff at weddings when he got down on one knee and proposed.

Pictures like this lose Nick the right to do most things.

To end the night, Chris Harrison brings out new Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay for a brief interview. Rachel says that she is humbled and excited to begin her new journey, and has been shocked at how welcoming Bachelor fans have been, and basically just reiterates everything she said on Women Tell All. At first it seemed like Rachel's interview would be the same old filler Bachelor fans have come to accept from the show. However, Chris Harrison used the opportunity to reveal his massive, dramatic, earth shattering surprise, which made this segment an entirely new kind of filler.

Instead of waiting until mid-May, Chris excitedly announces that Rachel will begin meeting her suitors right now. If meeting your potential husband in front of a studio audience sounds like an extremely awkward proposition, that's because it was. None of the men seemed to have strong camera awareness, and one contestant exclaimed, “I’m going black and I’ll never go back!”

Are you kidding me? It’s not even May and already I have to listen to clueless white guys say blatantly racist shit to the first black Bachelorette. I know this is America and racist shit is the norm, but I thought I could at least go five weeks without being forced to write about it. All I expected was to read about it, live through it, and accidentally take part it in. You know, normal American shit.

Oh well, see you next season.


Gossip Squirrel

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Bachelor: I'm Not One To Hold Grudges

Happy International Women's Day! It seems only fitting that today of all days we discuss both the highs and the lows of the female gender by recapping The Bachelor’s Women Tell All episode. Much like the history of women, Monday’s episode featured far more lows than highs and mostly revolved around their relationship to men.

Is this feminism? I don't even know anymore.

As is tradition, Monday's Women Tell All began with a short montage of Nick and Chris Harrison bursting into homes across LA to surprise Bachelor Nation (and for some reason, the Backstreet Boys) with their mere presence. Reactions to Nick ranged from vague recollection from the Backstreet Boys to sexual assault from upwards of 50 sorority sisters. I’m not kidding about the sexual assault either. Nick was tackled, groped, and prodded so extensively it looked more like an opening to Law & Order: SVU than an episode of The Bachelor.

Back in the studio, Chris Harrison introduced the audience to Nick's rejected women (great band name by the way) most of which I feel like I'm seeing for the first time. Seconds after Chris Harrison completed his introductions, the women immediately began yelling over each other about this season's villain/entertainment savior, Corinne. For her part, Corinne doesn't engage in the bickering, instead opting to sit back and enjoy the fact that, once again, everyone is talking about her.

She's basically a lady Chad.

Once Chris Harrison regained control of his own show, he brought Liz on stage to talk about her time on the show. Season long viewers may remember Liz as the woman who had fucked Nick at Jade and Tanner's wedding before The Bachelor filming began. On stage, Liz gave an impassioned speech to Chris Harrison and the other women not to define her and other women by their sexual past. It was a bold, moving speech with which I completely agree, but which was undercut by everything Liz has done on the show up until this point.

Since she stepped out of the limo on the first night, Liz has self-defined as "the woman who slept with Nick" in order to get more screen time. She repeatedly mused about whether or not Nick would remember her throughout the first night, and performed a dramatic reading recounting their sexual history during the first group date. If Liz is being defined by her sexual past, it's only because that is the only piece of information she has provided to date. I'm not saying that Liz is wrong about any of this, but she's also not helping the cause.

I would love to talk about something other than Liz's sex life.

Next, Chris Harrison brought Taylor to the hot seat for what felt like more of an execution than an interview. Taylor began by apologizing for not choosing her words more carefully before reiterating that Corinne's words hurt her and she would like an apology. Corinne responds by storming off the set for several seconds, only to return with her signature glass of champagne. The audience absolutely loved this, unlike Taylor and myself who just stared into the middle distance, wondering where our lives had gone wrong.

Corinne is next up in the hot seat, and for an all too brief moment she actually manages to make some lucid points. She says that in an environment like The Bachelor, it can be difficult to stand out, and that her outrageous behavior was simply an extension of her place on the show. I was honestly shocked by Corinne’s honesty and self-awareness. What I was not shocked by was her reversion back to her toddler-esque understanding of the world. “I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like me,” Corinne says after refusing to take responsibility for her own obnoxious behavior. Of course you don’t understand, Corinne. That’s the whole problem.

While Corinne continues to be confused by the world around her, Taylor decides to make one last ditch effort to solicit an apology. After making a second apology to Corinne, Taylor pauses before timidly asking, “Do you have anything to say to me?” “No” replied a stone face Corinne. She might as well have said, “No and go fuck yourself,” for how exasperated Taylor looked.

To top it all off, Corinne ended her segment by screaming “Cheese pasta!” at poor Chris Harrison and gave everyone in the audience a small dish of her macaroni and cheese knockoff. I don’t know what kind of low-rent Oprah Winfrey shit Corinne is trying to pull but it is deeply confusing.

"Yes! Eat your cheese pasta you simpletons! Shower me in your adoration!"

Kristina is next in the hot seat. After a brief recap of her time on the show, Kristina reminds everyone that opening up to people is difficult for her because her alcoholic mother abandoned Kristina at the age of six for eating food. Even by Russian standards, that might be the saddest story ever told. Kristina received a standing ovation for her lifetime of sadness, and to be honest I can’t think of a single joke to make about the entire segment. That’s how fucking sad this whole thing is.

From sad back to goofy, Nick finally emerges for his time in the hot seat. No sooner had he sat down than a woman named Lacey who looked so unfamiliar she might as well have been an audience member, asked Nick if she was friend-zoned. Nick, as he always does, mumbled and looked completely caught off guard by the question, and I really can’t blame him. It’s a bold move to call out a bachelor when you couldn’t even make it through the second week.

Kristina confronted Nick next, asking why she was let go when they had such a strong connection. Nick explained that there was nothing wrong with their relationship; he just had stronger connections with other women on the show. He reiterated that he cared for Kristina very much, and that she was a truly wonderful person. Before Kristina can answer him, however, fucking Daniellle L interrupts her to ask Nick why she was sent home. Are you shitting me right now Danielle? You’re going to interrupt a Russian orphan to cry some fake-ass tears at all of us right now? No, that is horseshit and you should feel bad for interrupting Kristina. I’m glad you were sent home. I wish it had been in the first week.

Seeing this face fills me with rage.

Nick’s time in the hot seat finally comes to an end as Chris Harrison announced the next segment by yelling, “I’ve got bloopers!” He says this every year, and every year I think bloopers might be a euphemism for diarrhea.

The final hot seat occupant was our next bachelorette, Rachel. She makes it very clear from the beginning that while she is proud to be the first African-American bachelorette, she does not want her race to define her tenure on the show. Nice try, Rachel. This is America. You’ll be lucky if you make it halfway through the first episode without someone asking to touch your hair.

That was everything from Women Tell All. Only one episode stands between myself and two months of Bachelor-less freedom. I figuratively cannot wait.


Gossip Squirrel

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Bachelor: I May Be White, But I'm Still A Minority

Full disclosure, I will only be recapping the first hour of last night’s three hour marathon tonight. There is no way I have enough brain power this late in the season to watch three hours of The Bachelor, write about the show, and remember to keep breathing. Don’t worry- the Women Tell All recap will be up tomorrow.

60 minutes of this goon is more than enough for me, thank you very much.

The episode began with Raven leaving her fantasy suite after a night with Nick.  To this point, Raven has not been shy about her sex life, reminiscing about the time she beat her ex with his mistress’ stiletto or the fact that the same ex never managed to make her orgasm. While leaving Nick’s bungalow, however, Raven suddenly found her modesty, saying, “Nick is very good at what he does,” and “I left satisfied.” What the hell is that, Raven? I was counting on you for specifics! Foreplay, moves, precise penis measurements: these were all things Bachelor Nation was counting on you to provide! Meanwhile, you’re over here treating this relationship with respect and discretion. No thanks.

After Raven left, Nick went on his second date of the week with Rachel. The two attempted to cross country ski, which was an unmitigated disaster. I’m sure at some point Rachel managed to travel more than six feet without toppling into the snow, but we never saw it on the show. After her umpteenth fall, Rachel defends herself, saying “I’ve never done this before!” While that may be true, Rachel also went to school in Wisconsin, so there’s basically no excuse for not being mobile in the snow.

At dinner, Rachel tells Nick about how hard it is for her to share her feelings. After some encouragement, both liquid and verbal, Rachel is eventually goaded into telling Nick that she is falling in love with him. Having said the magic words, Nick and Rachel rush off to the fantasy suite to enjoy some private time. I can’t help but think the beauty of this moment was undercut by the preexisting knowledge that Nick will dump Rachel soon.

I know I say this every year, but I'm legitimately excited for next season.

The final date of the evening went to Vanessa and it truly was one of the more confusing things I have see on The Bachelor. The two briefly warmed up in a sauna before running out into the snow and jumping into a frozen lake. After only a few seconds in the freezing water, Nick and Vanessa scampered back into the sauna to warm up, only to jump back into the freezing water again… and again… and again. This was deeply satisfying to watch in a schadenfreude sort of way.

Once the pair was finally out of the water for good, Nick and Vanessa went to dinner. After briefly talking politely and quietly about what big and boisterous personalities they have, Nick asked Vanessa if she was willing to compromise in the relationship. Vanessa quickly says no and asks if Nick was willing to accept her “three-hour Sunday tradition.” At first, I thought Vanessa was asking Nick to come to church with her. But as it turns out, she was asking him to come to lunch with her family. I honestly don’t know which sounds worse.

Both Nick and Vanessa continued to bring up huge obstacles in their relationship throughout the night. The couple can’t seem to determine where they should live, who they should spend time with, or what they should do for a living. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of these two forgot the other’s name, that’s how little they know about each other.

After listing off everything wrong with their relationship, Nick again compliments himself and Vanessa on having “big personalities” and offers her a night in the fantasy suite. She accepts because, like Nick, Vanessa does not seem to have a functional understanding of what a healthy relationship is.

I miss the days when Vanessa was the voice of reason.

At the season’s penultimate rose ceremony, Nick wastes no time in eliminating Rachel. Despite coercing her into saying she was “falling in love with him”, Nick did not seem to have a problem sending her home mere days later. I don’t hold a grudge against Nick or Rachel for what they did, but I will always hate The Bachelor for pulling shit like this on a consistent basis.

With only Raven and Vanessa left, it will be interesting to see where Nick’s final rose lies. Will it stupidly be with a woman 12-years his junior, or will it stupidly be with a woman with whom he shares no beliefs, values, or citizenship? I’d say I can’t wait to find out, but I’m pretty sure no matter what happens, I’ll leave disappointed.

Keep an eye out tomorrow evening for the Women Tell All recap!

Gossip Squirrel

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Bachelor: They Can Tell Me With A Ring

When I first saw Andi Dorfman on the screen of last night’s episode of The Bachelor, I briefly thought it was 2014. It could have been forgetfulness, repression, or years of alcohol abuse, but for a brief moment I lived in a world where the last three years hadn’t happened. Obama was still president, 2016 hadn’t killed everyone we loved, and Bill Cosby’s mere existence wasn’t constantly bumming me out. It was a simpler time.

Remember when he was just an asshole, and not an asshole rapist?

Andi’s arrival on the show was teased as a moment that would test Nick’s relationship with the women. After a week of hemming and hawing about what the return of Nick’s ex-girlfriend could mean for the show, the answer became disappointingly obvious. Chris Harrison was obviously busy filming Who Wants to be a Millionaire and sent Andi Dorfman in his place to ask Nick leading questions about the women he was dating. This was a significant bummer.

After hinting that he might not choose anyone (which is 100% not true), Nick asks Andi if he should accept fantasy suite dates with the women. Andi thinks about what a weird question this is to ask your ex, before telling Nick that he was entitled to do whatever he wanted and that he had earned fantasy suite time with these women. She then punctuated her answer by saying, “That’s my feminist rant.” I am not sure of many things in this world, but I am positive that telling your ex-boyfriend he has earned the right to fuck multiple women is not a feminist rant.

Gloria Steinem she is not.

Empowered by Andi’s own brand of feminism, Nick heads outside to the rose ceremony where four women have been waiting in frigid temperatures while he reminisced with his ex–girlfriend. I can only imagine that every woman would have walked off the show if they knew what he was doing inside.

The rose ceremony ended with Corinne being sent home. After weeks of near eliminations, Corinne finally said her tearful goodbyes. As Nick walked her out, Corinne uttered a particularly pathetic, “I’m sorry If I ever did anything to make you upset.” I genuinely felt bad for Corinne in this moment.

But like a phoenix from the ashes (or any good hero), Corinne rises and finds a new truth in the wake of her destruction. “I’m trying to say things that men think are appropriate,” she said through tears. “And you know what? I’m done. Done trying to show my men how much I worship them. I need that. So if someone feels that way about me they can come and tell me.” Now there’s your feminist rant, Andi.

Sadly the best feminist on ABC today.

Nick and the final three women then travel to Finland for the fantasy suite dates. The first and only date of the night goes to Raven, who repeatedly claims that she’s never said, “I love you,” to Nick, despite saying it twice in his hometown of Waukesha. Clearly Raven drank too much swamp water last week and is suffering memory loss because of it.

Eventually Raven is able to confess her love for Nick in a rather beautiful, if not lengthy, speech over dinner. Nick is moved nearly to the point of tears, saying, “That was one of the most meaningful moments of my life.” As someone who has watched the last three years of Nick’s life on TV, I have to agree with him on that.

"Next to my bracelet, your confession of love was the most meaningful thing in my life."

Raven tries to seize on this momentum by further telling Nick that not only has she only slept with one person before now, she has also never had an orgasm from said person. Nick does his best to pretend like Raven didn’t just put a huge amount of pressure on him, as she drags him to the fantasy suite. The episode ends with an excitable Raven and a grimacing Nick lying in bed, looking at the northern lights.

Next week’s three hour episode should provide some interesting insight on Women Tell All, the remaining fantasy suite dates, and whether or not Raven finally came. I honestly don’t want more information on any of those subjects.


Gossip Squirrel