It would be nice to go to bed before 3am though...
"With The Bachelor, nothing's real. Everything's a copy of a copy of a copy."
The show opens with Chris Harrison, as he is wont to do, re-introducing this season of The Bachelor as the "craziest season ever." Even though this is only the first full season of the show I have ever seen, I can tell that this isn't so much the truth as it is the way he introduces every show. If, in reality, this were the "craziest season ever" I would expect the show to be far more surreal that what we are actually seeing. After nineteen seasons, each being "crazier" than the last, you would think The Bachelor would start delving into Salvador Dali territory with spindly legged elephants, or tuba headed elephants, or elephants reflecting swans. Instead what we get is more of the same, namely, white people arguing.
Only just now did I realize how much Dali loved elephants.
Chris Harrison introduces a video compilation of himself and Chris Soules crashing The Bachelor viewing parties, to varying degrees of annoyance. Each of these parties featured screaming, fawning, and drinking. The screaming was annoying to be sure, but the drinking was downright impressive. These party guests were drinking like the show doesn't air on a Monday night and they don't have work in twelve hours. It would not surprise me in the least if every one of the women at those parties called in sick on Tuesday with "the flu."
After the video package, Chris Harrison reintroduces the women of The Bachelor by saying "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times this season on The Bachelor." Stop right there. Chris, if you are going to use one of the most iconic opening lines in literary history, at least understand that it doesn't mean "look at all the wacky shit going on!" A Tale of Two Cities is about social inequality and the brutality of life for the working poor in and around the French Revolution. It is not about catty arguments over men. I'm surely in the minority here, but idiots co-opting genius for their own gain really bums me out.
This is why the other countries are laughing at us!
As tradition dictates, Chris Harrison shows a recap of the season to this point, just in case anyone started watching The Bachelor for the first time tonight. Once this is over, we get our first "tell all" of the evening with Britt. She is primarily concerned with how she has been treated by Carly, though nearly all the women present seem to have a problem with Britt. Primarily, they raise the issue of her history of inauthenticity: saying one thing and doing another. Confused, Britt asks when she has ever done this, which is immediately met with a chorus examples including her supposed fear of heights before a hot air balloon date, willingness to move to Arlington, fear of singing, and a host of other incomprehensible babble.
Instead of responding to any of this criticism, Britt repeatedly states that she thought these women were her friends. While this isn't a response to criticism so much as it is a complaint, it does reveal a couple interesting points about Britt. First, assuming that she actually was inauthentic during her time on The Bachelor and the fifteen women on set aren't collectively lying, she can't be surprised at their reaction. When confronted with these accusations, Britt interrupted and deflected every claim to make herself continue to appear perfect, if only in her own mind. Of course, the women shouldn't talk behind Britt's back, but when she ignores every point they bring up, it's easy to see how these comments occur. Second, Britt seems to think that because the other women disagree with her, they are not her friends. Obviously this is nonsense, as disagreements are not only part of any healthy relationship; they're 90% of all friendships.
Oh God. Am I a terrible friend?
The next interview sees the much anticipated Kelsey in the hot seat. Off the bat, she compares her departure from the show to her husband's death, saying that she is "grieving all over again." If anyone needed a final reason to dislike Kelsey, this has to be it. Comparing the loss of a husband to the pain of being dumped on a polyamorous reality TV show is so deeply misguided and lacking any sense of priorities, that it's no wonder she has been demonized in this way. Before the show started, I thought Kelsey would be a great contestant and a wonderful person. Clearly I was wrong about her, and would like to formally apologize for my miscalculation. I'm sorry.
As the women question Kelsey, it becomes apparent they share the same viewpoint. Juelia points out that she is also a widow and would never use her past for attention in the way Kelsey has. Other women bring up not only their own un-exploited personal losses, but numerous holes in Kelsey's explanations as well. Kelsey has no real answer for this and can only offer up a half-hearted apology by saying "I'm sorry if I hurt anyone with the things I said." To be clear, that's not an apology. That's commenting on other people being weak, not admitting any wrong doing. A real apology from Kelsey would sound like "Sorry that I've been a top-notch cunt to everyone on this show, and had to exploit a dead man on national TV in order to gain the fame I so badly crave. If you would all like to throw rotten eggs at me now I will allow it."
Surprisingly, this was not the grossest part of the interview. That award goes to Ashley I, who suggested that Kelsey's husband might be made up, and that she had invented this story for attention. Not only was her husband not made up, but you had better be damn sure of an accusation like that before making it. Best case scenario, you're an investigative journalist. Worst case, you're an insensitive asshole.
Accusations are like plastic surgery: neither make you look good.
Ashley S had the next interview, which immediately reminded me how much I dislike her being on this show. To be clear, I don't dislike Ashley S in any way, but The Bachelor's treatment of her is downright cruel. For a show that previously spent an hour criticizing women for talking behind each other's backs, it seemed to have no problem mocking Ashley S for ten minutes. Chris Harrison recounts her disbelief that onions don't grow on trees, obsession with Mesa Verde, and belief that the show's accounting department was betting on the women. To the last point, why does a show like this have an accounting department on site? Is The Bachelor so perilously close to going over budget that it requires a team of accountants to be on site at all times? This could be sleep deprivation, but I really feel like I'm missing something here.
My hope is that Ashley S isn't quirky or mentally ill, but instead portraying an Andy Kaufman style character. Her mocking the show by acting crazy would be a beautiful homage, and make me feel a lot better about her time on the show. I don't expect this to actually be the case, but I can hope right? No one expects that Kaufman is still alive, but we secretly all hope that he is.
The Bachelor. Season 20
The final two women interviewed are Jade and Kaitlyn, neither of which have much to say. Both are confused as to why they were dumped and seek closure. Watching twenty minutes of their interviews reminded me how important a certain level of insanity is to this show, because real life relationships are boring to outsiders. I've watched a lot of these women in the weeks leading up to this, and I could not give less of a shit about how they feel post breakup. That is not to say that I wish them ill, or take delight in their pain, but they are literal strangers to me. Without a hook or reason to be interested, hearing these women talk about their breakups is like hearing about their dreams. No one actually cares unless they are directly involved.
Speaking of boring...
Finally, Chris Soules comes out to confront the women he jilted, to much fanfare from the crowd. Upon seeing him, Britt immediately begins crying, because emotionally she is the Incredibly Sad Hulk. In this case, her sadness manifested in the form of a fifteen second hug with Chris which crossed the line from cute to desperate at around the six second mark. The entirety of her conversation with Chris consisted of blaming Carly for their breakup, crying, and apologizing for the way their relationship ended. Nothing exceptionally interesting came of their conversation, however it was entertaining to watch Britt backtrack statements in an attempt to agree with whatever Chris said.
Chris then spoke with Kaitlyn, who simply wanted to know why she was sent home. After feeling like she was developing a better relationship with Chris and letting her guard down, Kaitlyn was shocked to be sent home. Chris admits that with three women left he had a tough decision, because he was in love with all three. Ultimately, his decision was akin to "throwing darts in the dark." To be clear, this man is presumably engaged right now, correct? I can't imagine his fiancee is thrilled to find out that their engagement is at least in part due to his erratic decision making. Random selection is the same way I pick my underwear, not my girlfriends.
"Whatever, it's either this or the other white ones."
Jade had the final conversation with Chris and ultimately wanted to know why she was let go. Understandably, Jade worries that her past in nude modeling is to blame. Chris assures her this is not the case and Jade leaves happy. If I'm being honest, this part was pretty boring. If you haven't seen this segment yet, don't worry about it. You can probably imagine what that conversation looked like and get the same experience in less time.
Unfortunately, this episode didn't make anyone look better. Kelsey and Britt still seem too detached from reality to understand the problems others have with them, Carly was portrayed as a snarky bitch, and Ashley I accused someone of faking their husband's death. Even Chris Soules continued to stammer incomprehensibly, making it nearly impossible to understand what he was talking about. In a way, I wish I hadn't watched tonight's episode because it made every contestant look like a bad person. Normally I enjoy flawed characters who struggle with their own shortcomings, but in this case all we saw was bad people acting as such. I'm really hoping that the finale shows at least some redemption of Becca and Whitney or this whole season will start to feel like a loss.
At least we have Chris Harrison's new book, The Perfect Letter to look forward to. It will definitely be the worst book I'll ever read cover to cover.
This sounds like a style manual.