Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Episode 11: Let's Put Them Through This

Look, if you are reading this to find out who Chris Soules proposed to on the finale of The Bachelor, you already know the answer. Even if you only had this show on in the background, you should still be able to guess who won. I applaud The Bachelor for even attempting to create suspense around the episode, but from start to finish the choice was obvious. In case you haven't seen the episode yet, I'll let you read until the end before spoiling anything. But really. Think about it. You know who won.

The finale opens in The Bachelor studios, where Chris Harrison recaps a recap. At this point, I have probably made somewhere between a dozen and a baker's dozen of jokes about the number of recaps on this show, so there really isn't much to say. However, in case you are just joining us, I made a joke about the predictability of shows like this followed by another reference to how many recaps The Bachelor relies on. There. In case anyone started reading part way through the blog, they'll know what they have missed so far.

Chris Harrison also says the studio has "standing room only" however the entire audience is sitting down. That is, quite literally, not what that term means. There is even an empty seat on stage.

Chris knows to leave an empty seat for Elijah.

This week sees the final two women, Whitney and Becca, in Iowa to meet Chris' family. Whitney has the first date and, as is to be expected, it goes splendidly. The Soules family, not unlike Bachelor viewers, was ecstatic to see Whitney. Her enthusiasm, sincerity, and charisma more than made up for the plaid shirt/dress, which I can only assume was an ill thought out attempt to appear both country and sophisticated. Instead, it looked like a six year old stole her father's shirt. Here's how bad that outfit was. I'm currently wearing thrift store pants with a thirty year old hoodie, and even I know that was bad. And if I'm wrong, what do I know? I'm wearing thrift store pants and an ancient hoodie.

Whitney tells both Chris' mom and sisters how much she loves him and how excited she is to have this opportunity. Both the sisters and mom absolutely love Whitney, even going so far as to endorse her before meeting Becca. I thought this was odd, because Whitney's answers to their questions were subpar at best. When asked if she was willing to forgo her career and move to Arlington, Whitney says "You can be a nurse anywhere." First off, no you can't. Specifically, you cannot be a nurse in Arlington, Iowa because there is no hospital, school, nursing home, or slutty costume store which would require a nurse. Second, you're a fertility nurse. Don't tell me that all nurses have the exact same interchangeable set of skills that would allow a fertility nurse to work in a hospital. Unless someone walks into the emergency room with a bad case of sterility, I doubt Whitney would be much help.

Much like Liam Neeson, I have a very particular set of skills.

Whitney leaves the farm confident that she will receive Chris' final rose. Chris, wanting feedback, has some relationship "man talk" with family in his workshop. Although I'm sure that farmers talking about competitive dating has never happened before tonight, there was one good point raised: Chris' brother-in-law pointed out that Chris may only be attracted to Becca because he can't have her. This seems like a good reflection of how a majority of modern dating works, with one party acting disinterested in order to create interest. I would love to make a joke about how this is a bullshit method of attraction, but it has kept Becca around this long so it clearly works in some capacity.

Speaking of Becca, she was the next to meet Chris' family. To someone who has never seen reality television before, this date must have looked completely insane. Becca kept repeating that she wasn't ready to accept a proposal or move in with a man she had known for a matter of weeks, and was villainized for it. Obviously, she was completely right to think this. However, within the alternate reality that The Bachelor creates there is no room for normalcy. Watching this date was like going to church; good points were made, but they were presented in such a boring fashion that it was hard to watch without falling asleep.

Also representative of The Bachelor demographics.

The closest thing we got to a highlight from Becca's date was her time speaking with Chris' mother. Mother Soules pointed out multiple ways in which Becca spoke about loving Chris, without actually admitting her feelings. In the end, Becca did not change her outlook on the relationship or her feelings towards Chris, but we did get to see just what a great mother Chris has. If I could have Mother Soules in my family, I would accept her in an instant.

As if the show wasn't boring enough, Becca's family date was followed by her final one on one date with Chris. Immediately the topic of conversation shifted to their struggling relationship, which was borderline unwatchable. Chris Soules, who carries the emotional gravitas of a juggalo, tries to put on his best "serious face" and discuss  his hypothetical future with Becca. Chris asked where she saw herself in five years, if she loved him, and whether she would consider moving to Iowa, each of which Becca answered with an emphatic "I don't know." Becca's aggressive lack of opinion made it genuinely hard to focus on this segment, so if I left anything out I apologize.

There was one parting comment Chris made that I did notice, however. As he left Becca's hotel, Chris told the camera "Her answers weren't what I wanted, but Becca said she wants to be with me. That's pretty cool." This really speaks to the desperation of The Bachelor production staff in trying to generate any scrap of suspense. Here we have a contestant openly admitting she is not interested in what the show is offering, and yet she is not only kept on the show, but is made a focal point of the finale. It is no wonder this episode was so boring.

I guess we can all pretend these are interesting facts?

The final one on one date of the season went to Whitney, who visited Chris on his farm. After taking a tour of both Chris' land and house, Whitney joined our bachelor in a combine to do some mid-November corn harvesting. Being that I don't know how familiar my readers are with the finer points of corn harvests, I'll just say this: there is absolutely no way Chris was functionally harvesting anything with snow on the ground. No crops are even moderately valuable after sustaining multiple frosts, much less if they are harvested in the middle of an Iowa winter. At this point, Chris and Whitney were essentially just pulling weeds. I really hope the Soules family was reimbursed by ABC for all that wasted corn.

Throughout her date, Whitney cannot stop talking about how everything she experiences "feels right." Whether it be meeting the Soules family, touring Chris' land, or even simply seeing the exterior of a house; Whitney meets every experience on this show with unparalleled enthusiasm. After watching this, I can't help but wonder how Whitney would react to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. She can't describe it as "totally awesome" because that term has already been used to describe Chris Soules' patio. Either this woman has an incredibly low threshold for wonder, or she's using those words a bit too liberally.


After Whitney's date ends, we are treated to the usual montage of engagement ring selections, followed by Chris and the remaining contestants pensively staring out windows. I would make a snarky comment, but at this point, The Bachelor has become a parody of itself.

Finally, we arrive at the final rose ceremony. Becca is the first to exit a limo, and after a small monologue about their time together, Chris finally admits that he will not be offering Becca a rose. The two have a mature conversation and leave on good terms, which was incredibly boring to watch. Even as Becca left the farm, she did not shed a tear or show even the slightest hint of emotion. At this point, I am wondering how much of Becca is human and how much is cyborg. Whoever programmed that robot needs to recalibrate the emotional reaction settings.

"She's more machine than woman."

Becca is dismissed, and Whitney arrives, visibly nervous for what awaits her. After some brief hemming and hawing, Chris gets down on one knee and proposes. Of course, Whitney says yes and the pair embrace after having completed their journey. In what has to be the most pointless gesture on the show, Chris asks Whitney if she will accept his final rose after proposing to her. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't those events out of order? Obviously she would accept the rose after accepting a marriage proposal. At least have Chris offer the rose first in order to create suspense about whether or not a proposal is going to happen. Come on ABC, I've only seen two seasons of this show. I can't be the first one to figure this out.

"What if we just stopped trying to make The Bachelor interesting because fuck it, they'll watch anyways."

From what I saw, the After The Final Rose segment immediately following the show was pretty pointless. Chris spoke to both Becca and Whitney, and everyone was happy with the decisions made. Chris Harrison got to make fun of Ashley S, and Jimmy Kimmel even stopped by to gift Chris Soules a cow BECAUSE HE IS A FARMER. 95% of this segment was completely worthless.

The only portion of this After The Final Rose worth watching was the reveal of next season's bachelorette. Chris Harrison tried to set this up as being a toss up between Britt and Kaitlyn, although when he asked for the audience's opinion, Kaitlyn received much more applause than her counterpart. Despite the audience clearly picking a favorite, Chris Harrison went on to announce that next season will have not one, but two bachelorettes. 

Before you even ask how this will work, what the format will be, or why ABC thought this was a good idea, I'll preemptively say that I have no idea. If I had to venture a guess, producers will use this format to select Britt as the eventual sole bachelorette after Kaitlyn is voted off, assuming that is a thing that can happen now. Even by The Bachelor standards, this is a pretty "shark jumping" move.

"Fuck it. Let the audience figure this shit out."

If there is one problem I have with the format of The Bachelor, and rest assured there is more than one, it is the lack of story telling mechanisms. The vast majority of contestants use personal circumstance as their "story" without giving the audience any reason to invest emotionally. I would never suggest that this show should create narratives on par with scripted shows, however it would be nice to see something in the way of plot week after week. Currently, the show can offer little more than passive-aggressive arguments and underwhelming surprises in attempt to hold the viewer's interest. To say that this show is bad story telling is not even wrong, it simply doesn't apply. From start to finish, the best we can hope for is that the woman we hate a little less than the rest is given the chance to begin a story we will never see.

That being said, I am absolutely looking forward to next season. Maybe then we'll find out what happened with the pregnancy test that was teased in the season opener.

Much love,

Gossip Squirrel

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