Monday, May 18, 2015

Episode 1: All Horned Up

Well. It's official. Season 11 of The Bachelorette has begun. Chris Harrison put it perfectly when he said "Will this be awkward and probably a bit painful? Sure." Tonight's episode was one of the most uncomfortable displays of forced awkwardness, belligerent drunkenness, and desperate cries for validation that I have ever seen. Not that any of this is a surprise, mind you. This is The Bachelorette. If someone isn't drunk, stupid, or crying then what's the point?

Sometimes you're all three.

The show opens with montages of both bachelorettes preparing for the upcoming season. Britt and Kaitlyn both seem to be in relatively good spirits about the new format, even if their words are spoken through clenched teeth. While the show tried to make it seem like a toss up, I stand by my prediction that Kaitlyn will be the sole bachelorette and Britt will be sent home tomorrow. I just refuse to believe that the universe could be so cruel as to make me watch an entire season of Britt making self-important statements and talking about her feelings. Granted, that is a central tenant of all reality TV, but I choose to believe that we live in the best of all possible worlds, where those tenants can change and decent, funny people can be on The Bachelorette. I'm the Pangloss of reality TV.

We are also treated to a montage of the contestants, all of whom fill the traditional reality TV roles. There's the southern gentleman (Joe), the single dad (Jonathan), the musician (Brady), the small town hunk (Joshua), the athlete (Ian), the spiritual one (Tony), and the one with a dead relative (Ben Z). Any season of any reality show is going to have these tropes, and for good reason: they work. Say what you will about the guys individually, but The Bachelorette really nailed down some solid casting choices this season.

Surprisingly well done, ABC.

A few of these montages are worth discussing too. For being a singer, Brady cannot enunciate to save his life. If anyone can decipher what he was singing, please let me know. All I could decipher from his song was open chords and vowels. He's like the Kurt Cobain of musicians.

Joshua, an industrial welder, also had a great line in his montage, saying "The right amount of heat and friction can make sparks fly." Joshua just introduced himself to America with a sex joke. That's a bold move.

Tony's montage was also worth mentioning, if for no other reason than the three continuous minutes of disjointed nonsense, punctuated with semi spiritual catchphrases. For those who don't remember, or didn't watch the episode, Tony is a "healer" who talks to plants and cannot seem to complete a thought without using words like "faith" or "energy". He's basically the antithesis of myself, so be forewarned. If you like Tony, this blog will probably make you mad.

Not this Tony. This Tony I like.

Of course the montage of the night went to Josh, who chronicled his life as a law student by day and an exotic dancer by night. Holy cow. First off, Josh has so many mismatched tattoos that he looks like Viggo Mortensen from Eastern Promises. Second, while he loves his job, Josh complains that he's surrounded by beautiful women all day, but can't find a wife. That's because you work in a strip club, Josh. No one has ever found their significant other while grinding to Def Leppard. Any relationship that begins in a strip club always ends with divorce papers and penicillin.

Once the guys actually arrive at the house, they are forced to choose whom to greet first: Kaitlyn or Britt first. By my count there, were 11 for each Kaitlyn and Britt, with three who chose to hug both at the same time. Again, well done ABC. There's actually a good deal of suspense around who will be the official Bachelorette, which is impressive considering the show's history of spoiling twists before they happen. I can't believe I'm saying this, but The Bachelorette is really living up to expectations to this point.

The vast majority of arrivals were pretty uninteresting. Most of the guys seemed nice enough, and with one exception (we'll get to that later) made good first impressions. My personal favorite was JJ, who handed Kaitlyn a hockey puck accompanied by the line "I would love to puck you." Is it just me, or is this show a lot racier than in past seasons? The Bachelorette contestants have morphed from talking about an ethereal, storybook love, to fucking. By ABC's standards, that's practically pornography.

Chris Harrison does not approve.

Of course I can't write about the entrances without mentioning both Chris and Shawn E. Chris, a dentist, rode onto the set in a motorized cupcake and made a very tenuous grasp at a pun about sugar and dental hygiene. That said, it was pretty cute. Shawn E went a completely different direction and arrived in a modified hot tub car. This did not seem to be related to any aspect of Shawn E's personality or occupation, but the visual of a grown man getting out of a car in a sopping wet suit made me laugh harder than this show ever has. I'm not willing to backtrack my criticism of Shawn E just yet, but it's hard not to like someone willing to go to that level of sheer ridiculousness.

Well, at least it's hard for me to not like that ridiculousness. There was one contestant who did not enjoy it as much as myself. That's right. It's time to talk about Ryan M.

This fucking guy...

Ryan M might be the worst human being I have ever seen on a television, and that includes the entire programming lineup of Spike TV. Drunk from the moment he stepped foot inside the mansion, Ryan M first made his douchebaggery known when he stepped outside to heckle Sean E during his arrival. I have absolutely no idea what prompted this reaction, but it was at least in part the alcohol because the best he could do was yell "You suck!" That's not even a good heckle for baseball game, much less a reality show.

From there, Ryan M's downward spiral only got worse as he tried to pick fights with multiple contestants and kept yelling nonsense like "I'm all horned up!" and "What is this, the gay bachelor?" Obviously there is an irony in yelling that you are all "horned up" in a room full of men, and then berating those same men for possibly being gay, but I'll leave that to you to decipher. Eventually, Ryan became fed up with the rest of the contestants and, after taking a short detour to grab Britt's face and Kaitlyn's ass, stripped down to his underwear and hopped in the pool. It was beyond satisfying to watch this jackass slip and fall on the pool deck too, though to be fair to him, he didn't spill his beer so he wasn't that drunk.

The grand finale of Ryan M's alcoholic reign of terror was his interaction with JJ. After multiple men had confronted Ryan M about his behavior, JJ pulled him aside to let him know he did not appreciate his grabbing of Kaitlyn's ass. Ryan M, being the booze fueled monster that he is, responded with the question "Why am I not raping you right now?" I can only assume the correct answer to this question would be to say "Because we live in a civilized society where people don't threaten each other with such blatantly barbaric statements you piece of human garbage." I don't think JJ said anything resembling this, but for future reference this is the correct answer.

A question this man has asked himself many times.

Well wouldn't you know, it turns out you can't actually threaten to rape people on TV without repercussions. Almost immediately, the show's security force (an enormous man in a beret) removed Ryan M from the house and kicked him off the show. I, for one, am hoping sexual assault charges are pressed against him, though I doubt it will happen. At the very least, it's nice to know that Ryan M will forever be known as "the guy who threatened to rape someone on primetime cable." Good luck, asshole.

It's hard to come back from something that intense, and tonight's episode really made no attempt to do so. There were a few hints of relationships forming, specifically between Ian and Kaitlyn, and Britt and Tony. I like Ian well enough, but did anyone else notice that Tony had a black eye throughout the night? Apparently his practice of spiritual healing was not strong enough to mend his eye.

How every man thinks they look with a black eye.

After the conversations ended, the men voted on who this season's sole bachelorette would be. In what was almost literally a parody of itself, the men had to place a rose in the box of the woman they wanted to vote for. I hope that the thorns were clipped from those roses, or placing them in a woman's box could be very painful. Assuming they were, which bachelorette do you think could fit more roses in her box? Personally, think that any amount of roses in a woman's box is an impressive feat.

These jokes were pretty much ripped from the series Burning Love, which you should absolutely watch right now. It is far and away my favorite parody series ever.

Please watch this show so we can talk about it and be friends.

The episode ends, of course, with a cliffhanger. We will have to wait until tomorrow to find out who will be the next official bachelorette. I'm sticking with my initial guess that Kaitlyn will be the bachelorette, but one or more guys will leave with Britt as her "consolation prize" of sorts. It would certainly lessen the blow of being rejected again, and make for a much better story for Britt. She's not my favorite, but I really don't need to see her cry again.

I'll see you next time,

Gossip Squirrel

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