Monday, May 25, 2015

Episode 3: Minority Report

ABC really needs to pick a time to air The Bachelorette and stick with it. Not only does constant time slot swapping wreak havoc on a show's ratings, but it makes blogging about said show very frustrating. Tonight's episode began an hour later than I expected, which wouldn't normally be a big deal except for the fact that I am currently in the middle of moving. With that in mind, this is how I watched The Bachelorette.

Bleak Right?

Kaitlyn opens the show by talking about how lucky she is to be the bachelorette and defends kissing two guys on the first night. At first, I wasn't aware that this was an action in need of defense. But then I remembered that this is ABC, a network that still shows beauty pageants, so clearly their programming's morality is questionable at best. I'm not taking lifestyle advice from a network that judges women on their beach bodies and then asks them complicated sociopolitical questions in under 20 seconds. That's lunacy.

After Kaitlyn's introduction, we see the rejected bachelorette, Britt, reunited with Brady who left on the first night to pursue her. Throughout the episode, we are teased with discovering the extent of their relationship, only to eventually find out that the two are dating now. That's it. Personally, I would like to see weekly updates on Britt and Brady, because "we're dating" is not a satisfying ending too a Bachelorette storyline.

Speaking of unsatisfying.
The first group date brings eight guys to a boxing gym/abandonded warehouse to learn how to box with Layla Ali. I'm not sure why they had to go into a warehouse to learn how to box, especially when the greatest female boxer in history is on site. "Eight guys walk into a warehouse," is barely the start of a joke, much less a group date on The Bachelorette.

After a brief training session, the guys begin a boxing tournament against each other to try and win the Bachelorette Heavyweight Championship. If you ever wondered why weight classes exist in professional fighting, this tournament should be your answer. Ben Z outweighed his competition by at least fifteen pounds and cruised through the tournament, even giving Jared a concussion in their championship fight. Why the producers ever thought fighting a 225 lb former football player was a good idea is beyond me, but I'll give them credit. It was very entertaining.

How these fights looked to me.

The group date ended with a cocktail hour, and a lot more Ben Z and Jared time. Ben Z reveals that his mother passed when he was only 14, and she is the reason he loves to cook. The emotional honesty gets him both Kaitlyn's affection and the date rose, which I really can't argue with.

Jared also made a reappearance from the hospital during the date, and stole Kaitlyn away for a few moments to go on a walk. He revealed that he couldn't stay due to doctor's orders, and then kissed her. I hope that years from now when Jared and Kaitlyn are married with children, one of those children will ask about their parent's first kiss. With a wistful glance toward his wife, Jared will remember it fondly and say "Well I had just been beaten senseless by your mom's other boyfriend, and had some mild brain damage when I surprised her on a date with seven other guys." Truly, it would be the greatest love story ever told.

Second only to the old people parts of this movie.

Clint gets the first one on one date of the season and it was a real snooze fest. He and Kaitlyn are going to take underwater pictures together, which is apparently now a thing that people do. The couple did a few breathing exercises which seemed eerily similar to the intimacy coach debacle from last season. While taking pictures underwater, the couple shared their first kiss, which would be a lot more romatic if there weren't a dozen individuals contractually obligated to be staring at them as it happened. Apparently I have a great deal more shame than the contestants on this show.

After the pictures, Clint and Kaitlyn got dinner and drinks together. Kaitlyn is very interested in Clint, but I don't get it. He didn't say anything of substance throughout the date, with most of his dialogue being agreements with Kaitlyn. I hope to god that Clint develops a personality, because I have a feeling he will be around for a while.

The final group date of the evening was far and away my favorite. Kaitlyn and seven guys went to The Improv to try their hand at standup. As someone who is a massive fan of standup comedy and has even performed a handful of times, I was practically salivating at the opportunity to watch these guys fall flat on their dumb faces. Unfortunately for me, the guys had help from Amy Schumer, who both gave them advice on jokes and emceed their sets. Everyone did relatively well, though if I had an audience of Bachelorette fans and an amazing stand up opening for me, I'd probably do well too.

Good openers and easy audiences are the only reason this guy still tours.

Chris had by far the best standup set, though the performance of the night clearly went to Tony, whose set consisted entirely of a monologue about the importance of love in the world. In fact, the closest thing he had to a joke was "I'm about half-tanked right now," which got a laugh from the audience, mostly because it was true.

The episode ended with a cocktail party, before which, the guys made a pact to allow those who hadn't yet seen Kaitlyn to have time with her first. Being the self-proclaimed villain that he is, JJimmediately took time with Kaitlyn despite already having a rose from the Improv date. This annoyed the others, who voiced their displeasure to JJ. Instead of apologizing, JJ let the waves of hate wash over him and openly spoke about how smug and satisfied he was with the situation. I can't help but think that this guy gets off on people hating him and was searching for material to jerk off to later that night.

JJ, later that night.

The episode culminated in the confrontation between Kupah and Kaitlyn. Kupah is concerned that there is no connection between Kaitlyn and himself, saying quite a few things that I'll delve into in a minute. Kaitlyn says there was a connection until he confronted her. Kupah floundered desperately trying to save himself from elimination, which he does temporarily. However, when Kaitlyn overhears him loudly discussing the situation, she kicks him off the show. The episode ends with Kupah yelling at the producers in the parking lot, and Kaitlyn going to confront him.

Just like that, ABC and to some extent Kupah, created and destroyed an opportunity to have a constructive conversation about racism on TV. He opened a conversation with Kaitlyn by saying, "I don't want to be here any longer than I have to be if I'm the minority guy here to fill a quota." This, more than any other quote, was a direct encapsulation of the subtle racism for which The Bachelorette is so often under fire. Every season, we see a handful of non-white contestants trotted out to quite literally fill a quota, only to be gradually removed from competition. In an instant, Kupah brought this issue to light only to invalidate his entire argument as quickly as it began.

After questioning both Kaitlyn's connection to him and the show's relationship to non-white contestants, Kupah immediately undermines his concern by trying to win back Kaitlyn's affections. Perhaps his most unlikable moment came after Kaitlyn said she wasn't connecting with Kupah anymore and he responded with "I don't want to go home. I think you're hot." Kaitlyn, of course, did eventually send him home saying "Okay but there's more to me than that," which made me audibly cheer, and which is exponentially sadder if you remember where I'm writing this from.

Kupah had the opportunity to make a real point about the inherent racism of shows like The Bachelorette, but instead outed himself as an asshole. I'm not saying bad people don't deserve the same opportunities as everyone else, they do. But Kupah immediately undercut the gravity of his claims by abandoning them because Kaitlyn she is "hot," thereby selling out his entire point. Racism will still exist on this and all television platforms for years to come, but we saw a huge missed opportunity to see it discussed tonight.

I'll see you next time,

Gossip Squirrel

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