Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Bachelorette: Nobody's Brother

If I learned one thing from last week’s episode of The Bachelorette, and it is very possible that this was the only thing I have ever learned from this show, it is that JoJo is only interested in one very specific kind of guy. After watching four hometown dates with tall skinny white guys, all of whom have perfectly coiffed hair and just a touch of five o’clock shadow over their massive chins, it was almost impossible not to draw that conclusion. Unfortunately for anyone watching, JoJo’s homogenous choice in guys means we were basically treated to the same date four times in a row. Oh how I long for the days of Chad and Evan squabbling about the price of v-necks or whatever that was.

Not that identical contestants have been a problem in the past...

The first date of the week takes JoJo to Highlands Ranch, Colorado to meet Chase. No sooner had she landed and kissed Chase hello, than he took a deep breath and declared, “I come from a broken home.” JoJo waited expectantly for Chase to say something shocking before realizing his parent’s divorce was supposed to be the shocking thing.

I’m not saying that a child watching their parents divorce isn’t painful, but calling it a “broken home” is a little extreme in 2016. A broken home is finding out that your sister is actually your mother, or that your parents are cousins, or that your dad is both your second cousin and your uncle. If anyone can make a family tree for that last one I’d really appreciate it.

see above: My family tree

Because of Chase’s “broken home” JoJo has to meet his parents separately, beginning with his dad. Within second’s of his arrival, Chase asks his father why he divorced Chase’s mother. This was obviously a staged question because Chase’s dad doesn’t immediately respond by saying, “What’s wrong with you? You’re 27 years old and just now asking me about this? That happened 19 years ago!” Instead, he gives a boring response about climbing the corporate ladder, which Chase ignores because this whole segment was stupid and staged.

After extracting the necessary responses from his father, Chase and JoJo went to meet his mother and the “non-broken” side of his family. Chase’s mother (Sandy) takes an immediate liking to JoJo. After repeatedly telling both her son and the producers how great JoJo is, she tells Chase that she loves him and the two immediately burst into tears. I won’t even pretend to make fun of this, because mother-son bonding basically reduces me to a teary eyed, sentimental mess.

JoJo leaves, but not before Chase grabs her to say, “he is falling in love with” her. To her credit, JoJo responds very politely instead of pulling away and shouting, “I barely know you weirdo!” Well played, JoJo.

Still thinking about that mother-son bonding.

Leaving Chase with his broken family, JoJo next travels to Chico, California to join Jordan’s slightly less broken family. Jordan takes her on a walking tour of Chico, presumably because the town is too rich to have taxis. The two arrive at his former high school (which ironically has stolen the Minnesota Vikings logo, the rival team of his brother, Aaron) for a look back at Jordan’s former days of relevance. Mere minutes after looking at gawky high school pictures of Jordan, JoJo pulls him into the library for a mid day make out session in the stacks. Keep in mind that school was still clearly in session during this time. The fact that no one stopped what is definitely a sex crime was deeply disturbing.

 Seriously... It's so little...

Once JoJo and Jordan finish groping each other in front of teenagers, they head to his parents’ house. JoJo is nervous to meet the parents’ Rodgers because, “I’m the first girl Jordan is bringing home that is a complete stranger.” To whom, JoJo? You’re a stranger to his family, sure, but you’ve also only been on two previous dates with Jordan himself, so you’re ostensibly a stranger to him as well.

The rest of the date is devoted to Jordan’s lack of a relationship with his famous older brother. JoJo asks everyone in Jordan’s family what happened between the brothers, but gets little more than confused looks and awkward silence. When she asks Jordan for a third time why he doesn’t speak to his brother, Jordan stares off into space and mumbles something about not talking to Aaron anymore. At this point there are only three options that explain Jordan’s unwillingness to discuss his fraternal relationship.

1) Aaron did something legitimately terrible, which Jordan cannot bring himself discuss beyond vague hints.
2) Jordan is too stupid to remember why he doesn’t speak to Aaron anymore and covers it up by pretending to be sad.
3) Jordan is making this all up for attention, and doesn’t think JoJo has the ability to fact check his claims on the internet.

I’m putting my money on 2 or 3.

"It's hard, ya know? Cause I'm brooding and have thoughts."

Before JoJo leaves, she pulls Jordan aside to confess that she is worried he won’t want a long term relationship once the show ends. Instead of doing the normal human thing and trying to console the woman he supposedly loves, Jordan gets upset and tells JoJo to, “never doubt me.” I’m not sure if it was a lack of conviction or defeatism, but JoJo agreed to Jordan’s demands without question.

You see this, women of America? Shows like this are why guys like this think that can treat you… like this. Ok, that wasn’t well written but you get my point.

M'JoJo

JoJo next travels to the horrid state of Florida for a date with Robbie, a grown man who could only figure out the bottom button of his dress shirt.

"Eventually I'll get around to actually buttoning my shirt."

Robbie and JoJo ride in a horse drawn carriage through the less rednecky parts of St. Augustine before meeting Robbie’s family. Upon arriving at the family house, Robbie’s dad tells JoJo to call him “coach,” presumably because this better defines his relationship to his children than “father” ever could.

While talking with Robbie’s mother, JoJo says that she is “falling in love” with Robbie and confesses that she hasn’t even told him that yet. I don’t know if JoJo is hoping that Robbie’s mom will pass the message on to him like a junior high game of relationship telephone or she just had too much wine, but this was a very strange way to confess your love for someone.

Some time after that, Robbie’s mother pulls Robbie aside to tell him that his ex-girlfriend’s roommate is accusing him of dumping his ex in order to go on the show. Robbie immediately freaks out, not because the accusations aren’t true, but because he doesn’t want JoJo to hear them and break up with him. For the record, that’s not a valid reason on which to base your innocence. Truth, honesty, and a sense of justice are reasons to claim innocence. Robbie’s “I just don’t want to be caught,” is an almost literal admission of guilt.

"I just don't want people to think I'm a rapist."

Robbie eventually tells JoJo about the accusations against him, about which she is rightfully upset. JoJo, thinking she may have caught Robbie in a lie, asks, “But what would be the benefit of your ex’s roommate saying something that wasn’t true?” Really JoJo? Of all the problems you have with this situation, you question why a human being would ever want to lie? Either JoJo isn’t listening to herself speak, or she’s never tried lying before. If you’ve never tried lying before, you really should. It’s amazing. You can get people to believe anything. Sex, power, a moderately successful reality TV show blog… they’re all attainable through the power of lying.

In a frantic attempt to keep JoJo from disemboweling him, Robbie tries to soothe her fears that he is still hung up on his ex girlfriend. “My relationship with Hope was over 9 months before it ended,” Robbie says. For a second I thought Robbie was a depressed nihilist like myself and I actually felt a twinge of affection for the plastic headed little guy. Then I realized that Hope was the name of his ex-girlfriend and promptly resumed my unyielding contempt.

Speaking of a lack of hope...

With questions of Robbie’s potential fidelity still fresh in her mind, JoJo returned to her home state of Texas for her final hometown date with Luke. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Luke this season. His sincerity and charm, combined with being really, really, ridiculously good looking, put me on the defensive at first. But damn if Luke’s date with JoJo wasn’t one of the most perfect Bachelorette things I’ve ever seen. Let me explain.

 The Bachelorette thrives on creating augmented realities which essentially trick contestants into feeling things they otherwise would not feel. Every week, contestants are treated to lavish, once in a lifetime experiences that create an illusion of love in the place of cheap thrills and endorphin rushes. Luke managed to brilliantly subvert this trope by making the entirety of his date a very normal “Texas barbecue” with dozens of his family members and friends. While it may not be a weekly occurance, it is certainly more common than reconciling with a divorced father, touring a high school, or a horse drawn carriage ride. Luke somehow managed to make The Bachelorette normal.

And for what it’s worth, JoJo loved it. She met literally everyone Luke has ever known in a situation that was already familiar to her as a fellow Texan. She spent time with his parents, siblings, and friends and could hardly spare a moment without a huge smile on her face. Luke even ended the date with a lasting embrace in a field underneath a gorgeous Texas sunset. The two could barely tear themselves apart as the night drew to a close.

"The fuck is this pressure in my chest... feelings?"

So you can imagine my shock when later at the rose ceremony, JoJo declares that she wants to send Luke home. According to our Bachelorette, the fact that Luke has not yet expressed his love appropriately by saying the words “I love you” means their relationship is not where it should be.  For her to get to this point means that she is either incapable of understanding actions as intent, or she does not actually care for “normal life” with someone, a value she has been espousing since week one.

Perhaps he sensed JoJo’s desires, or perhaps he was goaded by the producers, but before she can begin handing out roses, Luke pulls JoJo aside and tells her that he is in love with her. JoJo thanks him, and immediately begins questioning her previous decision to send Luke home. She breaks into tears as the screen fades to black…

“To be continued”

I legit should have made this the whole blog.

I said it in the beginning and I’ll say it again. JoJo is clearly attracted to a very particular kind of guy. The fact that she wanted to dump Luke, the one man on the show with whom she had a deep connection free from dishonesty and trust issues was pretty depressing. And before you say it, yes I realize that everything I’m saying sounds like I’m defending the “nice guy” who has been put in the “friend-zone” by his crush. I'll say it right now, those guys are useless misogynists who cannot conceive of women as autonomous or creatures independent from their own lives.

Luke is different. For once on this show, it would have been nice to see normalcy win out over the manufactured glamor that so often dominates The Bachelorette’s landscape. For once it would have been nice to see two people on a wonderfully common and beautiful date come together to defy the obscene tribute to surface emotion that this show has become. For once I would just like to watch this show and actually root for a normal human to win without having ulterior motives.

But this is The Bachelorette, what else did I expect?

See you next week for two episodes,

XOXO

Gossip Squirrel

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