Look, I don’t always enjoy watching these shows. Sometimes when I sit there and listen to a wealthy, Botoxed, pilled-up, piss puddle of a human complain about how hard her life is because her Gucci Chihuahua raincoat is the wrong size, I have one of those "How the fuck did this become my life?" moments. You know those moments? When you ask yourself, "If I started right now, how long would it take me to become a Shaolin monk? A dolphin trainer? Olympic curler? Seaside crepe-shack owner? Snuggie inventor?" These fits of introspection can leave you feeling like you don’t have a purpose, like a rudderless dinghy rocking in the wake of the passing speedboats. It’s a big ol’ drag ... until it happens. The moment you realize that you were born to do what you are doing. For me, that's when there's the occasional episode of reality television that is so captivating that when it ends I say to myself, "I can’t wait to write about this." An episode like that reminds me that making semi-offensive, poorly constructed jokes about reality television is what I was built to do.
But before we get to The Bachelorette, there is some GRTFL housekeeping to get out of the way. The 27th season of the Real World debuted this week, dripping in Whatever Sauce. I can summarize my feelings about the first episode by simply pointing out that the most exciting cast member this season is an unflushed mystery turd. Not kidding. As always, to include the show in the league we created a set of rules:
Real World Show-Specific Rules:
- Hooking up with a roommate on the first episode: 20 points per roommate (in addition to any kissing or coitus points)
- Being lectured about hygiene or cleanliness: 20 points
- Boasting about having masturbated: 10 points
- Borrowing a condom: 10 points
- Hooking up with members of both sexes in a single episode: 25 points
- Hooking up with a member of the production crew: 50 points
- Playing an awkward game of billiards with someone you've cuckolded: 50 points
- Being deported from St. Thomas: 100 points
- Getting handcuffed on-camera: 35 points
- Being the cause of a visit from any vehicle with sirens: 35 points
- Throwing a punch that gets freeze-framed as the final shot of an episode: 35 points
- Complaining about “locals”: 5 points
- Complaining about “tourists”: 10 points
- Nearly drowning in a sailing or surfing accident: 50 points
- Quitting during a surf lesson: 10 points
- Parent intoxication: 15 points (for roommate)
- Making assumptions about St. Thomas based on stereotypes of Jamaica: 20 points
- Making a “Virgin” Islands pun: -5 points (don’t think I won’t, though)
- Leaving the show for dubious personal reasons, then returning later: 25 points
Then we drafted the seven strangers (and the Unflushed Mystery Turd):
Real World Draft Results:
Kang: Brandon (The Drug Addict)
Bill: Marie (The Staten Islander)
Jacoby: Unflushed Mystery Turd (The Most Interesting Cast Member)
House: Swift (The Guy Who Wears a Scarf on St. Thomas)
Lisanti: Laura (The Lingerie Football League Quarterback)
Connor: Robb With Two B's (The Mutant Jim Courier)
Kang: LaToya (The Bubbly Girl With the Bubble Butt)
Bill: Trey (The Prom King)
But really, who cares when this week’s The Bachelorette was so damn Bachelorette-y?
Arie (The Bachelorette, Simmons), 10 points: (OK, I know he only scored 10 kissing points, but I am putting him at the top of the column anyway, revolt away.) Like Neo in The Matrix waking up in that slimy pod, this week Emily Maynard saw that everything that she believed in up to this point was a lie. She pulled back the curtain and saw the real Wizard of Oz, Mickey Mouse smoking a Newport on his break at Disneyland, and her mother filling the stocking with presents. After six weeks of feeling like she was in control, she took a long look at her hands and feet and saw the strings rising all way the up to the sky. Here is how it went down. I promise I will keep this under 10,000 words.
Coming out of a commercial break, we see host Chris Harrison in front of a house, one that's clearly not in Prague, where the episode is taking place. Then he says:
Hi, I'm Chris Harrison, I wanted to take the time to talk to you about something that you may have heard about. [Sure, Chris Harrison, what’ll it be? Are we taking about your recent divorce? The unconfirmed-probably-not-true-but-totally-juicy rumor that you are dating Emily? The NBA draft? Whaddya got, Chris?] It involves one of our producers. Some time ago, in fact, several years ago, Arie had a very brief relationship with our producer Cassie Lambert. [Can you hold on a second, Chris? I have to Google stalk Cassie Lambert for a half hour ... Cool, I’m back, carry on.] Emily had no idea about this relationship when production began, but Cassie took it upon herself to tell Emily about it as soon as it became apparent that Emily was developing some serious feelings for Arie. [Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes ...] In the interest of full disclosure, we taped a sequence with Cassie interviewing Emily about this touchy subject. We want to show you that interview now.
So he tosses to this super-awkward interview where Cassie is asking a pissed-off Emily (Emily looks amazing when she is mad) about her feelings about the revelation that Cassie used to date Arie. Pissed-off Emily has a point:
It wouldn’t have been weird if somebody would have said from day one, "Hey, we know each other ... We’ve known each other for a long time, I thought he would be great for you." I would have been like, "Somebody is setting me up, cool." You know? I would have been like, "Cassie, you missed out. He’s a great kisser." Like, I mean, I totally wouldn’t care, but now I feel like an idiot. And this is not, like, a production thing, this is a real-life thing.
THIS IS NOT A PRODUCTION THING, THIS IS A REAL-LIFE THING!
So then they go to another commercial break and come back to Chris Harrison outside of that house again:
Welcome back to The Bachelorette, I am Chris Harrison. Emily just found out in Prague that many years ago, Arie had a very brief romantic relationship [read: got slammered and slept with a couple times] with our producer, Cassie Lambert. Now again, in the interest of full disclosure, Emily, Arie and Cassie then had a very honest conversation about the issue. [Why don’t you just show me that conversation, Chris?] Unfortunately, this conversation took place off-camera. [Really? The most dramatic thing to happen this season was OFF CAMERA? Something isn’t adding up.] But here is what was discussed: Arie told Emily he felt the relationship was so brief and so long ago that it didn’t matter. [She bought that?] Emily agreed and she realized her feelings for Arie weren’t impacted.
So then he tosses to Arie and Emily, in completely different clothes, at night, getting along fine, making out by a river. All right, so let me drop my theory on you:
Emily walked off the show.
Put yourself in Emily’s shoes. Emily refers to Cassie as “her producer,” which means that the two of them have been basically joined at the hip for the past six weeks. If you're starring in a reality show that has you looking for a husband and dating a dozen dudes at once, you need to do some serious girl-talking — just to keep sane. I'm sure Emily and Cassie are very close. But the second Emily finds out about Cassie and Arie, the whole scam starts to fall in place. Emily’s ex, who passed away before her daughter Ricki was born, was a race car driver; Arie is also a race car driver. Cassie brought Arie on the show because she thought that Arie and Emily would be a good match, but she never told Emily that. When Emily finds this out, she realizes that she isn’t really choosing her soul mate, her soul mate was chosen for her and planted there by her "friend" — the people who have been around her for more than a month have been manipulating her. When she says, "I wouldn’t care, but now I feel like an idiot. I feel like I am the only one," she looks off camera at the sound guy, the PA, the fixer, the cameraman, etc. and says, "This is not a production thing, this is a real-life thing."
The strangest part about this whole story line is the way that they covered it. There is footage that ABC is not showing us. Camera operators on reality TV shows are trained to keep rolling no matter what, because often the best stuff that they are going to get is something that the subjects would rather not have filmed. Again, I'm speculating with this whole “Emily walked off the show” thing, but what else makes sense? Why else would the resolution of this story line occur off-camera? Do you think one of the producers said, "Oh, while the three of you are working out this dramatic, emotional, layered love triangle, the crew and I are going to go on lunch break?” What happened in Prague in between the time that Arie and Emily are in casual wear at a table in daylight and then formal wear at night? Did all the camera equipment fail simultaneously? Where did they change clothes? Are you telling me that somewhere there was a producer and an editor in an edit bay trying to cut the story together and the most elegant thing they could come up with is "a couple of host stand-ups, a broken-fourth-wall interview, and then cut to them making out by a river"?
I call bullshit. What I think happened is she walked off the show, production freaked out thinking they just lost ABC a gazillion dollars on an unairable series, and they did everything they could to talk Emily back off the ledge. I just wish they showed us everything that happened, partly because the drama is so captivating and partly because I just love to look at Emily when she is mad.
She is so hot when she is mad.
Marie (Real World, Simmons), 27 points: Marie has some potential. Not only did she get slammered and pass out (7 points), but she packed a six-pack of Heineken in her suitcase. Think about that for a second. While she was packing her bag she said to herself, “You know what? I should bring a six-pack in my checked luggage just in case there is no beer where I'm going.” Who does that? Also, when the cast was trying to identify the source of the most interesting cast member on the show, the Unflushed Mystery Turd, everyone immediately pointed the finger at Marie (20 “lectured about hygiene” points). It was at this point that Bill looked up from his laptop and said, "It says a lot about you when there is a mystery turd and everyone assumes that it's yours."
Doug (The Bachelorette, Connor), 25 points: After a terrible kiss (5 points) , Emily gave Doug the "I’m just not feeling it" speech and landed a flurry of backhanded compliments that left Doug in tears (20 points). It was such an impressive combo that this week’s GRTFL top five is Emily's Top Five Backhanded Compliments, listed from "Could be an actual compliment" to “Whoa, he may have to be put down like a racehorse with a broken leg":
5. I completely understand being a slow mover, but then there is, like, no moving at all.
4. You’re such a gentleman, almost to a fault.
3. Last time at the rose ceremony when you put your arm around me, that felt really good.
2. I have way too much respect for you to keep you away from [your son] another day.
1. Are you a eunuch?
OK fine, I made up the last one. But that was basically what she was getting at.
Chris (The Bachelorette, House), 25 points: Every season of this show there's one member of the cast who can’t handle the competition, the travel, and the fact that the woman they are falling in love with spends all day making out with his buddies, so he breaks down and starts acting like an obsessive, jealous lunatic.
This season Chris is raising the obsessive, jealous lunacy bar. He made out with Emily once (5 points) and proceeded to act like she’s his wife of 10 years. The following is a list of actual things he said before, during, or after he broke down in tears (20 points). Actually, it was less like he broke down in tears and more like he was kinda crying the entire episode:
If I don't get the rose tonight, I'm going to be freaking out a bit ... like bad freaking out a bit.
If I don't get a hometown date, I'll be scared for anyone around me.
I need to talk to her. I'm worried. I'm really worried that I am going to be the man up there that doesn't get the rose, but I feel like I am one of the best men for her, so I just need a couple minutes with her, talk to her ... remind he why I'm here.
I'm not ready for this to be over between me and her. I feel like ... [sighs] ... I'm a good man for her. I'm the best man for her. I could miss out on this opportunity with the perfect girl. That is going to kill me because the way I treated this week is not the way I am. I took this week for granted, and uhh ... I'm going to pay for it.
I don't want to go home without her. I'll do anything I have to do because I believe in me and her, so I'll do whatever I have to do to fight for her.
The craziest thing about Chris is that he doesn’t have a crazyface. You know how some crazy people, like Ron Artest and Kim Richards, have that crazyface? Chris has a normal face but is crazy. Very confusing.
Sean (The Bachelorette, Connor), 20 points: Professional poker players will study their opponents for the most subtle visual clues as to whether they have a weak or strong hand. That is what I do with the Bachelorette. And the Bachelorette has a tell. Since Emily made out with Sean four times (20 points) and literally every bro left on the show, I went back to review the tape of each make-out (remember those "How the fuck did this become my life?" moments I was talking about earlier?) and discovered that when Emily kisses a bro, you can tell how far that bro is going in the competition by how her hand moves during the kiss. Check it out:
Arie: Emily puts the hand around his waist in a hug move.
John: Emily leans over and kisses him, barely even touching him with her lips.
Sean: Hand on the neck, rubbing that area behind your ear that is dirty even after a shower.
Doug: This was a non-consensual kiss. She didn’t have time to do a hand move, but if she did it would be to remove him from her face.
Jeff With One F: Same "let me clean that for you because this part of your head is hard to clean" rub move that Sean got.
Based on this highly scientific, 100 percent accurate "How did Emily move her hands while she kisses them?" method, it is clear that Doug and John are next to go and Arie the "I used to get it on with your best friend" race car driver is going to be engaged to Emily at the end of the show. They should just cancel the rest of the season and start Bachelor Pad early.
Brandon (Real World, Kang), 24 points: The Real World draft was a lot like the NBA draft. There was a surefire first pick and the rest was a crapshoot. What made Brandon a lock? Oh, I don’t know, how about the fact that in the first day at the house he fell for one of his roommates, revealed that he is a recovering drug addict, jumped in the hot tub naked (20 points), got super slammered (4 points) and wrote, “KILL ME KILL ME KILL ME KILL ME KILL I WANT TO DIE” in his journal. The same journal that he left out on the table in the open for everyone to find and read.
Suicide isn’t funny, so I am just going to move on here, cool? Cool.
Carole (Real Housewives of New York City, Connor), 10 points: Carole spent the first segment of Real Housewives of New York City talking about how she is a journalist and being all, "I think journalists aren’t like other people, they aren’t scared of the things that other people are afraid of." Then she went back to filming her reality show that documents the infighting among Upper East Side privileged housewives who lunch for a living. Journalism. [Editor's note: You're obviously doing it wrong, Jacoby.]
Jeff With One F (The Bachelorette, Lisanti), 5 points: Every week, Jeff With One F manages to make out with Emily (5 points) and does something that I really want to make fun of him for, but I feel like it isn't OK to joke about. So I have decided to start a new running series here at the GRTFL. Things Jeff With One F Said This Week, Presented Without Commentary:
Emily, asking about his parents: Have they ever not liked someone that you dated?
Jeff With One F: Yeah.
Emily: Really? What happened?
Jeff With One F: I broke up with her.
Emily: Because of that?
Jeff With One F: Pretty much, yeah.
(This whole "without commentary" thing is much harder than I thought.)
John Just Call Me "Wolf" (The Bachelorette, Connor), 5 points: John Just Call Me "Wolf" scored some points for one of those Emily kisses where she doesn’t move her hands (5 points), which is basically the kiss of death. And he also made a pretty pathetic confession to Emily about his dating history:
The last girl I was in love with ... cheated on me the day after our one-year anniversary. It is like a crazy story, like, she turned her phone off for three days when she cheated on me. She said she was going to happy hour with her girlfriend ...
Over at the Grantland headquarters, there is a community of Bachelorette aficionados who talk about the show all day on Tuesday, while the rest of the office Gchats insults about us to each other. This week, Bill raised his voice and declared, "You have to put this in your column! There are four things you can’t do if you want to win The Bachelorette. You can’t admit you were married, you can’t admit you have a kid, you can’t admit you have no job, and you can’t tell some story about what some woman did to you that makes you look like a total loser." I'm putting this in the column because he is the "boss" or whatever, but I don’t think this is a well-thought-out strategy. What happens if you win and get engaged and you have been lying the whole time? Do you have to disown your child? Hide all evidence of your marriage? Go to a fake job every day? However, I do agree about the whole "you can’t tell some story about what some woman did to you that makes you look like a total loser" thing. No lady wants to marry the guy whose ex-girlfriend turned off her phone so she could have a three-day cheat-a-thon. That guy is a loser.
Ramona and Sonja (Real Housewives of New York City, House and Kang), 5 points each: Sonja and Ramona were this week’s sacrificial "we should argue or else this show is just about what we are wearing and what we ordered for lunch" couple. They got into it about ... wait, I forget. I don’t give a shit what they were arguing about, but I do want to make fun of Sonja for acting like she has the responsibility of the secretary of Defense while she doesn’t have a real job. The following is a list of things that Sonja actually said while breakfast was delivered to her in bed by her intern:
"I am still sharp. I still know the difference between the dog pills and my pills.” [Doesn’t everyone gauge their intelligence by how well they can sort their various prescription pills?]
"I’ll need my chocolate bar to get me going. Because I have a call today. I have calls." [Whoa! More than one phone call? In a day? You’re right, girl, you DO need a chocolate bar.]
"C’mon, single mom, hurricane, dog got hit by a car, two out of seven toilets plugged, doing my own electrical around here, changing light bulbs, I got a toaster oven coming out …" [Read that whole thing again. For real, read it. Can you imagine she still finds the time to breathe with all that toilet unplugging, light-bulb changing, and toaster-oven development she has to do? This woman must never sleep. Also, must poop a lot.]
“I am even tired of listening to myself ramble.” [I hear you, Sonja, hence: End of the column.]