The transition from summer to fall is a drag. The days get shorter and cooler (the worst), students have to go back to school (sucks), and you realize that your next “vacation” is home for the holidays (a push). While actual, ya know, life downgrades a bit at this time of year, reality TV gets better. WAY better. Next Wednesday we have the return of America’s fifth major sport, The Challenge, CBS trotting out ol’ favorite Survivor, and MTV holding a wake for Jersey Shore.
Yes, there is much to look forward to — but there's also a wealth to look back on. Bachelor Pad held a finale this week that made me rethink my place in the world. Quick, let’s get to the top scorers.
Nick and Rachel (Bachelor Pad, Connor and Kang), 5 and 30 points, respectively: The best art stays with you. It makes you think, makes you question your place in the world.
The finale of Bachelor Pad was just that ... art. I’m still talking about it and I still don’t know how I feel about it. If you didn’t see the show, or read Lisanti’s homage, you’re in luck — because I am about to hash out my feelings about what occurred right here and now. First, the vitals:
Who: Bachelor Pad Finalists Rachel (the weepy widow) and Nick (the brute mute).
What: The Bachelor Pad finale prisoner’s dilemma. The two “winning” finalists each choose whether they want to “keep” or “share” the $250,000 prize. You know the deal; both choose “keep”? No one gets anything. Both choose “share"? $125,000 apiece. One chooses “keep” and the other chooses “share”? The one that chooses “keep” takes home the whole quarter million.
When: Who cares?
Where: Who cares?
Why: The reason we have to go through all of this and to take a side on this issue is because where you stand on Bachelor Pad finale says a lot about your morals, your ethics, your compassion, and basically whether or not you have any value as a human being.
Now, Rachel chose to “share” the prize and Nick chose to “keep” the prize. This meant that the entire (pre-tax) quarter-million went to Nick. After this revelation, Rachel felt betrayed and Nick felt like Nas when he recorded “The World Is Yours.” In order not to lead the jury, I am going to present their best, self-made cases without commentary:
Nick Before Revealing He Was Going to Keep the Money:
“I think it is really funny — not “Ha-ha” knee-slapping funny, but ironic. That nobody sitting up there in the cast, nobody sitting in this audience, and nobody sitting at home ever would have put their money on me to be here and win this. Um, honestly. They really wouldn’t have, even you wouldn’t have [points at host Chris Harrison] ... I got here by myself and I did this all myself. Rachel never wanted to be my partner. She didn’t. And, as a matter of a fact, she told me that she backed into this partnership and she tried to leave on me three times. [turns to Rachel] You tried to leave on me three times knowing that it would screw me over ... Never once did you say, “Yeah I am going to stick it out for you, Nick.”
Rachel in One of Those Amazing Broken-Fourth-Wall Backstage Arguments With Nick (5 points apiece):
Rachel: “Nick, we have been talking the last few weeks.”
Rachel: “That is so deceitful ... ”
Nick: “It is not deceitful ... ”
Rachel: “Yes it is. Two days ago we had a conversation where you vowed that you would share this money and I did too. I gave you my word and that means a lot.”
Nick: “I have to go, Rachel.”
Now, whose side are you on? The guy that no one liked/talked to/cared about and got what he feels he deserves — albeit with a little collateral damage? Or the woman that had her heart broken on the show (long, boring story) and then had a man break his word to her in the finale (and scored another 25 points I don’t feel like describing)?
There's a great case to be made for both, and after watching the show the first time I sided with Rachel. Nick was on the phone with her two days before the taping and lied right to her. It's hard to look in the mirror and say, “Yeah, I am with that guy — the one that lied to his partner so he could win $250,000 instead of $125,000.” But after watching it a second time (don’t judge), I flipped. Here’s why. Nick’s run on Bachelor Pad was the perfect reality TV performance for a normal human. Allow me to explain:
Everyone has thought about being on reality TV. I am not saying you want to be on reality TV. I am not saying you would be on reality TV — I'm just saying that you've thought about it. (You fucking have to stop lying to yourself right now.) When you briefly play out that little daydream in your mind, you think about how you aren’t like the rest of the idiots. You’re different: smarter, classier, and sharper. How would your superiority come across, though? How could you avoid getting caught up in the politics, melodrama, and bullshit that is the fuel to the ratings fire? The best-case scenario would be to stay above the fray, lay low, don’t give the editors an opportunity to make a fool of you — and then, at the very end, flip the script and win the whole thing.
That is exactly what Nick did. Did he look like a jerk at the end? Sure. But he was only a jerk to those that were a jerk to him. Were you to find yourself in the midst of a reality TV show competing for a cash prize, wouldn’t you want it to finish with you double-dicing everyone that doubted you and walking offstage backward with the cash and both middle fingers in the air? You would. And that is why, after a week’s consideration, I am siding with Nick.
Do I think he is a strategic super-genius that Keyser Söze’d the whole game? Hell no. He is a total meathead fool that got lucky. Good for him.
Sonja (Real Housewives of New York City, Kang), 40 points: The running theme/argument (2 x 5 = 10 points) that wouldn’t end on this episode of Real Annoying Ass Housewives of New York City was “Aviva ruined 'Girls' Vacation' by bringing her husband.” Aviva kept throwing it in Ramona and Sonja’s face that the only reason they didn’t want her husband there was because they didn’t want witnesses of the two of them getting inslopsicated (10 points), naked (20 points), and coitusy. Aviva thought this was a violation of “Girls' Trip” code: “Hearing Sonja refer to this trip as a girls trip, knowing that she had brought home at least one man and had sex with him, was putting me over the edge.”
Wait ... what? Ladies, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the point of “Girls' Trip” to get slammered and take home hot foreign dudes? Anyway, Sonja isn’t always the best with words, but she ethered Aviva with this finishing move before walking away from the argument: “Let me tell you something! My mouth is money. You’ll see where your ass ends up. What comes out of my mouth, you can bleeping sell it. I DON’T BULLBLEEP! I have been around a long time, bitch. I’m old. I have a lot of friends. I have credibility. I work my ass off. I work my ass off!”
Carole (Real Housewives of New York City, Connor), 25 points: I asked my wife an impossible question: “Which housewife on this show do you hate the most?” That was yesterday and I don’t think she has spoken or even moved since. She had some sort of metaphysical breakdown and I am starting to get worried.
If you flip it around and ask, “Which housewife on this show do you hate the least?,” the quick and easy answer is Carole. Sure, she may get emo and cry from time to time (5 points), but she's super chill, stays out of the fights, dates bassists, goes topless (20 points), and is a fucking princess. A real-life princess. I have no idea what she is doing on this show.
Oh wait, yes I do! Using it to sell that stupid book and screenplay that she won’t shut up about. Look, I didn’t say I liked her, I said I hated her the least. Fact.
Jaclyn (Bachelor Pad, Jacoby), 20 points: Jaclyn and Rachel are great friends in the fascinating underworld that is the ex-Bachelor(ette) community. These people have a shadow religion that is more confusing than Scientology. They share secret online chat rooms, meet-ups, and, I'm sure, a handful of common communicable diseases. The bond that Rachel and Jaclyn have formed in this creepy community made Jaclyn stick up for Rachel (5 points), cry when she apologized (5 points), and forgive her for voting her off only to be double-diced by Nick. (Snicker.) She also did some more crying (5 points) and arguing (5 points), but I don’t remember what about. All I remember is saying to myself, “It looks like her head was put on the clothesline and her facial features went through the dryer.”
I feel terrible for writing that. Let’s move on.
Trey (Real World, Simmons), 20 points: Trey cried (20 points) when the girl that he was cheating on his (maybe) pregnant girlfriend with flew away to her hometown. Then his (maybe) pregnant girlfriend wasn’t there for him when he landed in his hometown, and she broke up with him. None of that matters. What matters is he wore two collared, short-sleeved, button-up shirts to the finale. WHO WEARS TWO COLLARED, SHORT-SLEEVED, BUTTON-UP SHIRTS AT THE SAME TIME? Clearly, the man is a psychopath.
Blakeley (Bachelor Pad, Simmons), 10 points: Realizing that the window of fame was rapidly closing and this was his last chance to get a free ring, Tony proposed to Blakeley on the finale of Bachelor Pad. She cried (5 points; she also got 5 fighting points) and said “yes.”
Here’s the thing: Blakeley is not the right girl for this dude. VIP cocktail waitresses that are 13-year Hooters veterans from urban areas don’t end up with loggers. They just don’t. It doesn’t work that way. It’s cute at first and everything, but she will spend the next two months convincing herself that she is happy with him in Oregon and then one day look in her closet and see the ol’ polyester Hooters shorts and think of the good ol’ days when she was opening velvet ropes and getting groped while slangin’ wangs and say to herself, “You know what, self? I know it is shallow and everything, but men pawing at me every night while they are out with their friends makes me feel like a woman. Waiting for my logger to come home and take me out for the walkabout soup of the day at Outback does not. Later, Oregon.”
Over/under February 18, 2013.
Ramona (Real Housewives of New York City, House), 10 points: Ramona was involved in all the drinking (5 points) and arguing (5 points) that her PNC Sonja did. She just didn’t blow-dry her entire body before leaving the house like Sonja did. Why would you blow-dry your entire body? Why? Are you cold? Do you like wind? Does it dry your sweat? What is your deal? Can’t lie, I'm trying it when I get home.
Stags (Bachelor Pad, House), 10 points: Stags was all lovey-dovey with Rachel while he was at the B Pad, but at the finale we found out he had a wifey back home the whole time. Jaclyn (5 points) and Rachel (2 x 5 = 10 points) were all “Don’t lead her on, you’re a bad guy, Stags” about it. Do they not know that you can raaaatle the cage but the animmaaaaaaal staaaaaaaaays? How could they not know that?
Aviva (Real Housewives of New York City, Simmons), 10 points: Aviva got in a couple arguments for reasons already explained. No lie, at the end of this episode, the only moment in the history of this program when they all came off as likable occurred when they spontaneously jumped in the pool with their clothes on after dinner. I saw that and said to myself, “That's a nice way to go out. I hate this show and all these women, but you know what? That is a nice moment in time full of smiles, bonding, and nudity — what more can you ask for? Great finish.”
Then I heard the words, “Next time on Real Housewives of New York City ... ” It was like getting a ticket for jaywalking the second after being released from Riker’s.
Laura (Real World, Lisanti), 5 points: As expected, Laura spent the entire last episode crying over Trey (5 points) and, as promised, I spent the entire reunion trying to see how cocainey Brandon looked.
He looked VERY, VERY cocainey. I hope he figures his shit out.
Next week we have The Challenge. If you think we aren’t doing something special on the Grantland Channel in honor of it, then you just don’t know me that well. Keep an eye out and have a groovy weekend.