The deck might initially seem stacked for Ashley, the dental hygienist, because our baby Bachelor really showed his hand early by revealing that he'd "like to get the big girl." But we've seen enough seasons of this franchise to know that it's still anybody's game at this stage, and it'd be unwise to put all your dinosaurs in Ashley's basket just yet. Watch out for Franki. She's clearly playing to win.
It is with heavy heart and churning stomach that we pass along the most gut-punchingly tragic development of the 2013 television season: Bachelor Pad will not be returning this summer for an expected fourth cycle of booze-guzzling, hot tub–tainting, trust-obliterating shenanigans.
The news, since confirmed by a bummed-out EW, was first delivered not with a bang, but with a whimper by Mike Fleiss, the mastermind behind the The Bachelor family of reality TV products:
Survivor may be in its 26th season, but this week's episode showed no signs of fatigue. I suggested a few theories about what could have motivated Jeff Probst's intense back rub of Brandon Hantz, and Jacoby ably analyzed them to determine what was really going on. Of course, any discussion of people touching led directly to the Bachelor finale, which featured at least one "I love you" Sean Lowe must already regret. Somehow, we still had energy to once again profess our fondness for Yolanda on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, mention a few Weird Watches, and remember reality shows past. Enjoy!
With The Bachelor finale this week, you would assume Sean The Boring Bachelor’s big decision would be the lead of this column. I mean, it has to be, right? What could possibly have happened in reality TV that would top Sean The Boring Bachelor finally choosing his partner for life/three more Us Weekly covers? What human act could be more significant than pure ForeverLove? Only one human act can trump ForeverLove, and that act is ... a back rub.
We hate to say we told you so, but the uncomfortable fact of the matter — a fact that once again validates the ruthless efficacy of our Bachelor School learning program — is that we were right. We told you after the premiere episode, and we're reminding you now — not for ego-gratification purposes, but out of our solemn commitment to helping you win that final rose at all costs:
Don't wear a wedding dress on your first day.
It's the simplest of lessons. When you step out of the limousine delivering you to the threshold of Bachelor Mansion, wear anything but a wedding dress. Even now, the morning after Sean chose his ForeverLove, you might wrongheadedly question the logic of this rule, dismissing us as a rose-petal-devouring Cassandra while thinking, That wedding dress got Lindsay noticed. She made it all the way to the finale. Seems like it worked.
This week, it was just me and Grandma. No friends. No wife. Just us. Grandma was fired up — taking her position on the couch around 7:15 p.m. Around 8:15, she grabbed her cane and scrambled to the back of the house in a panic, thinking that we had missed the first 15 minutes. When I explained to her that we were recording the show, she gave me a look that said, “I don’t care if you are recording it, The Bachelor is on, and we’re watching it now.”
Well, Grandma was right. Women Tell All shows are always kind of a drag — the only real joy is in evaluating exactly what type of “I just got dumped on national TV so I need to change up my look” adjustments the women made to their hair. But this season’s show had a moment — a transcendent accusation that severely damaged Sean’s reputation as Mr. Perfect-Bring-Home-to-Mom and totally cemented one bachelorette's reputation as that of a hot, obsessive, uber-organized alien cyborg. It was so fucking good.
Kim Kardashian Adjusts to Pregnancy: "Kim is well aware that she's famous for her amazing body and had no idea that pregnancy would change it so much." She probably thought she'd have a cute lil' pregnant belly, like her petite sister Kourtney did during her pregnancies. Kim has been "looking at old pictures of herself on her computer and phone for literally hours at a time, pining for her prepregnancy body. She is seriously melting down!" She's been posting even more photos of her old bod than usual for "Throwback Thursday" on her Instagram. A "celebrity weight coach and body expert" named Alicia Hunter says that Kim "looks like she's put on an insane amount of weight in such a short amount of time." She estimates that Kim has gained close to 70 pounds, instead of the 25-35 lbs. recommended. Kim knew that she would get bigger, but "she never expected such a drastic transformation so early on." Secretly she's "desperate to stop gaining so much weight" and it's making her depressed. "She cries every other day, and she's scared to see how big she'll get." While Kim is "grossed-out by her body, she's become obsessed with food." Her cravings take her to Pinkberry nearly every day. "She thinks it's healthy, but it's full of sugar." But, yogurt!
Congratulations! If you find yourself on a two-tiered stage, surrounded by gently flickering candles, a studio audience comprised almost entirely of women, and the faint, metallic whiff of blood in the air, you have nearly completed your journey through The Bachelor's brutal emotional gauntlet. Yes, this means that you failed to find your ForeverLove, but if we're being honest — and in our dual roles as educators and life coaches, honesty is imperative — your chances were never that great; consider the "Women Tell All" special your near-victory lap, or a final consideration of the potentially horrific possibility that you almost found yourself staring down the barrel of a loaded Neil Lane jewelers box.
Let's break down the "Tell All" round and learn what we can before next week's finale.
The fantasy suite on The Bachelor is a perplexing proposal for the ladies: On one hand they know that this night alone with The Bach is the make-or-break moment that can lead directly to accepting a ring on the engagement platform; on the other hand they don’t want to look easy. The way that every contestant in the history of this program has decided to play it is to give the “I don’t normally do this” speech. Hearing or giving the “I don’t normally do this" speech is as much a part of single life as frozen pizza. This week, each woman delivered her own spin on the “I don’t normally do this” speech and ended up accepting the invitation of the Virgin Bachelor. Oh yeah, one more thing: I'm totally not buying this “virgin” bullshit that the tabloids are selling, I honestly think Sean is just so boring that the only story line that ABC flacks could conceive was to play up his boringocity to the point where it was front-page news.
In previous seasons, Fantasy Suite Week was serious contestants' last chance to prove their betrothal-readiness, a punishing carnal gauntlet of roiling hot tubs, thousands of menacingly dripping candles, and rotating water beds overlooking vistas so awe-inspiring that one wouldn't be surprised if the Lord Himself parted the sublime twilight skies to extend a hand down from Heaven and offer a thumbs-up to their marathon lovemaking sessions. This year, however, our Bachelor has torn up the sexual playbook; a "born-again virgin," Sean Lowe decreed, again and again, his nonpenetrative intentions for the now-rechristened Cuddling Suites.
To say the least, this is a challenging situation for a competition in which the cardinal rule — especially in these high-leverage, late-and-close situations — has always been "PUT OUT." This year, there will be no putting out, no getting-it-in, no physical intimacy more intense than the most uncomfortably arid of dry-humps. And so you need our tutelage more than ever.
Hometown dates are back, Survivor is back, and most importantly, my Grandma-in-law is back to watch it all with me. Grandma wasn’t as talkative this week, but she REALLY enjoyed the double dose of The Bachelor that ABC served up for us Monday and Tuesday night. At the end of Monday’s episode, while Sean was being pressured to make a decision by his “boss” (that's what she calls Chris Harrison; I suggest you start thinking of him this way, too — it adds a great dynamic), Grandma started to feel bad for Sean: “He’s confused … he should join the organization where you have more than one wife and marry all of them.” Great call. I would love for one of the Bachelor seasons to end with The Bach standing in front of the final four women after hometowns and just saying, “You know what? I really like the vibe we have going here, and I think this could work. Why don’t all four of you immediately move into my place and just see where this takes us? Who’s with me?” That will never happen, because they only pick boring-ass Bachelors. How do they pick a guy who won’t have sex in the fantasy suites? Why do they do this to us? I really hope they overcompensate when casting the next Bachelorette and cast one of those girls who lives in Charlie Sheen’s koi pond. Who’s not watching that?
This Tuesday, Molly Lambert, Tess Lynch, and I convened in the hallowed studios of the Grantland Network, poured some freshly filtered water into those B.S. Report glasses, and kicked off our inaugural episode of the podcast that we're gonna call GrantlandW for now to talk about TV, the Internet, and other pop culture matters close to our hearts. We start things off with a (spoiler-free for the second half of the series) chat about House of Cards and the perennial Mara sister debate. Final verdict: We all love Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes, Rooney Mara is a great actress, and it's not a competition, guys. We also get into it with our alternating respect for and frustration with Girls and our even bigger frustration with the majority of the criticism about Girls. Is it our responsibility, as members of its titular gender, to support Lena Dunham's ever-controversial series, or should we hold it accountable the way we do other shows? Most importantly, have our feelings about Adam changed?
From there we somehow stumble onto a discussion of the 12th season of American Idol, and the line in the sand is drawn between Team Mariah and Team Nicki. We also discuss our mixed feelings about the highly addictive, highly suspicious Catfish: The TV Show and reminisce about the good old days when you didn't need Facebook to meet weird strangers off the Internet. Finally, we take a brief survey of our varying levels of apathy about the Academy Awards, which we may be too busy looking up exotic insects and stoner music videos on YouTube to care about.
Ah, the Hometown Visits: where red flags become screaming sirens, lingering suspicions become queasy-making realities, and skeptical strangers made uncomfortable by the presence of camera crews in their living rooms become potential in-laws cowed into offering their grudging blessings to a doomed union. Indeed, this is easily the most nerve-wracking week of the season for any contestant, surpassing even the pre-penetrative jitters of stepping gingerly into the virtue-melting maw of a Fantasy Suite hot tub; at least there's some predictability to how things will go down in that romantic ski chalet or poorly protected tent on the Serengeti, whereas each Hometown encounter offers the possibility of the total unraveling of a vulnerable new relationship. But as always, we are here to arm our knowledge-hungry students with the mind-ammunition they need to neutralize the known threats of The Bachelor's most perilous week.
Sean the Bachelor Is a Virgin: Despite one date where he "cuddled and made snow angels" and another involving "a catamaran ride to a private island," this season's The Bachelor contestant, Sean Lowe, is abstinent. As in "chaste." As in, he still has his V-card? "Sean doesn't want to have sex until he's married." Turns out he's a born-again virgin. "Though Lowe did have sex in college, he embraced religion in his twenties and no longer believes in premarital relations." Oh. Producers claim they didn't exactly know, but, yeah, right. "By the time Lowe whittled down the women to his final three, these potential wives were eager to pass first base." Normally, the fantasy suite dates are known for being sex marathons, "but instead of seducing them, Lowe revealed his idea of a fantasy: waiting until marriage." Oh. "The women didn't see it coming. They were disappointed." Hopefully, producers provided them with vibrators or something. "He had some pretty intense makeout sessions." A virgin who only ever wants to make out? Sounds like Taylor Swift has finally found her future husband.
When there's a feeling of inevitability to a long-expected result, there's a tendency to simply accept it and move forward, and pass up a moment of reflection that could yield valuable insights into the human condition. "Why bother thinking about what just happened?" you probably ask yourself, "if I've known the likely outcome for weeks?"
Because we have not gathered here to accept. We have gathered here to learn.