Lately, we've been really digging Twitter-feed field reporting. Remember when Kyle Ayers documented a couple breaking up on his rooftop? As concerned as we are over the NSA, we can't help but spy on each other whenever we're commingling in public places. Eavesdropping now belongs to tweets-or-it-didn't-happen territory, even though Twitter proof is flimsy at best.
Take, for example, Elan Gale. Gale is a producer (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, and let us not omit Cookin' With Coolio) who has had some fun with us in the past, live-tweeting a blind date that never actually happened. Our memories are short (the date-that-never-was occurred in 2012), so we all gullibly gobbled up his latest adventure last weekend, in which he engaged in a battle with a woman named Diane on a delayed plane. (The saga has been Storified for easy consumption.) Gale started typing when Diane began bickering with a flight attendant ("Today is Thanksgiving! I'm supposed to be with my family. NOT with you people I barely know!"); soon after the plane took off, Gale decided to ramp up the drama by making this into an interactive adventure. He sent Diane a glass of wine paired with a passive-aggressive note, then delivered two snack-size bottles of vodka to her seat. Diane responded with her own note, calling Gale "an awful person with no compassion," which led to Gale retaliating by describing Diane to his 160,000-plus followers as "wearing mom jeans and a studded belt and [...] a medical mask over her idiot face," asking the US Airways Twitter account to "remove her" from the plane, and following up with another missive, this time closing with "eat my dick."
You may remember Courtney Robertson — model, #winner, onetime future Mrs. Ben Flajnik — as the most hated Bachelor contestant of all time. We here in Grantland's Reality TV department remember her as the shining, singular example of reality-show perfection, an endlessly surprising villain who also happened to pitch no-hitters week after week, or whatever sports analogy works best here. Usually on these sorts of shows you are either the bitch who gets a ton of screen time or the winner, but never, ever both.
I’m not going to lie to you: This is the GRTFL offseason. Normally The Challenge is the tentpole that shelters us all from the reality that there isn’t much reality in August, but this week was uncharacteristically snoozy. No one killed it, no one coitused, no one was found guilty of possession of a concealed erection. It was such a down episode that they did the whole “We know this episode was flat, but here is what's in store for the rest of the season just to remind you that this show is bitchin'” montage at the end. More on that later.
But just because The Challenge is the only show I'm scoring with our foolish rules, it's not the only show I am watching. So, I would like to take a second to toss out a few other lowbrow options for your viewing pleasure. None of these shows is going to make you smarter, enrich your life, or benefit you in any way beyond an hour in which you don’t have to use your brain. And let’s be honest, using your brain sucks:
Yesterday, we began our links by chastising the Internet for all it's done to impair our enjoyment of all other sacred media, so today let's kiss and make nice. Go ahead and adjust your VCR tracking so as best to enjoy this guide to the Internet for kids, a nice 1997 vintage with a fizzy body and notes of apple and those deliciously long '90s mom-skirts. Your trusty guides, the Jamison family, have just discovered the Web and its "whole world of exciting new possibilities," like e-mailing President Clinton and futzing around with Netscape Navigator. Check out those sick "chat lines"! A/S/L? Actually, '97 kids, maybe just go back to watching Kenan & Kel for the next few years and check back when you're not so abductable.
The Bachelorette had her heart broken, made out with a couple people, broke some other dudes' hearts, fell in love with someone else, and then got engaged all in the course of a week on a Caribbean island. She basically went on spring break. It seems like the episode aired a decade ago and I have emotionally moved on, but I can’t lie: While I was watching the finale on Monday night, at least twice I said to myself, “I have no idea what is going to happen. This is riveting.”
It was. It isn’t every day that you get to watch someone find true love — then get engaged to some other dude.
In all these months of link dumping, it looks like we've never directed any traffic to the new Myspace. What a tragic error! Today, that changes: Myspace has a long history of friendship (it's the place for it, after all) with The O.C., and today the site featured a discussion of "every song that soundtracked the show," volume one of seven. You better do your horizontal scrolling warm-up before you even think about tackling it; if you've ever spilled a beverage on your touch pad, however (not that anyone would ever be so stupid, so horribly stupid), you're out of luck. Damn it, new Myspace! Here's a summary: Rooney, Joseph Arthur, Doves, Rufus Wainwright and every song that ever mentioned California appear.
With a brokenhearted Bachelorette, battle-rapping rivals, and mortuusequusphobia, reality TV killed it this week. The Challenge provided its usually oddity and idiocy, but The Bachelorette really exceeded expectations. It was emotional, it was shocking, it was weird, it was genuine — I have watched it four times and I still have no idea what the hell happened.
Fine, I watched it twice. But whatever, four sounded more impressive. Let’s get to it.
With all of the discussion in the past week about Sex and the City (see: Emily Nussbaum's piece in The New Yorker, which spawned this response and some ongoing discussion), it seems fitting to examine the host of our currently airing love-for-sale vehicles, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Above, Chris Harrison proves that he's the worst wingman ever, the kind of guy who can sow seeds of doubt in even the most optimistically romantic heart. *Ding ding,* that's a fork on a champagne glass heralding the arrival of a love-squasher. Who's going to throw together a SATC-Harrison mash-up in which he pops up to remind Carrie and her friends to ask the profound question, "Hmm, like what if?" I would totally watch Berger as a bachelor.
What looked like a light week in the GRTFL schedule turned into a trap game: Sure, The Bachelorette ground to a near-halt with the “Men Tell All” special, but The Challenge hit with the force of 1,000 sharknados. This week’s episode featured hetero and homosexual hookups from Marlon, Trishelle’s belief that being African American and Jewish are mutually exclusive, and TJ reconfirming his hatred of quitting, quitters, the word "quit," the song "2 Legit 2 Quit," and even quilts by proxy. It was glorious. We have to start with Trishelle, though; she was so Trishelley, let’s just say no one is going to recruit her for the debate team.
I don’t think of the people on The Challenge as actual real-life human beings. In my mind they spontaneously materialize every 10 months in some foreign country in the latest Under Armour gear and start drinking and arguing. The idea that Jasmine files taxes, Paula Walnuts goes grocery shopping, and CT has an employer just blows my fucking mind. I was reminded of this odd reality because my pod partner Juliet and I had the pleasure of hosting Frank The Alcopsychoholic at the Grantland studio yesterday. Not only is Frank an actual real-life human being, he is smart, charming, and has a earnest understanding of how he is portrayed and perceived. After a couple hours of listening to Frank rationalize his behavior, you almost forget how he earned the moniker Frank The Alcopsychoholic in the first place — almost. I mean, he did get slammered and try to fight CT this week. No truly rational real-life human would try to fight CT.
CT and Marlon are drownstrangling each other in the pool while Jemmye is double-fisting drinks and Tyrie is blacked out butt-naked on the toilet.
THE CHALLENGE IS BACK!
The "America’s Fifth Major Sport" moniker may have been born in jest, but as every season passes it feels more accurate. Think about it: They fly to locations around the world to face off against a consistent group of competitors for cash prizes. How is this any different from tennis or golf? They work in teams, they have specialties and complementary skill sets. How is this any different from the NBA or baseball? They are super violent and suspiciously muscular. How is this any different from the NFL? Until the rest of America fully embraces it as the legitimate sport that it is, it is up to us at Grantland to cover it as such.
Barcelona, previously known for all the Gaudí architecture and its popularity with American undergrads, will now be remembered as the city where James tried to counter-accusate. Drew and Kasey finally told Des about the wrong-reasons conversation between Mikey T. and James. Des was forced to question everything about James and even began resenting the guys for burdening her with the truth. The guys spent their down time sitting very close together in various communal spaces, worrying about or arguing with James. Nonetheless, Des wouldn't let the drama derail her quest for love. Barcelona also appears to be the home of the street makeout and women's cropped leather jackets.
Why he'll win: Because Des took him to her room in the middle of the group date. Chris's rise has been swift and breathtaking, and all of the other guys should be terrified. In the middle of the group date, Des leads Chris away from the group, explaining, "I need to show you my room!" Unless you are trying to sell your home to Chris, or your room was just remodeled, you definitely don't need to show him your room. It's not even really your room, Des. Then, while lying on her bed, she read the (rhyming!) poem that she had written for him, matching Chris's gift to her last week. If Chris doesn't win this competition, there is no hope for the future of arts and letters in our society.
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!