These Are The Best Things

Best might have been an overstatement

It’s OK, But in That Sociopath Sort of Way

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Everyone remembers exactly where they were for the most pivotal moments in their lives; what they were wearing; maybe even a sense memory like how it smelled. I was wearing a blue Ralph Lauren polo that I thought would make me fit in when I moved into my fratty college (it totally did). It smelled like rain when I de-boarded the bus on my first solo trip in Japan. And I was sitting in my living room, eating pretzels and Nutella the night I realized: Man, that Juan Pablo guy? Kind of an asshole.

There were four hours of The Bachelor last week. FOUR HOURS. Things I can do in four hours: Put off exercising for three and a half hours. Eat two meals. Tell Juan Pablo how much he sucks. But for Andi, that probably still wouldn’t be enough time, so let’s get down to a brief recap of El Bachelor meeting the family of four women whose names he’s only recently learned (but literally, that’s the only thing he knows about them).

Nikki’s Family: Nikki’s family is a delight. The way Nikki comes across on this show has not been particularly appealing. She seems funny, but like the mean kind of funny where she might tell me, “Oh my gosh, I love your dress, it really hides all of your problem areas.” But she’s in her element in her hometown visit, seeming much more down to earth than when she’s making steam come out of Clare’s ears. She takes JP to get some good ole southern barbeque, and I’m not going to dwell on it, but he says, “I had a blast eating Nikki.” They do some mechanical bull riding so Nikki can see how much of a man Juan Pablo is, but mostly so she can watch and think about eating him. They ride the bull together on the slowest setting, and I’m really not old enough to be watching this.

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Finally, they go to meet her family and they are just the cutest little things. They’re sweet and attractive and rich-seeming, and really, what more could you want from the family of one of your four girlfriends? Her dad seems like he might just be the most delightful man in the world and I find myself wondering if he’s single while her mom is still in the same camera shot. In addition to being precious, he’s also logical: he tells Juan Pablo that if he’s not 100% about Nikki at the end of this, he’d prefer he didn’t propose to her. But it’s her decision to make, and he trusts her to do right by herself. All signs point to this family having raised Nikki well enough to make the right decision here: GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE, THIS MAN IS POISON! We’ll see.

Andi’s Family: A real theme of these home visits seem to be the women wanting to test how tough Juan Pablo is. Maybe it’s because the type of woman who goes on The Bachelor who might also be the type to judge a man on his ability to provide for his family, and Juan Pablo’s job is technically getting Venezuelan baseball players to sign bats and then, like, FedEx-ing them back to Venezuela (or something). So, if Juan Pablo being able to successfully shoot a gun is what it takes for him to win Andi’s heart, by golly he’s doing to do it. And by “do it,” I mean he will hit the target once for every 900 times she hits the bullseye dead on with a 9mm. Juan Pablo, I’ll…make a man…out of yoooooou!

Andi’s family is much less precious than Nikki’s family, but much more entertaining, in the way that her dad hates Juan Pablo’s stinkin’ guts. Andi’s father’s name is Hy, he sits down to a man-on-man chat with a liquor drink and he asserts his dominance thusly:

“Is it Juan or Juan Pablo?”

“Uh…Juan Pablo?”

“Hmm…”

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El bachelor is el toast. When Juan Pablo asks Hy if he would accept him and Mija Camila into his family if he asked Andi to marry him. Hy is kinda like, Well, IF you stop dating the three other women you’re dating and IF you ask my daughter marry you, then MAYBE I’ll give you my blessing. Until then, beat it, asshole. To which Juan Pablo responds, “K, that’s great.” And it really was.

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Renee’s Family: Listen, let’s not talk about Renee. Renee is too nice and too normal; and looks too good in shorts and her eyes are too pretty; and her son is too precious and too mature to be dealing with any of this bullshit. And now she’s engaged! At least one engagement is going to come out of this train wreck. 

Clare’s Family: I just have to say this about Clare; I am living in absolute fear that she’s going to show Juan Pablo that DVD her dad made for her future husband before he died. Like, I can barely look at her without yelling at the TV: Don’t you show him that DVD, Clare – YOU GUARD YOUR HEART, CLARE!!! I don’t think she’ll show it to him; it’s just that she talks about the DVD so much and I can’t quite figure out why the editors would include those clips if it wasn’t going to come up at some point. I really can’t figure much out about this season, but I am totally clear on one thing: there is no successful marriage coming out of it, SO DON’T YOU EVER SHOW HIM THAT DVD, CLARE.

If I’m feeling this protective of Clare, a person I can barely tolerate listening to because she repeats everything she says three times with slightly different vocal infections – “I would say yes in a heartbeatin a heartbeat…in a heartbeat” [ed. note: if you have to repeat something that many times, you’re trying to convince someone of something, and it sure ain’t me] – then I totally understand how her five older sisters would be protective of her. But there are a few things I can’t understand, like why none of her sisters look anything like her, or why her mother looks like some sort of beautiful Latina saint, but her sister Lauren looks like she might murder someone by violent and unorthodox means. 

Clare can thank Lauren for one thing: making her seem WAY less crazy by comparison! When she said, “I’m not going to let you manipulate mommy,” I let out an audible “aguhghhah” [ed. note: you’re a grown ass woman, Lauren, enough with the “mommy” stuff]. When she stood up to hover over Clare and her mother while Clare tried to explain how she’d fallen in love, I became visibly afraid that she might lose control of her powers like Jean in X-Men: The Last Stand and just straight up incinerate everyone with her crazy eyeballs. But when she went in the corner and starting petting that dog like Dr. Evil and every once in a while whisper-hissing “hey, Clare” just so Clare knew she was there, I just had to fast forward the rest. I assume that no one died and Clare was eventually able to talk to her own mother in peace.

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Obviously, following the home visits, Renee went home, because Renee had fourth place written on her forehead from the moment she stepped out of the limo. But, I must say, it’s pretty shitty that they made her leave her son to go to LA or wherever, just to have to fly back to Florida the next day. But I’m very glad to know that she’s engaged so we can avoid any of this:

Obviously, following the home visits, Renee went home, because Renee had fourth place written on her forehead from the moment she stepped out of the limo. But, I must say, it’s pretty shitty that they made her leave her son to go to LA or wherever, just to have to fly back to Florida the next day. But I’m very glad to know that she’s engaged so we can avoid any of this:

Female Bachelor fans: “OMG, Renee should be the next Bachelorette!!!”

Potential dickhead Bachelorette contestants: “Uh, I was kinda, uh, hoping it would be, uh, Andi.”

Speaking of Andi, after she got over that whole “I’m ALMOST falling in love with Juan Pablo” thing, she turned out to be one smart, angry cookie.

A Brief Summary of All Non-Andi Events: Clare isn’t sure if she should accept JP’s invitation to the Fantasy Suite because Juan Pablo has put her under the impression that it’s her responsibility to make sure he stays in line for his daughter, because she’s some sort of Siren that he can’t resist, and she mustn’t force him to bring shame on his family with her seductress ways. But apparently four-year-old Camila will understand that Overnight week is different, so they can totally shack up this time, that’s well within the realm of Juan Pablo’s Book of Ever-Changing Doin’ It Rules. She tells him she’s loving falling in love with him, but she says it like a baby, so I don’t know if it counts.

Nikki wears only a bikini top while she rides horses with Juan Pablo, which is so illogical, I can’t trust anything else that happens on their date (except, I did appreciate that she didn’t even pretend to hesitate on whether she was accepting his Fantasy Suite invitation). But it’s just time to get down to it…

Things did NOT go well on Juan Pablo and Andi’s overnight. Or at least that’s what Andi thinks. Please take a moment to compare how each of them are feeling the morning after their Overnight:

Juan Pablo: Waking up this morning, I’m so happy about Andi. We had a great night together. We freaking talk and laugh for hours. Hours. Like, hours.” [ed. note: What did I say about the thrice repeat?]

Andi: Waking up this morning, I could not wait to get out of the fantasy suite. The fantasy suite turned into a nightmare. I saw a side of him I didn’t really like. The whole night was just a disaster. I hope he did not think that went well. I really hope he did not think that was a good date.

That’s what you get for having hope, Andi. APPARENTLY Andi had about 15 epiphanies in the Fantasy Suite last night and none of them were of the “taking her to a whole new level of being” variety, if you know what I mean. “There’s just no filter with him, and him having zero filter comes across as just him not really caring. He thinks that he can say whatever he wants to say and everyone’s going to laugh and still fall in love with him and it’s all fun and games. But it gets to a point where it’s just offensive.”

HOT DAMN, WHAT HAPPENED IN THERE???

Instead of recording a video to tell Juan Pablo how much she wants to marry him like the other girls, Andi records a video that basically says: I suddenly realized you suck, and my thoughts cannot be contained by modern technology, come talk to me in person…Ass Munch. [ed. note: Summarization by me.]

I was so sad when this happened to Des with Brooks, but I am so excited for it to happen to Juan Pablo. Because I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was that was so terrible about him — other than all the hair tucking and “it’s OK”-ing – until Andi eh-splained it to me. And, well, it’s pretty much that he’s all hair tucks and “it’s OK”-ing. He never asks her about herself, he only talks about how great he is, and when she tries to go deeper, he just goes in for more besitos. When she relays this message to him, he tells her “it’s OK.” She says, no it’s not OK. Because him being totally fine with her breaking up with him, when he was formerly considering asking him to marry her, means that he never really cared in the first place.

And he didn’t! This guy does not care. He doesn’t show a speck of emotion the whole time Andi is trying to sort out what the hell they’ve been doing for the last nine weeks that she’s been “missing weddings” and, you know, not being an Assistant District Attorney at age 26. Juan Pablo tries to prove that she probably doesn’t know anything about him either: “Well what religion am I?” “CATHOLIC” #lawyered

And the nail in the coffin, he tries to blame a “joke” about it coming down between Andi and Renee last elimination, and Andi being there by default [ed. note: I need some documentation of this Fantasy Suite conversation STAT!!!] on not knowing the word, “default.” “I don’t say ‘default.’ That word, default, out of my mouth is hard, because I don’t have that word. I say, ‘You barely made it here.’” Ohhhhh, Andi just must have misunderstood! He didn’t say she was a default! He just said she just barely made it here, WHICH IS SO MUCH WORSE! This guy is a douche hat.

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Andi hits the road to go be a smart, attractive woman elsewhere and JP wraps the breakup up thusly: “Am I disappointed? Maybe a little bit.” I will give Juan Pablo only the slightest bit of credit, which is, I don’t understand why Andi would have suffered through thinking all of these things, and presumably letting Juan Pablo tell her “it’s OK” in the Biblical sense, when she could have just told him all this when he was actually being a jackass, and maybe tried to work on it. But she didn’t. And it was helpful in showing her true colors. So, props to you, girl, I’ll see you on The Bachelorette.

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Clare, Nikki, I’ll see you two on the Final Rose, where neither of you will be winners, no matter the result.

Stay tuned for another picture grab of Women’s (Faces) Tell All (hint: it’s just going to be pictures of Kelly)

What Happens in the Ocean…(Ruins Lives, Destroys Families and Haunts You Forever)

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I’d like to lie and say I haven’t been keeping up with El Bachelor because I’ve just been Tom-Cruise-in-The-Firm levels of busy. And while that is true, and I am fearful that my employers might be plotting my murder because I just couldn’t follow the rules, really, it’s mostly because this season hasn’t been that interesting (save Sharleen the Harbinger of Reason and Kelly the Maddest Talker of Dog-Loving Smack there Ever Was). That is…UNTIL NOW. Dirty Ocean Sex!

Confession: I’ve been a total Juan Pablo apologist. I like to watch him as the Bachelor because he’s really not that good at it. It’s fun to watch him go dead in the eyes as soon as one of the women starts talking about her broken family or fear of being vulnerable, blah, blah, blah. The truest thing he’s said the whole season is that he doesn’t see this as a journey, but as an adventure (ahem, adventura). 

Journeys have end points. Journeys start with 25 women and end with an engagement; they’re a Point-A-to-Point-B-with-a-couple-of-helicopters-and-Southeast-Asia-excursions-in-between-type-of-thing. Adventures are just a little something cool to do. And if you happen to accidentally fall in love with a pediatric nurse along the way, that’s fine, but mostly it’s just **Woohoo! Besos! Making women who are scared of heights conquer their fears!** This guy is not here for the end game; he’s here to get famous, get laid, and hopefully not ruin anyone’s life in the process. He is failing tremendously. It’s awesome.

Let’s get into Monday’s episode of The Bachelor and see how much lady shaming we can accomplish before Clare propels herself into the Hell Cave:

  • Drink every time Kelly says exactly what you want to say, but she says it better and with a much a crazier look in her eye.
  • Shotgun a beer every time Juan Pablo has Dirty Ocean Sex with a woman and then blames her for bringing shame to his family. And then use that discarded beer can + a lock of his hair (email me for more details) to make a JP voodoo doll and we’ll all personally see to it that he never has Dirty Ocean Sex again.
  • Take the tiniest sip of your beverage every time a woman worries she’s not getting enough time with JP. Double drinks if JP secretly assures that woman she’s making it to Fantasy Suites because he wants do the nasty with her and not feel guilty about it, unlike the DOS situation.

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This week, the ladies are traveling from South Korea to Vietnam to meet back up with their very own Venezuelan Carmen Sandiego. They seem to be even more convinced that they’ll need kimonos here than they were in Korea, and yet, they’re still need 0% kimonos. Andi more or less says she’ll cut a bitch to get the next one-on-one, which of course, means it goes straight to Single Mom Renee!

Renee, not always one to let her emotions flow free, loses her mind and it’s pretty sweet to see someone that excited about going on a date. I usually feel a little more like I want to throw up, and try to reschedule at least four times before I go on a first date. But not Renee; JP gets her so excited “he makes [her] hands” hurt, which seems like some sort of innuendo I’m not old enough for yet. Cool your jets Renee, Juan Pablo will not be easing the yearning in your loins hands anytime soon. 

“I can’t wait to make her enjoy the day and meet the world.” – Juan Pablo (this includes sitting on a docked boat for roughly an hour)

Here’s what I like about Renee: she plays it real, real cool. She’s going on a date with a guy she likes? Cool. She wants him to kiss her and he doesn’t? Better luck next time. Producers make her wear an extremely form-fitting Vietnamese dress while she’s sweating her ass off? Sure, just make sure it compliments her eyes. She’s so laid back that she makes Juan Pablo seem interesting simply because he doesn’t spend 85% of their date reassuring her that the time he picked one of his other 10 girlfriends to talk to first on their polyamorous date doesn’t mean he likes her any less. I mean, that is totally what it means, but she’s not that worried about it.

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They pretty much only talk about their kids and being single parents, but that’s also the most engaging thing JP’s done all season. He’s always asking these women to open up to him, but when they do, it’s generally met with a hard Kardashian blink, and then a lot of stroking invisible locks of hair out of their faces. With Renee at least, he holds up his end of a conversation about the only thing he seems to know how to talk about in a semi-serious manner: Mija Camila. And now, Mijo Ben. 

After a pretty laid back one-on-one, ABC finally releases the women from their five star hotel cage and lets them explore Vietnam with Juan Pablo. Most hilariously, this includes him walking up to a local man and inquiring where he and his nine girlfriends of varying heights and appearances can grab some Vietnamese eats. The man eyes up the ten strangers and INSISTS! that they must come into his home, conveniently located behind him, harvest his garden and reap what they sow…or something. It all culminated in a deliciously fresh-looking meal, prompting Cassandra to say that we should really have these things (farms) in America. The road to becoming a 21 year old Former NBA dancer is not an agricultural one.

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Once they transition to the sitting-outside-in-dresses-on-chilly-evenings portion of the date, JP takes the opportunity to pull Clare aside first for some alone time, even though he’s been making out with her most of the day because she doesn’t have any friends and therefore got to be his paddle boat partner. Kelly says, “Clare knows what she wants and she’s here to get it. Can we hate her for that? I mean…yes, we can.” DRINK! Kelly is the best.

Juan Pablo takes Clare to his personal suite where she straddles him in his personal pool for the most of the group date. And even though he keeps not giving Renee any of his sweet, sweet nookie, he’s totally willing to make out with Clare. Kelly says maybe they should just go down there and give Clare the rose: “You think they’ve made it to second base yet?” Drink! I’ll miss that dead look in your eyes and your professional love of dogs when you’re gone, Kelly. KELLY!

How do you solve a problem like Sharleen? Well, Sharleen solves the problem of being in a really weird circumstance where she’s dating a man that she sees for about an hour a week by making out with him, tongue-first, every chance she gets. And if ever he pulls away, she just makes her face go totally slack and won’t talk to him until he makes out with her again. It’s an interesting strategy. It’s the strategy you use on someone that you don’t want to keep dating, but you don’t quite want to stop making out with either, because he’s a hot slice of Venezuelan pan. We’ve all be there; you get you some, Sharleen.

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After making out with Clare, and then Sharleen (but not Renee – never Renee), JP spoons with Andi on the beach while she complains about not getting to spend time with him, and then, “next thing you know, sucking face again…sorry mom.” You’re not sorry, Andi. But you will be when you realize you’re just the third tongue of the night. Clare, the First Tongue, gets the rose, and after everyone trucks it back to the hotel and sits on the same couch for a while pretending to be happy for her, she makes her Courtney Robertson play. Oh boy, does she make her Courtney Robertson play.

You see, Clare, who is from California, says she’s never been in an ocean. It’s one of her goals on what must be the easiest Bucket List of all time. Also included: going to a Chili’s; seeing a movie in a theater; and competing on a reality show. So, Clare sneaks out, circles back by JP’s suite, and asks if he might help her accomplish this innocent little ocean goal…at 4 a.m. Hasn’t anyone every told you nothing good happens after midnight, JP? Apparently not, because he says yes and takes Clare out to those mysterious Vietnam waters faster than you can say, “Don’t forget protection!”

The producers are not prepared with a lens to capture exactly what’s going on in the ocean, other than a lot of straddling. That’s kind of Clare and JP’s move. But here are some things that they say about their time together:

  • “Oh my gosh, Clare. She’s on fire…the waves were wild, but we got a little wild too.” - Juan Pablo
  •  “WE JUST WENT FOR IT. And I don’t regret it. Pure bliss in every way <suggestive eyebrow raise>.” - Clare
  • “You know when a baby giraffe is born and they have those wobbly legs…” – Clare #WHAT

So, I mean, say what you want after the fact, but those two heavily implied that they had Dirty Ocean Sex. They went into the water where the cameras couldn’t see them, did at least some form of The Nasty, and were very pleased with themselves, as one generally is after one has found a way around The Bachelor’s weird sex rules and finally gotten it on after what must be an uncomfortable amount of frenching. Remember these facts. They will not always seem so tried and true.

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After his definitely-sex-or-something-like-it romp with Clare, Juan Pablo takes Nikki on their one-on-one date. At one point he tells her he’s tired because he didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before. Because he’s an asshole.

Nikki is a lot more serious than I thought she would be when she was introduced as a pediatric nurse. I like her because she’s kind of mean and will say when she thinks something the show is making her do sucks. But she, uh, also doesn’t seem like that much fun. And what do you do with the not fun girls? Make them jump off shit!

Nikki, who is very afraid of heights, must rappel into a deep cave (called “Hell”) to prove her love for Juan Pablo. After he informs her of this very fun date activity, she stops being able to say any word in the English language except those of the f—- variety. It’s delicious, and I actually thought she might make it through the whole segment without making any “jumping into love” metaphors until…“I gather some courage and I take that first step. This is a lot like falling in love.” Damnit, Nikki, no it is not! But the man of her dreams is making her do this thing to prove her 3-week love for him, so…”I either live, or I die, or I poop my pants.” To be fair, those are not mutually exclusive; A or B could still very easily pair with C.

After a few mild panic attacks, they arrive at the bottom of the cave and share a sweaty kiss. I know it probably seems like I have a lot of problems with this show, but the only thing I can really never get past, is how they’re always making the women go on these sweaty first dates. No one is trying to show all their sweat cards right off the bat. That’s really more of a fifth date reveal when you’ve already hooked them with your witty repartee and sexual prowess (get as sweaty as you want, Clare).

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They have a fancy dinner where Nikki exposes all but one inch of her upper thigh and talks about how much she loves kids, and that’s really all it takes. “I’m liking her heart a lot…this is a potential wife right here.” Perhaps it’s a this point when Juan Pablo realizes that his future wife might one day watch him have Dirty Ocean Sex with another woman on the day before their first date – no, the day of their first date – and thinks it’s backpedaling time. Luckily, he has an entire cocktail party to ruin someone’s night and, potentially, ensure she’ll never trust a man again – “If you think you might be right for the next Bachelor, go to ABC.com to learn more!”

The remaining 11 women arrive to the beautifully lantern-lit cocktail party and Juan Pablo tries to chat it up with the group, but they’ve all recently realized they’re dating the same man, so it’s a little awk. He informs them that three women will be going home tonight and they very hilariously cut to Danielle who raises her eyebrows like, “Should I just go ahead and go? Or do I have to sit here and drink Moscato for the next six hours?”

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You’re in it for the long haul Danielle because JP has to give Andi little besos, tell Cassandra he likes her because she’s gorgeous, continue to be baffled and masochistically intrigued by Sharleen and…

…finally, FINALLY, kiss Renee. He keeps repeating the same sentiment over and over, that she has a son and he has a daughter and he wants to respect that. This is an awesome thing to say because it implies both that he has very little respect for most of the other women, AND that he’s not only going to let his six year old daughter watch this, but is also under the impression that Renee, a rational adult, will allow her eight year old son to watch a TV show where she’s a poor man’s Sister Wife. 

He says “I don’t want Ben to be pissed at you or pissed at me,” and Renee’s all, dude, my eight year old kid is never going to see this and if he eventually sees it when he’s older and we’re theoretically married, he’ll probably be more annoyed by all the funny business you’re doing with these other hussies. Convinced by that logic, and hypnotized by her eyes, JP goes for it while Renee is still talking and, well, it’s kind of romantic.

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It would be more romantic if he didn’t immediately proceed to shame Clare’s very existence in 5, 4, 3, 2…“That was the right moment to kiss Renee but…maybe it was a mistake the other night taking it too far with Clare.”

Yeah, maybe. But it’s not like you can take it back, so…oh, you’re going to tell her it was a mistake? You’re going to pull her aside and first ensure that she hasn’t told the other women (gross), and then tell her you shouldn’t have done whatever the hell you did with her in the ocean because you have a daughter and you needs to be respectful to her, mostly implying that Clare shamed your 6 year old by wanting to swim in the ocean with you? Cool. Clare falls to pieces and JP won’t stop telling her to look at him and stop crying. You know, how when you’re really upset, you like to look right at the person who’s upsetting you and have them tell you that your emotional response is inappropriate and unwarranted? And how it’s even better when you’ve recently been intimate with them? Romance!

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I don’t particularly like Clare, but I live for her eventually getting around to this point: “There was no miscommunication; there was no misunderstanding…if he didn’t think it was right, he shouldn’t have done it. I would have respected that.” Clare is a childless free agent, and she didn’t do anything wrong by luring Juan Pablo to sea with a simple request. If he’s feeling guilty, just deal with it like we all deal with things we wake up feeling bad about…a. don’t do it again, b. pretend it never happened, or c. decide that this is something your morality fence now encompasses. The latter is how I started watching this show in the first place. Shotgun beers for everybody.

Clare comes back sobbing uncontrollably, so everyone knows something is wrong, but the Rose Ceremony must go on. “Tonight the mood definitely changed. Things got tense.” Thank you Chris B. Harrison, I don’t know what we would do without your deft and ample guidance. Per his normal information delivery method, JP leads with, “What can I say?” Well, you could start with, “I’ve been a bit of a prick” and end with “I’ll be a better boyfriend for all of you – everybody gets a rose tonight!”

But he doesn’t. He sends Danielle, Allie and – NOOOOOOOO – Kelly home and they all handle it far too graciously. My vote is for Kelly to host the next season of The Bachelorette and talk mad smack about all of the bros competing for love. Wait — that’s the best idea I’ve ever had. I’m signing off with that (and the hope that Juan Pablo doesn’t ruin any more lives next episode).

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The Language of Love: Wow, she smells good!

Hola and lo siento for the delay, mijos; I’ve had to professionally recap things like Teen Wolf and The Real World all week, which are television programs about about teenage werewolves and hedonistic idiots, respectively. And by professionally, I mean I was technically earning money (but shaving years off my life and my pride) by watching shirtless man-boys turn into wolves. Because that’s how the world works now. Truly, these are the days of our lives!

And I’m sure this last week has been long for you too, as we’ve all be suffering from that hot and sexy disease that Chris Harrison so confidently deemed, Juan Pablo Fever. The symptoms: wavering between if you find someone incredibly attractive of incredibly awkward, illogical attempts at speaking Spanish, occasional rashes, of course, this face:

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Lest you try to forget that Juan Pablo is the sexiest damn Bachelor in 18 seasons, ABC will remind you at every turn. No lingering shot on his abs is to close, no force-feeding you his devoted paternity too blatant. They even seem to have given him a sexy job because, as I recall, his employment on Des’ season was “Former Pro-Soccer Player (secret Miami Club Promoter)” and now he’s a “Sports and Entertainment Consultant,” paling around with professional baseball players. What’s he consulting them on? Probably the language looooooove (and board shorts).

I’ve got to say, my hopes were lukewarm for JP’s stint as the main man in my life [ed. note: Yeah. That’s right. Two hours every Monday makes him the main one. Keep your judgmental and correct thoughts to yourself, thanks.], but…I’m kind of into it. He’s seems a little excited, a little weary, and mostly confused: just like I like my men. Juan Pablo tries to explain how he found himself wearing ABC’s pink v-neck, passed down from generation to generation: “I’m in this situation because America wanted me to be the Bachelor.” 

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What he means is that ABC recognized him as the 50 Shades of Grey to every other former bachelor’s generic beach read. He’s walking fanfiction for the people who have never heard of fanfiction. The lusting women who practically threw their panties on stage at Des’ Men Tell All episode don’t want another born-again-no-fantasy-suite Sean. They want the fantasy suite in episode three! And they certainly never wanted Ben Flajnik. Only Kris Jenner wants Ben. And, like, maybe Arthur the Aardvark in a moment of confusion.

No, JP is the new Bachelor and none of these women were disappointed when they heard the news. They googled “how to be a step mom,” re-upped their birth control ‘scrip and spent the whole plane ride to L.A. plotting how to make Juan Pablo fall in love with them: either by using his ESL language barrier to trick him, or by being completely charming in their first exit-the-limo introductions. All but about two of them will have to fall back on the language thing because, woof, those limo intros. But before we get to those. DRINK!

  • Every time Juan Pablo has sexual chemistry with someone who isn’t a contestant. Double drinks for dudes!

  • For every time JP says “Wow” do a pushup, just to even things out. Ha, just kidding, I would never want you to do that! Just, like, lick a beer can or something. Because if you take a sip every time, you’ll die. If you take a half sip, you’ll die. If you take a quarter sip, you might just make it out of this alive, but not without first calling your ex boyfriend and telling him you’ve moved on, his abs have nothing on Juan Pablo’s.

Before he can get started on his journey to lov—HOLD THE PHONE! Imma give you back the mic in a second, but Juan Pablo just threw out the biggest Bachelor change of all time. What about when Brad just didn’t pick anybody, you ask. Bigger, I say. What about when Sean went rogue and handed out his roses throughout the cocktail, party you ask. BIGGER, I say! Juan Pablo refuses to call this a “journey.” JUAN PABLO REFUSES TO CALL THIS A JOURNEY. If you’re going to ruin my whole life, why don’t you just do it to my face, JP?! The fact that he thinks of this more like an “adventure” than a journey just shows…this kid’s gonna get eaten alive.

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–– Back on the phone. JP calls up Sean the Former Bachelor (“Who else I was gonna call?”) to give him some love advice and I can’t focus on a damn thing he says because they’re so busy flirting with each other (drink!). Oh, you know how to tango, Juan Pablo? Maybe you could show me. How many of them did you kiss, Sean? Maybe you could show me. “I had a lot of hard nights where I couldn’t sleep, Juan Pablo.” MAYBE YOU COULD SHOW ME, SEAN!

That is only a very slightly altered version of events. After soaking up all the advice (and possibly ruining a marriage – sorry, Catherine, there’s always season 19 of The Bachelorette), it’s time for JP to put little Camiiiiiiila in her pa-yamas and go meet the 25 loves of his life. Wait, what’s that Chris Harrison? The 27 loves of his life?! Care to explain why you’re including two extra women? No? You’re right, why would you? This is your world, we’re just living in it. [ed. note: You’ll get yours one day, Chris Harrison!]

JP brings it in with CH (drink!) and tells him that he’s excited about his journ adventure but he’s a little nervous because he doesn’t like hurting people. Well buckle up, amigo, you’re about to meet the 27 most emotionally volatile people of your life:

Amy L, 27, Local News Reporter, wearer of this shirt: Amy L starts off an unusual trend of mostly straightforward introductions. No props, no knight’s armor, just awkward, awkward banter. It takes about four girls before Juan Pablo speaks above a whisper, 12 girls until he can remember to kiss them on the cheek without the producers reminding him from stage left, and he never quite gets the hang of not eye-effing the sh— out of every single one of them [ed. note: Excuse me, but it’s true.]

Cassandra, 21, Former NBA Dancer: Everything about Cassandra on paper screams train wreck. She’s 21. 21! Do you know what I was doing when I was 21? I can’t tell you because THOSE are the kinds of things you should be doing when you’re 21. You shouldn’t be trying to fall in love with a 31 year old DAD, no matter how smoking hot he is [ed. note: the Fever, it’s catching]. And how are you a former anything at 21? A former fetus, sure. A former founder of an iCarly fanblog, probably. A former NBA Dancer…well, that does actually seem to make for a good match with a Former Pro Soccer player on paper, but in real life, it means you’re both jobless. And that’s no way to raise Mija Camila. I say all of this because Cassandra makes no other impression except that she’s beautiful and awkward. The editors use the cricket noise and everything, because the editors are assholes.

Christy, 24, Marketing Manager: I’ve already put it on the table that I think Christy might be a homicidal stalker obsessed with Juan Pablo. Her subtle white-gown-and-tiara-like-headband bride motif do not dissuade me from that belief.

Christine, 23, Police Support Specialist: Christine is wearing a lovely green gown, is from Miami and brings a cute little present for Camila that she somehow presents non-awkwardly. She’ll have a stiletto through the heart within the hour.

Nikki, 26, Pediatric Nurse: Nikki is the one that asked about drunk dancing in her bio. Nikki is a nurse of precious children. Nikki uses this fact to have JP use a stethoscope on her, which actually means she innocently guides him straight into second base. Nikki is winner.

*WOW count: 10; JP’s thought-of-the-moment: “No more limos…”*

Kat, 29, Medical Sales Rep: Kat comes out, asks Juan Pablo to teach her some salsa moves, follows his lead and arranges a date for inside. Patti Stanger would be proud.  JP’s thoughts: “She smells good. Very good.”

Chantel, 27, Account Manager: I thought that Chantel and JP had a very just-friends chemistry, but the way he checked her out for a full 30 seconds as she walked away suggested otherwise.

Victoria, 24, Legal Assistant: Victoria wore a kick ass yellow dress, is Brazilian and tried to get JP to speak Portuguese. Turns out, two languages is his working limit.

Lucy, 24, Free Spirit: I can’t do it. What, with the flower headband and the no shows and the calling herself a hippie all the time? I don’t think that’s a thing that hippies do. And I don’t believe Lucy. You know why she gets to be a free spirit? Because her parents are rich! You SHOULD have some worries by the time you’re 24. You should be thinking about where your health insurance is coming from. Especially if you’re gallivanting around with no shoes on and probably having sex with a guy who’s having sex with 12 other women (I just know the fantasy suite will come earlier on JP’s season). I’m going to tell you what your best friend, Kate Upton, who HAS a job, won’t: get your act together.

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Danielle, 25, Psychiatric Nurse: Well, I’m glad we’ll have one of those on hand, especially considering the *This Season On* bathroom breakdown. 

Lauren S, 26, Music Composer: Lauren S. Fred Flinstones a piano up a very steep hill to show Juan Pablo her music passion. She’s so embarrassed about how poorly it goes that it takes the embarrassment-pressure off of my shoulders and makes me like her a lot more.

Chelsie, 24, Science Educator: Chelsie wears lab goggles (that are just fake Forever 21 hipster glasses) and pretends to do a science experiment with JP, but ditches it halfway through in favor of just “having chemistry instead.” They do not. 

Elise, 27, First Grade Teacher: Elise hugs Juan Pablo, tells him they have so much in common, and then immediately leaves. Always keep the tricks guessing, Elise!

Ashley, 25, Grade School Teacher: Ashley speaks in her first grade teacher voice the whole time but, frankly, I felt a touch reassured about my decision to invest two hours in Juan Pablo when she stuck a little gold sticker on his lapel and whispered, “I think you’re doing the right thing by being here and trying to find your wife.” That was, of course, immediately sucked out of me dementor-style with…

Clare, 32, Hairstylist: You may remember Clare as the hairstylist who said she’d never been on a vacation because she’s never made time with her job. I’m not saying that’s not a time consuming job. I’m saying you can take a vacation from any job. Even being a hairstylist. Especially being a hairstylist. Anyway, you actually don’t remember any of those things because now you only remember that Clare is the one that showed up looking like she was pregnant in her gown, and didn’t ever really assure Juan Pablo that it was a fake baby bump. I just knew she was going to pop a soccer ball out of there but, nope! She just walked away into her second fake trimester. And you know what? Juan Pablo LOVES it. Actual quote: “You look gorgeous with the belly.”

Alli, 26, Nanny: Alli plays a little fútbol with JP, but mostly looks simultaneously exactly like Eva Mendes, and nothing like her at all.

Amy J, 31, Massage Therapist: OK, all cards on the table, I’ll probably be single when I’m 31 too. There’s nothing wrong with it. You haven’t found the right guy yet, you’ve been focusing on your career, whatever. It’s fine. Amy J is the type of person who makes me lose all of my principals and think, “Ah yes, I see why she’s still single.” Amy J is terrifying. Beyond having an orgasm via her profession in her intro package, the main move of her limo introduction is to open her eyes as large as possible (so, huge), stare straight into JP’s ojos and say: “I’m here for you. Because it’s you. And I can’t wait to get to know you.” To both note that you have not gotten to know someone yet and in the same  breath tell them that they’re the one for you is a special breed of crazy: a Bachelor breed.

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Renee, 32, Real Estate Agent: Renee seems very sweet and she and Juan Pablo connect in that awkward latching-onto-any-single/divorced-living-soul way you might expect at a PTA meeting. But I really wish she would stop saying “single mommy.” Unless she’s saying “single mami,” in which case, totally fine.

Lauren H, 25, Mineral Coordinator: Lauren H’s first mistake: not immediately explaining what a mineral coordinator is. Her second mistake: everything she does once inside the house.

Maggie, 24, Personal Banker: Maggie is the type of person who has “American by birth, Southern by the grace of God” written in bubble letters somewhere in her house, and I just really don’t have a lot of time for it. Neither does JP, evidently.

Kelly, 27, Dog Lover: You guys, believe it or not, I dabble in the internet from time to time, and I read somewhere – although I’m unwilling to dig deeper – that Kelly is actually a dog rescuer and not just a general “dog lover.” But I still have to judge her for, a. Listing that as her occupation, and b. Not knowing that she was stealing the title from a much more famous doglover.

*WOW count: 300; random voice in the approaching limo: “Are you crying?”

Lacy, 25, Nursing Home Owner: Lacy brings JP a prescription and tells him to “take two and think of her.” I don’t like the implied date rape, but I do like that Lacy owns a nursing home at age 25. That’s a specific passion.

Alexis, 24, Communications Director: Alexis is very precious and seems to be a tipping point for Juan Pablo – “but she’s cute, too!” – when he realizes he can’t just judge this on looks alone. I mean, he can for like the first two eliminations, but this is a particularly attractive cast. Probably because they all look alike. [ed. note: ‘cept you Sharleen, we’ll get to you Sharleen!]

Kylie, 23, Interior Designer: Kylie is the problem with The Bachelor. That’s not to say that The Bachelor only has one problem; that’s to say that The Bachelor has 1,000 problems and every single one of them is personified in Kylie. She is 23 and already desperate to find love and/or fame. She is clearly a fan of the show and already so obsessed with Juan Pablo, a man she’s never spoken to, that she runs up to him, says, “Oh my god, I’ve been dying to hug you,” hugs him and runs inside without looking him in the eye, learning a single thing about him, or telling him a single thing about herself. Kylie is the worst.

Sharleen, 29, Opera Singer: Sharleen is everything right with The Bachelor. That’s not to say that there’s anything right with The Bachelor, that’s to say that Sharleen came on this show and made something right. She and Juan Pablo have the kind of conversation – you heard that right: a conversation! – that you might expect to have with a stranger the moment you meet them. I truly believe that Sharleen knows nothing about JP, in the same way that he knows nothing about her and they meet each other in a very honest moment. She’s kind of cold and awkward and beautiful; 4,000 more words on Sharleen to come.

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Andi, 26, Asst. District Attorney: I’m not sure how you become an Assistant District Attorney by the time you’re 26, but it’s probably not by being and intern when you’re 25, so I’m officially out of the running. JP turns into a 13 year old boy talking to his best friend’s older sister when talking to Andi. He’s, uh, very attracted to her. I didn’t respond well to her high-ponytail, high-power lawyer shtick in her intro package, but I like how natural she was in her limo introduction.

*WOW count: 2,600 [ed. note: j/k, that’s my word count]; Juan Pablo’s (I assume season-long) mounting anger at Chris Harrison: “How I’m gonna do this, huh? How I’m gonna send people home?”*

I like Juab Pablo as the Bachelor a lot more than I thought I would because he’s lot worse at it than I thought he would be. He’s bad at remembering names, the English as a second language, though charming, makes for a lot of awkward pauses, and he mostly seems attracted to the women who seem cool and smart and normal, and will make for terrible television. He’s totally creeped out my how much everyone’s eyes on him make him feel like a piece of meat, but he can’t stop thanking everyone for being there. Ever the club promoter, he even pulls out his Bose speakers for a one-groom-all-bridesmaids dance party. It’s pretty cute. 

And then the night drags on for what I’m sure is 10 hours, and everyone starts dissolving emotionally and physically. There are really on two things to note from the cocktail party:

1. Lauren H isn’t exactly over her ex-fiance leaving her six weeks into their engagement. The moment everyone starts applying their bitch-face to battle it out for one-on-one time, Lauren H realizes she’s not quite as confident as she thought she was. You know, if you can measure confidence on your ability to steal a man away from another woman at three in the morning to have a five-minute conversation. Girl just weeps all over the place, to anyone who will listen, mostly the cameras. It’s never totally clear what she’s crying about, she’s just having one of those moments where you look in the mirror and see that you’re about to cry and then you can’t stop. But when you do it, you’re by yourself, and when Lauren H did it, her bathroom mirror was America. 

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Someone finally sits her down on an outdoor couch and sends a completely exhausted Juan Pablo to talk to her. She’s gotten her makeup in tact and it seems like she might have a chan—what’s what? She’s going to tell him that she just ended and engagement a few months ago, start balling and assure him that she’s “totally over it.” Alright, well-handled, then. JP looks like this through the whole conversation:

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2. Sharleen is a BAMF. Just the BAMF-iest of all Bachelor BAMFs (given, her only competition is Mikey T!). JP loves Sharleen. What’s not to love? She’s elegant, she’s a different kind of beautiful than all of the rest of the women, she has an interesting, successful life and, of course, she’s not into him at all. Every man’s dream. After a pretty awkward conversation about her life abroad that is probably 1000x more interesting than anything anyone else has told him all night, he excuses himself. Sharleen knows what’s coming; we know what’s coming; the other women know what’s coming: First Impression Rose.

But the awkwardness we sensed? Yeah, Sharleen sensed it too. And she’s not so sure she should keep trying to date a guy she isn’t feeling a connection to. This is a real life thing!!! This reality show is giving us some little sliver of reality, right NOW. Sharleen has gone on her first Tinder date with Juan Pablo, it was fine, he’s totally into it, and she’s not sure. Does she tell him the truth and turn down his offer for brunch next Saturday? Does she ignore his text and pretend she just didn’t see it until a few weeks later when she wants a booty call? Or does she pound through with the comfort that a ton of people have fallen in love over time and not within the first 10 minutes of meeting someone. She chooses the latter but not before pausing for what feels like an hour before accepting Juan Pablo’s First Impression Rose with an elegant shoulder shrug and, “Sure.” Sharleen keeps it so real.

Finally, at 5 a.m., it’s time for the Rose Ceremony and JP pretty much presents them in order of how much he likes the women, because he really does not know how to do this yet: Clare, Nikki, Andi, etc. It goes down without a hitch, oh, except for that time KYLIE (foreground) THOUGHT HE CALLED HER NAME AND WALKED FORWARD, BUT WHAT HE REALLY SAID WAS “KAT” (background).

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And then he couldn’t even be like, “Naw, it’s fine, you take this one, girl” because Kylie wan’t getting a rose. Because Kylie told Juan Pablo she dreamed about him before she ever came on the show. Because Kylie is the worst.

Note: I used the official Bachelor website for this to make sure I didn’t spell any of the Lindzis or AshLeys wrong and, you guys, they’re doing this thing where they black out the photos of the women who don’t get roses and listing their “status” as “eliminated,” like they’ve DIED. It’s awesome.

ELIMINATED: Alexis, Amy J (phew, no murder this season!), Ashley, Christine, Kylie, Lacy, Lauren H (best oF luck, sister, maybe look up Zak W, the Fluid Drilling Engineer from last season), Maggie and Valerie.

Next time: Awkward group dates! Can’t. Wait.

The Bachelor: A return, an assessment, a free spirit

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Hello world, I’m back. Considering that I only ever posted on this so-humbly-named-blog about twice a month since its creation, I’m sure I wasn’t missed too much over the last few. Plus, I reblog about 0% gifsets of cats stealing dog beds, so it’s safe to say I’m doing Tumblr wrong anyway. But still, I have to tell you why I’ve been away: I went out on a limb a few months ago, applied for an internship at Entertainment Weekly, got it, quit my job with health insurance and a 401K, and moved to New York City, where people yell a lot, but are also very kind. And now I’m getting paid to recap The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which is a sentence that no amount of explaining could ever make my grandmother understand.

It’s been the most prolific three months of my life, it’s given me the opportunity to do and write about 1,000 things I’m not qualified to do or write about and when it’s over in about a month, I hope it will have given me the courage to keep pursuing a career I hadn’t let myself think I could have. But all of that is just an adjective-riddled fluffer to the important stuff: THE BACHELOR IS BACK TONIGHT AND JUAN PABLO IS FINDING A STEP MOTHER FOR MIJA CAMILLA.

The cast list came out ages ago and I knew it was my duty to do a deep sociological study on who might win JP’s corazón. And here I am, just one hour away, with my heart and mind completely unprepared for the torment it will go through over the next 12 weeks. So, just to gear up a little but, let’s take a look at some of the contestant bios now, and see if they come off as more or less crazy in tonight’s premiere.

A few things first: Nearly half of the contestant’s names start with As or Cs. What does that mean? I have no idea. Probably that they were cheerleaders in high school. Some women are asked their favorite flower and some are asked their favorite movie. That hardly seems a fair tradeoff. The women with the flower option are also asked to choose between “Adventurous or Conservative,” as if those are mutually exclusive and opposite things. Ma’am would you consider yourself happy or independent? How about straight or a horse-lover? Hungry or ready to go to bed? A lot of them seem tall, like 5’10, which is surprising because JP seems kind of petite…but that could just be his European man-pris deceiving me.

There are plenty of lovely women who could make an excellent step mother for Mija Camilla, for example, Kat seems to have a pretty solid head on her shoulders and a healthy love of Britney Spears. But I don’t want to talk about Kat. Because Kat didn’t make herself seem homicidal in a few short sentences. Instead, here I present to you the top 10 most interesting contestants according to a questionnaire that they probably filled out by hand, three glasses of chardonnay deep, after six hours of interviews:

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There is only one thing you need to know about Lacy: she lists her favorite snack as Hot Cheetos. Not her favorite indulgence, not her weirdest favorite food, but her “get home from work, kick off your shoes, slip off your nursing home owner (oh, probably another thing you should know) blazer and settle in with some Flaming Hot Cheetos” favorite snack. Girl is brassy. Girl also has 11 siblings, 9 of whom are mentally handicapped, and if you think that alone isn’t getting her to Hometown Visits, you’re outcha damn mind.

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Clare has been all over The Bachelor promos and, just looking at her, I’m pretty sure she has already competed on this show three other times, and maybe won a round of Bachelor Pad. But don’t let her simple tank top and reasonable age fool you. When asked who she admires most in the world, she answered: I admire the nobodies of the world that lead selfless lives. The ones you don’t hear gloating about their accomplishments. You heard it here first last: Clare, who will make it to the final three, thinks selfless people are nobodies. She also says she’s never been on a vacation, so she is a liar.

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I put Alexis in my Top 10, only to note two things: 1. She is not the only contestant this season to list Home Alone 2 as one of her three ALL-TIME favorite movies; 2. She’s really beautiful and calls her grandparents Abuela and Abuelo and she and Juan Pablo should probably mate.

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WHAT IS A MINERAL COORDINATOR, LAUREN H????? The world needs to know.

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Oh, Lucy. Pretty, pretty Lucy. Everybody’s heard about Lucy. She’s the one who listed her official occupation as: Free Spirit. So, it’s a little hard to take her seriously when she says she’s “very ambitious.” But when combining all of the facts above and in her bio, I do have one theory I’d like to put on record right: Lucy is definitely a mermaid, right? Claiming the ocean even when she’s not asked to, organizing nude beach dances, and attempting to be a free-spirited human to win a man’s heart a la Little Mermaid, would certainly make her “very ambitious,” if she was, in fact, a mer-creature. Oh, and one last thing on Lucy:

Who do you admire most in the world and why? I admire my best friend Kate Upton for her thick skin, my mother for her patience with me, and Steve Jobs for always believing in himself.

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Here’s something to know about Christy: she first lists one of her best attributes as being “loyal.” Sure. She then, unprovoked, mentions again that she can be “very loyal…to a fault.” Take a moment and try to imagine in what way loyalty could ever become a fault. She then uses the word “obsessed” about her favorite actor. Finally, she says she only feels secure in a relationship if the man is chasing her. Christy is going to kill Juan Pablo, 80% chance.

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Girl, YES, drunk dancing is a type of dancing. And, YES, right again: there is a difference between messy and being dirty! Nikki is my pick to win my own heart. Please let me know if anyone has her direct email address.

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Sharleen is a professional opera singer. Sharleen respects listening. Sharleen lists The Royal Tenenbaums and Match Point as her favorite films and Haruki Murakami as her favorite author. Sharleen’s name is not Amii, Lorin, Cristi S. or Tiffiny. Sharleen should not be on The Bachelor.

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Christine lists her favorite board game as Monopoly and her favorite snack as nuts and raisins. DO NOT TRUST CHRISTINE, I repeat, CHRISTINE CANNOT BE TRUSTED.

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Besides the excellent occupation and favorite movies you can see above, Lauren S. counts a “really awesome cooking knife” as one of the most romantic gifts she’s ever received and still feels bad about blaming a nasty fart on another kid in the fourth grade. Lauren S. is a gem, and if JP picks any of the other Laurens, Christies of Free Spirits over her, he is getting a sternly worded letter from yours truly.

Now, please watch The Bachelor with me this season so I don’t have to get embarrassed about it. 17,000 word recaps to come, you Rosemantics, you!

FLOTUS, May I Humbly Suggest…

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I get it. Ashanti’s allure is hard to resist, no matter the project. Although, people do seem to havebeen resisting since circa John Tucker Must Die. But we’ve got to talk about this, FLOTUS. There were better options. Staring you right in your perfect be-banged face.

For those uninformed, First Lady Michelle Obama is releasing a hip hop album as part of her Let’s Move! movement against childhood obesity. Meesh can normally do no wrong. Let’s Move! is a worthy cause, for which she works very hard: learning how to Dougie, hittin’ the streets and getting Beyonce on board. One of my friends recently told me she spent a whole Friday night (where she presumably could have been binge drinking or pounding chili cheese fires) learning all of the workout moves to “Move Your Body.” So, ya know, it’s working.

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But take a look at this track list and tell me if you think any of these songs will be waking up the neighbors on a Friday night or beating out Selina Gomez for a 12 year old’s audio attention:

1. “U R What You Eat” f/ Salad Bar (Matisyahu, Ariana Grande, Travis Barker)
2. “Everybody” f/ Jordin Sparks, Doug E. Fresh, Dr. Oz, Ryan Beatty, Hip Hop MD
3. “Let’s Move” f/ Doug E. Fresh, Artie Green, Chauncey Hawkins
4. “Just Believe” featuring Ashanti, Gerry Gunn, Artie Green, Robbie Nova
5. “Veggie Luv” f/ Monifah and J Rome
6. “Hip Hop FEET” f/ DMC and Artie Green
7. “Stronger” f/ Shayna Steele, Jeremy Jordan, Our Time Theater kids, and E-Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren
8. “Give Myself a Try” f/ Ryan Beatty
9. “Jump Up” f/ Brady Rymer and the Little band that Could

The list of artists includes: an NBA player; a Broadway star; a few hip hop Public Health professionals; an Ashanti; and perhaps the oddest three people ever assembled – Matisyahu, Ariana Grande and Travis Barker – calling themselves “Salad Bar.” When was the last time you heard “salad bar” and thought, “Yes, I’ll take that please, make sure there’s enough pale brown chocolate pudding and reject fruit to go around. I just can’t get enough honey dew…and Travis Barker!”

You know what that list doesn’t have on it? A child. FLOTUS spent all this time coordinating Monifah and Jordan Sparks when this whole album could have been most skillfully done by a gifted group of youngsters with a ragingly successful history in the Food & Beverage rapping game: Da Rich Kidzz.

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The Y.N.RichKids broke onto the scene almost exactly a year ago – making them an even more obvious choice for Mobama’s project – with their afterschool-program-produced hit, “Hot Cheetos and Takis.” Both the video and the song (and Hot Cheetos, and to a lesser degree, Takis) are seriously good.

Last year I noted their impressive viral hit here; and the other day, I did the most impressive thing of all: I watched a television program live, with commercials. And how excited was I to find that the rebranded Da Rich Kidzz have produced a new hit, “My Limo,” for mass consumption in K Mart commercials.

It is, well, the best song I’ve heard all summer. It doesn’t try to pass off Molly as just a girl’s name and isn’t “rapey” at all.

The change from “Y.N. Rich Kids” to “Da Rich Kidzz” has most notably brought along the loss of Dame Jones (aka #3), which in fact makes the group significantly more “Y[oung]” and, I would think, less “Rich.” But I am always, always, in support of the switch from “s” to “zz,” so I think we’ll call it a win. (Ed. note: And now they’ve got that K Mart money.)

I just can’t understand how Mrs. Obama had these school age children who have mastered the art of good, clean hip hop right at her finger tips, but she went with Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could instead. Da Rich Kidzz already know how to rap about food and are proven educators.

Lessons I learned from “My Limo”:

Financial Responsibility:

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It is clear from the moment the video begins Frizzy Free is fresh to death, and that his flat top is, in fact, completely free of frizz. Then he lets us know that he got his “hoodie for a Hamy.” A crisp Alexander Hamilton to look as fly as Frizzy? Now that’s some smart spending a kid can get behind.

Traffic Safety: “Stop sign come out, can’t no one pass!” It’s true. My Dad has a point on his Texas license to prove it. But today’s children don’t have to learn to look out for that little octagon the hard way. They’ve got Da Rich Kidzz to guide them.

Be Yourself:

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Both Fly Guy and Nasir aka Sir need correctional eyewear and completely own it; Ben on Ten stands to get some haters for his unique “scream rap” tactics, but you’ve got to do you, ya know?

Practical School Skills: It took me the entire first week of 6th grade at Lake Air Middle School to master opening my new locker. It was a shameful and confidence-breaking experience. But with G-6’s help, I would have had a catchy verse to remember: “But I just go right, left, right click; I just go right, left, right, click. And then I go through all my brand new school supplies right quick.”

How to Serve Sass:

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"Now school let out, I’m ‘bout to bounce
Need my yellow limo, to take me to my house
And you think maybe, the first day be kind of wack jack
Well ain’t no way B, ‘cause this baby she got backpack” – Lady J

Always be Branding:

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So, First Lady Michelle Obama, may I humbly suggest that for your next hip hop album, you call on Da Rich Kidzz to teach children how to not be obese. You might expect such hits as:

  1. A Side Salad for a Susan B. Anthony Silver Dollar
  2. My Feet are my Chauffer and my Tennies are a Stretch
  3. Ridin’ Around on my Bicycle (burnin’ them Kcals)
  4. CONTROL your BMI, ft. Kendrick Lamar
  5. Hot Cheetos and Takis, Revised: Only on Special O’ccasionzz
  6. Laps on Laps on Laps (around da track)
  7. “I Chooze da Apple Slicezz!”
  8. BONUS TRACK: Kanye’s Workout Plan Pt. 2, ft. Da Rich Kidzz

Better get them while they’re still Cheeto-levels of HOT, but Taki-levels of famous, Meesh.

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Settle for No One (except Chris)

Things got real. Things got so real on the two part season finale of the Bachelorette that I think I just couldn’t talk about it for a little while. It was not uplifting. It was not written in a windowless writer’s room with posters of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally on the wall to inspire the kind of love story that every little girl (and Drew) dreams of.

No, Des’ was a story based in reality and, for perhaps the first time in The Bachelor franchise, actually shown in reality. Because they had to show something, and the frontrunner straight up evacuated Antigua. Because sometimes, with love, the semi-Mormon bro just isn’t as into you as you are into him. But the definitely attractive, but definitely boring bro is way more into you than you are into him. And you choose to get with him because, ya know, you’re super boring too. And who were you kidding with the semi-Mormon? He mixes prints and has an unorthodox hairstyle, whereas you, Des: you dress like you just watched the entire fourth season of Buffy and can’t get enough of those fresh early-2000s fashions. You wore a crocheted vest over a bikini top with utility pants, Des. A crocheted vest, Des.

I couldn’t share my thoughts on Part One of Des’ dissent into darkness because I was busy lining up to be front row center at a Beyonce concert last week. More on that in the coming days. But to briefly summarize using Brooks and Des’ running analogy that has never, not once, made sense: Des was basically waiting at the finish line with a enough Capri Suns and orange slices for the whole crew; Drew and Chris finished the race three weeks ago and had since been assigned the task of holding the finish line banner extra-taut so Brooks could bust through it in the most dramatic of fashions; and Brooks…Brooks joined the cross country team before realizing soccer was really more his thing.

Oh, it was more than a little devastating. We watched a human’s heart break in real time. It took an hour and a half for Brooks to break the news to Des that he suddenly realized he wasn’t in love with her and almost certainly would never want to marry her. Des cried a lot. She was really in love with Brooks and he was breaking her heart. I felt for her…

…for about five minutes, until I realized the ultimate plan was for her to do the exact same thing to Drew and Chris, if only Brooks had been ready to live Happily Ever After in her Tent of Love. [ed. note: too soon?But he wasn’t! He was shipped back to Utah or Iowa or Idaho or wherever the hell he’s from to non-committaly wear rugby cardigans for the rest of his life. And little Des is left with a decision to make: settle or be forever alone. That is real life, y’all.

In part two of the finale Des has put on her bravest face, which includes a quivering lip and buckets of tears. She sits down with Chris Harrison for a chat, thank goodness on a shaded patio, so we don’t have to deal with anymore of this.

It’s now that we affirm what we’ve always known: Chris Harrison is terrible at his job. He’s about as much comfort and guidance to Des as Brooks was when he was ruining her life on the Dock of Doom. Smiling through the pain, Des numbly says, “I’m OK,” to which Chris thoughtfully says, “No, you’re not.” Then Des says undoubtedly the saddest and most honest thing that’s ever been uttered on this franchise: “I’m OK when people don’t ask.” Remember when Mikey T! was on this show ripping his shirt off in a Mister America contest? Me neither, surely that is a reality that never existed.

We see a quick flash of Des in what I’m sure has come to be known in all households as her Shirt of Tears saying, “For me, it’s over.” Chris Harrison tells her she can handle telling the other guys about Brooks however she sees fit. He then goes out to the Rose Ceremony Patio and basically tells Drew and Chris, “Brooks isn’t here because he left, I’m going to let the crying girl you’re both in love with tell you a little more about it!” And then he bought a Tiffany blue Bentley with the money he made in the last hour and drove it into a river, just because he could.

Des goes out to face her final two bros and fess up to the fact that Brooks left her. She starts muffling sobs halfway through but luckily some PA is holding up cue cards for her and she rounds the speech out with, “it just goes to show that…that love is unpredictable and…and it’s a two-way street.” Said with a smile on her face, this could have been a cute little declaration to one of the remaining bros. Said while doubled over in sobs, it seems a touch foreboding. But she tells Drew and Chris to “just please, let[her] know” if they’re not all in. And even though she herself is clearly not all in, both bros stick around because there are two roses left and eight burly security guards ready to clothesline a dude if anybody else makes a break for it.

They keep doing these really long segments of Chris Harrison talking to a live studio audience and it only takes one to realize that they are total filler. Either Brooks is coming back and Des is immediately proposing to him with a set of diamond encrusted handcuffs; or she’s quitting and they need to fill up the rest of the time. Why else would an entire segment of this two hours be taken up with Chris Harrison asking the hard-hitting questions that earned him his Pulitzer, like “Did Brooks ruin this for everyone?” No, Chris Harrison! ABC ruined this for everyone because they made the most heartbreaking two hours of television to ever be filmed and then decided to stretch them into four hours. One girl in the audience says she thinks it would be “fake” if Des chooses either one of the other guys (and her family is currently asking for any information you may have on her whereabouts).

Des decides to take each of the bros on one more one-on-one before she introduces them to her life ruining brother family. She swings by in a crop top, riding a horse – the boldest things she’s done all season – to pick Drew up for their date. I’m not saying it’s a breeze to get on and off a horse but if I were trying to not make someone feel like shit, I might get off my horse to say hello at the beginning of a date. This is the only place in which Des and I differ.

Listen, I live in DC, I’ve been on awkward dates. DC is pretty much made up of monuments, awkward daters and the Obamas. But I have never been on an awkward date with someone that I’ve apparently been falling in love with for two months. Drew and Des gallop down a dirt road exchanging un-pleasantries for far too long, before settling into a beach picnic where Drew decides it would be a good time to toast “to being madly in love” and Des audibly gulps. This sweet, sweet boy is toast.

Des womans up and says she really needs to talk to him and for the second time in two weeks we watch ABC live-blog a human’s heartbreak. Des does her best to not hurt Drew’s feelings while she tells him she can’t love him back but, ya know, name of the game and all that. It’s the exact same thing Brooks did to her but with reversed genders, less chemistry and Drew takes it a little better. What is this show we’re watching? Why is everything the worst? Why am I really only choking down these two hours so I can hear who the next Bachelor will be? When will this cycle end???

Drew thanks Des for being honest, sheds two single tears and leaves with “you don’t have to be sorry for not being in love with me.” That’s how you leave like a G, I guess. A sweet, tender-hearted, prancing G. I bet Brooks is wishing he had broken up with Drew instead of Des right about now

 "I don’t expect a perfect life… I just want to be happy. That’s all I ever wanted. But I’ve just got to start over." – Drew <cue Twitter exploding with girls people offering to make Drew happy>

And now it’s time to watch our girl Des do this break up thing one more time with Chris and go weep the rest of her years away into a pile of wedding dresses and antique journals. Wait, what’s that? She’s totally over Brooks and way in love with Chris and sometimes you just can’t see what’s in front of your face when you’re contractually obligated to love every former-minor-league-baseball-player/semi-Mormon/current-drilling-fluid-engineer that dances at a private concert with you? Sounds believable enough, onward and upward!

Des takes Chris aboard the catamaran that I guess ABC couldn’t get their rental deposit back on and I immediately notice that she is not crying, which is not something I have noticed for the last 70 minutes. Maybe it’s because they finally get a drink to take the edge off. Unfortunately the curse of Unidentified Liquids in Ambiguous Glasses continues in Antigua as they’re forced to drink what appears to be some sort of tropical punch out of those glass mugs your grandmother serves eggnog out of at Christmas. It’s gross and disconcerting and they don’t stop drinking out of them for the whole date.

Perhaps that’s why Des seems so much happier now. Although she does keep saying things like “life is hard” in her confessionals. You know what, Des? You’re right. Sometimes life is hard, and you have to make tough choices, like forcing yourself to fall in love with someone because the other guy didn’t love you back and if you don’t love this guy now, you may never find love again.

Wow, life is hard. Why are you doing this to us ABC???

 Chris decides it’s time to raise his mug of Sex on the Beach to Des. But Chris’ idea of a toast is to hilariously list all of the things they’ve ever done in the time that they’ve spent together. When he gets to the end of those six things and doesn’t know how to wrap it up he says, “toasting may not be my best skill.” It’s the most endearing thing Chris has ever said and, while correct, he simultaneously proves that his best skill might just be convincing Des to fall in love with him because her mug is empty and she’s got a starry look in her eye, shaped like a Neil Lane diamond, if you ask me.

At their evening date, Chris gives Des a journal because bitches love giving Des journals. In the back there’s a note. And that’s all it is! Just a note, not a poem, it doesn’t even rhyme. And the heavens wept.

After their date, Des is convinced that she wants Chris to meet her family and she goes on a teary rant about how maybe she couldn’t tell that she loved him because she’s just never been loved like this before. She caps it all off by calling Chris a “loyal friend,” which is the kind of passion I hope to one day find in a husband.

Everything after the final weeping sesh is pretty inconsequential. Chris meets Des’s family and asks for her hand in marriage, you know the drill. Des’ parents still have the kindest faces in the world and I have no idea how the created the two children that they did. Her brother is still the worst, but he manages to not ruin anybody’s life this go-round. He even tells her to “settle for no one”, which is probably tattooed on his metacarpal or something and, in this case, bad advice.

Des spends just a little more time convincing herself that it was Chris all along – Brooks? What’s a brooks? –, finally puts that troublesome part into an up-do and marches off to her destiny. She says she’s going to own up to all of the Brooks stuff, but she lets Chris do that thing where he rattles off all of their memories again (proposing is also not a strong suit), says some really sweet things about wanting to be her rock, and starts to go down on a knee before she – hold the phone! – stops him and pulls him back up.

Then she takes Chris on an emotional roller coaster of “Drew’s not here, it’s just you, I used to love Brooks, I was so torn, but I was just blindsided, it was you along, yada, yada, yada” and wraps it up with this: “I thank you every day for never giving up and you mean the absolute world to me, because I love you. I love you so much.”

Oh, it is emotional. It is teary. And it finally feels right. Or at least feels real

 Des basically felt the exact same way about Chris as Brooks felt about her. But where Des could convince herself that she could settle into a life of comfort with Chris and his love for her, Brooks just couldn’t do the same with Des. Because we’re all different. Some of us are settlers and some of us are lovers. You can’t have two settlers and, well, maybe you can’t have two lovers either. If the settler isn’t ready to settle, then that settler is Brooks, and the timing just wasn’t right. Luckily, Des had the bro who had 2nd Place stamped on his attractive forehead from the first time he got on his knee right out of the limo; Des had Chris. And now Chris has Des.

In the stories we choose to watch – not in real life, but in movies and television – no one settles. The love of two lovers is always exciting, always watchable. Des ending up with Chris is like if Dermot Mulroney (Dylan McDermott?) had chosen to stay with Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding or if Kate Beckinsale had just stuck it out with Ben Affleck and left Josh Hartnett to play hide-and-go-seek by himself in the parachutes (plus, without all the pretend dying and stuff). It would have been easier, sure, but it wouldn’t have been interesting, and it definitely wouldn’t have been an ending I felt comfortable having had invested 16 (ok, 20) hours into.

But that’s how life goes. All love stories are not meant for public consumption. Chris and Des might very well be together for the rest of their lives. Seriously. They are both super lame and into things like messages in a bottle and wearing eye black to throw a softball around for 20 minutes. They will never embarrass each other because they’re both already so embarrassing. And they have that thing where they look just enough alike to complement each other but not look incestuous.

Maybe that’s why these Bachelor relationships don’t usually work out. It’s just a bunch of couples who are really in love with each other but not meant to be. More Fantasy Suite than After the Final Rose. I hope Chris and Des are meant to be. And I hope his dad doesn’t try to align her back again. Because that was really weird.

Now Juan Pablo is the next Bachelor. And Juan Pablo…is no settler. Let the battle for his corazón begin!

(wo)Men(’s) (Faces) Tell All

When I watch The Bachelorette, it’s usually in the fetal position, spewing unnecessarily sarcastic remarks, 18 pillows within arms reach so I can bury my head in them anytime the awkward meter goes above four Des-snort-cough-laughs-per-minute. That is not how the women in the audience of the Men Tell All special watch The Bachelorette. They watch with the kind of reverence and emotional vulnerability you might expect to find in one of those snake churches. There are probably at least a hundred “Rosemantics” [ed. note: just a little something I’m workshopping] in the audience, but they only shoot to a select few for close-ups. And those women…are the best.

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The episode starts off with Des and Chris Harrison visiting some Bachelorette viewing parties. I think I watched this part of Sean’s season and I don’t remember Chris Harrison accompanying him, but honestly, can you imagine Des walking into that kind of social situation by herself? She might just cave and start making out with everybody so she didn’t have to talk. These people look excited to see Des, but they have a lot of face buryin’ pillows available, just saying.

How did those two hipster bros in the corner find themselves in this situation? Maybe they’re in it for Chris’ poetry…

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Chris Harrison finally earns his keep in this one episode out of 600. He introduces all the bros, but there’s only one that matters.

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Well, two, because – and I did not see this coming – Juan Pablo is either sleeping with the President of ABC or he is going to be The Next Bachelor. They may as well have called this episode “Juan Pablo is a Good Father and a Handsome Man” because it’s the only non-terrible topic that’s discussed. The audience absolutely loses their mind when he’s announced.

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Apparently what this “Men Tell All” show consists of is a recounting of all the worst things that happened throughout the season, teeing up the next Bachelor and making Chris Harrison lots and lots of cash. First up on the shaming block is Jonathan the Creep, who kind of redeems himself by not propositioning any women for sex and apologizing to all parties who were scarred by his Fantasy Suite performance. Some accept the apology better than others.

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Next up is Brian with the Actress Girlfriend, who has not even shown up to explain himself. So, Chris Harrison decides to show clips of him being an ass again and then talk about how much of an ass he is for not showing up. “Yes, I did throw rocks at your face!”

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The first bro Chris Harrison deems worthy enough to sit in his Hot Seat is Ben, and this chick is having none of it.

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Ben tries to explain his psycho limo rant…

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…but these women are pros. They’ve heard it all before.

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Chris Harrison shoots to Juan Pablo for his views on Ben. It should be noted, that Chris Harrison only ever shoots to Juan Pablo directly. 

Then bombs start dropping. Dan who is Only Recognizable Because He is Very Handsome interrupts to say that, while he had no particular problem with Ben during the show, the mother of Ben’s child tracked him down in Vegas just so she could tell him what an awful guy Ben is.

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"Daaaaaaaamn"

Chris Harrison opens up the floor for everyone to talk smack regarding Ben being a good father or not which is, ya know, not cool. Zak the Wise Owl breaks in to say the only thing he knows is that he heard some guys talking about their kids all the time, like Juan Pablo. He says JP mentioned his daughter (who was only mentioned once on the show - we’re on to you, ABC!) at every turn, and the ladies eat it up.

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And some some men mentioned their children less. Well, no, just one: Ben the Absent Dad.

Everyone has passed enough judgment on Ben, so it’s time to bring up the only other bro who got boo’d in his introduction: James the Giant.

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"No thank you," says everyone. "Tall women, tall women, tall women" says James.

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Mikey T!, a much more reliable narrator than James, tries to help his Chi-town buddy out. He clarifies that, at the time in question, they were simply discussing how Des really seemed to like Brooks and the two of them were nothing like Brooks, so they might need to get comfortable with getting the boot soon. And everything is fine because Mikey T! is everyone’s favorite big brother.

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And then Kasey says the trigger word - #tallwomen - and all hell breaks loose. 

Mikey T! isn’t happy Kasey has made him Us Weekly fodder. And by “isn’t happy,” I mean he kind of, um, stands and yells and Kasey for, um, three straight minutes.

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The only things that gets him to back off is when Kasey says, “That’s why James said this guy [bleeped] his [bleep] off camera!”

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Now, I remember James yelling something a little odd at Michael G. during a blow up on the show, but the bleeps were confusing. Kasey’s bleeps are much less confusing. To James’ credit, he doesn’t go into a HeteroFrenzy [ed. note: also workshopping] when asked to explain, he simply says, “I was mad.” Kasey said he was glad he left the room after that and James sasses “me too,” I guess implying that if called upon, he’d still rather bleep Michael G’s bleep than Kasey’s. 

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Samesies, lady.

Ah, yes, just we need: a cleansing moment with Juan Pablo in the Caliente Seat where ABC graces us with a four minute segment that proves what a wonderful, hilarious, fatherly guy JP is, three and a half minutes of which were previously un-aired. The women lose their minds.

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I mean, I don’t not lose my mind. JP spends most of the time being charming, saying that the thing he wants most in his handsome, chiseled life is a woman to love his daughter even more than she loves him. By the end of it, all of the women look literally distraught at the realization that they’ll have to leave their husbands to be able to have a chance at love with Juan Pablo. But what’s a girl to do? Have you heard the guy speak? Have you seen his abs (see above)?

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Buzzkill Alert: time for Des’ portion of the show. Luckily, Des is at her most interesting when she’s mad at people, so this should be good. She accepts an apology from Jonathan, shames Ben and gets in a fight with James. It all pretty status quo and then *BAM* Zak tells Des he wrote her a song. I’m sorry, he wrote her another song. He gets out his guitar, strides over to the spotlight and goes to town. 

Des’ face while she listens:

The audience’s face while they listen:

Des’ face at the end of a song about a bro getting his heart broken by her and then getting over it:

The audience’s face at the end of a song about Des breaking their favorite bro’s heart and then getting over it:

And that’s it. Well, plus a quick 17-minute trailer for the two part finale which Chris Harrison promises will be The. Most. Dramatic. Yet.

This girl’s all…

But I’m all…

Best in Hair and Tears

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As soon as MTV’s The Challenge starts a new season, everything else on television becomes 8x more tedious to watch. There’s practically a zero percent chance that one of The Bachelorette’s contestants will eat another contestant’s face. And yet, last night, there I sat, watching Des nervously giggle while the family of a man she would break up with in a few short days, sang her a song that included the lyric: “Oh Desiree now we can see/ your place among our family.” Because I still care. Heaven help me, I still care. I need to know if Drew is going to come out on national television, if Brooks will ever say I love you, if Zak will ever stop smiling.

If you need to see one of the oddest assortments of haircuts to ever exist within the confines of a single two hour television show about arranged marriage, then this episode is a real treasure chest. The bangs…oh, the bangs. That’s right – it’s time for Random Relatives and Hometown Visits (also the name of the band that Zak W. is starting at this very moment…know any good base players?). The awkward situations that Hometown Visits inevitably generate can only mean one thing:

  • Drink every time Des looks like she’s goings to cry at an inappropriate time (AKA, not out of happiness or sadness, but out of fear of normal social protocol while your future 2nd place Father-in-Law gives you a rub down) 

Des arrives for her first Hometown Visit in my own homestate of Texas, and I wish I could say her turquoise leather jacket would look as dumb there as it would anywhere else but Texans are, like, really into turquoise. The camera zooms in on Zak doing some sketchin’, because once they went to the cooler climates of Europe and he had to start wearing a shirt (and six hoodies), he had to develop a different brand for himself: cue, last episode’s sudden artistic awakening. If The Bachelorette has taught me one thing, it’s that if you have hobby in common with someone, you should consider marrying them [ed. note: Write one more damn poem, Chris, I dare you.]

They hang out in a park and Zak is going on and on about a dream he had about Des being melting snow or something and then all of the sudden he’s making a break for it. Because he’s finally realized his love is a fraud!!! J/K, he goes to get the family snow cone truck. I’ve never had any real feelings in either direction about Zak, but I have always wanted to work in a snowcone stand, and I might just marry a man who could afford me that opportunity. And within the next hour and a half, he’ll probably be available because Des hasn’t smiled with her teeth throughout the whole date, and there’s not a snowcone’s chance in hell (it happened, deal with it) that he is getting a rose tonight.

But ABC still takes us through the motions. A bunch of “neighborhood kids” - who have already added this gig to their IMDb profiles - run up for some rose-sponsored snowcones. Zak says he loves watching how good Des is with kids and the camera pans to her trying to hand one of the little monsters a Bombstick without making physical contact. 

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Zak W.’s family was created in the Nuclear Family Incubator they keep below the Texas Rangers stadium. There are big personalities, even bigger leather couches, a sweet/crazy mom, a pretty blonde sister, an understated dad, one embarrassed brother (Denton) and one embarrassing brother (Zak). As Zak and Des recount to the family how he introduced himself on the first night, and that he has since “been completely naked at least three times,” they’re all appropriately horrified, proving themselves trustworthy humans. Then there’s a quick shot of Zak’s mom dancing in her chair at the dinner table to no music, proving her either a really fun potential mother-in-law or one of those that’s going to loan you a serving platter and then accuse you of stealing it the next time she’s at your house, just like you stole her baby boy from her. It’s a thin line.

Best in Hair, Texas Bangs Division: Zak’s Mom

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What is it about Des that inspires Statement Bangs in every person she touches? I don’t know, but it will soon become clear that Mrs. W’s bangs don’t even scratch the surface of the bang tutorial we’ll withstand tonight.

After their fun dinner (seriously…it might be the first time on this show something has seemed fun, without having to involve go-karts or flying down a hill at warp speed), Des and Zak’s sister have a bubbly little talk in her bedroom. There is a mannequin wearing a fur vest in the background, because I guess she’s into fashion like Des, so according to the rules, she is a viable husband option.

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Zak has a chat with his mom where he keeps saying things like “you know I had almost given up on the idea of love for a really long time.” Like, how long? You’re only 31. You’re a Fluid Drilling Engineer, you have a balcony jutting out of the side of your house, and a nice set of chompers. Give yourself a break, Zak!

I thought I could trust Zak’s brother, Denton, because he seems like a slightly more hinged version of Zak and he’s named after a Texas town. [ed. note: Have you ever met a bad Austin? Tyler? I haven’t.]But then, wouldn’t you know it, the whole family is singing Des an original song, and Denton is crooning right along with them. In a similar way to how you can always tell when you’ve come across a Christian radio station, even if the song lyrics sound like any other soft rock anthem, the W. family’s song sounds just like a Christian rock song, even though they’re singing about Des. She literally looks like she could burst into tears at any moment, and it is absolutely not out of happiness. Drink until Des stops making this face:

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Just when Des thinks she can make a graceful exit without causing this quirky family too much pain, Zak decides the time is right to say “I love you” and give Des a ring he got for her in Atlantic City (known for its fine jewels and gems). She should not accept it. If she has a heart, or a non-contractual-obligation, she should not take this ring. Because anyone and everyone who watches this show with even the slightest bit of attention knows that Zak is the next to go. But Zak doesn’t have the luxury of watching himself be led on from the outside. So she cries and takes the ring and Zak thinks they’re in love. I hope Denton got a fresh set of guitar strings, because this is going to take a lot of family sing-a-longs to get over.

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Let me be clear: the only evidence that Drew could be coming out to Des as a gay man and breaking her heart into a million pieces, does not come from his actions, but from this heavily edited “Coming Up This Season” that ABC released a few weeks ago. This is not a stereotypical assumption fueled from mildly feminine gestures; this is hard-hitting, evidence-driven, journalistic speculation.

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However, after Drew prances to greet Des in a Scottsdale parking lot, my watching crew and I reevaluate the possibility of Drew maybe, possibly, tentatively not being totally and completely into girls. And we all agree it has gone up 20-30%. Post-prance, Drew makes out with Des a little and sits her down on a bench to explain how this family gathering should be great, but could also be a Charlie Foxtrot (this is implied by his nervous giggles, not his actual words). The family will be gathering at his mother and step-father’s house and this will be the first time his recovering alcoholic dad has been over to see them. It’s important to note that Drew’s dad’s name is Malichi, and his brother’s name is Malichi, and they both go by Mal. Drew kind of lucked out in the name and face department.

As promised last week, Drew and Des go to pick up his mentally handicapped sister, Melissa, at her care facility so they can all be together for dinner. And let me tell you what, it is a sweet moment to watch Melissa and Drew be reunited. Des is there and she doesn’t like, light anyone on fire or anything, so she handles it as best we can expect from her. Drew says “I’m proud of my family” when he arrives at his family’s home with Des and Melissa. He is just such a tender spirit and Des is going to make him so sad. I hope he finds a good girl person when the time is right. 

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Drew’s family is what you might have guessed (when you contemplated for hours on Sunday night in preparation of the big reveal): sweet, mild-mannered, corn-fed, good looking people of Arizona, complete with chubby blonde children running around and Native American artwork on the walls. Mal Sr. gives a toast with water in a wine glass (good for you, Mal Sr!) and everyone seems to be getting along splendidly. Drew and his mom talk in a bedroom and she sort of gives him her blessing but she kind of seems like she’s going to cry the whole time. This will come up again with other moms.

An aside: Drew cannot stop saying the phrase, “I’m ready to get on a knee[to propose to Des]” and that’s all I’m going to say about it. That’s all I’m going to say about it!!!

Meanwhile, Papa Mal is having a chat with Des that goes from Des talking about how attractive Drew is, to Mal moving on to some next-level stuff: “Do you believe in angels?” There is an expected answer here and if there’s one thing Des knows how to do, it’s lie unconvincingly through her teeth: “I do.” My ears are already shutting themselves off to the awkward interaction but then Mal says that Melissa is an angel because she brought their family together and taught them what love is and, OK, yes, I bet that is very true and I’m really glad Mal is doing better and I’m not crying.I continue not to cry as Drew and his Dad share what looks like a healing moment when he gives him his blessing: “If you want to marry this girl, I’ll throw a party.”

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It all feels very foreboding. Drew walks Des to her car and drops the L-bomb. He’s all in; he loves her and “wants her in [his] life.” Oh, Drewby, will your little heart be able to take this? At least he’s got a good family to go back to, Ford Model good looks and an ambiguous ranking on the Kinsey Scale. That’s just well-rounded!

Do we really need to see Chris? He told Des he loved her like three months ago, they’ve already self-published an e-book of poetry together, he’s taking #2, packing on a little muscle and coming back in six months as the next Bachelor, where we will have to listen to every single woman read a poem to him at their fountain introduction. What more is there to know?

Well, here are some things: Des brings Chris a book of drawings she made for him (favorite alert!), Chris’ family lives in some sort of compound and if he’s never asked if he was adopted, he’s got a couple of observational screws loose in the noggin. Chris looks nothing like his family and in his sister (? - the family ties are a little ambiguous here), we find our best bangs yet.

Best in Hair, Paula Jones Division: Drew’s Lovely but Confusingly Be-banged Sister

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Everyone in Chris’ family not only look like they’re from a different gene pool, but also different decades. It’s so distracting, the next thing I know, Des’ dad is giving a rhyming Irish toast – a family of poets! – and then offering to give Des a free rubdown in his Chiropractor office…in the basement. Still, when you compare it to a guy’s family who you’re about to break up with singing you an original song about you, how awkward is a little misguided and perhaps-not-totally-legal back aligning?

It’s certainly not as awkward as what he does to his son on the chiropractor table. While Chris explains that Des is very healthy (a much more practical concern than if they’re ready to get married, I guess), his dad sticks a turkey baster up his nostrils and blows air at his brain for three straight minutes. Is this why people are always talking smack about Chiropractors?

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We don’t see a lot of Des talking to the rest of his family, but we do see Chris being told repeatedly that no one – and I mean no one, not a single be-banged sister – liked his last girlfriend. Similar to Des (and Drew’s mom, and kind of Brooks sometimes), Chris’ mom always seems like she’s about to cry. She uncomfortably does not smile once the whole time Chris is talking about how much he loves Des. It’s not Des’ Hometown with Sean, but it’s not exactly a barrel of laughs.

Now, off to Utah to be reunited with Brooks: “I love Brooks and I love being around him.” Alllllrighty, can we just call this time-suck a wrap, then? Brooks can say I love you like Chris, get down on his knee like Drew and present a ring like Zak. Oh, wait…you’re telling me that, unlike those gentlemen, Brooks is playing a little harder to get. Good on ya, Brooks-y. Less good? The yellow buffalo plaid shirt that Brooks seems to think goes with everything.

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Des presents Brooks with a piece of paper folded into a rose. She probably wanted to bring him a wedding ring but the producers told her they’d let her cut her bangs back and eat carbs again if she went with a more subtle approach. The paper has a list of Des’ favorite moments with Brooks, most hilariously, the time he broke his finger and passed out. Oh, the fun they’ve shared! Then Brooks almost tips their canoe and totally soaks Des’ pants because he’s kind of a goober.

Here’s a fun and dangerous new rule:

  • Drink every time you try to figure out if Brooks’ family is Mormon or not.

They’re from Utah, there are about 40 of them, and they’re all dressed stylishly conservative. Feels Mormon: drink! But wait, Brooks and Des are walking up with a bottle of wine: drink! Hold on, either Brooks’ hands are huge or that’s a tiny bottle of wine. Oh, maybe it’s olive oil: drink! I’ll go ahead and tell you, it is touch and go the whole time, and we never quite figure it out. Well, I did come up with a few elaborate theories involving marriage, divorce, opaque wine glasses and rebellious teenage years, but I should probably keep some things a little closer to the vest.

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When they walk in, the whole family freaks out, setting a fun, upbeat tone for the evening. Not to mention, all 18 of Brooks’ brothers surround Des in a group hug, which she surely loves, since she now only has four men to fawn over her at all times, and is likely missing her collection. Des and Brooks’s mom go to have a little chat in the Rec Room and she is really sweet and seems like she likes Des, but maybe recognizes she might be a little more into her son than he is into her. A recurring theme, perhaps?

Best in Hair, Conservatively Stylish Bangs: Brooks’ Sister-in-Law

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Brooks and his bros retire to the backyard for some quality time by the chiminea. Let me just tell you what is going on, fashion-wise: one bro has a soul patch, one is wearing what seems to be a peter pan collared shirt with a crew neck heather grey sweater over it, one has been watching the show and is wearing a v-neck tee with a hoodie/cardigan situation and Brooks - Brooks has added a smoking sweater (?) that is textured in such a way that it appears to be polka dotted, on top of his yellow buffalo plaid shirt. I’ll just…never understand. And it’s not even like he looks bad. That man is a warlock.

As Des basically says she’s in love with Brooks to anyone who will listen, Brooks tells his mom he’s “pleasantly surprised to be where he’s at.” Uh oh. This isn’t looking good for Des. I think I’m starting to get a better understanding of why the final episodes seem like they’re going to have tears on tears on tears (on bangs). When Brooks hugs his mom after their heart to heart she says, “You’re my favorite,” which is a really hilarious mom-move, but also, apparently Brooks is everyone’s favorite. It’s got to be the chin cleft.

Before Des can give out her Final Three roses she “has to talk to [her] brother,” who she says she hasn’t seen since her Hometown visit with Sean a year ago. So when she says “has to,” she means in the “ABC contractually obligated” sense, not the “need his help” sense. It’s not an enjoyable situation. Des implies she would like an apology and he pretty much says, “I did what I needed to do, [I’m a douche].” I can’t quite put my finger on who he reminds me of but, given a few fingers, I might point one at a sociopath and another at the scary guy who always leers at you from his stoop on your walk to the gym.

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He asks about the guys she’s dating and she says she likes Zak because he’s “adventurous like [her]” (drink!), Chris because he’s humble [ed. note: Gah, I wish she had said “like me”] and Drew because he’s kind and sweet. She hardly even mentions Brooks because her brother is nuts and would obviously target the bro he thought was most likely to “win” (his words…and mine). But he probably won’t get the chance. Des knows how to stand her ground and she’s not letting anyone ruin this; except herself, and then, maybe the guys she’s dating. But not her brother. Not this time.

Oh look, Chris Harrison decided to roll off the massage table, sit down in a comfortable chair and talk to Des for a few minutes. CH finally earns his keep though because after Des says again that she loves Brooks, he cannot stop reminding her that Brooks is the only one who hasn’t said “I love you” to her. It is delicious. And just in case she wasn’t clear, Des wraps things up by saying, “I see a proposal at the end…I’m hopeful for a proposal…with Brooks” and pokes at those framed pictures for a little while.

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The men walk in and they must have been styled tonight because they are all looking their best. Des’ creepy brother loiters in a corner; it’s unimportant. Des, also looking her best, calls Brooks’ name first and then lights all the roses on fire, throws him over her shoulder and swims back to L.A.

Jokes, she gives the last two roses to Chris and Drew, and squeezes out a tear for poor, silly Zak. He is stunned and sits there quietly while Des drones on and on at him on a Breakup Bench. She gives the Atlantic City ring back – yeah you better! – because she wants him to give it to someone who he’s meant to be with. He says “Okay,” gets in the Reject Limo and proceeds to not blink for three minutes straight, only halting to throw the ring out the window. So dramatic, that one. He and Des were no match and I hope he finds someone to draw and fluid drill engineer with soon.

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Next week is Men Tell All? No thank you, bring on the tearsssssssssssss!

On Cloud Metaphor

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Apologies on bowing out of a write-up last episode. But after the secret erections and Darius Rucker concerts of episodes passed, last week was kind of a bust. Perhaps you are someone who comes here to read a quick summary and look at seedy screenshots of The Bachelorette instead of actually watching it. If so, let me tell you two things about yourself: 1. you are probably leading a more successful and fulfilling life than I, and 2. you didn’t miss much. Exceeeeeept, the emotionally draining five minute preview of the rest of the season to come, which upon first viewing, seems to reveal Drew coming out to Des as a gay man on national television: “It was never going to work.”

Upon second viewing, he might just have to leave the show early, but a girl can dream (right, Harrison?). With only five episodes left (but don’t be fooled, that’s at least 12 hours!), ABC unrolls the first fifth of that tear-stained preview with last night’s episode. But there’s hardly a tear in sight, not a single punch thrown or taken. What the hell, ABC, I spent my time on this. Oh well, at least everybody’s in loooove.

The crew is in Madeira (on Madeira?) and Des has invited her three best gal pals from Sean’s season to come “give me their opinion on the five guys that I have left.” Drink for Des getting her kicks from her Glass Menagerie of bros! Speaking of:

  •  Drink every time you realize Chris has no other destiny than to be the next Bachelor
  • Drink every time one of the bros says he’s “falling in love” with Des, or
  • Curveball! Drink every time Des says she’s “falling in love” with one of her bros
  • Drink twice every time a date activity is used as an extended metaphor for love (don’t die)

Catherine “The Winner,” Leslie “Should Have Been the Next Bachelorette because she’s Kind Weird and it would Have Been Fun” and Jackie “Her?” are the recipients of a free to trip to Madeira. Their only expenditure: pretending to be friends with Des. They are not strong actors.

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They spend a little time talking about Catherine’s new fiancé, Sean – “Remember that time we all dated him and said we loved him at the same time and then he led us on and cut us loose one by one until he was just left with you and that giant rock on your finger? What a wild and crazy ride, you guys!” – and Des cracks one of her molars she’s grinning-and-bearing-it so hard.

The girls all seem like they’re good friends, except for Des, who seems highly uncomfortable sharing her men. And who can blame her? She’s got a pretty good thing going with all of these former minor league baseball players vying for only her attention for the last eight weeks. Perhaps that’s why she keeps the women on the balcony and only allows them to yell down to the bros below. But then the ladies break into their stash of 11 A.M. liquor and it’s time to start objectifying.

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They ogle the men as they play watersports below them for a while and finally get down to business, by insisting that Des assign them superlatives:

  •  Who’s the best kisser? Drew. Uh, yeah he is, remember when he mounted you on that wall? Say what you will about Drew maybe liking dudes, he knows how to leave an impression on a lady/Des.
  •  Who’s the most successful? Michael G. Not after this show, pal.
  •  Who’s the most athletic? Chris.I’m sorry, did you say poetic or athletic? Both are Chris. He’s also got a good face and good arms and a nice smile. You’re not going to make me talk about Michael G. again, are you? Let’s talk about Chris some more…”
  • Who has the best body? Drew. Hm, things are taking an interesting turn.
  •  Who has the best eyes? Brooks. Oh, ok, back on safer ground.
  •  Who has the [bleep]est [bleep]? Damnit Catherine!

Des tells Catherine she wouldn’t know who has the bleepest bleep (the 4.3 million viewers from two weeks ago could safely throw Bryden’s hat in the ring) but also says “probably Chris.” Can you imagine if guys were talking about girls like this on The Bachelor? I guess you can tune in exactly a year from now to see how equally objectifying ABC is when Drew, Brooks and Zak come to visit Chris and he tells them all about Lindzee, Ashly, SamAntha and Klairoline. “Who’s got the biggest [bleeps]?” – Mikey T!

You might think you will see the girls again, but you will not. They have served their purpose.

Des is getting another one-on-one date with Brooks and she is excited about it. Remember way back when he was her first one-on-one date and she said “So your parents are divorced…how has that shaped your views on marriage” or some other totally casual first date conversation piece? Yeah, well that was 14 hours of television ago and Des is only going on her second date with the man who will presumably be proposing marriage to her in a few weeks. These are the days of our lives…

The two drive Des’ Smart Car up a mountain so they can picnic amongst the clouds. Listen, I once drove a Fiat up a mildly steep hill and started regretting never having written a will (who would get all of my Ann Taylor Loft clothes?!). I don’t believe for a second that Des drove them all the way up there herself. But I’m glad she’s been demoted from the Bentley, gotta keep her on her toes.

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One of them says “Welcome to Cloud 9” when they get to the top of the peak and then they never really stop saying it for the next 20 minutes. But occasionally Brooks also throws this little diddy into his confessionals: “I’m falling in love with Des.” Yeah, yeah, that’s just the lack of oxygen in the air, do yourself a favor and keep it close to the vest, bro.

They scream, “I’M ON CLOUD 9!” because Des looooves screaming stuff. Unfortunately she gets no “I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS WOMAAAAAN” from Brooks. At least, not yet.

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“We didn’t just break through the clouds, we had a break through in our relationship. – Intolerable Des (Drink!)

There’s a quick scene to let us know that Chris will get the next one-on-one date. I don’t appreciate when Des wears leather pants with leather jackets and jewel tone satin shirts but I do appreciate that she doesn’t let herself get pushed around. If she wants to go on dates with the two bros she likes the most, she’s going to do it. And then as punishment, she’ll do a one-on-one with Michael G., fine.

Des and Brooks go to dinner, and while she is dressed in a cute sequined skirt, Brooks has reached his hand deep into his rolly-duffel and grabbed everything terrible he can get his hands on. Perhaps he has some sort of Utah style that I do not understand, but with no exaggeration, this is what he has chosen to wear on their date: a waffle weave rugby cardigan with horizontal brown and navy stripes, over a vertical-striped collared shirt with a black undershirt and (potentially) brown corduroys. “If your sweater has 6 defining adjectives, it’s too much” – Coco Chanel, I think.

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Brooks pulls a classic Brooks and gets a little misty (drink!) talking about his family and how much they all care about each other. It’s sweet because, unlike some people *cough*JAMES*cough* his tears aren’t full of lies. It’s enough to prompt Des to say in her interview, “I’m fallin’ in love with Brooks” like she’s damn Britney Spears. You’ll never have a successful career ahead of you hosting 15 minute bits on the TV Guide Channel if you can’t put Gs at the end of your words, Des! I hear music and immediately assume the worst: private concert. But it’s just fireworks to end a great date.

“I love fireworks and kissin’ Brooks is like fireworks.” – Second Strike Des

Des swings by to pick Chris up the next morning and all of the other bros yell farewells to them from their balcony. “Oh hey, there are my four best friends, bidding me adue as I go to take the girlfriend we all share on a date.” I guarantee you there are a large percentage of people who watch this show and also think online dating is weird, and to those people I say, “What the hell?”

While they’re walking to the boat that will take them to their private location, Chris grabs Des’ hand to drag her faster and says, “I’ll break those fingers!” I like your style, Chris. And then the worst thing happens. They get to their private island, they’re enjoying a picnic, Chris is talking about how their “chemistry is pretty legit,” and then *BOOM* they’re live-blogging a poem. What happened?? Everything was fine. But I guess it’s the main thing they have in common (other than looking like brother and sister), so Chris suggests they write a poem right then and there and send it into the sea in a bottle. I can’t listen to the words they string together, but I assure you, they rhyme, they are all in inverted syntax and they would earn them a solid 89 on their 9th grade poetry/collage project.

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Chris is having the time of his life and tells us he’s falling in love in his confessional (drink!). He’s about to say he’s on cloud nine and you can almost literally see the shadow of a producer dragging his finger across his throat so he changes to, “I’m on cl-…I’m up here” and gesture at cloud-level with is hands.

The two head to dinner and Chris is ready to go full-Des, by being the first to tell the Bachelor(ette) he loves her. He get so nervous (probably on account of only knowing her a few weeks), he starts knocking tables over and sweating. Well, he calls it “sweating,” but when you spent the Fourth of July outdoors in DC, you call what he’s doing “cool as a cucumber.” Distracting himself a bit, Chris asks if Des usually introduces her family to the dudes she’s dating and she tells him only her high school boyfriend because she’s “been on her own for so long.” So… we’re just not going to talk about Sean meeting your family on national television and your brother almost eating his face, then? OK, cool. And, in eight months, when Chris is The Bachelor, we just won’t talk about how he wrote you 18 poems either. Ah, yes, here comes number 19.

Chris has written Des a poem called “Independently Defined,” which he must have written right after their day date, because Des spent the whole thing talking about how independent she is and ends with “I love you.” Des cries and makes out with his face.

The Final one-on-one is Michael the Terrible Dresser with the Mostly Terrible Personality. I don’t want to talk about it that much, except to say, that they do this really fun high-speed-rickshaw down a steep street, and then Michael ruins it by pulling this out: “Love is a wild ride, and sometimes it’s scary…” (just finish your drinks, it’s the only way we’ll make it through this). 

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For the more serious portion of their date, Michael G. professes his like for Des and she gives him the “Aw…that’s so nice” of death. He keeps trying, telling her about how his last serious relationship ended because he saw a picture of his girlfriend on top of a ski slope in Vail with another dude, which is an aggressive form of cheating.

Zak and Drew are getting geared up for their two-on-one (less exciting than it sounds) and Zak says, “I’m in love with this girl, I’ve known her for weeks” because Zak is a clueless and funny guy. I like Drew because he’s always kind of nervous and instead of writing poetry about it, he just acts nervous and thrusts Des against walls.

I guess Zak talks about some stuff on their date, but Des really only has eyes for Drew because of his face, and because he tells her all about his family and his sister with disabilities. When he tells Des that he wants her come with him (pending a Home Visit) to pick up his sister from her special needs home, she seems truly excited. Uh, have fun waiting for your rose at the rose ceremony like the rest of these suckers Zak, because Drew has got this in the bag. The make out and Drew whispers “I’ve fallen for you” and then you stop being able to see one of Des’ hands.

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With all of the men frantic and wearing varying degrees of evening wear, Chris Harrison shows up to earn his weekly $18 mil and chat with Des about who she’s cutting lose. She’s pretty calm and when CH asks about Brooks she pulls her signature move by disguising a compliment of herself in a compliment of Brooks: “We’re like the same person… witty and sarcastic and creative and imaginative, but still serious.” She then uses some tricky code language she and Brooks made up for love, to say she’s “crossed the finish line,” aka, fallen in love, with Brooks. Chris. Harrison. Is. Shocked. This is unprecedented! Bachelor(ette)s never profess love this early. Oh, what’s that, Des? You’re in love with Chris too? Oh, you’re kind of in love with Drew too? Alright, cool, it’s going to be smooth sailing through Michael G. and Zak, and then you are going to absolutely lose your mind. I guess we know when all of those tears come in.

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Michael G. is wearing his craziest eyes for the ceremony. He looks the best he’s ever looked, which is good, because he’s going to get a lot of camera time in that limo. Brooks gets called first because Des is most in love with him, surely not because he is wearing a Hanes v-neck undershirt with a blazer. Then Chris, because she loves him second most, then Drew because he’s pretty, then Zak because there’s another rose on the table.

Michael G. starts shooting laser beams out of his eyes and is a little green and sweaty while Des insists on breaking up with him for ten more minutes than she needs to. But then he gets it together, and gives the best performance he’s given all season. He makes Des feel bad by saying his mom will be as sad as he is, he makes her give him a hug, wishes her the best of luck, and gets in the car and calls his mom. Best of luck to you Michael G., I hope you don’t get fired from your job.

And FINALLY, after weeks of acting like he doesn’t exist, next week is home visits, and they’re bringing in the big guns: Des’ brother. It is unclear whether he meets the guys, but it is very clear that he has gotten more hand tattoos, is still pretty unhinged and will spend most of his time lurking in corners spying on the bros. Oh, and Brooks’ family seems really cute and Chris’ dad gives Des a weird massage. See you next week!

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Morality in The Parent Trap

I watched a little bit of The Parent Trap yesterday, a movie I have always loved, and have always been able to watch from starting point until “This Will Be” led me to the credits. But not this time.

When I was six, I used to watch the original Hayley Mills The Parent Trap at my neighbors’ house two to three times a week. I would just stomp over (probably barefoot because I lived in Texas) to see if they were home, one thing on my mind. Actually, two things, because they had a 6 foot tall stuffed Paddington Bear  that I sat on like a bean bag chair while I watched Susan and Sharon bond and pick up British accents and forcibly make their parents fall in love. My neighbors didn’t even have kids for me to watch with, but they had Push Pops, a VCR and a willingness to let a little red-headed troll into their house everyday in the summer. I’m sure they would have just given me the video, but they probably understood that the solo trips I took down the street to their house were an important part of my growing autonomy…and they definitely weren’t going to give me Paddington.

But yesterday I watched the 1998 Lindsay Lohan version, on the comfort of my own non-bear-couch in a house where I buy my own Push Pops. And, I don’t know if it was the knowledge of what was to come for Lindsay or, now at 25, finally being closer to Parent-age, than Trap-age, but something about this classic felt dark.

I switched out of watching a DVR’d Marcy Martha May Marlene (OK, that movie as prerequisite could have something to do with the foreboding feeling) to discover that whatever channel the cable box was on had gotten most of The Parent Trap, no commercials. I rewound to start with the side-bang-cutting/ear-piercing scene, because that is the best part, and it also means you’re only minutes away from Hallie wearing all of those cute, tiny Herringbone suits. And, of course, with the suits comes Natasha Richardson as the glamorous mother with the all-shades-of-white town house, ragingly successful British bridal business and the pipe-smoking Manic Pixie Dream Dad.

I loved Elizabeth James. At age ten, I just knew that, given the opportunity, I could also turn a photo shoot around by putting a white top hat under the model’s wedding veil. Imagine: a female…in a top hat! This was a creative woman.

But this time around, I couldn’t love her the same – I still teared up when she and Hallie met her for the first time on the stairs and I was just as envious of her effortless trench coat as I was at age 10 – I couldn’t get past the very fundamental premise of this movie: those two parents split up their kids and then never told them that the other one existed and planned on lying to them for the rest of their lives, if that pesky Isolation Cabin hadn’t gotten in the way.

What??? I don’t care how handsome 1998 Dennis Quaid was, he willingly chose one little baby Lindsay Lohan over the other baby Lindsay Lohan and then destined that baby to never see that other baby, who was her identical twin sister,ever again. And then those babies grow up, go to the same camp, shit all over each other for a little while, have a meet-cute over Oreos (this, I get), figure out they’re twins and decide the best course of action is to rejoin the two adults who have potentially sociopathic tendencies to raise them together again, and help them grow into adults and make decisions like where to go college, and, at which point they should willingly separate their own children.

Listen, I get suspending reality and that this is a movie for children. I am not under the impression that two kids like Mary Kate and Ashley could transverse a snowy landscape to make it to their grandmother’s house by Christmas, or whatever the hell that movie is about. I can also understand that a parent choosing not to be a part of their biological child’s life is fairly common and sometimes siblings, even identical twins, get separated by extenuating circumstances.

What I could not get over this time around, is the glamorization of it all; and The Parent Trap was certainly the ultimate in 11-year-old cool. The twin that didn’t live in England with her absent mother, lived  at a vineyard and rode horses and had a pool with her absent father. And when they all get back together, it’s a happy love fest on a yacht in trendy kimono dresses, without even a hint of emotional scarring on lingering abandonment issues. Neat.

I’ve got to wonder how many kids with an absent parent gained some false hope from the happy ending in The Parent Trap, or if there will be a spike in divorce rates as the children raised on 1998 The Parent Trap come to marrying age. And also, famine and murder and heart disease.

The point isn’t that this movie ruined my childhood; it’s that it was actually a pretty big part of my childhood and now I can’t watch it without thinking of all the potential it has to ruin someone else’s. You know…like Lindsay Lohan, for example. If you have any answers on how to get past it’s shady premise, you can find me in my Ask or at 1-800-how-many-other-childhood-favorites-can-I-not-watch-anymore-because-I-now-have-an-understanding-of-adult-morality, extension: TEARS.

You’re not helping, Hallie.