I have a good friend who makes fun of me for watching trash TV. He is probably right, but, man oh man, he had no idea what he is missing. See, the key to enjoying TV is not to take it seriously. Enjoy it for what it is. It is the kind of suspended consciousness you use while watching wrestling or any romantic comedy in which a guy falls for Drew Barrymore - deep down you know better, but you want to enjoy it.
So, here is my guide for how to enjoy The Bachelorette....
Ashley Hebert, the dental school student/dance enthusiast, was brought back after the Brad Redux Season as this year's Bachelorette. As only the most hardcore fans remember, she kind of flaked out on Brad last season when she ran out of platitudes and lost her mojo from her early season dates that had made her the front runner. Luckily, she is back this season with a new hair color and ready for some fun. Remember, the key to being a good time is a new hair color and wardrobe provided by ABC.
(Sidenote: what kind of dental school lets a student out long enough to appear on not one but two realty shows? Does she go to ITT Tech School of Dentistry?)
I love this show for a couple of reasons. All of which can be summarized as nothing is what it seems.
First, it is a game. The key to the show is ignoring what they are saying and figuring out how they are trying to play the game strategically. In this way, the Bachelorette is superior because the guys are much more blunt about what they want to do. They want to "win" and by "win" I mean get married....sort of. This franchise has a worse marriage record than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Second, this show runs on cliches. One of my favorite parts of the show is the use of certain cliches as signals of what is going on. With the girls on the Bachelor, they always say that they are "falling" or some derivative of that phrase (Ex. "I might be falling for you" = I want you to pick me over that skank Starlight.....). My personal favorite with the Bachelorette is that the guys always have to justify that they are "here for the right reasons"... I want just once to hear a guy be honest and say they are their for the overnight date in the mystery suite...The real reason anyone comes on is to further an alterior motive - making it fun to guess what these motives are. A couple of seasons back wanna-be bad boy Wes bragged to other guys he was there to help his music career - only later to reveal that he only knew one song which harmed him irreparably. Ignore the love part. It is fake anyway. Its about the game. Think of it like wrestling. Enjoy the story and the skill. Pretend it is real. It is entertainment.
Finally, the unintentional comedy is off the charts. This show has little to no self-awareness which is just how it should be. Here are people talking about being in love/falling in love while their potential boo is over in the jacuzzi making out with four guys and the lady holding the boom mike. Call me romantic, but that is true love.
One thing to never forget:
Everyone is there for the wrong reasons - they appeared on TV in hopes of finding their soul mate. We might each have our own journey, but I doubt you want to have the convo with your son about how you knew his mother was the one when she made out with you before and after another Fernando and the fact she re-applied her Bert's Bees lip balm before coming back for more smoochin' told you it was for real.
Some Useful Lessons Displayed in Episode 1's Standouts
- Screen Test: The Butcher: I have never seen someone so completely miscast for a show. Anthony aka The Butcher proved once and for all that you cannot impress a lady by acting like an extra from the Sopranos. He spent the whole night rattling off monologues like he was at an audition for Goodfellas. The worst part was at the end when he acted like himself and actually seemed like a cool dude. Whoever suggested he act like a Ray Liotta wannabe gave you bad advice. The lesson learned from this is that guys play roles on this show like they are straight out of Central Casting and usually do so poorly. So next time a butcher gives you advice about anything other than a T-bone, politely decline
- After School Special: Need a Designated Driver Much?: One of the single greatest moments in reality TV history happened Monday night, some guy named Tim who by profession runs a liquor distributorship became so intoxicated that he could not stay on his feet or stay awake. In one of those awkward moments clearly staged for reality TV, Ashley had to go wake the drunk Tim up and then had him carried to a cab by four of the other beau hunks. As if that was not enough. Ashley, who had not spoken to sober Tim for more than three minutes, at the most, pontificated about whether or not Tim was an alcoholic. One truly bizarre afterschool special! The moral of the story is that reality TV has a hair-trigger for truly bizarre moralizing...so... The More You Know!
- Mama's boy: Here is another thing you will only hear on the Bachelorette: "I love a mama's boy." Exact quote by the lovely Ashley! Long story short, one of the contestants/bachelors called him mom from his cell phone to let his mom talk to Ashley. The only thing that pulled it out for Loser #1 was the fact that the mom was pretty funny. Things turned super awkward when the mom admonished them to use protection on the overnight date. Don't worry mom, the awkward phone call definitely ensured he will not be getting into any Situations.... Can anyone imagine this in real life?
- The Mask: This season's big twist is that one of the contestants is voluntarily wearing a mask. Well not like one of those weird Richard Nixon masks worn by robbers and Patrick Swayze (see Point Break), but one like you wear to a masquerade ball. The funniest part of this is that the other contestants are infuriated by this. In the normal world, you would ignore the guy as being a weirdo. However, on the Bachelorette, this somehow makes him the biggest threat. They took it seriously. I guess it was because, wait for it, he was there for the right reasons.... Reality TV is the gift that keeps on giving
- Cellphone Salesmen = Damaged Goods: Every season, someone seems like a real catch but they have a mysterious past that usually includes having their heart broken for an inexplicable reason. This season the guilty party was William the cell phone salesman from Ohio. Ashley even said it - he seems perfect. In the world of reality TV, this should be a giant red flag. If a guy is on this show looking for love as if this show is his last and only option, he is probably damaged goods. For you viewers out there, when you see this, you should look carefully for the flaw because it will show itself eventually. In this case, Will proceeded to do a lackluster Sean Connery impression and followed it by his riff on how he never wants to grow up - ode to Toys 'r' us! You might as well have had a sign over his head dinging while flashing damaged goods. But hey, it's all good.
- Tugging the Heart Strings: Go West Young Man: In a teaser preview of the contestants, one of the dudes - who happened to be named West - instantly endeared himself to the loyal audience when he shared the tragic loss of his wife of 7 years who died in an unfortunate accident a few years ago. In real life, this would have been a touching story, but in the world of the Bachelorette, this was currency. The minute ABC played that clip he was guaranteed a 5 episode arc. Undoubtedly, he will roll along with his charisma playing up jokes based on his names only to reveal his true past and earn two more episodes and the possibility of an episode to be named later. Long story short, in the world of reality TV, human interest stories are like the golden ticket from Willy Wonka. But he was there for the right reasons remember!
In the end, the real lesson of the Bachelorette is encapsulated in Bentley. Bentley an entrepreneur from Utah who it appears from a teaser clip owns a Bounce-around and calls that a business venture. Anyway, from contestant interviews, we know that Bentley is admittedly on the show to promote himself and ultimately to trick poor Ashley. The dramatic twist to this is that Ashley was warned beforehand by a former contestant who knew of the plot. Despite the forewarning, Ashley decides that she is going to give him a chance and later in the show we see a preview in which she proclaims her love for Bentley.
From this, we learn two things that are the ultimate lessons from the show:
- All girls know each other - no one on the show even flinched when Ashley was told before the show even started to film - both the identity and intentions of an unnamed man. This just confirms my suspicion - girls are part of a secret network guys don't know about similar to the one the dogs had in 101 Dalmatians that was so mysterious yet made so much sense.
- Finally, even on TV girls go for the jerks - this show confirms what we have known all along - girls go for awful guys. This is case in point - Ashley was told what he was going to do, he did it, and she fell for it. Yet, we feel sorry for her. Some call this lame, I call it compelling TV.