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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bachelor 101: An Idiot’s Guide to Falling

First things first, we’re approaching the point in the season where these recaps are going to be a bit less snarky than they’ve been in the past. This is because as more contestants get eliminated and real feelings begin to develop, a lot of the drama and opportunities to poke fun disappear. That’s not to say that I won’t still get my shots in, but ultimately I watch this show for the same reason most of y’all do--because I want to see two people fall in love.

Yeah, yeah…yuck it up. 

Secondly, this week’s episode was kind of unique in that it offered up a sort of how-to guide for life on The Bachelor. In addition to the usual drama, this episode showed us several dos and don’ts for lasting on the show. As a result, this week--in addition to my standard recap--I’ll be highlighting the lessons we learned in beautiful Park City, Utah. 

As the show opens, we see Ben soaring high above the mountaintops…in his very own helicopter! Look, I love a good ‘copter ride as much as the next guy, but would it kill us to get some variation in modes of transport here? How about a shot of Ben weaving through forests on a hang-glider? Or a jet-pack? Hell, at this point, I’d rather see him bounce from place to place on a pogo stick…but maybe that’s just me.

Ben notes that he’s bringing the ladies to Park City because he wants them to experience the outdoors. He adds that nature is a big part of his life, and based on the subsequent shots of him standing by a river and staring thoughtfully into the distance while sitting on a horse, I can tell he really means it.

Meanwhile, a few miles away Kacie B is already complaining about how much she misses Ben and hates the idea of him spending time with the other girls. In general, I really like Kacie B; but she’s falling into the same trap that someone falls into every season--she’s looking at this like it’s a normal dating situation, where not wanting the person you’re dating to go on dates with other people or kiss other people is normal. But in Bachelor-land, dealing with those things is as routine as a morning poop…which brings us to our first lesson:

Lesson 1: This isn’t Kansas anymore, so you might as well embrace Munchkinland:

As much as you might want this to be a normal dating situation, it isn’t ever going to be. The fact that a camera crew is present to document your every move should be your first clue. Besides, unless you happen to have never seen a TV before, you know how this show works…the lead dates several men or women, slowly whittling them down until he picks the one person he or she (theoretically) wants to spend the rest of his or her life with. 

But even knowing that, someone always develops a connection early on, and then spends the rest of their time slowly unravelling at the thought of losing it. 

“We kissed! Yay!” 

“Now he’s kissing her…oh no!” 

“But then he looked at ME! Huzzah!” 

“But he gave HER the rose. (Sniff, Sniff) How could I be so blind?? ” 
If you try to analyze dating the Bachelor or Bachelorette as if it were real life, you’re going to go crazy. Instead, you need to embrace the uniqueness of the experience. In real life, relationships typically develop slowly over time. Here, they happen so fast, that all the dates with other people almost NEED to happen for the lead to be sure of his final choice. So to Kacie B, and all future Kacie Bs, I say this: Encourage your Bachelor to go on other dates. Encourage him to explore his feelings for other people. Because in the end, if he picks you, you want him to do so knowing he made an intelligent, well thought out decision. That way you might actually stand a chance of lasting longer than a Super Bowl halftime show.

Back to the action, the first one-on-one date goes to Rachel, whom I also really like. She’s gorgeous, seems very low maintenance, and has that raspy smoker/1-900 number operator’s voice that I can’t help but find sexy. She’s a little worried because in the past she’s had trouble opening up early in relationships.  This brings us to

Did you say something? No, that was just the crickets.

Lesson 2: You don’t need a book of conversation starters, but have some stuff in mind.
I always found it hilarious that Ryan Park bought a book of conversation starters and carried around a pad on which to jot down notes of things to tell Ashley, but in a way he had the right idea. As Chris Harrison says every week, you’re only going to get a limited amount of time with the lead, so you need to be prepared to use it wisely. Now, you don’t have to go the extent Ryan did, but you should always be ready and willing to communicate when it comes your turn for some one on one time.

Rachel’s date was a prime example of someone who wasn’t prepared for their time when it came. Watching her and Ben stare off into space silently drinking champagne or make idle conversation about the weather was so awkward that I had to start to drinking. Not that I’m opposed to that…at all…but still. In my mind, Rachel’s voice is one of her best attributes, and she just seemed content to let her time with Ben pass by without using it. This is an excerpt from their actual conversation:

Ben: It’s so beautiful out here. 

Rachel: It is.

Ben: It’s so quiet.

Rachel: It is.

Ben: And so romantic.

Rachel: It is.

I’m sorry, what? I’ve gotten better conversation from a statue of Teddy Roosevelt. Granted, I was hammered at the time, but you see my point. Thank God for Rachel she’s hot enough and it’s still early enough in the game that Ben excuses her, saying their relationship must just be a “slow burn,” so she skates by…for now.  But she needs to step up her game pronto or her slow burn will be a no burn before long. 

Moving on, this week’s group date takes the ladies horse back riding and fly-fishing. Ben says he’s excited about the date because he’ll get to see how the ladies take to the outdoors and embrace something that they maybe don’t have a lot of experience with. The ladies, however, are more excited because they think Michelle’s…err, Courtney’s…true colors will finally shine through. There was one big lesson to take away from this date:

Catching a man is like catching a fish. One down, one to go bitch!

Lesson 3: You can’t win if you don’t play the game

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not Courtney’s biggest admirer. Yes, she’s good-looking, funny, and has a confidence that one can’t help but find attractive. But at the same time, she’s rude, mean-spirited, and she won’t…stop…saying…WINNING! It’s like 1) Make up a catch phrase of your own, or 2) if you insist on using someone else’s, please--for the love of GOD--keep it current. Winning hasn’t been funny since before I went on the show, almost a year ago. That would be like me running around telling everyone to ‘eat my shorts’ or ‘synchronize watches.’ The only exception to this rule is if the catch phrase is old enough that it’s become so uncool that it’s cool again--“DY-no-MITE!” from Good Times is an excellent example.

One thing I WILL say for Courtney, however, is that she knows how to play the game. While other girls stood to the side drinking, talking to the other ladies, or even fishing, she engaged Ben and pulled him away so she could have more time with him. Further, she was exceedingly complimentary when he showed her how to fly-fish and, although luck may have played a part, she was even able to catch a fish which had the added benefit of making him feel like a good teacher. 

What’s more is that later, at the after-party, when Courtney saw that Ben was probably going to give the group date rose to Kacie B., she had the presence of mind to bust out one of the oldest tricks in the book--cat and mouse--and pretended to be pulling away from Ben ‘because the experience was just so hard on her.’ As an old proverb says, ‘we pursue that which retreats from us.’ Courtney used that knowledge  to sway Ben into giving her the rose. 

Manipulators...mount up.
Compare that to Kacie B’s actions on the group date. When she received one on one time with Ben, she was very sweet, very open and was completely honest about her feelings. In other words, she didn’t play any games at all. In real life, this is the right thing to do. In real life, being real almost always wins out in the end. But again, this isn’t real life. There isn’t always enough time for Ben to get to know when the girls well enough to know when they’re being forthright and when they’re playing the game, which leaves him more open to being manipulated.

Does this justify Courtney’s actions? No. But you have to give her credit--she realizes that at least a part of this experience is competition, and she uses all possible angles to her advantage. 

The next one-on-one date goes to Jennifer. From her date we learned

Lesson 4: This show really likes metaphors.

Love is like a dark, smelly abyss...wait.

I’m sorry. I like Jennifer; I really do. She seems very sweet, and down to earth. But I can’t spend too much time talking about this date because all the ‘taking the plunge,’ and ‘diving in deeper’ metaphors were making me gag on my Chipotle. 

I also wonder about dates like these where there is a concert scheduled after the rose is to be handed out. What if Ben decided not to keep her? Would the concert be cancelled? Would all those people be told they couldn’t see Clay Walker just because Ben didn’t think he and Jennifer had a future together? Or would Ben be forced to dance awkwardly on the podium all by himself? 

My point is, I wonder if dates like those are given to people he already knows he’s going to keep around. If so, there really isn’t much to learn here.

Finally comes time for the Cocktail Party and Rose Ceremony. Here, Emily apparently gets amnesia and forgets everything she learned in kindergarten because she becomes yet another contestant on this series to make one of the worst mistakes you can make in this situation:

Courtney stole my snack pack!

Lesson 5: Nobody likes a tattle tale.

Remember when you were a kid and you saw Bobby Johnson stealing crayons, or Suzy Long drinking someone else’s milk? Your brain told you this wasn’t fair, so you did the first thing that came to mind--you told on the them. Except, much to your surprise, no one was ever happy with you when you reported the offense. Maybe you were scolded; maybe you were even punished yourself…but the lesson you took away was always the same: NOBODY likes a tattle tale.

Bitches be frontin!
It’s so simple, and we all know it. Yet somehow every season someone decides that it’s their job to tell the lead that someone acts differently around them than they do everyone else in the house. There was the Weatherman, then William, and now Emily. Emily even says she thinks Ben will be HAPPY when she throws another girl under the bus.

Of course he isn’t, which makes things awkward between the two and destroys most of the progress they’d made on their one-on-one. Further, it gets back to Courtney, who says she’d like ‘to rip her head off and verbally assault her.’ (Courtney, if you’re going to verbally assault someone, you should probably do it BEFORE you rip their head off. Otherwise, what’s the point?) As a result of all this, Emily very nearly goes home. 

But in the end, she’s saved when Ben somewhat surprisingly chooses instead to eliminate Monica. Monica is the only person sent home at the rose ceremony, since Samantha was asked to leave earlier at the group date. I find myself feeling bad for her, because I was the only person eliminated in Phuket and can relate with the sting of being the one person deemed to be not good enough to continue on. 

But on the bright side Monica, at least you got walked out!

Ok, kids…that’s all for now. I’ll be back next week when we go to sunny Puerto Rico! It looks like we’ll see Emily continuing to throw Courtney under the bus, to which Courtney responds by showing Ben her lady parts. Mmm, cattiness and nudity…I’m in!


  1. Love your recaps, West! Although I couldn't get away from the statement you made that Courtney is good-looking. Do most guys agree? I can tell you that most girls don't think she is. Hmm...good ol' Bachelor.

    - Meghan

  2. I have the same question as Meghan because Courtney's pretty but nothing spectacular and her personality sucks. That's not regarding, how she is acting to the other women, but in her interaction with Ben. She's always acting and talking like a little girl, trying to do the sexy twirl your hair, making pouty faces and acting very immature. She likes herself more than I'm certain anyone else does, other than her parents, perhaps. Some of the other women appear genuine, fun, smart and not at all fake in their interactions with Ben. If everyone, other than Casey, doesn't like her, then that's your first clue. And, it definitely isn't because she got a rose or the women are jealous of her; they just don't understand WHAT Ben sees in her!