Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reflections on The Bachelor

Thank God that's over. As much as I do enjoy a good The Women Tell All show, ABC has done a fantastic job upping the ante for their final episode and the ever so terribly dramatic After the Final Rose show. So it's no surprise that I had little interest last night in rehashing Megan and Erica's cat fights, hearing Orange McOrangePants from Suburban Chicago defensively talk about how fantastic she is, or checking in (yet again) with Trista and Ryan.

I do have to say that one fantastic bit of Bachelor/ette knowledge gleaned was the existence of Caesar, the seemingly sweet and unassuming limo driver who's stuck with ABC lo these long seventeen seasons, despite his better judgment. Between Chris Harrison giving the bro-hug to Caesar and pounding it with Jason ("Hey, man!"), I kinda wish Chris Harrison were every guy's BFF. I think the world might be a better place.

So as the interweb world fell apart in the chaos of conspiracy theories speculating about the uber-dramatic Finale and ATFR episodes ("I heard Jason dumps Melissa, proposes to Molly, dumps Molly, proposes to Jillian, then instead absconds with Orange McOrangepants to Chicago where they run into Noelle and Fred and where, after a night of revelry and "amazing" self-discovery, Jason sets up a storefront kissing booth to satisfy his lady cravings..."), it was nice to finally return to something pure and true to reality TV, like the WTA episode. It reminded us all of simpler times. (See below.)

The recent complaints of some Bachelor fans may have been slightly put to rest last night with the on-screen revelations of Holly and Jesse's relationship, as well as Noelle and Fred. (Noelle and Fred, btw, are totally adorbs.) That something "real" might be squeezed out of this reality show, even if it happens long after their seasons are over and only when the cameras aren't rolling, might reassure some fans who have sworn off Chris Harrison and the rest of the gang. Scripting of a TV show?! Well, I never!

I suppose I don't watch The Bachelor/ette to experience love through the eyes of a demi-celebrity on a reality TV show. If their relationship falls apart after the fact, so what? I had my cake watching the entertaining, and often ridiculous, drama that Chris Harrison and Company cooked up during the season--I don't need to eat it too.

What would The Bachelor be without fame-seekers like Matt Grant and Shayne Lamas? Or habitual inmates like Mary Delgado? Or the gratuitous ab shots of Jason Mesnick and his rehearsed hugs with his dragged-through-the-muck-of-reality-TV son, Ty? Can these camera-loving people like this really find love on national television as they drag innocent bystanders (see: Ty, Melissa's parents) through the process with them? I personally don't think so.

That doesn't mean the show doesn't work. Maybe more "normal" people can find love, like Trista and Ryan (who to their credit, seem almost boringly normal) or the recently be-sobered and be-normaled Charlie and Sarah (Probably not. Their stint last night reeked of seeking-new-TV-show-and-cash-money-contracts.). Maybe Jillian, should she come back to the show as The Bachelorette, could find someone normal too. But those normal people like Jillian are a breath of fresh air to a show clouded with the stormy drama queens (and kings) like Shayne, Orange McOrangepants, or Ryan from DeAnna's season. (Remember Ryan's bleep? Ah, the good old days.)

But let's be genuine here--those precious drama queens and kings are really what make the show enjoyable. Without them to temper the sweetness, The Bachelor would be a saccharine slope so slippery with sugar and rose petals that we'd probably all go careening down its side and wind up changing the channel to watch something like Gossip Girl or Bridezillas just to get a decent dose of vile.

So I can't blame ABC if this finale is scripted or tweaked or whatever else. It's what I'm watching and what I want to watch, so I'm asking for it. Give me what I want, Chris Harrison!

So until next week's uber-dramatic finale and ATFR episode, I am imagining the couples who--like Holly and Jesse or Noelle and Fred--might belong together. The Bachelor/ette may not have brought them together in front of the cameras, but my friends, these people are destined for one another. Any thoughts on other couples of Bachelor/ettes past who belong together? Here are just a few of the couples and how they will most certainly meet.

Nikki and Jeremy

Perfectionists at the core, Nikki and Jeremy met at a self-improvement seminar hosted by Chris Harrison. Jeremy reminded Nikki that long before Jason stole his ab thunder, he rocked the abs of steel for DeAnna. Meanwhile Nikki absent-mindedly pinned her 'do into place and used L.A. Looks gel of steel to mold her stray hairs into place. Today, they run a Vitamin Shoppe together in southwest Chicago burbs where Jeremy doles out law advice on the cheap and Nikki, selling all-natural teeth whiteners, knocks the confidence of future beauty queens.

Brian and Stephanie

The two sweet former contestants ran into one another at a vegan bakery where Stephanie had brought Sophia for a special cupcake because it was a Saturday, and that is how the wonderful mother and daughter spent their time together on Saturday. The Silver Fox, upon seeing them there, swept Stephanie up into his arms, bought a car seat for Sophia, and the rest is history.

Matt and Raquel

Recognizing their common bond of superior international descent, Matt and Raquel met in Barcelona where Matt had gone to party away his Hollywood sorrows. It took only one salsa dance about the room with Raquel to tame the Brit Bach into domestic bliss. They now run a dance studio together in Mumbai and served as extras on the final dance scene of Slumdog Millionaire.

Kelly and Erika

As two loud drunks from seasons past, the two ladies met at a bar, challenged each other to a drinking contest, took some snakebite shots together and immediately recognized their bond. They now run a therapy center together, where they occasionally host conferences entitled "I'm a Reality TV Reject, Now What? : Recovering From Your Televised Post-Traumatic Stress."

Twilley and Shannon

Twigs and Resident Bachelor Stalker Shannon met at a post-traumatic stress conference hosted by Kelly and Erika. The two skittered into one another, Shannon rubbed some black napkin on her face, they fell in love and lived happily ever after.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oh-oh, uh... I'm sorry, I'm not ready. Oh, no. You go ahead--no, you.

I'm notoriously bad about making decisions, particularly on the spot and especially when I feel out of place. Some people imagine hell as a place with brimstone and fire. My hell includes choices of toppings, condiments, and a waitress named Daisy who wants to know if I prefer white or wheat. God help me.

John is unfortunately familiar with my habit of waffling over menus and panicking in smaller, more intimate environments. In a Chipotle, I can never remember what salsa I like best (mild with just a little bit of medium, Caitlin! how can you forget this?!) and consistently forget to order my Burrito Bowl "to go," even if I'm eating in, just so I can shake it up and evenly distribute that lettuce throughout the whole bowl. It tastes worlds better, I swear.

I let people ahead of me in line because I can't choose a muffin; I surrender to the barista when I can't make a coffee drink choice; I flounder and order specials because I can't choose between the French onion soup and a French dip.

So when I decided to grab Subway for lunch the other day, John coached me through it via gChat. Needless to say, I don't go to Subway very often. Perhaps a belated New Year's Resolution should be increased decisiveness.

John: dont panic in line

me: i'll try not to!
John: just take your time and think about what toppings you want
and if they give you too much or too little, don't be afraid to tell them
me: are tey going to ask me questions?!
John: you can do it
1:25 PM me: oh no!
John: don't panic!
calm down
and just say may i please have a sandwich
me: cause i really don't want black olives on my sandwich.
John: and then answer their questions one at a time
that's ok--you just tell them that
me: will they name the toppings for me?
1:26 PM or am i expected to be such a regular that i will know them?
John: no, you have to look at them
me: oh god
John: there's a clear plastic
it's called a sneeze guard
me: i know these
John: good!
now we're getting somewhere
me: the toppings will be visible beyond the sneeze guard
1:27 PM John: yes
me: okay.
John: you think you can do it?
me: i'm not sure what's going to be good on my sandwich
i'm afraid i'm going to screw it up
1:28 PM John: onions and lettuce for show
beyond that its up to you :)
me: ok
John: maybe ask them what they recommend
me: i'm watching a video on it
John: also, you have five different breads to choose from
five breads?
i hate this.
okay, i give up.
1:29 PM i'm not eating lunch.
thank you for trying to help me though


Monday, February 16, 2009

The Bachelor: Jason Goes to New Zealand and Gets on a Boat

Chris Harrison kicks us off this episode with another over-extended recap of the entire season, which thankfully only lasts about about five minutes. (As compared with last week’s twenty-five minute rehashing—this was a welcome break.)

So here we finally are on our Fantasy Dates! One man. Three beautiful women. On the dates of a lifetime. And in one of the most beautiful places in the world: New Zealand!!

Here we are in Seattle at the Sleepless house once more with Jason packin’ up to head out to NZ. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to Ty again, Jason tells us. (Really? It’s starting to feel like he’s a pro at it.) ABC’s production assistants did a nice job on this one, cuing up a framed shot of Ty’s baby picture next to a framed shot of him and Dad together, throw in some keys, a plane ticket all thrown on the dresser, and bam! Emotion. THIS is how television is made.

Rehashing the ladies one more time for us, I do pick up on some new details.

Re: Jillian. Way back when Jillian was rocking the side ponytail and the hot dog shtick, ABC used gaffe tape to cover up the French’s Mustard label. Nice! Oh, and the same old same old about how Jillian needs to be more than a friend. Yawn. “If there’s passion, I can see myself married to Jillian.”

Re: Molly. Jason tells us that he thinks that Molly was kind of held back at first. If you’ll recall, Molly’s special talent was “kissing,” which Jason found very reserved. That’s why he invited her over for the overnight date. “On our first date, Molly slept over—I mean, we totally hit it in the Tent of Love! I mean, she spent the night slumber-party style with two separate sleeping bags, kids.” Jason’s V/O keeps things nice and vague: “We need our relationship to go to the next level--” (Read: They need to start doing more than just flirt and stare into one another’s eyes and chew one each other’s faces.) “If that happens, Molly is someone I could spend the rest of my life with.”

Re: Melissa. “Melissa immediately reminded me of my ex and of Deanna,” Jason tells us. Fantastic. Sounds healthy. We also got a nice flashback to that emotional wrap party, and I suddenly realize how alcohol-fueled all those tears were. So what’s holding Jason back from Melissa. Her terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad family. The fact that they didn’t’ show for the hometown date made Jason question “whether Melissa is really serious.” Uhhh… Okay. So Jason now wants to spend his time with Melissa in NZ getting to know why she had to insist on her parents not wanting to meet him. Great.

Welcome to New Zealand!
Jason visits yet another beach—this time wearing his shirt—where he tells us that these fantasy dates are an opportunity to spend some real “quality” time, “and more than that, we get to spend the night together!” Oh, and uh, he’s gonna be spending time with his future wife.

Fantasy Date with Jillian
Jillian and Jason meet one another in their matching flannies to spend some time up in a helicopter for yet another aerodate. Although it is another aerodate, I have to say that Jill got the best one. New Zealand > Los Angeles > Las Vegas.

The copter lands on a ledge to take in a big view. “There was no else there for miles and miles,” Jason tells us. “No one for miles and miles and miles other than the copter crew, the cameramen, the various production assistants throwing down the sheep skin blanket and wine. It was awesome.”

“I’m so happy to be here with you,” says Jason.
“Me too. Thanks, Babe,” says Jill. Babe?? Maybe it’s just my own book of lovey-dovey names, but Babe is a very intense lovey-dovey name. It means you’re pretty intimate, comfortable and in love. Maybe that’s just me. I’ll stop now.

Jillian: If you had to describe me to people back home, what would you say?
Jason: You’re fun!
Jillian: Oh, okay.
Jason: Well, what about me?
Jillian: Definitely what you are to me is the person who I’m the most attracted to ever, the person who I have an amazing connection with, have great conversations with, and someone who gets me right away.
Jason: Cool!

Jillian tells us that she has never felt this way before and that she sees Jason as someone who could be both her best friend and her husband. It’s safe to say she’s falling in love with him.

Jillian tells us that she wants to marry her best friend, and gives her grandparents as an example of this kind of love. As the ABC crew sends the tipsy couple to the edge of the cliff to play Jack and Rose, Jason tells us that he used to feel the same way as Jillian about wanting a best friend for a spouse, but now he wants more than that. “Is it too much to ask for the world?” Jason asks us. I vomit in my mouth.

That night, Jason and Jill meet at a winery. Jason wants to make sure there’s a romantic connection with Jill before he invites her to the overnight Fantasy part of the night. Naturally, Jason grills Jillian to find out her favorite parts of the day and what it is she likes about being here. Jillian passes with flying colors, concluding her sonata On Being a Bachelorette with, “I’m crazy about you. I am. And I’ve never, in my entire life, felt like someone is more meant for me than you are.” Bam! That’s enough for Jason to go in for the kiss and the sound guy to go for the synthesizer love music.

I particularly enjoyed that Jillian asked for the Fantasy Suite card. “Do you think you can handle a whole night with me?” Jillian flirts. Wow. Girl is really turning up the heat. Finally, we’re getting our time alone says Jason.

Here things get weird. Jillian’s wearing these black furry boots with her incredibly cute blue bikini. Then, after they dip into the hot tub, Jill tells Jasons, “I never ever ever imaged that I’d be falling in love with someone like you. I think you’re the most remarkable person I’ve ever met.” Then, sound guy brings in some weird bass synth, followed by the Spanish soft core music, followed by hot, blurry shots of candles and skin. The rest really cannot be written out here because it just isn’t right to sully this blog.

Date with Molly
Molly gets stuck with a rainy day for a date, but girl doesn’t let that get in the way of some tongue time right away. As the walk away, we are privy to a nice shot of our friendly ABC crew, umbrella in tow over the equipment. I begin to ponder just how many people have to work on this show to make it happen and whether Chris Harrison will acknowledge this blip in his blog tomorrow…

Back to the date. Jason and Molly are going to go bungy jumping. Not quite an aerodate… but close. After some nerves at the top, the two jump from the bridge to the tunes of happy ABC guitar music.

After drying off and changing clothes, they grab some lunch and Molly pulls out her list of questions entitled, “Things You Might Normally Learn About a Person While Dating Them But Because This is The Bachelor and We’re Always Making Out Instead of Talking, I Wrote Out These Questions With a Marker on the Plane Ride so I’m Sure I Know You Like Hamburgers.”

We learn that Jason loves Greece (already knew that one), his Air Jordans (who doesn’t?) and that he doesn’t like breakfast.

At dinner that night, Jason asks more awkward questions. There’s some talking over one another and idle chitchat of how great New Zealand is. After that, this conversation was hard to follow for me. Molly tells Jason that she has a wall up and that her family doesn’t always say that they love one another but that she would like to kiss Jason all day every day, which was nothing new to me. Finally, Molly spits out, “I really think I’m falling in love with you.”

Just like Jillian, Molly asks Jason to spend the night with her first. Jason must be starting to feel a little bit like the girls are stealing his thunder.

Of course, sleeping together is nothing new for Jason and Molly. This time they get a big soaking bubble bath instead of the hot tub. Not as cool due to the bubble-beards.

Date With Melissa
Jason is still pretty PO’d he didn’t get to meet Melissa’s family. Melissa is naturally fear-stricken. After they first meet, Melissa says she doesn’t get surprises very often. “Not even from your family??” Jason asks surprised. “No,” Melissa offers awkwardly. Then they do that adorable look-at-each-other-at-different-times and laugh uncomfortably thing.

Jason, not sure if Mel is still just that simple cheerleader he first thought her to be, asks if she knows who Winston Churchill is. Fortunately, Mel does and adds while pointing to her head, “This isn’t just a hat rack, you know!”

Turns out that this date, while not aero-themed, does take place on Churchill’s old boat which has somehow wound up here in merry old New Zealand. Perhaps Winston blew past that Iron Curtain to chillax with the crew from Lord of the Rings on his pimpin’ boat. Oh, I’m sorry. Did someone say boat?

Melissa and Jason spend their time on the boat talking about Melissa’s feelings, which are generally nervous, scared, and just generally worried.

On cue, Jason says that he wishes he could say he had no doubts about Melissa, but because he didn’t get to meet her parents, he feels he doesn’t know her.

That doesn’t stop him from going in the hot pools, which judging from their reaction, were very very hot. Fortunately, they finally get their chance to talk about Melissa’s parents. The two ponder why her parents did not want to be a part of this extraordinary, reality TV experience. Imagine that. Jason does say he can fall in love with Melissa without meeting her parents, but it can only go so far.

That evening, Melissa and Jason meet at downtown Queenstown where it looked like Melissa was freezing. At a restaurant downtown, they get their own private room. Unfortunately, the parents continue to dominate the conversation. Melissa is the first girl not to demand her Fantasy Suite before Jason can offer it.

Back at the suite, Melissa talks more about how scary this situation is. I’m starting to wonder if these two have forgotten how to talk to one another. In between “you knows” and “ums,” Melissa finally manages to sputter out, “I have absolutely fallen in love with you, head over heels,” and before she can get another few words out, Jason kisses her. Thank goodness. Jason tells us he can finally open up to her now that he knows that.

Before the Rose Ceremony
Jason can see himself with each of the three girls, but they’re each so different. At this point, he has no idea who he’s going to send home.

Chris Harrison and Jason catch up on Jason’s time in New Zealand. Jason got what he wanted out of Jillian; Jason finally got Molly to open up somewhat; and finally, Jason is still worried about not having met Melissa’s family, just in case you hadn’t surmised that yet from this entire episode.

Finally, the ladies taped some video segments to give their final pitch to Jason. First up: Jillian:

“Hey Babe--” Babe again!! “I just wanted to say thank you so much for every moment I’ve shared with you and for showing me how it is to fall in love again. I’m in awe of you and how you’ve turned a life of adversity into such a positive life. I know that we fit each other—our families, our attitudes—and if we are together, we’re share a life of laughter and home cooked meals!” (I’m going to hope that they had some sort of insider convo we didn’t hear about home cooked meals because that last bit was confusing.)

Next up, Molly:
“Haaay, Jaaay. Recognize the view? Get it? We went bungee jumping! I just wanted to thank you for an incredible date. You made it easy for me to open up with you, and I cannot wait to spend more time with you. I can tell you that I am madly in love with you so I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Next up, Melissa:
“Hey you. I just wanted to tell you that, um, I want to thank you, um, for making it so easy to be me around you and making it so, um, easy to talk to you, and um, fall in love with you. You know I’ve been basically freaking out all week, but spending the day with you helped reaffirm everything for me. Thank you for being you (he said this once to her, remember that?). I miss you, and I love you.”

Jason offers some final thoughts. “I’m falling for three girls who could be great in Ty’s life and in my life. I don’t know how I am going to break someone’s heart today. But I’m not here for a six month relationship or a three-week relationship. This will be one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.”

Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony Ever (Again)
Chris Harrison greets the ladies, thanks them for spending their time in New Zealand and gently reminds them that one of them will be on a plane heading home tonight. When Jason finally comes out, he looks a lot like he might throw up all over Chris Harrison.

“You—“ he begins, swallows and starts again. “You three are the most amazing women I’ve ever met. I’m falling for all three of you for different reasons. But tonight I have to do the most selfish thing I’ve ever done and send one of you home tonight. Thank you for sharing this with me.”

One rose goes to Melissa, who can go one more week sweating it and talking about how nervous she is.

The other rose goes to Molly, and my jaw literally hits my chest.

Poor Jillian breathes heavily and tries to smile.

“I’m sorry,” Jason says. “I don’t want you to ever doubt that I don’t have strong feelings for you because I do. I’ve never met anyone like you before. I think our lives are a little bit different. You’ve got an amazing life, and I won’t be able to keep up with you and you deserve someone you can.”

Jillian responds that her adventures were because she was single and she was looking for the right person and she thought she had found him.

Jason brings Jillian back to her talk of finding her best friend, saying that that was the path they were on—best friends.

Jillian responds that at the end of the day, or when you’re 90 years old, you’re going to want to be with your best friend.

Jason snips that it’s your best friend AND MORE.

Jillian slaps her forehead, cries “You got it, Sherlock!” and then says she thought they did have friendship and more. Then she tells him that she has fallen in love with him and shares with him a dream that she, Jason and Ty were all a family. “But at the end of the day, I’m not looking for what I did right or wrong because I was myself. And I’m looking for someone who loves me for me,” Jillian concludes. Gotta love this girl—can we say next Bachelorette? Can we just continue sending the cast-offs to the next rounds? Cause seriously.

In the limo, Jillian says that she was jaded before coming to this show, but she learned that she could love, she wore her heart on her sleeve, and this was not how she wanted it to end. “I have not had it easy my entire life, so I do not expect,” she says. “I didn’t expect anything. I thought maybe one day I’d have that fairy tale ending, but this decision that he made today broke my heart.”

Back at the winery/hotel/lodge place, Jason cries a bit, but then tells us he just wasn’t in love with Jillian. At the end of the day, Jason tells us that there are two girls he is falling in love with and he cannot wait to introduce them to Ty. “Here’s to another week in New Zealand spending time with my family!”

I'd like to take this short moment to just throw out a PSA that these two girls are 24 and 25 years old. Jason first got married in 2003, back when these two ladies were 17 or 18 years old. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around these ladies being ready for stepmom-hood, but whatevs.

And next week, it’s the reunion show you won’t want to miss, Chris Harrison tells us. And in TWO weeks, it’s the most dramatic season finale ever with awkward moments with Ty, some rolling around in beds, some more shots of Jason’s abs, DeAnna’s return, some really ugly crying on balconies, and apparently something so dramatic that only Chris Harrison could be involved. All I have to say is that whatever it is, it better redeem this season, ABC!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yeah, it's cold here; No, I didn't vote for Blago.

This week, Forbes named Chicago #3 on its Most Miserable Cities List. The Windy City, Chitown, Metropolis in the Land of Lincoln, or Obamaland (take your pick) fell short of Stockton, California and Memphis, Tennessee. According to Kurt Badenhausen, Chicago is even more miserable than Flint, Michigan. Has Kurt visited Flint recently? Not surprisingly, everyone is talking about it.

Of course, Kurt and Forbes are schilling—like so many journalists and struggling media enterprises--coming up with arbitrary lists (Remember the 25 most influential liberals in media? Wasn’t that in Forbes just last week?), hoping to stir up reaction from readers, scrounge together some online page views for measly ad dollars, and pretend that money mag Forbes is above everybody else’s miserable money problems. Oh yeah, Chicago has such a high employment rate. Nevermind the fact that Forbes just consolidated all its departments into one and rumors of layoffs have been swirling about its news desks for months.

So, Kurt, what makes Chicago so terrible?
"Lousy weather, long commutes, rising unemployment and the highest sales tax rate in the country are to blame for the Windy City being near the top of our list. High rates of corruption by public officials didn't help either."

Yes, and the subway smells in New York, there’s smog in L.A., frozen corpses lie scattered in Detroit, Disney laid people off in Orlando, and former President George W. Bush has returned to Crawford, Texas, so let’s throw all those spots on the list too!

Kurt doesn’t bother addressing the flippantly-mentioned commute issue (Yeah, the CTA isn’t the MTA, but it’s not like Chicagoans are taking rickshaws to work.), doesn’t bother pointing out that rising unemployment seems to be a trend outside the Chicagoland area, and makes a weak barb at the weather we had here in January (Seventeen below, har har har!). Instead, he focuses most of his argument against Chicago on our sales tax and corrupt politicians. While they’re legitimate arguments, I don’t think an inflated sales tax and a few crappy governors (Sarah Palin, anyone? Did Wasilla make the list too?) warrant tacking a big fat #3 on Chicago.

But go ahead, Kurt Badenhausen and Forbes Magazine, call us whatever you want. You were bound to leechily suck some measly page views out of your Miserable City Song and Dance Routine (Did I mention they made a slideshow out of the article too? Be sure to click through every single picture of every single city!), so congratulations on all your success. For Chicago, it may be a welcome blow since all that sing-song praise we got last fall, fueled by our continued nomination for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Barack Obama’s golden November. Even another magazine, FastCompany, named Chicago 2008’s City of the Year with a beautiful article penned by my former teacher Alex Kotlowitz. Alex wrote a bit more than a list to pay homage to the soul that is this city—something that Forbes and Kurt might want to consider.

But let’s stick instead with this #3 Most Miserable rating. That’s right, America. Chicago is the pits. We’re worse than Detroit, than Cleveland, and probably than your town too. We’re terrible. Stay away. Don’t move here, and should you have to visit, keep it short. Us Chicagoans will suffer our sales tax, our governors, our bone-chilling winters and soul-lifting summers, our fattening foods and expansive lakefront, our arts scene and music world, our diverse neighborhoods and beautiful architecture, our industrial proud past and our incredible innovative future alone. We’ll bear that burden just fine, and if Forbes can help us continue to weed out the New York lackeys like Kurt who should stay away and keep the general city population down, we’ll appreciate the help.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Bachelor: Jason: The hometown episode!

Ah, the trusty hometown date where we are ensured a ridiculous or dramatic time in at least one hometown. This time, Canadian flags, floppy hats, dead doves, and no-show parents ruled the day.

It must be said in the over-inflated rehashing of The Bachelor, the sound mixer has really, truly improved. That Schindler's List-esque violin during recollections of Stephanie's goodbye really could pull some heartstrings.

Oot and Aboot in Canada with Jillian!

Welcome to British Columbia, Canada! Jason is glad he finally got to see Jillian’s soft side but he still isn’t convinced that she’s here for him. Seriously? Who does Jason think he's kidding? Jillian woos Jason with stories of her close encounters with Canada’s own lochness monster, Ogo Pogo.

The two then share a trip to a winery, which Jason tells us is beautiful but NOT AS BEAUTIFUL AS JILL. Awwwwwww!!!!

Jillian, having gotten the monster part of the visit out of the way, opens up about why she feels the need to be strong and her family’s issues with her mother’s depression. Jason naturally responds with some concerned nods and then jumps on his opportunity for a makeout session.

When it’s time to meet the family, the whole clan is hanging oot in the living room with their Canadian flag. “Ooh, weelcoomme, Jaaasonnn!” The whole fam gets a good giggle oot of Jillian’s silly hot dog routine. Everybody joins hands and sings O Canada in roond.

Peggy gives a toast to her daughter Jillian, which starts a little rough, but the moment where she said that diamonds are made under pressure kind of caught my throat a bit, I won’t lie.

Peggy pulls the dreaded mother-in-law routine, pulling Jason ootside to ask him her toilet paper full list of questions.

Ma Canada: What are your responsibilities in a marriage?

Jason: To be a partner, Ma Canada. Duuuh. And mustard!

Ma Canada: How do you handle conflict?

Jason: I’m a listener.

Ma Canada: That’s good to hear. You have a BA in psychology, right?

Jason: Uhh, yeah!

(Awkward laughter.)

Jillian and Tori, who has been moonlighting as hot young teacher on Gossip Girl (xoxo!), gossip about Jason while he’s out with Ma Canada. Jill gets teary-eyed telling her cousin how much Jason has come to mean to her.

A little bit later, Ma Canada pulls Jillian close to her bosom and Jill again becomes overwhelmed with emotion describing her feelings for him.

Glen and Jason spend some dude time together in a creepy utility closet. Glen, revealing where Jillian gets her happy-crying, tears up as he tells us just how much Jillian means to him. I grab the Kleenex and pull it closer.

Surprise! Granny arrives. Gramma Marjorie says Jason is a gorgeous specimen of man, and thankfully she no longer has to sell Jillian for beaver pelt to a Ukranian man in the northland. Granny also brings the funnies with a pair of Joe Boxer Canadian flag boxers. I am thoroughly impressed.

When it’s time to leave, Jason asks us how he could possibly ever leave Jill and her family in his future?

Country Clubs, Floppy Hats and Art, Oh My! in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Remember when Jason and Molly first met and they bonded over golfing? Well, fortunately, Molly’s super-selective family has an exclusive membership to the neighborhood country club. They spend more time on their kissy picnic than chopping away at the course with their nine irons.

Once Jason and Molly finally pull up to Molly’s fam’s house, it’s clear that the family lives right there on the green with a nice view of the ninth hole from the living room window. After settling down and first introductions, Maryann pulls out some major hats to test Jason’s funny bone. Saddled with the Indian headdress, Jason is tested yet again as Maryann decides to play psychiatrist, asking Jason to draw Molly’s face at his most favorite memory with her. When it’s finally time to leave, Jason says that he won’t get to see her for a while and he’s got a decision to make.

Doves Cry in Lake Elsinore, CA

Jason is ready to spend some time with his cowgirl ladyfriend, Naomi. I can’t help but wonder how this girl is still around. Naomi, in an attempt to prove me wrong, tells Jason just how ready for a life with him she is.

Every family is different, Naomi tells us, and mine is probably as different as it gets.

Oh yeah? Something more different than art time and floppy hats?

Joanne and Hector, Naomi’s parents who are separated, plus a bajillion kids who I could not keep straight are there to meet Naomi and Jason. Naturally, Joanne greets them with hula hoops. Here, things really go awry. As Joanne relays the story of hitting a dove with her car, one of the many children brings the be-paper-bagged carnage outside for a burial. Hector, eyes rolling in the background, thanks his lucky stars that he got out of this world when he did. Jason forces a smile through the whole thing.

Yes, congratulations, Naomi. Joanne has definitely taken the crazy award from Art Time Maryann.

After digging a shallow grave for Rosie the Dove, Hector and Jason get their dude time in the living room/family casino. Hector explains that he has risen above his divorce with religion, explains that Naomi has been raised with Jesus as her main man, and asks Jason to take a short test about marriage and the Bible. I am squirming in my seat.

No sooner does Hector have Jason reciting Corinthians before Joanne comes along to steal Jason away. I just begin to crawl out from under the couch in relief when Joanne starts talking about truth seekers and the color indigo. Jason cannot even hide his confusion in his face.

Meanwhile, Hector checks in for some dad-daughter time with Naomi to confirm her spiritual standing. Naomi wishes she and Jason had talked about religion before now. Though they may have had a moment to share these deep thoughts as Jason left, they opted for an intense tongue twisting instead. While they swapped spit, someone inside the house (I imagine one of the dozens of children) opened the door and definitely sneaked a peek.

The Disappearing Family in Dallas, TX

In Texas, Mel’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad parents wanted absolutely nothing to do with ABC and no amount of coaxing from Chris Harrison could convince them otherwise. Instead, Mel had to sheepishly present her terribly good-looking, happily-married young couple friends (with kids, to boot!) to Jason as a consolation.

But no worries. This meet-up with friends followed all the same requirements of any hometown date:

Mel cried when discussing her feelings for Jason.

Children ran around happily.

Dude-time included some stereotypical dude-like element—in this case, pool.

And, last but not least, serious make-out time between Mel and Jason.

Return to Seattle

Back in Seattle, Jason has a lot to think about so Chris comes over to help work it all out.

Chris: So Jason, a lot happened this week.

Jason: Yeah, but I didn’t like how I couldn’t slam my tongue down the throat of each girl one after the other or say all their nicknames in a row. Jill-Mol-Nay-Mel. Jilmonamel. I was thinking of naming my second born that.

Chris: That’s good. How was your time with Jill?

Jason: Canada ROCKS. Grandma was AWESOME. And I freaking love the Canadian flag. But I’m just not totally convinced that Jill’s a match for me. (pause) Did you get that? OK, good. Cause we all know I’m actually totally in love with her.

Chris: We got it, thanks. How about Mol?

Jason: Oh, Molly and her country club membership-toting, hat-wearing, art-psychologist parents are just fantastic. They really showed me who Molly is—she’s a country club membership-toting, hat-wearing, art-psychologist. Did I mention that when I first got married to my ex-wife in 1998, Mol was totin’ braces in eighth grade? WEIRD, huh, Chris?

Chris: Uh, yeah, actually. That is kind of weird. What about Eva Mendes?

Jason: Um, well. Her family… was something… um… I didn’t… expect. They are… unique. And religious. And neo-spiritual. And unique.

Chris: Let’s just leave it at that. What about the Melster?

Jason: Well, I didn’t meet her terrible, awful, no-good parents since apparently not everyone is willing to open up their lives to ABC like me, am I right Chris? But I did meet her friends. So that’s cool.

Chris: Are you ready to let a lady go this evening?

Jason: Well, yeah. I hope I can still swap some spit before I ditch her, but basically I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

After Chris leaves, Jason does some more deep thinking on the bow of the houseboat.

Rose Ceremony

This rose ceremony, ABC finally did it right at the hotel. No more of that presidential suite crap—we’re talking full-on banquet haaaaallll! Holla!

Jason: Hey laaaadies. I had such a great time this week. Mel, your friends are totally good-looking. Jill, you are SO your family, dude! Nay, your family is pretty nutso, but it’s okay. And Mol, your family is unbelievable, and by unbelieveable I mean they’re country club membership-toting, hat-wearing art psychologists. Anyway, you all mean the world to me, but here goes.

Roses go to:

Molly, who thanks her lucky stars that Mom didn’t scare Jason away.

Jillian, who Jason must continue to pretend he’s unsure of.

Melissa, whose non-existant family is apparently better than Naomi's eccentric one, the poor thing.

As they say goodbye, Jason let's his explanation loose: "It’s not that I don’t think you’re wonderful, and it’s not that your family is kinda out there. I just think that we’re in different places right now."

Naomi: Well, I am. I was hoping to hear you say that you felt more strongly for the other women, not that I am not ready because that’s just not the case.

Awwww, snap!

As she drives away, in more sweeping overhead shots of the exiting limo, Naomi tells us that she was ready to move to Seattle and settle down and that she didn’t want to have her heart broken again.

Jason bounces back for the champagne toast to the next week—here’s to New Zealand!! Now, finally! We know the reason behind the drastic scale-back in funding here. That’s it, ABC. There better be some really good audio mixing next week!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Weekend Weekend Weekender

So The New York Times has been running this ad pretty regularly on the east coast, much to the chagrin of TV watchers who are tired of it apparently.

So, naturally, a brilliant parody of it has cropped up, thanks to the 92nd St Y. "The Pictures of Goats Section!"

[via Gawker]


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If I Never Kneeew Youuuuuu

Oh, Roger and Rafa. You both just pulled away at my heartstrings on Sunday.

I stayed up late Saturday night to watch as much of the Australian Open live as I possibly could. I made it until about 4:45 AM, when I realized that my body was shaking from being so tired. I slept for seven hours, got out of bed and rolled into the living room to watch the remainder of the match.

The end of the match--an anti-climactic moment marred by a yelling fan, in my opinion--left me feeling down, and I turned off the TV, so I missed the Federer-crying bit. I finally got up the courage to watch tonight. (It's here, if you want to see for yourself.)

Naturally, seeing my tennis idols all sappy-sad-happy at the same time made me very emotional, and I went on a Google Quest to find out more of their relationship. I don't have anything insightful to offer, but I DID find this incredibly hilarious video which perked me right back up. Pairing a love ballad from Disney's Pocahontas with a slideshow of pictures of two male tennis players playing tennis?? BRILLIANT! I absolutely, positively encourage your viewing of it. If you aren't into the whole 4 minutes, please skip to 3:20 and watch from there.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Live-Blogging The Bachelor: Jason, episode 5

Man oh man, I'll be honest, people. This was one boring episode--except for the "most emotional rose ceremony ever." Don't worry--I suffered through it so you don't have to... or so that you can relive just how awful it was.

Chris "Another Morning in the Mansion" Harrison informs us that the ladies will be going to Seattle, and everyone is sooo excited!

While the ladies fly the sunny skies, Jason and Ty reunite in Seattle, where apparently Jason lives at the Sleepless in Seattle house. 

Finally landed in Seattle, the ladies pull up in their limo to their hotel, and oh-em-gee, it's Jaaaaason! More and more screaming that recalls those first few precious episodes when everything was carefree.

Date With Melissa: Let's Hit the Town in Style! Until Ty RUINS Melissa's NIGHT! Gah, Kids!

Melissa primps while Jason walks around in yet another gratuitous shirtless shot and Ty is a "grumpy pants." Let's face it. We've all been there. Grumpy pants is a place we're all familiar with.

So to compromise between his lady friend and his little boy, Jason decides to invite Mel over for a casual night-in. Melissa happily accepts, eager to be the first lady to spend some time with Ty and at Jason's house. The other girls exchange dark, concerned looks while Stephanie happily chirps that this is "the way it is" and that with kids "you have to be adjustable."

Melissa arrives at Jason's house all decked out in her fancy gear but gets right to work cleaning up after Jason and Ty, dreaming of doing these duties for years. After Melissa changes into her stretchy shorts, Jason invites her to come and stare at his sleeping son. You know, because Jason is not ready for anyone to meet him, but standing there in the doorway and watching him sleep is perfectly fine.

Melissa and Jason get cozy with white wine and sundaes (yum?) and mull over how ready Mel is to be a mom. (She's ready, just in case you were wondering.)

Date With Stephanie, Jillian and Molly: Love is on the Air

The ladies and Jason take a boat tour of Seattle, where they do pass the actual Sleepless in Seattle house, stealing my joke thunder.

As Stephanie gets some alone time with Jason and the Cap'n, she gets put in charge of steering the boat. As Cap'n stands by, Jason and Stephanie hang out together at the wheel and chat about kids. Again.

Afterward, Jason takes the ladies to a radio show. The ladies on the date don't get to hear what he says, but luckily the girls at home got to listen in while panicking over the details. Naturally, the radio show decides to set up a kissing contest that involves a feather boa and lots of kissing while Jason must name each girl who kisses him. "It was soooo easy!" said Jason. "Let's do it again!" The girls at home fall over.

The radio show, in a desperate attempt to make this episode entertaining, decides to push the envelope. What's your thing in the bedroom, ladies? Here's an opportunity for you to answer a question and confirm our stereotypes of your personalities: Molly: Lingerie! Jillian: Fun! Stephanie: Nurturing!


Jason accompanies the girls back to the hotel for dinner and drinks. 

Jason takes Jillian aside to find out what's bothering her. Jillian confesses that she originally went on the show for the fun and excitement, but has really fallen for Jason. After Jillian sheds some tears, the two smooth things over with some kisses.

For her one-on-one time, Molly and Jason take a walk through Seattle. Jillian starts falling apart back at the hotel while Stephanie comforts her. Back on their walk, Molly and Jason talk about what Michigan means to her: family and beer pong! Here's a thought, Molly. If you're worried about seeming young to Jason (since you are 24), do not bring up beer pong. Okay? Okay.

One-on-One Date with Naomi
Here I have to air one thought: Naomi really, really needs to lay off the vanilla-white lipgloss. Really. Moving on...

Naomi gets to tour Seattle by air with Jason. ANOTHER air date! How many of these aero-dates must we have, ABC?! Did you get some sort of bulk-package in multiple cities?!

Back at the house, Stephanie puts Sophia on speakerphone and the other ladies pine over her loving mother-daugher relationship. Stephanie also lets her claws out--ever so gently--by sharing with us that she thinks Naomi is such a doll but maybe not quite mature enough for Jason, but really such a nice, sweet girl.

Back on their date, Jason and Naomi go rock-climbing at Dick's Sporting Goods where they share some extreme kisses.

At non-descript fireplace in Aisle 5 of Dick's Sporting Goods, Naomi opens up to Jason about her troubled family history. Jason worries that Naomi's mom's instinct to run flows in Naomi's blood.

Back at the hotel, the ladies crack open some beers and pour a bubble bath. NOW we're speaking my language. This is the best scene in this whole episode. The girls share their insecurities and speculate on the friendship-barrier that Naomi has since--unbeknownst to them--knocked down.

Day of the Rose Ceremony

Jason needs to make sure Jillian is here for him. Obviously, her tears and confessions of feelings the other night meant nothing. So it's quiz time!

Jason pries into Jillian to find out more: "You seem so strong!" Jillian, in tears: "Yes, I always have to be strong."

Jason, while stroking Jillian's hand: "I need to know you want to be here." Jillian, in tears: "I do!"

Jason: "Do you think you'll be open at hometown date?" Jillian, sobbing: "Oh yes! None of the other girls will be there--it'll be great!"

Jason: "Okay, fine. You passed. Let's make out."

Chris Harrison stops by the Mesnick Residence to unwind with Jason. "This hasn't become any easier, bro," Jason tells Chris. "Melissa is totally awesome, totally hot, but there's just something missing."

Stephanie? "She might be one of the most fantastic people I've ever met. She's like the Mother Theresa of reality TV. Everything and everyone she touches is better for it. I am going to have her bless Ty while he's sleeping before I send her packing."

Molly? "The attraction is obviously there because I'm always staring at her in this carnal way and thinking about that lingerie she mentioned on the radio. Oh, and uh, it's cool that she likes family."

Jillian? "She's here for an adventure, but now she is feeling it for me cause, really Chris, who couldn't, right bro? Have you seen my abs?"

Naomi? "Everything with her is easy, and she doesn't have a perfect past, and THAT is hot."

The Most Emotional Rose Ceremony Ever

Jason just cannot make up his mind right now. Naturally, he needs to pull aside Naomi to chat with her and make sure that his lifestyle is HER lifestyle. Of course, it is. They return to the hotel suite where dramatic lighting, fabric swatches and candles have been arranged to heighten the sense of drama. When Naomi and Jason return, Jason reassures the girls: "That's what I needed." And now to name names:

-Jillian: The first rose called, and here I was thinking my girl from Up North would be heading home.

-Melissa: A solid.

-Molly: Did she really think she was going to be sent home? Seriously? The man can hardly hold himself back when she's around.

-Naomi: That time out in the hallway totally settled things up for him, natch.

Since it's time to send home the Mama Ther--err, Stephanie. Jason ups the ante just slightly to remind us what a good person she is: "I want to say this in front of everybody. You are--sniff--the most amazing person I've ever met. And I think we are all better people for having had you here. You're a beautiful person, outside and in. I'm so glad to have met you. Now, can you come by my house real quick and just, like, touch Ty's head before you leave?"

Stephanie, tears shining in her eyes and a smile on her face, holds her head high: "I'm just glad I could be a part of this so that I could reach anybody. I'm so glad that I did. You're an incredible man, and I wish you the best. And sure, I'll be by in like fifteen to twenty."

The ladies cry. Some girls comfort Stephanie. Chris Harrison comforts Jason. Finally, Jason and Stephanie patch things up in the hallway. Really? Out in the hallway again? Could we not afford an extra room so that Jason could drag these girls somewhere else? I'm really feeling bad for anyone who was staying at this hotel during this period of time. Really. I hope they got a refund.

Finally, Stephanie gives the most composed, mature post-booting limo interview ever. Gotta love that woman for being so with it. And yes, so caring.

Next week, Jason visits the ladies for--Ukies in Canada! Country clubs in Michigan! Dead doves in California! and Texas don't want none! Hooray!

EDIT: Thanks to Pom for making me reconsider what number episode this was. It is in fact: 5! The season drags on, ladies and gentlemen.