On Sunday and Monday nights, ABC served up so much Bach goodness--I could hardly digest it all!
Sunday night's episode was called "The Bachelor at 20: A Celebration of Love" and Bach producers trotted out their handful of successful franchise romances to remind Bachelor Nation that, once in a blue moon, "the process" actually works and results in a marriage and/or kids. All of our favorites were there--assorted Bachelors and Bachelorettes, random rejects, and comedians Paul Scheer and Ken Marino (which killed me). Clare and Michelle Money were like a long haired Statler and Waldorf duo checking out the "fresh meat" and cracking jokes. Ashley "poor man's Kim Kardashian" Iaconetti was there and, as usual, in tears over a disinterred and bland Jared. Kaitlyn and her fiancee Shawn (the human knot) were there along with Trista and Ryan, heavyset Bachelor Bob, that strange Andrew Firestone character--so many Bach Alumz!
ABC knows what we like, so they served up montage upon montage: breakups, man cries, scandals, characters you love to hate, hot tub scenes, bloopers, and casting tapes. Sure, it was a shameless clip show, but it was super fun to watch.
Hour #2 was dedicated to the gorgeous wedding of Bachelor In Paradise lovebirds Tanner and Jade and I'll admit that I cried like baby learning to "cry it out" and self soothe. During the fall of 2015, I had the pleasure of chatting with Tanner and Jade a few times for a potential project that didn't come to fruition and they are super lovely people--totally in love, extremely genuine and humble--the kind of people who you'd hope to meet when trapped in a weird reality TV situation. Their wedding was gorgeous and having Chris Harrison as the officiant was a lovely touch, though the camera shots cracked me up. Chris opened up talking about love stories--some are long (camera pans to Trista and Ryan), some are short (shameless shot of 2 time Bach loser Nick V.), some are just getting to the good part (camera pans to Kaitlyn and her poor man's Ryan Gosling fiancee, Shawn). Their vows were touching and they exited as Mr. and Mrs. Tobert to exploding sparklers flanking the aisle, which resembled a kickass Whitesnake concert.
In a moment that felt like putting a hat on a hat, Seal sang "Kiss from a Rose" at the reception and I'm just impressed that their floral arrangements weren't entirely roses (I bet Jade had to veto some producers pushing for that). Overall, a beautiful celebration and who doesn't love seeing all of our favorite bach alums?
Monday night we were back to present day Bach: Ben Higgins and his remaining 6 gals in his hometown of Warsaw, Indiana ("the Orthopedic Capital" whatever that means!) and this episode played out like an extended cut of John Mellencamp's "Small Town." Lordy Lordy WE GET IT, you're proud of your small town heritage and somehow don't feel completely stifled and strangled by small town life. Ben, you are a very different person than I am (and apparently, than Caila is, too).
To kick things off, Ben cruises around town in a classic truck and meets his parents at the local diner where he tells them about each of the 6 women by saying how beautiful each is and where they are with regard to connection/chemistry. I was somewhat stunned that he never mentioned their jobs or hometowns or hobbies AT ALL. Just like, Jojo and Caila are beautiful and Amanda is "shockingly beautiful." Great character descriptions, bro.
Lauren B. scores the first 1:1 date and she's feeling anxious because of Leah's bizarro lie that Lauren is two faced. Her hair may be two toned (with the dark roots creeping in), but Lauren is definitely not two faced. She and Ben drive around in his truck, play basketball with a crew of sweet kids at the Baker Youth Club (and Ronnie makes bucket after bucket from half court), and meet a handful of Indiana Pacers players with "George" somewhere in their names. That night over drinks, Ben and Lauren discuss how stressful it was for her to be badmouthed unfairly, then--in a move straight out of my dream date--they hit up Ben's favorite local dive bar (REX'S Rendezvous) for drinks with his crew. They make out on a patio and Lauren says, "I'm not in love with Ben the Bachelor. I'm in love with Ben from Warsaw, Indiana." If Ben doesn't have the zip code or coordinates of Warsaw tattooed somewhere on his body, I'd be SHOCKED. Next is Jojo's 1:1 date and the card references the "windy city," which inspires the saddest conversation on reality TV:
Emily: Well, it's pretty windy here?
Becca: Chicago is known as The Windy City
LORDY LORDY when BECCA is the smarty pants in a conversation you are in TROUBLE. I guess they don't cover basic geography in Las Vegas Public Schools.
Jojo takes a car to Chicago where she meets Ben on a street corner and jumps into his arms just as a family is walking by and blocking the shot (HA!). Ben says that his favorite thing is that Jojo doesn't quite realize how much he likes her, even though he has told her many times. Blech. I hate that kind of "what I like the best about you is your ongoing insecurity and lack of self-awareness," bizarro "compliment" from dudes, ya know? It reminds me of that horrible One Direction song about how what makes a girl beautiful is when she doesn't know that she's beautiful. No thank you.
Anyheeeeer. They're up in my old stomping grounds of Wrigleyville (3200 North--what what!) and their date is a day at Wrigley Field, which is a truly magical experience. I was loving this date until we heard two instances in rapid succession of both Ben AND Jojo not understanding what a friggin' personal possessive pronoun is. KIDS, the phrase is "Ben's and my relationship" or "Jojo's and my date" NOT "AND I'S"?? Good Lord did you attend 5th grade? Aside: I once got a thank you note from a wedding that referred to "[name redacted] and I's wedding" and I was STUNNED. You're writing that on your formal wedding thank you notes!? Doesn't that LOOK weird to you? Anyway--Jojo's style is, as always, completely on point and even though they both appear to be freezing, they look great as they play ball and dine in the baseball diamond. They close the night by going to first base at home plate. HEYO!
The next date is the dreaded group date and the theme is, as ever, act like you aren't freezing. Amanda, Caila, and Becca enjoy an awkward day of row boating at a swamp, kite flying, and barn sitting during which each couple gets 1:1 time. Amanda talks about her kids and her past, Becca says that she likes Ben so much that it scares her and asks him to not blindside her (ya smell that foreshadowing???), and Caila compares herself to a moss that grows on a tree (the sturdy tree growing wherever it wants to grow being THE MAN, of course) and saying that she could move or live anywhere. I find it sad that she seems self-conscious about her family and the fact that they moved around a lot when she was a child because hey--the measure of your life is your life--there's no "right way" to do it. You don't lack "deep roots," Caila with the great hair, you just have a different kind of roots than Ben has and both are rad. (Why am I treating this recap like it's a self help book written specifically for Caila? But seriously---pick up a copy of Caila's Journey: A Long Road to Self Love wherever books are sold).
Amanda scores the rose, so Ben and Amanda walk off to continue the date while Caila and Becca cry in the barn (and we get a prime shot of Becca's roots).
|ROOT SHOT! Caila's talking about Ben's family's |
roots while Becca's roots grow in.
That night, Ben and Amanda do a "normal thing" and go to McDonalds where they are waited on by a cashier who does NOT have roots growing in and who is blonde and proud (get it, girl). Ben and Amanda ask if they can "work" the drive through, which I'm sure pissed off the REAL staff and was probably a health code violation (no hairnet, Amanda? COME ON), but Ben & Amanda had fun. Then they chow some food and eat a fry like those two dogs from Lady and the Tramp.
|Those dogs made it look so easy!|
The next day is Emily's first 1:1 and Ben takes her to meet his parents, which is an extremely aggressive move for her first 1:1 and also, too little, too late. Emily is decked out in her Vegas best--a look that clearly horrified Ben's sweet parents. Caila's description of Emily as "a bright eyed puppy" with a lot to learn is dead-on and her conversations with Ben's parents reveal as much. Emily rambles nervously as Amy and Dave grin awkwardly and nod their heads, learning that she overthinks everything (reeeeally? No seriously? Really?), that her dream is to be an NFL cheerleader (oh good! Are you hearing rumors about layoffs at the Twin office where you currently work?), and, most embarrassingly, that she's "very average" in her life, but plans to be above average as a wife and mother. Oh girl, just stop talking. Ben's mother Amy legit CRIES to him and says that she's "fun" but too young and Ben finally decides that yes, turns out she's 23 and that's just too young. He then takes her on the boat back to the house where the ladies are staying and dumps her on a scenic dock. I feel for Emily--ya go meet a dude's parents and think that you're doing great, then CURVE BALL you're getting dumped lakeside. Even worse, the other 5 women watch it all go down through the window! In a sweet move, then run to her as she walks toward the house and comfort her as she cries. I kano that when I get dumped by a guy, the ONLY people I want comforting me are his other girlfriends.
Emily departs and says that she's shocked but grateful for the experience says "why not me" which is a golden opportunity for me to share my favorite Judds song of all time:
Before ya know it, it's time for a very spooky and very chilly rose ceremony outdoors. Amanda already has a rose, and Ben hands them out to...
-Lauren B. - hoping that next week when she's home for hometowns she can see her colorist to avoid disaster (brown hair)
-Jojo - as ever, a killer look on this one
-Caila - sparkly dress with cape, looking good
So who got blindsided after asking SPECIFICALLY not to be blindsided? The newly crowned Female Nick V., Becca. She cries in the limo and wonders why she put herself in this position again. Sweet Becca, cause we gotta. You can't get a hit if you don't swing the bat a couple times and hey, if nothing else, your nail color is fantastic.
Next week: HOMETOWNS and Jojo's brothers are NOT buying what Ben's selling! I can't wait!
ALSO, after each episode, my friend and neighbor Dava Krause and I rehash the drama on our new podcast THE FANTASY SUITE. Tune in here for laughs and convo.