Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Bachelorette: Hometown Dates

Ames, is that a silk shirt?

Last night we watched as Ashley and her harem of boys returned from the Orient to embark on a whirlwind week of hometown dates. It was quite a thrill-ride, featuring one dollar bills being thrown at Ashley, cheesy jokes (literally with shredded cheese), the sweet sounds of REO Speedwagon, and of course, tears.

Ashley’s first hometown visit was Constantine in Cummings, GA. Who knew that they grew ‘em THAT Greek in Georgia? Constantine’s SUPER GREEK family owns an Italian restaurant, which is staffed by comely young ladies who freelance as peeping Toms. Dinner at Constantine’s family’s McMansion was jovial, then the party turned up to 11 when the entire extended family showed up. Like a scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” cousins, aunts, nieces, and nephews came bounding into the house and began dancing and drinking. The family was rowdy, fun, and emotional, which was in stark contrast with Ashley’s next visit to meet Ames’s family.

Ames hails from Chadds Ford, PA and must be a WASP. He’s never said outright, “I’m a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant,” but a few clues give it away: (1) He went to boarding school for high school; (2) After that, Ivy League education; (3) his mother AND sister were both wearing white pants and tasteful, minimal jewelry; (4) his family is perfectly nice, but not very emotional. They struck me as very reasonable and logical, which is the centerpiece of WASP life. Ashley gets along with his family very well, but mentions that she doesn’t feel a spark of passion with Ames. Ames takes her for a sweet picnic beneath a magnolia tree, where he talks about an Italian phrase that means being romantic in everyday life. Ames, your knowledge of romance languages is impressive, but it’s not HOT. It’s not “random make-out after a long night of drunken flirting” HOT. It’s not “attend a Red Sox/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium and end up seated next to a cute stranger with a sick Boston accent who you then invite to your birthday party that night, where you flirt like crazy” HOT. It’s not “start reading this dude’s hilarious blog, then meet him in real life and hit it off, but he has a GF, but then he breaks up with his GF and shows up at one of your standup shows” HOT. There’s just no spark between Ashley and Ames, sadly.

Ashley then jets off to Sonoma, CA to see Ben and meet his mother and sister. Ben repeatedly threw out some painfully bad grammar errors, talking about, “Ashley and I’s relationship” while I tried to stop myself from throwing a hammer at my television. People—it’s not “Ashley and I’s” it’s frigging “Ashley’s and my relationship”—how hard is this!? Or better yet, just say “My relationship with Ashley blah blah blah.” Rant over. The visit goes well overall, but I feel like Ben’s tears about his late father were exploited by the producers of The Bachelorette. Somehow, I expected more from them. I know, I know—when will I learn?

The final stop is Long Island, New York (more specifically, Roslyn, NY) where Ashley meets JP’s family. But before they eat dinner at his boyhood home, Ashley and JP skate a few laps around a roller rink to REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” while a disco ball spins overhead. Nothing says “Hot Passion” quite like the birthday party activities of our awkward and ugly adolescent years, right? Ashley has a great chat with JP’s mother and they hold hands at one point. Weird.

Then we’re back in the bachelor mansion in Los Angeles and Ashley’s wearing a see-through black mini-dress. The boys are assembled in dark suits, except for Ames, who is wearing a tan suit. That “one of these things is not like the other” tan suit portends heartbreak for sweet WASP Ames.

What’s the order that Ashley gives out the roses (interrupted only by Chris Harrison, to remind us of the final rose)?

Ben – 1st rose! Congrats! Dude appears to have gotten an ill-advised haircut. Stop listening to your mother!

JP – 2nd rose. Apparently the way to Ashley’s heart involves stops at tween dating meccas. What will their next date be? Cruising the mall?

Constantine – 3rd rose. Both monkey twins made it to the top 3! This is insanity!

Ashley walks Ames out and he handles it well. She doesn’t give much explanation, in fact—Ames ends up doing more of the talking and almost apologizing. Sweet Ames, the tabloids speculate that you’re dating a fellow Bachelor reject, and I hope it’s true. There’s a fellow WASP somewhere out there for you.

Up next, the boys and Ashley head to Fiji, where Ashley’s family gets to meet the harem. Brace yourself for Ashley’s sister—her body is covered in tattoos, and her “advice” to Ashley is covered in judgment. Should make for great television.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bachelorette Recap: Ep 7

Last week’s “Bachelorette” was a repeat because some Americans celebrate our nation’s birth by watching fireworks, rather than by voyeuristiclly watching heartbreak and embarrassment offered up for public consumption. You can probably guess which one I think is more “American” to be watching, but that’s neither here nor there. Nor over there.

This week the six remaining guys (Monkey Twins Ben & Constantine, wide-set-eyes Ames, sweetheart JP, straight-laced Lucas and Guy Smiley Ryan) and Ashley flew to Taiwan for their last week in the Orient. (Unrelated aside: the theme for my oldest sister’s prom was Oriental Mystique which, in retrospect, sounds kinda racist. How ya like them random tidbits? My mind is like a steel trap for useless minutiae!) Chris Harrison greets the guys in Taiwan and informs them that this week’s events will include three 1:1 dates and a group date (3:1).

The first 1:1 date goes to one half of the Monkey Twins, Constantine. As a gal who once recreationally stalked a D list celebrity named Constantine (Maroulis, baby! Rock of Ages! American Idol reject!), I appreciate his name. I don’t appreciate his droopy eyes and weird hair, but that’s just me being judgmental from beneath my head of good hair. Ashley and Constantine take a quaint train to a village where the locals are preparing for a nighttime lantern ceremony. The two of them paint the sides of a paper lantern with hearts and words like “family” as wishes, which seems weird because you can’t simply wish for a family. If you want to build a family, go get knocked up. Don’t sit at home and try to wish or “Secret” that action, ya know? Later that night, they put a small fire beneath the lantern and send it floating into the night sky. The whole thing is gorgeous, but seems like it might be a HUGE fire hazard, especially if the weather has been dry. But I’m not a forest firefighter, what do I know? I just know that firefighters are generally hot and I wave at them when NYFD trucks pass me on the street. Constantine seems shockingly normal and I think that perhaps I judged the Monkey Twins too soon. Over dinner, he explains that he’s enjoying this whole experience, but that he is just taking it one day at a time and seeing how it goes. Thank you for not being a crazy person, Constantine! You used to drive me bananas, but now I’m digging you. Good work. Ashley & Constantine make-out and the date goes well, overall.

The next 1:1 date is Ben, the other half of the Monkey Twins. Ben & Ashley hop on a scooter. Nice helmets, tools! Safety is for losers! (Woa woa woa—my apologies—this recap was just hijacked by the beefcake dude from “Revenge of the Nerds.” I’ve wrangled it back from him. Sorry about that.) They tool around and Ben makes corny remarks about how it’s hard to keep his eye on the road because he wants to check on the “precious cargo” behind him. Man, Ben and Ashley might be perfect for each other after all. They walk across a rope bridge in the jungle, stopping in the middle to make out, which is so spontaneous and I’m sure the film crew totally didn’t suggest that they do that. Later that night they have dinner and a great conversation and I gotta say, these two seem pretty serious.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the remaining guys notice that Ben didn’t come back after his date. He strolls in during breakfast, but of course he didn’t stay in a room with Ashley—that’s saved for the final date when the couple may “choose to forgo their individual rooms for a night in the fantasy suite.” Hasn’t everyone memorized that note card and watched the participants’ feigned surprise a million times by now? (Just me? Others are out there foregoing ACTUAL rooms in REAL life while on their own dates? Huh? What are you talking about?)

It’s time for the 3:1 date and JP, Ames, and Lucas get to take wedding photos with Ashley! What fun! Up next they’ll have a date that is spent preparing taxes, or maybe the thrilling experience of closing on a house if they want to get REALLY rowdy! In Lucas and Ashley’s photos they both wear dresses and kiss (which makes JP crazy), in Ames and Ashley’s photo they dress up like 1960s lounge singers (huh?), and JP scores the most traditional wedding photos with him in a tux and Ashley in white. After the photo shoot they all change and have drinks and JP scores a rose by being the most needy of the trio. Way to reward annoying behavior, Ashley! Lucas continues to be pretty stiff and straight-laced, while Ames loosens up a bit (despite his pink pants), by showing Ashley some old family photos.

Ryan has the final 1:1 and he can’t hide his excitement about it, which is sweet, but also a bit unappealing. My theory is that Ryan has made it this far because he has flown under the radar and Ashley hasn’t gotten a full taste of just how annoying he is. All the guys in the house have, but he and Ashley haven’t had a 1:1 yet, so she’s only seen Ryan in small doses, which can be tolerable. But she figures it out quickly and sends him home mid-date, which was amazing to watch. Ryan’s facial expressions as he processes the fact that he’s being negged were precious and delightful. Once he’s alone, Ryan gives his two cents (to the camera) and starts crying, which made me feel bad for him a tiny bit. At least we all learned something useful from Ryan: tankless water heaters are the way to go.

It’s time for a rose ceremony without the cocktail party, which makes me wonder—could these guys request cocktails anyway? There’s no cocktail party, but dudes probably want a stiff drink, ya know? The dudes look handsome, but Ashley’s dress (with hip cut-outs) is not a great choice. You could be Heidi Klum and hip cut-outs are not going to do you any favors. (Neither is pale pink on pale white women, but we’ll get into that another time.) Ashley hands out the roses and who doesn’t get one? Straight-laced Lucas. He handles it gracefully and heads off into the Taiwanese night.

Up next week, hometown dates! From the preview, what we will learn is that Ames and his family live on a sleigh, Constantine’s family does a whole lotta group dancing and throwing of dollar bills, JP was raised in a roller rink, and Ben’s family (and late father) are inordinately proud of their son for going on a reality TV dating show.