Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recap: Is this The Bach or Scarface or season 2 of "East Bound & Down"?

The remaining 11 women and Ben relocated from Utah to Puerto Rico for a week of dates for all! That means two 1:1 dates and 1 group date. There is still tension between sweet Emily and psychopath lip-puckerer Courtney, which Courtney classily gives voice to, saying, “You better check yourself, bitch.” Who knew that model Courtney was a fan of that 1993 Ice Cube masterwork? I much prefer Ice Cube’s vastly underrated “Bop Gun,” but to each her own! Also, you’re a terrible person and your ex waxes his chest, Courtney.

Nicki (brunette, dental hygienist (OF COURSE SHE IS), TX native) gets the first 1:1 and gets all dolled up in a cute, one-shoulder dress and wedges. I approve! Ben and Nicki walk around the downtown area of Vieques Island and get caught in a flash rainstorm. The two are soaked and running through the streets, clutching their shoes. Didn’t this happen in “The Bachelorette” last season, between Ashley and Ben? Tough memories for ‘ole Benny Flanny. Or wait, perhaps that was a scene between Ashley and Constantine (a Ben look-alike and one half of the Ben/Constantine duo that I nicknamed “The Monkey Twins”)? Either way, Ben and Nicki are soaked and now they must buy new, traditional Puerto Rican clothing. As Nicki said, “Nothing can rain on this parade!” (Barf.) Ben is impressed that Nicki can just roll with this turn of events, but what choice does she have? Get upset because it rained and go back to the white girl compound? Nicki buys a cute (but somewhat unflattering) scarf dress and flats (just say no to flats!) and Ben draws inspiration from “Scarface” with his all-white ensemble.

Ben & Nicki walk around in their new duds and stumble upon a wedding just as the bride is entering the church from the street. There’s no better way to upstage a bride than roll up with a reality TV camera crew and film the conversation that your young lovers are having JUST OUTSIDE a wedding. This scene prompts a discussion of marriage and Nicki explains that while she’s divorced, she still believes in marriage and wants to remarry. Later they change clothes (again) and enjoy dinner and cocktails by the beach. Ben makes yet another odd fashion choice (for those keeping track at home, so far we have WAY too many vests going on and that all-white “cocaine kingpin” ensemble): suspenders, but he doesn’t use them to hold up his pants—they’re just for show. Yes, suspenders just hanging around his bum. Fashion hasn’t been so dysfunctional since the 1990s when we all wore overalls with 1 or 2 straps pulled down. (DON’T LIE—you know you did it, too.) Nicki scores a rose.

Up next is a group date for everyone except Elyse (which means that she’ll FINALLY get a 1:1 date). The date card says, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” but this isn’t a reference to “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” OR to the De Beers diamonds antitrust legislation (they were/are price-fixing diamonds! Diamonds aren’t a rarity at all—seriously!) OR to the film “Blood Diamond,” but rather, BASEBALL DIAMONDS. Baseball south of the border—break out the cornrows and get Stevie in here cause this feels like season 2 of “East Bound & Down”! The 9 women arrive at Gigantes stadium (Puerto Rico’s beloved baseball team) and spend the afternoon training with 3 Gigantes coaches and Ben. Blakeley has amazing softball skills and explains that she played softball in high school and college. Courtney says the only funny/non-psychopathic thing that she has ever said, “Who knew that strippers could play baseball?”

Chris Harrison informs the ladies that they’ll be playing a softball game against each other that night. Each team will have 4 members, with Ben as permanent pitcher and one lady playing for both teams (insert bisexuality joke here). The winning team’s prize will be a beach-side after party with plenty of booze and Ben. Ben gets to pick a girl to be the swing (play for both teams) and he selects Lindzi (aka bronzer overdose). The two teams are:

Red Team
Courtney (Satanic captain)
Casey S (her sidekick who always does her bidding, but has cool hair)
Kaci B (poor man’s Minka Kelly whose hair is super kinky in the tropics)
Jamie (sweetheart girl whose clothing is beyond cheesy)

Blue Team
Blakeley (Stripper captain)
Emily (blonde girl who Ben scolded for having an opinion in the last episode)
Jennifer (redhead accountant)
Rachel (NYC-based blonde)

Their intended 2 inning game (only 2 innings?) goes into extra innings because of a tie, until finally Jennifer strikes out and the red team wins. In a move that’s Kenny Powers-esque on the insensitivity scale, Ben and the red team then spray champagne all over the baseball diamond and hop into a helicopter. The blue team boards the loser school bus and heads home.

Ben and the red team clean up for the “after party” during which Ben gives Kaci B. (poor man’s Minka) a rose. Watching Courtney watch Kaci B. score a rose and a kiss was music to my eyes (if that’s a thing). Courtney has some alone time with Ben, during which she shows a whole lotta side boob and says that they should go skinny dipping sometime. FORESHADOWING!

The next day, Ben picks up Chicago-based personal trainer Elyse for her long-awaited 1:1 date. I’ve always liked Elyse—great hair, good taste in clothes (fantastic one-shoulder dresses), and big earrings. A girl after my own heart. But once she begins talking to Ben, I can see why he’s just not feeling it. She sounds like a valley girl and she has an almost Snooki-like quality to her. After they spend time swimming and jumping off a yacht, they clean up and eat a candlelit dinner on the beach. Ben makes a toast to them being the best-dressed people on the (empty) beach, and Elyse doesn’t seem to get it. Their conversation feels like a job interview—no chemistry or romance there. Nonetheless, Ben picks up the rose from the plate (as though he’s going to give it to her), but then proceeds to explain that he’s sending her home. Harsh! I’m not totally surprised, though. Elyse was a little slow out of the gate and Ben has already forged connections with some of the other ladies. Poor Elyse asks what she did wrong, and I yelled at my TV, “Nothing! You just weren’t pushy and you didn’t throw yourself at him! These aren’t bad things!” She hops into a motorboat and is whisked away, never to be seen again (until the “Women Tell All” when she’ll probably show up as a redhead or a blonde, because that’s usually what happens).

Ben tosses the unused rose in the ocean (those Bachelor producers are all about subtle symbolism) and walks back to his hotel room, where single-white-female, fatal attraction Courtney is waiting for him on the stairs. Woa. You two are going skinny dipping whether he likes it or not. Courtney has a bottle of wine and two glasses (in an attempt to seem less stalker-y?) and they walk down the beach, strip naked, then hop in the surf. What a classy way for Ben to spend the hours after he has sent a crying woman home. Apparently “nice guy” Ben isn’t so nice at all, and is easily swayed by a skeletal body and pursed lips.

Cut to the cocktail party the next night. Nobody knows about Courtney and Ben’s skinny dipping, but Courtney keeps bringing up skinny dipping in conversation with the other girls. What a hilarious inside joke with yourself, Courtney! Did you learn your social skills from a crew of 5th grade mean girls? Ben says to the camera that he and Courtney had an “intimate moment” and now he regrets it. Later, he has some good 1:1 conversations with the ladies. During her time, Emily mentions again that Courtney is very different around Ben than she is around everyone else, and Ben tells Emily to, “be careful.” Wow. That’s ALMOST as offensive as being told to “simmer down.” If I were on this show, I would have walked at that point. Then again, I’m not known for my calmness in the face of frustration, so please don’t heed my advice. In Blakeley and Ben’s 1:1 time, she tells him that every day she writes down 1 good thing about Ben in her journal and somehow that’s teaching her that she deserves love. Huh? How about you write down 1 good thing about YOU, girl. Love yourself before you love anybody else.

Finally, it’s rose ceremony time and the order is: Lindzi, Jamie (cheese ball sweetheart is still flying under the radar!), Rachel, Courtney (the master of darkness), Casey S. (I guess she and Courtney are a package deal now)

Blakeley and finally, Emily (she’s being punished for having opinions AGAIN). Redheaded accountant Jennifer is going home and she’s pretty upset. She was ranked best kisser once upon a time! But just last week I said that she was normal and chill, and thus she’d be gone soon. And so it goes.

Up next, the group is heading to the country that was invented by Van Halen: PANAMA!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bach Recap: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Hello pussycats!

As usual, apologies for the delay on this Bachelor recap. Sometimes life gets in the way, am I right? Does that sound like the great subtitle for a movie about taking chances on love? Am I so obsessed with the “Rule of Threes” that I’m finishing off those two questions with a third?

This week we traveled from Sonoma, California to Park City, Utah to experience the great outdoors in a state where polygamy laws are loose as hell (maybe? I actually know nothing about polygamy laws and I don’t have a fact checker for this ‘ole blog, so just pull a Steve Winwood and roll with it baby. Do I hate myself for the idiocy that I just shoved between these two parentheses? Yes). Chris Harrison welcomes the remaining women to their ski chalet/ concubine pen and informs them that this week there will be 1 group date and two 1:1 dates. He also warns the gals to make the most of their time with Ben (read: HJs?) because you never know it that will be your last alone time AND because a few unlucky ladies won’t be invited on ANY dates this week. Hope they like chillin’ at the chalet and having no access to pop culture!

The first 1:1 date goes to Rachel (blonde, NYC-based girl who used to work in fashion, but quit her job to go on The Bachelor—NO PRESSURE!) and Ben picks her up at the chalet, then they hop in a helicopter and ride off into the sunset like Magnum P.I. The other girls watch them fly away, and one laments, “I want to go on a helicopter… I’ve never been on a helicopter.” Girlie, I’ve never been held up at knife point, but I’m chill with never experiencing that. Just because you’ve never done it doesn’t mean you WANT to do it. But I digress. Ben and Rachel get dropped off at a lovely pond where they canoe and canoodle while bugs swarm them. Can you feel the love? They sit lakeside and stare at each other awkwardly while drinking champagne. Then it’s off to have dinner inside a structure that looks like a sweat lodge where one would go to hallucinate and meet his/her spirit guide (WHO took Native American Religious Traditions in college? THIS GIRL!). Conversation continues to be stilted and Rachel admits that she’s not very good at opening up, yet somehow she still scores a rose. Eh—she’s cute.

The next day is a group date of horseback riding and fly fishing for Jamie (sweet nurse), Casey S (blonde, flying under radar), Blakeley (prostitute), Lindzi (bronzer overdose), Samantha (Miss Pacific Palisades), Nicki (cute brunette), Kacie B (poor man’s Minka) and Courtney (overrated sociopath). Self-described country girl Lindzi is PSYCHED! Ben makes a dramatic entrance on horseback (during which the horse practically bucks him off) and informs the gals of the excitement in store. Riding horses, then putting on a condom-like bodysuit known as a WADER for fly-fishing! Courtney thinks that the other ladies aren’t “angling” (fishing joke! Up top!) for Ben’s attention enough, so she asks him to teach her about fishing. By the grace of Beelzebub, she manages to catch a fish which she and Ben then both kiss, the customary post-fishing celebration nowhere. The ladies enjoy some drinks stream-side and then change for the after party at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City. Yes, there’s a Waldorf Astoria in Utah—does that feel completely bizarre to anyone else?

At the after party, Nicki pulls Ben aside to talk living life to the fullest and they both agree that it’s a great idea. Wait, was that a conversation or the lyrics to a Nickelback song? Their brilliant conversation is interrupted by perpetual wet rat, Miss Pacific Palisades (but she’s more than pageant girl, YOU GUYS!) Samantha. She comes in, guns blazing, and asks Ben why she has been on three group dates in a row and no 1:1 dates. During their conversation, she licks her lips a LOT (my friend Greg and I counted THREE licks) and almost growls, Courtney Stodden-style. Yikes. Ben gets very defensive and you can tell that she’s only around because she has flown under the radar, but he’s definitely not feeling it. Ben tells Samantha that she doesn’t seem very interested in him and suggests that perhaps she should go. Awww SNAP! If there’s one thing that Chris Harrison and I both love, it’s an unexpected, rash rejection. Samantha cries as she packs up her pageant sashes and oversized dresses and Ben puts her in a car. What a shake up!

Interspersed throughout the episode are clips of the gals back at the house hanging out, drinking wine, and chatting. In every shot, Courtney is holding tension in her lips and reminding everyone that she has had a LOT of boyfriends, she rarely hangs out with women, and she feels like she’s in a sorority house. No Courtney, this isn’t like a sorority house because in a sorority house, the other ladies CHOOSE you and LIKE you, which would never happen for YOU, my insufferable model friend. Sadly, Courtney pulls out the neediness card with Ben and he falls for it, giving her the lone available rose on that group date.

The final 1:1 date goes to cute, redhead accountant Jennifer. They enter a cave/pond area (adorned with “NO TRESPASSING” signs that the Production Assistants must have purchased at the nearest Office Max) and rappel into it. Any chance to put on a crotch harness, Ben takes it. They drop into the cave-covered pond and furiously tread water while kissing. After that, it’s off to a small Clay Walker concert (he’s country singer whose best known song is probably “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.” A song that, I’ll admit, I friggin’ love), then dinner. Jennifer is cute, warm, chill, and positive, so I’m sure her days are numbered. She manages to score a rose this go-round, though.

Back at the house, Courtney is alienating herself further in the living room while Emily gets her roots taken care of in the bathroom ON CAMERA! Now THERE is a girl after my heart. Blakeley must be only a part-time prostitute b/c she’s doing a partial foil on Emily and she’s skilled! This is a ski chalet full of randoms that I could jive with! Elyse and Monica hang out in the bathroom and the 4 ladies agree that Courtney is one way around Ben (semi-tolerable) and another way in the house with the ladies (misery). Emily says that someone should talk to Ben about this discrepancy.

It’s cocktail party time and Rachel, Courtney, and Jennifer all have roses. One lady will be sent home tonight, and who can it be now? During her alone time with Ben, Emily mentions that Courtney is really miserable to all of the women in the house, but changes personality when Ben is around. There’s one of those two-faced, anti-social people in EVERY season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and, unfortunately, the person who blows the whistle is usually seen as the bad guy, somehow. As my dad says, “No good deed goes unpunished.” And so it is with Emily and Ben’s conversation. Ben gets very defensive (again) and tells Emily only to worry about herself because if she gets wrapped up in other people, she’ll be upset by it. I totally get the “eyes on your own paper” thing (and it’s come up in my life a lot recently), but in this scenario, it’s damn hard and Emily isn’t the bad guy here! Later in the cocktail party, Emily confides in Jamie and Casey S. that she told Ben about Courtney’s two-faced tendencies. Casey S. then tells Courtney, and Courtney’s weird lip movements get even weirder. All of the ladies are sitting around when poor man’s Minka Kelly asks an innocuous question about this journey, learning about yourself, and Courtney uses that as a springboard to rip into Emily. Emily plays it off well and Courtney walks off saying, “WINNING!” which makes me assume that this scene was filmed right in the thick of the Charlie Sheen madness. Yeah, Courtney, break out the most overused, trite catch-phrase uttered by an aging drug addict to show how much you’re ON TOP!

It’s rose ceremony time and Ben starts doling out roses to the usual suspects: Lindzi, Jamie, Nicki, Kacie B, Elyse, Blakeley, Casey S. It’s down to Monica and Emily. Woa. Emily went from top of the heap to bottom of the barrel quickly. Ugh. I hope that Ben is watching all of the footage now and is horrified at Courtney’s antics. Emily scores the final rose, though. Who’s WINNING now, Jesse Metcalf’s ex-girlfriend? Monica leaves and cries in the limo, which must bring a giant smile to blogger Jenna’s face, wherever she might be.

They all toast and Ben announces that crew is going to Puerto Rico! Courtney immediately says that she was just there two months ago! Shut your weird mouth!