Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bachelor Ben H. Ep 8: MVPS = Lauren's brothers, Jojo's mother

Last night was the all-important HOMETOWNS episode of The Bachelor and the first 3 families served up some pretty standard fare—wine, stilted conversation, McMansions awash in Pottery Barn—but the big finish was found in Dallas, Texas with Jojo’s hilarious family who need their own sitcom PRONTO.

We started off not far from the Bachelor mansion in Laguna Beach, CA, hometown of Amanda, the beautiful mother of two who managed to turn some really bad roots into seemingly deliberate balayage. Ben and Amanda run to each other on the beach and Amanda’s shirt is barely hanging on. Did anyone else notice that shoulderless, drapey black shirt that left her practically nude? At points it almost looked as if the video editor had to “fix it in post” and draw on a higher neckline than was really there.  Amanda’s sweet daughters, Kinsley and Charlie (no comment from the peanut gallery about trends in baby naming these days), run up and a tearful reunion is had. The girls are both rocking tiny gladiator sandals which is cute, I suppose, but must be a bear to get wiggly kiddo legs and toes into. Ben, Amanda, and the tykes chase each other around the beach and generally act like a family unit much too soon.

That evening Ben meets Amanda’s parents and sister and answers questions about whether he’s ready to be an “instant dad.” Amanda’s father says that Ben looks like a deer in the headlights (about to get hit by an SUV full of TYKES) and asks Ben if he’s ready to step up and make sacrifices for the children, telling him that “you can’t go to the gym with your buddies.” That LONE example of parental obligation inspires Ben to suddenly think seriously about what it means to be a father. Oh Amanda, your fate is already sealed. The couple shares a chaste goodbye kiss in the driveway and Ben heads out to Portland, OR.

Lauren is waiting for Ben in downtown Portland and the cute couple explore her hometown together, walking around Pioneer Square, eating from food trucks, and stopping by a “Keep Portland Weird” mural which was probably painted by that Goth Dentist cast off from earlier in the season.

They enjoy a drink at Whiskey Library and reminisce on that first night when Lauren was homesick and skeptical. Then it’s family time and Ben meets Lauren’s parents, sister, 2 younger brothers, and elderly dog.  After pleasantries and “dinner” (drinks?), Lauren’s sister pulls Ben aside and asks him what he’s saying to the other families and—point blank—what makes Lauren different. In a move straight out of the Idiot’s Guidebook for Dumb Shit Not To Say, Ben insists that that he simply can’t put it into words (but, ya see buddy, language is a powerful tool, so hows bouts ya try?) and that he just feels really lucky, then he looks away and tears up.

Lawdy lawdy! I don’t think that Ben’s tears were crocodile tears necessarily, but I DO think that he is EXHAUSTED from selling snake oil to 4 families in a row this week and that will make the tears flow like white wine at a Bachelor viewing party.

Who needs words when you can use tears?
 (Also, aren't my frames fantastic?)

Lauren chats with her sister Mollie and says “I feel like Ben’s my person” and then they embrace while clutching their white wine glasses. Lauren’s father asks Ben how he’s holding up and Ben admits “not well” (for reals) as Lauren frets about whether she should tell Ben that she loves him. The couple say goodbye and kiss in the driveway but Lauren doesn’t drop the L bomb and says in her interview, “there are things left unsaid on my behalf.” HUH? ON MY BEHALF? Did you ALSO not attend middle school? Do you mean that, on your side of the fence or for your part, there were things left unsaid? Somebody gets these kids some Language Arts education!

The next stop on the Trail of Tears is Hudson, Ohio where Caila will introduce Ben to her parents and brother but not until they sit on a cute swinging bench in the town square and build a toy house together. Caila’s father is the CEO of a toy company (what, no free promotional consideration for said unnamed toy company?) so Caila and Ben spend the afternoon “designing a house” (picking out colors) then “building the house” (pouring chemicals and polymers into molds and, we hope, not inhaling those toxic fumes) before they exit the factory Officer & a Gentleman-style.  

Despite her insistence last week that she doesn’t have deep roots, Caila’s family is warm and welcoming, with her nerdy sweet dad, bubbly Filipino mother, and quiet brother.  Caila’s father Chris (or as she calls him “Daddy”—yikes) asks Ben about his “microwave fame” and remarks on his and Caila's mother's 24 year magical marriage (so sweet). Caila has a lovely rapport with both of her parents and the line of the night goes to Mr. Toy Company CEO, “darling, there’s no rule book to love.” We see another driveway goodbye and Caila admits that there’s an unknown in the back of her mind and it’s scary.

Finally, we’re down in Dallas, Texas where Jojo lives and we watch her walk up to her apartment and see a dozen roses and a note, presumably from Ben. BUT WAIT—these producers have coordinated something super shitty and are throwing her a curve ball like it's last week at Wrigley Field and the Cubs are losing—the note is from her crappy ex-boyfriend Chad. OF COURSE THE KID’S NAME IS CHAD! Jojo becomes very upset and, in a move straight out of the Guide for Shit NOT TO DO When You’re Actually Attempting to Move On and Truly Seek Closure, SHE CALLS CHAD.  GIRL! Closure is a gift you give yourself—how many times must we go over this!? She talks to Chad, hangs up the phone, Ben knocks on the door, and she tells him everything that just happened. Ben is sweating bullets and looks horrified but they talk through it and area soon walking through the giant front door of Jojo’s family’s public library-sized McMansion. Everything’s bigger in Texas indeed. 

The couple is greeted by Jojo’s pushy brothers Matt and Ben (Insert Good Will Hunting joke here), sister Rachel, dad Joe, and mom whose name we never catch, but whose spirit we embrace. Jojo’s mother definitely looks like she has had some work done (no shame in that game) and throughout the dinner we fall in love with this jazzy spitfire. While Jojo’s brothers are busy being handsome and GRILLING Ben about the process (“have you been coached on what to say?” “will she end up hurt or happy?”), Jojo and her mother are having girl talk and I want to have Jojo’s mother’s advice stitched onto a throw pillow: “You’re not going to get hurt—you’re beautiful.” God bless you, sweet lady. Jojo’s mother seems surprised to learn that there are still 3 other girls in the running (ya see it’s this show called The Bachelor, mom, and it sounds crazy, but he dates about a dozen women at the same time—ya know what, let’s just keep talking about how pretty I am).  The entire family assembles in the kitchen and while the less hot brother says that Ben has brainwashed these girls, Mama Jojo chugs champagne straight out of the bottle and officially captures Bachelor Nation’s hearts. 

The greatest moment in Bachelor history

The family seems to love advising Jojo on whether she should put up a wall or open up or go 150%, but how about we all let Jojo decide what is right for Jojo, mmmmmkay? Ben and Jojo talk in the driveway and she’s scared that she’ll lose him.

You can just hear the producers saying "GET OUT OF THE SHOT!"

Before we know it, we’re back at the Bach Manse and it’s rose ceremony time. The ladies arrive and everyone has gotten their hair cut and/or colored during hometowns, thank God. They line up and Ben hands out the roses in a pretty predictable order:

-Lauren: rocking smooth, straight hair and an off-the-shoulder dress. Her taste in jewelry is a bit delicate/small for my taste, but she looks great.
-Caila: wearing a floral dress (meh) and big hair.
-Jojo: rocking a sexy red dress, big silver earrings, and awesome hair.

So mama bear Amanda (wearing what resembles a lace nighty) is going home and she tells Ben that she wishes he hadn’t made her travel to Los Angeles to get dumped, but that’s only an hour away from her home, so cry me a river, lady.  I once got dumped 2 hours after getting back from vacation in Jamaica.

Speaking of Jamaica (and my ex who is a nice guy, but one of those dudes who just refuses to grow up or wear shirts with sleeves no matter what the season), next week is FANTASY SUITE week in Jamaica!! Yes, the series of potential humps after which Dava Krause and I named our podcast, The FantasySuite!

The Jamaican getaway promises 3 instances of “I love you” + 2 instances of “I love you too” = 1 broken heart.  Who says that math is for nerds? 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bach 20 Special + Bach Ben Ep 7: Everyone Act Like You Aren't Freezing


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
[le fin]

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! 
As if that date weren't High School enough, around the corner is a Warsaw Town Carnival where Amanda and Ben make out on the ferris wheel.

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. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bachelor Ben H. Ep 6: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Monday night’s episode was another GEMSTONE and I didn’t think that ABC could top last week’s brilliance. We had all the ingredients necessary for a clutch Bach episode: desperation, sabotage, and the dreaded 2-on-1 date.

Last week’s episode ended with a cliffhanger: would Ben wise up send Olivia and her ankle girdles packing or would be believe her constant refrain that being in the lead put a target on her back? In their whispered 1:1 conversation, Olivia turned elitist (that’s a fun, new trick!) and said that she can’t relate to the other women since they are all “into” painting their nails and doing each other’s hair but she’s interested in reading books and “thinking” (yes, she literally said that) and “I want to talk smart things.” Olivia, you’re a news anchor (supposedly) and a D list catalogue model—you’re not a rocket scientist, so cut it with the claims that you’re simply too smart for this crew. Also, you sound a lot like Ian from Kaitlyn’s season and we all know how that ended (not well). 

Ben hears her out and wisely asks her about her part in it, but ultimately he’s sympathetic toward her so they walk back in together. We then see shots of Olivia saying “come at me, bro” and “I’m not going anywhere—every else can suck it” which I’m sure makes both her family and her employer feel REALLY proud of her tenure on this show.

The Cankles Stay In the Picture

So it’s time for the rose ceremony and already clutching roses are Olivia, Amanda (“Teen Mom” as Olivia would call her), and Lauren H. 

Who’s safe?
-Caila (who seems pretty damn smart, OLIVIA)
-Lauren B. (nice style, love the black dress and hippie style)
-Jojo (filmy white town and fuscia lips “on fleek” as someone cooler than me would probably say)
-Beccca (loving the mixed texture hair—braid, curls—it’s very Britney in her heyday)
-Leah (nice mint green gown, side braid)
-Emily (blonde with funny personality)
So the person going home is no surprise to Bachelor Nation: Snooze-A-Thon, Brunette, Monotone Jennifer. Oh Jennifer, we hardly knew ye, but perhaps we DID “know ye” and there just aint much there there.  Jennifer exits gracefully.

The next stop is introduced by Ben as “a lot of sun, a lot of beach, a lot of ocean” (yeah, those 3 things often go together), THE BAHAMAS! There is sunshine but the weather is generally hurricane-like and the only thing rougher than the wind and tides is how Olivia looks without make up. 

Chris Harrison brings the girls up to speed: this week will have a 1:1, a group date, and an infamous 2:1 from which at least 1 girl is sent home (and historically, often both girls are sent home). 

Software saleswoman Caila gets the 1:1 and Leah is upset because she has only had group dates so far. I hear that, but Caila and Ben’s first “1:1” was more of a “3:1” with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and everyone feeling VERY obligated to promote the movie Ride Along 2.  Ben picks up Caila at the hotel and Leah is awkwardly wedged between them on the couch (that seating situation was BRUTAL to watch) before they head out. While Caila and Ben spend a sunny day deep sea fishing, Leah begins to unravel back at the hotel saying that she feels like a fool. Outside of the show, Leah lives only 10 minutes away from Ben, which she takes as a sign of their inevitable compatibility (girl, plenty of people live near me and that doesn’t mean I’ll have anything in common with them other than a subway stop and a local coffee shop). Leah, I’m sorry, but the universe didn’t bring you and Ben together—casting directors did. 

Caila's favorite book
Over a candlelit non-dinner, Caila and Ben have one of the most confusing conversations in Bachelor history, with Caila pulling back the curtain and saying that she knows she’s “supposed” to be vulnerable but she feels put on the spot, that she’s afraid she’s going to break his heart (yikes), and that her mind and her heart want different things (but like, what does your crotch want, also?). She chooses her phrases so deliberately and carefully (“I feel that...”) that it felt like watching a non-native speaker learn English phrases (“I would like to visit the library”). 

Somehow she emerges from that conversation triumphant, with Ben saying that he LIKES that Caila is confusing and that makes her “authentic.” Whatever you say, bro. Enter at your own risk.

The next day is the group date and Lauren B., Becca, Amanda, Jojo, Lauren H., and Leah resemble a sea of bikinis, tan skin, and bayalage hair. The ladies and Ben hop on a boat, drink a bit, and then come upon some wild pigs by a deserted island.  Ben has turkey hot dogs for them to feed the pigs (thank GOD they weren’t regular hot dogs, as I thought they were for a moment) and after that, everyone mostly stands around and feels insecure and weird.  This “acticity” is an audio mixer’s nightmare with loud waves and squealing pigs and no ability to mic each girl since they were in the water. There must have been multiple boom operators running around like crazy people—brutal. 

Leah confronts Ben about how she feels sad that she hasn’t had a 1:1 yet and he says “can you make the most of this with me please?” then hugs her, which was like watching an abusive husband ask his wife to please smile and nod through another dinner party.

That night at the afterparty, Becca’s rocking a fantastic leather & lace outfit when Ben pulls her aside to ask why she was standoff-ish to him today. Becca shoots him straight, saying that the date felt awkward because he has such obvious chemistry with Lauren B. (I smell foreshadowing) but that she’s still really into him, he hasn’t done anything wrong.  He proceeds to then assure almost every girl that he really likes her and I wish that we could have seen it as a montage, but alas. 

Leah finally gets some alone time with Ben and producers give us an ominous voice over of Leah saying that she “needs to do something extreme.”  Turns out, it’s not just Leah’s eyebrows that are intense and crazy—it’s also her personality.  Leah goes full Single White Female while claiming that she doesn’t want to sabotage anyone and then tells bold-faced lies to sabotage someone. Bachelor Nation was STUNNED to watch her throw Lauren B. under the bus, claiming that she’s two-faced and not genuine.  HUH? Say what you will about Lauren B. (perhaps she’s a bit simple and shy?), she is NOT an Olivia type who is some Jekyl & Hyde.  I swear I heard her say Lauren B.’s name in that conversation, but my podcast co-host Dava didn’t hear it—did you hear it, dear reader? It was all so confusing.

After dropping her bomb, Leah exits, like a blonde haired Iago and Ben immediately confronts Lauren B. about what he was told (without naming names). Lauren B. starts crying and feels weird even responding to this, since it’s so far from the truth. Moments later, Lauren B. is visibly upset and tells the other women what happened and Leah COMPLETELY LIES AGAIN about her involvement, saying that she’d never single somebody out and that she didn’t do it. I cannot wait for “The Women Tell All” episode later in the season because Leah is going to have to pay the piper for that whole charade.

Then, as if she hasn’t done enough damage both to herself and to Ben and Lauren B.’s relationship, Leah shows up on Ben’s hotel doorstep that night for more conversation. If she truly wanted to say around and honestly liked Ben, she’d use that alone time to build a bridge, flirt, maybe even make out. But Leah seems dead set on going out with a bang, so she squanders her limited time by again, doing the exact thing that she INSISTS she does NOT want to do (“sit here and talk bad things about Lauren”).  Ben sees through her and makes subtle digs, saying that the first night felt so great between them but it never moved beyond that (got to be hard to hear, even if you’re an Iago type) and that they’re missing something between them.  Finally, Ben says that he doesn’t want to put her through anything more and it’s best for us to say goodbye. Yesssss. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, Psychopath! See ya at The Women Tell All—bring ya boxing gloves!

The next day is the 2:1 between Emily and Olivia and going into it, I thought that Emily was a dead man walking.  Ben and Emily get along well, but don’t seem to have a romantic chemistry and at this point in the game, that’s worrisome.   Olivia makes a joke that she and Emily are the same age but that she feels like her mother and YEAH YA DO with your dumpy clothes and bad taste. The match up truly looks like the fight of the century: 

The trio hops on a boat and braves some rough waves (buns all around, ladies! Do you know how much conditioner you’ll need to undo these tangles later?) as they make their way to an empty island for a date that consists of sitting around and drinking (well, most dates do, but it just feels weird to schelp so far into a hurricane for that activitiy, ya know?).

Olivia and Ben have some alone time during which she rambles about herself and claims to both be an introvert (doesn’t seem like it) but also extremely intimidating and confident yet grounded. I was ready to hear her end with “and I’m extremely humble” but instead, she ended her bizarre monologue by telling Ben that she’s in love with him, which is the Hail Mary Pass of Bachelor conversation moves.  Again, Ben Higgins can smell a rat and he seems completely uninspired by her confession of love.

Ben and Emily have some alone time during which she delivers an extremely enthusiastic diatribe from behind a curtain of hair and soon it’s time for Ben to give the rose to one lucky lady. He plucks the rose from its spot and asks Olivia to walk down the beach with him, with all signs pointing to Olivia being given this rose and Emily being sent home.


Olivia’s open-mouthed grin disappears as Ben clutches the rose and says that he simply CANNOT give it to her because he can’t reciprocate her feelings. Who could have predicted that Olivia—the girl who has been referring to Ben as her “husband” all season--would leave with a whimper and not a bang? Ben walks back to Emily and gives her the rose as she squeals loud enough for Olivia to hear. Sometimes, The Bachelor is pure poetry. Ben and Emily hop a boat out of there while Olivia stands alone on the shoreline and a helicopter shot captures her heartbreak. 

Back at the hotel room, the ladies are stunned and relieved. It wasn’t a celebration quite like we saw when snug know-it-all Kelsey was sent home from Farmer Chris’s season (Badlands), but it was still notable.

Finally, it’s cocktail party time and everyone is wound up, even moreso when Ben cancels the cocktail party because he’s emotionally exhausted.  We’re going straight into the rose ceremony and Caila, Emily, and Amanda already have roses. Then Ben gives roses to…
-Becca (whose white dress is gorgeous against her tan skin and perpetually sleepy eyes)
-Jojo (whose style is top notch, including this army print, backless filmy number)


A match-up unparalleled since the legendary Vegas Vs. Talbots bout earlier in the episode.
Who gets the rose? 
-Lauren B. (looking great in a flowy dress, beachy waves)

So Lauren H. is going home, which didn’t surprise me at all. She and Ben had fun, but also didn’t seem to have much romantic chemistry there. And with Lauren H.’s tear-stained departure, Lauren B. becomes LAUREN. Congratulations, girl! The last Lauren standing. But not the last woman standing.

If you want to hear me and my pal Dava run our mouths about The Bachelor, check out our podcast The Fantasy Suite here

Next week, ABC is giving us 2 nights of Bachelor: A Bachelor 20th anniversary celebration on Sunday then a new episode on Monday. If you overdose on Bach, does your tongue taste metallic like with a Pine Nut overdose? We’ll soon find out!  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bachelor Ben H. Ep 5: Teen Mom Dramz

When we all first started this journey of watching 20 somethings talking about journeys, I never thought that I’d feel an intense kinship with a 20-nothing teetotaler twin from Las Vegas, but last night Emily won my heart with her white hot hatred for Olivia and her repeated reminders that Olivia has bad breath. Who knew that a shared hatred for a stank breathed bully can indeed a friendship make?

But let’s start at the beginning—we’re in Mexico and all Bachelor participants are required to shout “Viva La Mexico” at the camera multiple times!  There are 11 girls left and they storm the Four Seasons Mexico City suite like they have never seen a queen sized bed before. The first date card goes to 25 year-old divorcee and mother of 2, Amanda (she’s nothing if not efficient). The Bachelor again becomes like sorority pledging when Ben surprises the ladies in the middle of the night with an unexpected wake-up call (“line up in the Glen and recite all of the sisters' birthdays, pledges!!”). Ben arrives at 4:20 am (heh heh) but he’s no there to get high, he’s there to pick up Amanda (who just HAPPENED to sleep in a full face of make up) so that they can get high in the sky in a hot air balloon! I’m having flashbacks to when Farmer Chris picked up Britt for the exact same date and she ALSO slept in a face full of make up! Life is a circle of repeated bullshit! Wheeee!  It really IS Groundhog Day! 

Ben and Amanda go up in a hot air balloon and look down at the Mexican ruins then enjoy a picnic in a field where they both talk in circles about how they’d like to get to know each other better, but they don’t take any steps to actually DO that.

That night Amanda rocks a beautiful, black cocktail dress with geometric cut outs in the front and perfect hair (what’s new) as she tells Ben about her failed marriage (a super sad story and a deluge of “likes”). She had her first child when she was 22 and married that guy 6 months later, but there were always red flags and “he had other priorities” (read: dude was immature cheater who would rather party than settled down at the age of 22).  She got pregnant again and then found his cell phone with texts from ex-gifrlfriends and girls from dating sites. Oof.  Ben is, as always, really sympathetic and sweet (I’m drinking the Ben H. Kool Aid AND I LIKE IT) and is flabbergasted that any guy could not wrap up Amanda and her sweet daughters. Ben gives her a rose and then they make out while standing next to a reflecting pool that makes them both look like they are standing IN said pool OR they both had their legs cut off at the shins. ROMANCE!

Up next is a group date and Olivia thinks she’s too good for it, despite being on it. The gang is Jubilee (who is feeling anxious), Becca (who continues to resemble a Floridian grandmother out on the lanai), Jojo (whose style is amazing), Caila (who doesn’t really excite me), Emily (who should be receiving my BFF heart locket by mail any day now), Lauren B. (who is sweet and cool), Jennifer (who is a nap of a human), Leah (whose eyebrows inspire both my love and my hatred), and Olivia (whose cankles accentuate her bad breath). 

The date is a Spanish class and Spanish cooking at a restaurant and Becca’s look is “insane Boca Raton retiree” (that bold patterned dress shirt thing? That half up/half down topknot? WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE?). As usual, Jubilee’s insecurity manifests in flippant comments and Olivia is the whitest white woman I have ever seen.

The crew heads into a huge market to meet Nico and Lula, brother and sister (with hipster style) who own a local Mexican restaurant and will be supervising this cooking challenge.

This photo doesn't capture his pointy edged mustache and her braids, but trust me--these two look like hipster twins 
Everyone must pair up (and Olivia elbows Jubilee out of a pairing with Ben), shop for ingredients, and then cook a Spanish dish to be judged by the hipster siblings.  During the cooking portion, everyone seems to be having fun except for Jubilee who is understandably perturbed that Olivia is essentially getting a 1:1 date out of this. The Hipster Twins (this name gets more official every time I use it) judge all of the plates and declare Jubilee and Lauren B.’s dish the winner saying, “when you know how to cook, you’re ready to get married” (oh is that when? Not when you find a partner who supports and validates you while also enabling you to preserve some modicum of independence? WHAT DO I KNOW?).

That night they get dressed up for an after party and Ben can barely squeak out “great cooking today, ladies” before Olivia snatches him away. The Bachelor producers give us a serious cankle shot as Ben and Olivia descend a few stairs and sit down to talk and reconnect. Lauren B. is rocking white separates (for the 2nd time!) and Ben leads her outside for a street side make-out and chat. Jubilee is becoming increasingly anxious and when Ben finally grabs her, she refuses to hold his hand. Ouch. She does so out of respect for the other women and while that’s a super kind instinct, she’s shooting herself in the foot. Ben and Jubilee have an intense conversation and he says that he doesn’t think that they have a strong enough foundation to build on anymore, then offers to walk her out. That escalated QUICKLY. Jubilee looks gorgeous and holds it together as she exits, then weeps in the interview room saying “I’m the most unlovable person in the world right now.” Oh, sweet girl, what you need in your life is a good therapist—not a boyfriend. Take a page from Lace and focus on loving yourself for a little while.

Ben returns to the ladies and explains what happened with Jubilee, but is interrupted by Jojo (which I found slightly inappropriate) because this romance train has gotta keep moving down the track.  They have a nice conversation but it’s Olivia (who Ben describes as “someone who struggled for a while” HA!) who wins the rose.

The next day is Lauren H. and Ben’s 1:1 date and it’s all about fashion. They try on clothes, chat with designers for Mexico Fashion Week, and ultimately walk IN a fashion show. Backstage, Lauren asks the models how long they have been in the industry (“4 years,” “6 years”) and tells them that she’s on DAY ONE in the industry! HONK! She reminded me of that guy who does standup ONE TIME and has some serious beginner's luck, then tries to hang out with those of us who have been at it for around a decade. Sit down, Lauren H., the adults are talking.

Ben resembled a poor man's Enrique Iglesias while on the runway.  I LIKE IT! 
Over dinner, Lauren H. tells Ben about her 4 year relationship that ended because he was cheating on her (ouch) with 3 different girls (double ouch), 1 of whom was a friend (TRIPLE ouch) and, Bachelor Nation, I think we have found the underlying theme of this season: EVRERY GIRL ON THE SHOW HAS BEEN CHEATED ON!  It’s uncanny. Lauren H. talks about how she actively chooses to be happy now and I appreciate that sentiment and admire her worldview, but still find her a little bit “aww shucks” corny. Ben walks and Lauren clomps out of the dinner (seriously girl walks like Big Foot), she scores a rose, and they awkwardly make out in the street.  She won’t make it to the final four—mark my words.

The next day it’s cocktail party/rose ceremony time and everyone looks fierce except Olivia. Becca and Emily are both wearing sparkly disco numbers,  Jennifer is masking her drab personality with a gorgeous fuscia frock, and Jojo’s filmy, white dress is a bold choice that pays off (especially because of the pink lip).  Olivia’s red dress is very David’s Bridal (in the words of my wonderful pal and Fantasy Suite co-host Dava Krause) and as Amanda is talking about babysitting arrangements for her daughter, Olivia chimes in that this conversation reminds her of the TV show “Teen Mom” then fails to understand why that comment stunned the ladies. She cries crocodile tears and says “I’m trying” because a producer probably told her that a person with a heart or emotions would react that way. 

The women have had enough and they each confront Ben—Emily (great work, girl), Amanda (who has felt targeted and judged by Olivia since day 1), and even snoozefest Jennifer!  Emily remarks that she’s not sure how Ben can be drawn to her AND be drawn to a person like Olivia. (BACHELOR DEEP CUT: That love triangle reminded me of the wonderful Ali Fedotowsky during Jake’s season with regard to Vienna—who’s with me?)  Unlike floppy haired Ben Flajnik from his trainwreck of a season, Ben Higgins listens to the women, trusts their judgment, and wonders if he’s not seeing the real Olivia.  So just as the Chris Harrison is about to whisk Ben away to start the rose ceremony, Ben pulls Olivia aside for a conversation and everyone is stunned. Will Ben revoke her rose and send her home? Can he do that? Are there any rules on The Bachelor OR in love? The Bachelor producers leave us hanging with a “To Be Continued” cliffhanger and I CANNOT WAIT 7 DAYS TO WATCH OLIVIA’S DEMISE!!  What do you think will happen, dear readers?