Monday, January 18, 2016

The Bachelor Recap: Week 2

Note: As I wrote previously, I'm writing a humorous weekly column about The Bachelor this winter. The following post originally appeared on my Patreon page, which you can subscribe to here. I hope you will.

No One is Rejection-Proof

Ah, week two. The dates begin!

In the opening shots of this week's episode, did anyone else find it interesting to see that Ben is staying at the Four Seasons? If you recall some of the more dramatic moments of Chris Soules' season, you'll remember that he was living in a bachelor pad right next door to the women, complete with hot tub and outdoor shower. The proximity pretty much begged for secret trysts, or snooping around while Chris was off on dates with other women, not to mention lots of shots of Chris in the aforementioned shower. (The brief shot, featured on Bachelor Live, of Ben rinsing off in the hotel bathroom was a pretty poor substitute.) Who knows whether it was Ben's choice to stay further away, but it's certainly interesting to hypothesize. His Good Guy image would go well with a decision to remove himself from the possibility of women knocking on his door at all hours of the night.
But...I'm not sure I'm fully buying the Good Guy image at this point. Prove it to me, Ben. PROVE IT.
Week two started off with a cringe worthy "back to school" themed group date that should probably make us fear for the future, given that the women remaining in the competition when they reached the geography challenge couldn't place Indiana on a map. Still, how about those volcano explosions, amiright? You've got to hand it to ABC for the not-so-subtle innuendo. Ben's face in moments like this is perhaps proof that he is who he presents himself to be, because boy did he look awkward when Chris Harrison asked who was doing to make Ben's volcano explode. In any case, the results of the competition were a good reminder of why these kind of dates are stupid: Mandi, who won, went home at the end of the week. Winning at cheesy ice breaker games isn't much of an indicator of, well, anything, besides one's ability to win cheesy ice breaker games.
The evening portion of the date was less humorous, but more revealing about what might happen going forward. First off, Becca and Ben definitely have A Thing going. She can shoot a basketball, she's beautiful and wholesome, she's actually pretty level headed and smart (generally not an asset on this show, but one can dream). Personally, I'm putting her in my Final Four.
All the tiny dramas and stealing back and forth of the coveted Ben aside, the thing I was most struck by throughout the evening was how everyone keeps saying "I'm excited to get to know you" -- as in, in the future. I found myself wondering when -- if ever -- the real conversations happen. They're so focused on checking in on their feelings  -- "I'm excited to be here," "I'm excited to get to know you," "I'm developing feelings for you" -- that they rarely seem to actually get to know one another. They're always projecting to a future time when they'll get to do that. The notable exceptions to this, of course, are intense back stories from women like Jubilee, and revelations about children from parents, in this case, Amanda. Doesn't anyone else have a LIFE and THOUGHTS they'd like to share with Ben? Questions they'd like to ask him, as they figure out whether he's someone they'd like to marry? Talking about your feelings all the time has to get exhausting.
And PS, someone at ABC needs to start dressing Ben better, because he wore a hoodie on a group date. I don't care if it was one of those fancy cashmere ones, Ben. The ladies are in cocktail attire and probably spent hours on their hair and makeup. Ya gotta do better than a HOODIE. You're the Bachelor.
Moving on to the ride along date with Calia, I'm not sure what to say except that it was pretty bad. Their idea of getting to know one another included Ben asking Caila her favorite color. I mean, is this grade school? Still, Ben's face when Kevin Hart stood up in the hot tub may have made this whole episode worth watching. Again, he looked so uncomfortable. Even when Ben and Caila got to be alone the date seemed super awkward. Ben is always so poised -- too poised -- and all Caila can say about what she is looking for is that she wants to be in the "right relationship" -- an answer which essentially re-states the question.
As usual, they literally left the restaurant without touching the food. If you follow my tweets, you know this is my biggest Bachelor pet peeve. No one eats! Not even the men, who can get away with it! You could see their untouched meals sitting there, on the table, looking like a prop rather than food. It's no wonder everyone goes crazy on this show: their only caloric intake comes from alcohol.
To be honest, it's possible that Ben was more excited about seeing Amos Lee perform than anything else on this date, despite the fact that the date seemed to go reasonably well. Caila also seems wholesome thought that I'd bet she goes to the Final Four. I mean, she's the kind of person who says "you-know-where" instead of "hell." Also, don't get me started on the flesh colored mesh on her dress.
Moving along again: The Love Laboratory date was an all time low. The faux science, the humiliation of the smell test, the ridiculousness of taking that thermal energy test with everyone watching...and then announcing the scores, to everyone! Stuff like this is why I question Ben's character. Either he's not that nice, or he's just stupid. How dumb can you be to think this won't hurt people unnecessarily?! Yet he seems so intent on not wanting to do that at other times. I'd be interested to know how much control Ben has over planning these dates. The show always presents the dates as if Ben planned them, but I always kind of assume that he isn't really given that much say in the matter, so maybe he gets a pass this time. Maybe.
As for Olivia, who won the rose for the night -- that high score of 74? That's a solid C, my friends, nothing to put on the refrigerator of the Bachelor Mansion. (As a side note, did anyone else catch that "WHAT'S UP?!" that Ben gave Olivia when she stole him from Leah? That was...not sexy. At all.) Anyway, those two are mostly just making out and I'm pretty sure she's going to get herself sent home in the next couple of weeks. Over confidence usually leads down that road, on this show and often in life. Same goes for Lace, whose last conversation with him (if you can call it that) consisted mostly of her interrupting his attempts to respond to what she said, and sort of spewing random thoughts about her self without any clarity whatsoever. Apparently she was a dork in elementary school. Who wasn't?
My overall reaction to Ben after week two is mixed, at best. Perhaps it's his age (he's young, he doesn't really know what he's doing), perhaps he's not entirely the Nice Guy he wants to come across as, perhaps he's just a typical human dude...but in any case, I found it hard to match his insensitivity toward the Love Lab and some of his continued choices about who to keep around and who to send home, with the thoughtful guy who thought up small, sweet (well, they found them sweet at least) gifts for some of the women at the cocktail party. That's something I don't remember ever seeing. Often the Bachelor gets gifts from the women on the show. They have a ton of time in their hands, and they're worried about whether he's thinking about them. Coming up with a cheesy gift gives them an outlet for that energy, I guess, and a way to ensure he is reminded of them during the week. (Honestly though, go lay by the pool and read a book ladies. You barely know the guy.)
So, the thing that redeemed Ben for me this week is that he actually seems to get that this is a two way street. He believes he has to woo them, instead of just letting them fight over him. America may be shocked, and continue coming back to Ben's fear that he may be unlovable, but the fact that he is indeed lovable doesn't mean each and every (or any) woman cast for the show will necessarily end up being a match. We saw this when LB left after being offered a rose. We saw hints of this as Amanda questioned whether she should be there, away from her children, while a woman like Olivia monopolizes him. Is Ben worth it? Certainly not if she doesn't have feelings for him, but possibly not even if she does. The fact that Ben is lovable doesn't make him rejection-proof.
Surprise, America! Single people aren't single because they're unlovable, and lovable though he may be, there is a very real possibility Ben will still be single at the end of all this.