Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Bachelor Recap: Week 5

I know you're thinking, "Meghan, this is week six of the show, not week five." Well, Patreon subscribers read these posts sooner, so if you're impatient, you should join them!

Villains Gotta Vill

This week we had our first Early Morning Wake-Up Call Date, one of my personal favorite Bachelor traditions. It’s a totally gimickey play on the idea that the women look best without their makeup and that every guy wants the low-maintenance girl-next-door thing, even though the rest of the time they’re all about the fancy, made-up, conventional plastic beauty model. But I still love it, because the women’s reactions are priceless. Perhaps I should feel bad about how embarrassed half of them are to be seen looking totally normal, but mostly I just like finding out who is chill enough to not freak out. Not surprisingly, Amanda took it all in stride. Who knows, maybe she keeps her make-up routine fairly simply ordinarily anyway, what with being a single mom of two (though I’m obviously imposing my own stereotype there), but whatever the reason, I liked that she didn’t freak out. Lauren H., on the other hand, totally lost it, and it was incredible. The best part was Ben’s attempt at calming her: “It’s okay, I wear a retainer at night too.” We know you do Ben, with those perfect pearly whites.

Beyond the dramatic early start, Amanda’s date felt eerily familiar. Waking before sunrise to go on a balloon ride -- we’ve never seen that before.

Oh wait, just kidding, that is exactly what Chris Soules and Britt did last season.

We got to listen in on some more personal conversations between Ben and Amanda about her past marriage, and learn that -- conveniently for the producers -- her ex was a real jerk. Beyond that, not a terribly exciting date.

But oh, the spanish class and cooking group date delivered on the drama. This is the second time Ben has taken the ladies to school, and I can’t say they scored much higher this time around, but we did get to see Jubilee drop some truth when they role played.

Ben: “Te amo”
Jubilee: “You said that to the last four girls.”

What?! HE DID.

The other women were, of course, offended by Jubilee’s logic and humor. A foreshadowing of things to come. But first, the cooking portion of the date! Now, I am all about cooking on dates, especially because, as a woman, I’d like to know whether a guy is totally helpless when it comes to feeding himself, much less cooking for me, sooner rather than later. If we end up together I need to know whether we’re destined for a life of take-out, because I am definitely not cooking every night. But besides that, cooking together is fun.

Cooking in teams of two on a date with ten people, however, is not fun. And cooking because some chef told you that a woman who can cook is ready to get married is really really not fun.

So, this date was destined for failure. The main highlights for me were that, first, Olivia’s dish was awful, and second, JoJo said “Ben already tasted my taco” like she had NO IDEA how that was gonna end up sounding.

The evening portion of the date was rough. For one thing, Ben went off with Lauren B. (who of course wore a white dress again) for what was apparently long enough to really get the other ladies worrying -- who knows how long it actually was, since we get the edited depiction, but considering they left the building so that they couldn’t be interrupted it’s not surprising that things had gone sour by the time they got back.

And then, we had to say goodbye to Jubilee, and all of our hearts broke. I think Ben handled things well insofar as, when she asked him a frank question he gave a frank answer, and broke things off. And yet it was so frustrating, knowing how all the factors of the way the show works are bound to cause most any normal human woman to pull back. So, I wished things couldn’t have been different. It was tough to watch what was, in my mind, the first real breakup of the season, Ben said goodbye to someone he’d actually come to care about, who cared for him, too. From here on out I think the show, as usually happens, will get more difficult to make fun of. Manufactured though the situation may be, everyone is inevitably developing real feelings, and people are going to get hurt.

In comparision, Lauren H.’s fashion date was...boring. They tried on some clothes, they strutted in a fashion show, Lauren expressed that she literally never walks, apparently. (I’m not sure how exactly one gets through daily life without walking once in awhile, but maybe she has super powers.) Over dinner, Lauren wanted Ben to know more about who she is, so she told him how her last boyfriend cheated on her, and I now believe that one of the requirements for being cast on the show is that you’ve been recently cheated on. Heaven forbid anyone’s relationship ended because she just decided she didn’t want to be with the guy for one reason of another -- that wouldn’t indicate that she’s Serious about Love and Commitment. No no, she wanted him to be the one, surely, but he was a lying jerk, so it ended. Now Nice Guy Ben has helped her to “open up” again.

This might sound harsh, but: If the most interesting thing about you is that someone cheated on you once,’re not very interesting.

The biggest drama of the cocktail party was obviously Olivia, who got the rose on the group date. As viewers we’ve been frustrated with Olivia for weeks now, but we haven’t gotten much sense of how the other women perceive her. Certainly none of them have been angry enough to risk confronting Ben about it and coming across as the one who doesn’t play well with others. But this week Olivia crossed a line. In her interviews, she’d already made comments about Amanda’s kids, and how they were clearly an indicator that Ben would want to send her home (which...what? Has she MET Ben? He’s like Mr. I Want to Be a Dad). But at the cocktail party, in response to a story Amanda was telling, Olivia quipped, “That sounds like an episode of Teen Mom.”

Not only Amanda, but all the other women just looked at her in disbelief. Did she really not realize how insulting that came out? First off, let’s not hate on teen moms, but also let’s face it that referencing that show is not something a person does to indicate, “Wow, I really admire how you embraced motherhood at a young age and have built a loving, stable home life for your daughters.” Nevermind that Amanda was in her early 20s when she had her kids.

In the end it was Emily who first approached Ben about what was going on, though Amanda spoke with him too. And this was where Emily -- despite being only 22 -- really started to impress me. As she prepared to be framed as “that girl” who brings up drama, since that’s usually what happens to the woman who brings up stuff like this, she was blunt. Olivia is a bully, and Ben needs to know. “If it offend him, it offends him,” she said. In other words, if Ben can handle knowing the real Olivia, that’s Ben’s problem, not Emily’s. I freaking love her. (But also, Emily, maybe don’t get married at 22? I feel like there are just so many amazing things you could do that getting married now might hinder.)

Now. I don’t actually believe that Ben would take Olivia’s rose away. I think she’s going to cry to him about how she’s “learning a lot about herself” in this process (because when you hurt other people it’s really compassionate to make the situation all about YOU, Olivia) and he’s going to trust her. For at least one more week. But maybe longer.

My question is, will Ben Higgins pull a Ben Flagnik and choose the villain? Pick up some extra bubbly for next week, friends, it’s getting real in Bachelor Nation.