Sarah Kowalski and Tigh Rickman are respectively a graduate of, and a candidate at Stonecoast MFA. Both longtime fans of reality televison, they are both relative newcomers to ABC’s The Bachelor. However, much like crack cocaine, it only took a small hit to hook them both, and now both watch religiously with their fiction writers’ eyes.
In this, the penultimate episode of The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love, we were reunited with the all of the women rejected by Jake to this point and treated to brief interviews with the more colorful among their ranks, including Rozlyn, the bachelorette who was exiled from the show after an inappropriate tryst with an ABC production assistant. We also got to see the many positive ways The Bachelor gives back to the world community through the service of its alumni (otherwise known as the really attractive people from TV whom you’ve completely forgotten about), both at home and abroad. Finally, in true Dickensian fashion, Jake confronted these specters of bachelorettes past and faced the brokenhearted music.
Tigh: I loved the opening montage. We’ve come so far, haven’t we, Jake? Why it seems like only last month you were showering provocatively in preparation to greet the women at the door. Wait…that was last month.
Tigh: That’s because of the oh-so many memories! The bad, aviation-themed puns on the date cards, Jake throwing a football like a girl (or Tim Tebow), Michelle’s manic, I’m-not-crazy-you’re-the-one-who’s-crazy craziness, and of course the constant, undeniable fact that Chris Harrison is the man. The Man!
Sarah: Don’t forget Elizabeth’s crazy ‘kiss me, no don’t kiss me, don’t you want to kiss me’ craziness. Though I thought she did well for herself by admitting even she thought she was psycho on the show. She definitely gained some points in my esteem; she seems like a normally pretty sane person who got a little carried away with a reality show ‘strategy.’
Tigh: Watching Jake is like reading Faulkner; you understand it slightly better and pick up more of the nuance the second time around, but on the whole it’s still baffling. Like in the flashback montage when they revisited him standing next to Chris as he broke the news to the girls about Rozlyn’s indiscretions. ‘If you want to go, don’t wait for a Rose Ceremony,’ he said quaking, the girls going puppy-eyed on him. It’s bad enough that Jake felt so deeply betrayed by a woman he just met hooking up with another guy (slightly possessive?), but to seek out the sympathy of the twenty some-odd other women he was dating is borderline absurd. I felt about as sorry for him as I do those kids on My Super Sweet 16 who cry because they only got a BMW for their birthday instead of a Bentley. But it dovetails with his high school perception of himself as poor Mr. Dateless, not something I realized the first time around. And he relished it. Jake has a constant need to be the victim, the one who was wronged. Dude, skanks happen. Just let it go and move on.
Sarah: You’re making me want to reread Light in August, if only as one more means of cleansing this entire season from my short-term memory. Jake’s whole, ‘I want to be there when you tell the girls,’ (cue pursed-lip, knitted-brow serious-face) comment to Chris now feels a lot more… ominous, or something. Like, Jake really relishes being the one holding the cards. He tries to hide it, but getting to play God in the limited arena of The Bachelor is really scratching some deep itch in his psyche.
Sarah: I think the producers just decided that ‘Gia didn’t open up’ was the meme to run with… did you notice that was the specific question Chris asked her? I think he kind of asked it twice, even. Still, I don’t blame Gia for focusing on it — sometimes it’s easier for any of us to pick a specific thing we did wrong in a relationship, rather than acknowledging the larger truth, which is that the match just wasn’t right. I know I’ve done this: tried to make specific justifications or rules, like ‘Oh, it must’ve been because we weren’t friends first,’ or ‘Oh, next time I should pick someone whose family is more like mine.’ Usually there is some grain of truth to all those lessons… but then you meet the right person and suddenly half the things you swore you wouldn’t do, you’re doing and they work, and half the things you thought you didn’t want are now your favorite thing about the person, and you realize the main lesson you were learning all along is: don’t try to force it if it isn’t right. All that said, I hope Gia finds someone she clicks with. She’s a class act.
Tigh: Yeah, I was a little bummed she was so self critical about her lack of opening up to Jake as well. If anything I think it spared her from a disaster of a marriage and should be a lesson to all to follow their instincts when in doubt. But after what went down last week, I happy to see Gia in good spirits. She even stood up for the absent and assailed Vienna (did you notice the abrupt cut from Gia saying Vienna wasn’t so bad to the stock footage of the audience applauding? I don’t think that really happened).
The Interviews: Michelle
Tigh: Michelle is straight up bonkers. Enough said.
Sarah: But… I mean, she has a job, Tigh! How crazy could she — I’m sorry, you know what, you’re right. Enough said.
The Interviews: Ali
Tigh: No doubt in my mind that Ali’s set up to be the next Bachelorette. Pretty much the only thing standing in her way was her cattiness towards Vienna in previous episodes, and she took care of that with her apology. Whether it came from her or a producer is debatable, but she did a good job selling it. Throw in her defending The Bachelor process as a valid way to find love to Michelle, and from where I’m sitting her path looks clear.
Sarah: Definitely. And she’s gotten much more appealing since the early Vienna-bashing days. I admit, I totally ate it up when she said that if she had it to do over, she might have stayed… ‘but I would’ve gone home and fought like hell to get that job back!’ Finally, someone acknowledging that the real world does continue to exist outside the bounds of the show.
Tigh: But for all the things she has going for her, she’s a plagiarist!
“If this was really love …then it didn’t matter, the show didn’t matter…he’s a pilot, I was like ‘get in a plane, come find me!’ And he didn’t.” –Ali, The Bachelor: The Women Tell All
“I really wanted Ali to say something along the lines of, ‘If I leave, and we’re really right for each other, you can always look me up after the show’…Dude, get in your plane and fly to San Francisco if (she) means that much to you. But no, in the fantasy world of The Bachelor relationships only exist on-camera, because it all has to end with the magic ring.” – Sarah, The Bachelor: On the Wings of Deconstruction
Sarah: How could I not totally be rooting for Ali as The Bachelorette after that? Great minds think alike.
The Interviews: Rozlyn
Tigh: You knew this was going to be good when Chris said, ‘Coming up…what happened between (Rozlyn) and our staffer,’ over a shot of Roz being escorted out of her dressing room by that production assistant/Fat Joe doppelganger. For a fleeting, glorious second I thought she was up to her old tricks again. But I had no idea just how good it was going to get. I just don’t understand why she can’t own up to messing around with a staff member on a reality show. I mean, this is a woman who showed her cooter on national television and she’s ashamed to admit that? Seems like pretty small potatoes to me. And then flippantly swearing on her kid’s life nothing happened because Jessie swore on her dog’s she did!? I think there’re some serious issues going on here. Like, Britney Spears circa 2006 serious. This girl needs her own reality dating show. Somebody call Fox, stat!
Sarah: She needs to go on Tough Love! Steve Ward could have a field day with her. There should totally be a Tough Love/psychos-of-The-Bachelor crossover show. I would seriously clap my hands with joy (and shame) and watch that thing every week.
Tigh: And then she drops this bombshell, alleging Chris Harrison hit on said producer’s wife in New Zealand! What a trollop. I think we can all agree that never in a million, trillion, billion, zillion years would that ever happen. It takes a lot to get my ire up, but it’s up, baby! You don’t step to Chris like that! It’s not his fault you chose to break the Fourth Wall with your vajayjay! But hand it to Chris, he handled it perfectly, not so much as a twitch in response, a total pro.
Sarah: I do not understand your Chris Harrison obsession. He probably did hit on the guy’s wife. Doesn’t make Rozlyn any less of a lying weirdo about the rest of her denials, but… why do you hold Chris Harrison in such high esteem? All I’ve ever seen him do is try to impart low-grade ‘gravitas’ to his canned cliches week after week. Is he your secret man-crush? I’m truly baffled.
Tigh: Watch it, Kowalski. Chris Harrison is the man. The Man!
Tigh: Even though he came off better than I thought he would (going on after Rozlyn definitely helped him look good by comparison), Jake was still hard for me to take. The patented too tight, faux-emotionally wrought smile (henceforth referred to as the Jake Face) he gave the women as he told them how hard it all was on him, falling away to reveal an easygoing, ‘say cheese’ grin when he would turn back to Chris.
Sarah: And… he said his ‘heart was crying,’ in reference to letting Gia go. ‘My heart was crying.’ Direct quote. I swear, I emailed Tigh immediately after watching and said I wasn’t sure I could go through with this column after that. Because my heart… was groaning. I seriously think Jake may have some sort of previously unheard-of heart condition. His heart’s always opening and closing and singing and crying.
Tigh: Kind of a riff on Tenley’s ‘You make my heart smile,’ quote from last week. Yeesh and double-yeesh. But aortal personifications aside, were you as uncomfortable as I was when Jake was talking to Christina (who was eliminated in the second Rose Ceremony)? Telling her that after watching her on the show he regretted not getting to know her and her sense of humor better? It went right past flattering and straight on into weird.
Sarah: It does underscore the serious flaws in The Bachelor ‘methodology,’ doesn’t it? You’ve got one person supposedly trying to meet their life partner, and yet he or she only gets limited access to the pool of prospects during cocktail parties and dates. Why not throw all 25 in a house together for a week and see who starts to click, before you eliminate anyone?
Oh… because they’d have to film more that way, and actually do some work to edit the storylines. I found it interesting that Chris basically admitted to Rozlyn (when she asked why, if she was supposedly having the affair, nothing inappropriate had ever been caught on camera) that after all these years, they know exactly what they’re going to use, so that’s all they bother to film. Seriously? Seems like you’re missing an awful lot of potential there. I always find the final-scene bloopers and outtakes more interesting and revealing than 95% of what’s actually on the show. I wish they’d realize that many of us would prefer to see these people reveal a little more of themselves, and not just spout their Bachelor cliches left and right.
Tigh: Absolutely! Remember back in the day on The Real World (you know, the pre-Vegas days when they all had real jobs, had to pay for their food and booze out of pocket and didn’t act like a bunch of drunken rabbits on ecstasy) how they would show a small vignette under the closing credits? It was always something trivial and self contained, a practical joke, a goof, but it really humanized the cast and made them relatable. I really miss that.
All in all, Jake’s was the most disappointing segment, I was hoping for more fireworks from the ladies. I also would have liked to see more direct interaction between him and Ali (although her apologizing to him through her tears made my stomach turn, so maybe not) and at least some interaction with Rozlyn. Turns out though the segment was all more or less just hype for next week’s season finale.
Tigh: So next week is it! The more I think about it, the more I think you were right the other week when you put your money on ‘nobody’. It’s definitely not going to be Tenley though. I’ve always found it hard to believe that the ‘passion’ in their relationship is as intense as they’ve advertised, and looking at the previews (Tenley telling Jake that things are supposed to move slow in that department) it looks like this could be coming to a head. Remember how Jake had that date with Ella and her son, and how he swore up and down that her having a child would not stand in his way? It was the ‘nice guy’ thing to say. After that date she got the rose, but after the next she got the boot, for no apparent reason. I would submit to you that Jake never wanted to be a stepfather, and Ella’s die was cast that day in the park with her son. Jake just delayed the inevitable in order to distance himself from the real reason he was letting her go (and also have an excuse to melodramatically drop a rose into a fire-pit – still my favorite image from this season). I see this pattern reflected in his relationship with Tenley. Here we have this virtuous girl, spending the night with him and thereby sharing something with him (at least emotionally) that she’s only shared with one other man. You think Jake can send her home right after that, even if all they did was cuddle? Is that what a ‘nice guy’ would do? Nope, so here’s your rose. But I don’t think Tenley will be so ‘lucky’ the next time. And I like Tenley, so for her sake I hope she isn’t.
Sarah: I think you’re right about Ella. And… probably about Tenley as well. As I said last week, I’ve had my money on her from episode 1, and still think they’re most compatible on paper — but I just don’t think Jake’s been able to break through any of his walls with her. I think she’s closest to what he’d be looking for if he was just a little more secure and emotionally available. But… for her sake, I hope she’s not so ‘lucky’ as to win Jake, and I hope she recovers from this (rebound) heartbreak quickly and meets someone nice, who’s genuinely into her.
Tigh: And I don’t think Vienna’s got a shot either. As we discussed briefly in the comments on last week’s edition (aka Sarah and Tigh: The Aftershow), I think Jake sees in Vienna the physical embodiment of every girl he couldn’t get in high school. And since high school plays such a predominant role in how he views love and relationships, on some level I think he sees Vienna as the vehicle for some kind of closure (or reckoning). Now that knife could cut either way; he could ride off with her into the sunset, thereby fulfilling Mr. Dateless’ wildest fantasies, OR he could be filled with so much pent-up hostility and resentment towards those adolescent girls whom he feels ignored poor Mr. Dateless, he’ll break her heart out of a subconscious spite. From what I’ve seen (insert clip of Jake, pinch-faced, slamming the door shut on Ali’s limo with both hands as she left the show), I’m leaning towards the latter.
Sarah: Also, would he have been so wistful about Christina if he were still happily besotten with Vienna? Would he really want to hurt the feelings of a fiancee by admitting he had regrets? That comment seemed like the comment of a still-single man.
Tigh: Yes! But the clincher for why I don’t think we’ll see a proposal this coming Monday, is the simple fact that Jake told Chris this week that he was ‘very happy’ with the result of the show. Quite frankly, I think the only time that Jake feels ‘truly happy’ is when he’s playing the victim and as a result he’ll never be able to be ‘truly happy’ with anyone.
Sarah: I had a similar reaction to that question. Jake paused a tiny bit before answering, as if he was surprised to be asked, and then his ‘very happy’ sure didn’t sound particularly convincing. If he gets engaged next week, I will… well, I won’t literally eat my hat. But I’ll send in a photo of me gnawing on my hat, at least. How about that?
Tigh: It’s a deal! And just to be on the safe side I’d reccomend starting to wear tacosalad shells as hats.