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.
The Bachelorette: “Let the Journey Begin” by Tigh Rickman & Sarah Kowalski
So here we are, at the beginning of a fantastic journey that promises exotic lands, meaningful conversations and, of course, romance. It is the beginning of Ali’s journey as The Bachelorette, and in a matter of months one of the 25 strangers who stepped out of the limo before her tonight will walk away from this experience as her husband-to-be. But before the proposal, before the dream dates in exotic lands, before the hometown visits is tonight. And tonight she will awkwardly meet and mingle with these men and send home 10 of them—in effect ending their time on this journey before it even began.
On Ali as ‘The Bachelorette”
Sarah: So, to recap, our fair heroine Ali, following in the footsteps of Jake and Jillian before her, goes from jilted participant in the previous Bachelor season to star of her own.
Tigh: Yes! And I’m really excited to see her in action. On The Bachelor she seemed like the most normal one—girly, but normal. But now we’re going to get to see her in another light. Remember, when Jake was on The Bachelorette, he seemed normal too. It wasn’t until he became the star that we saw the depths of his true pathos.
Sarah: Well… he seemed… kinda normal. He did almost start crying and practically propose during his first date with Jill, if I’m recalling correctly. But the fact that Ali fell for Jake makes me question her taste in men. Especially since she purportedly wants someone who’s smart and funny above all else. Would anyone really consider Jake smart *or* funny?
Tigh: No. At least not intentionally. By the way, did you see him cry on Dancing with the Stars?
Sarah: Oh, man I missed it!
Tigh: Holy Jeez. But I digress… Well, we both saw this coming at the end of the last season of The Bachelor. Nobody was better suited to take up the mantle of ‘The Bachelorette’ than Ali. She’s an all-American girl who’s been wronged romantically and is trying to find love.
And the intro made it clear, reiterating to us ad nauseam that she gave up her job and her apartment for this cause. Really? Are apartments that dear?
Sarah: Seriously. Unless it was rent-controlled, big whoop. You’re 25. You’re going to “give up your apartment” every year for the next five years, if you’re anything like most people I know. I do sympathize with the feeling of fear/jubilant liberation, though.
Tigh: I can see that. But it also tells me that she hasn’t had too much life experience.
Sarah: True. It makes me remember what it was like to be 25, when you still think that by 30 you’ll be married and pregnant and have it all figured out. Although maybe *you,* Tigh, didn’t think you’d be pregnant.
Tigh: Well, no, but I can sympathize. But it’s not like she gave up her job to go be a Sherpa in Tibet. Being The Bachelorette makes for a nice safety net.
Sarah: True. She’s got a built-in path to Dancing with the Stars!
Tigh: But what the giving up of her apartment also means is that she’s going to be looking to cohabitate with whomever she chooses at the final rose ceremony. That’s what we in sales refer to as a pressure close. There’ll be no escape for Mr. Right.
Sarah: Ha! So true. Now, back to Ali’s taste in men: that’s the interesting thing for me, as a straight woman, about watching the Bachelorette. (I imagine there’s some of this for you with the Bachelor.) I’m always judging the men by who *I’d* be interested in—but then I have to recalibrate and think, but what is *Ali* going to want? And, based on the fact that she fell for Jake, who’s like the least sexy dude on the planet to me, I have a feeling my intuition is going to fail me with her.
Tigh: Sure. There’s a lot of “He’s my age, got a good job, seems somewhat normal and he’s still single,” which I often use as a daily affirmation. But I also ask what would I do if it were me trying to win over a Bachelorette? What would be the shtick I’d use to get her attention? I’m going to start a list. #1: Refrain from telling her about that time you prematurely ejaculated freshman year and refrain as well from referring to yourself using the derogatory nickname that came as a result from said premature ejaculation (thanks, Shooter).
Meeting the Men
Tigh: Of course we won’t be able to get to all of the 25 men Ali met, but which ones stood out to you?
Sarah: Well, I immediately hated long-hair Craig (M.). My notes, verbatim: “douche & no way you’re actually 33.”
Tigh: With his striped pink shirt and tie and sweptback pompa-mullet he looked to me like a dandy version of Gordon Gecko. I kept expecting him to take a sip of his drink and say something along the lines of, “When it comes to roses, gentlemen, greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”
Sarah: Yes! And I also hated Jay with a burning fiery passion. He called her “sweetie” three times. Three times! Ew! You don’t “sweetie” a woman you’ve just met until you’re past the age of 70. At least not without causing Sarah to scribble, all caps, DOUCHE ATTACK in her notebook. How can someone so young be so condescending? Wait — maybe young people are usually the most condescending. Their Socratic awareness of how little they know hasn’t kicked in yet.
Tigh: Jay was also runner-up to Craig in the unfortunate hair contest. Put that hairdo together with his slight stature and overall weaseliness, and he reminded me of Rebecca’s boyfriend Robin Colcord from Cheers.
Sarah: Whoa—yes! Robin! I hadn’t though about him in years. Jay will totally grow up to become Robin Colcord. But, moving on to who I didn’t hate: I liked Chris L, the high school math teacher from Cape Cod whose mom had died recently. He was a little cheesy, but it seemed sincere. I didn’t see him get a rose, though… but I also didn’t see him depart. There are so many Chrises that I’m a bit confused. Did you notice how everyone on this show was either named Chris, Craig, or Tyler?
Tigh: I know, right? I do have to admit, when Ali said, “Ty, will you accept this rose?” my heart leapt a little.
Sarah: I can’t keep them straight. I hereby vote that until the Chris/Craig/Tylers are winnowed down, we refer to them by Iliad-style epithets. “Craig the douche of flowing locks.” “Chris of the Dead Mom.” Etc.
Tigh: I second and the motion passes. Anyway, there’s only one Chris you need remember on this show, Sarah–Chris Harrison, aka The Man (by the way, did you notice that in the middle of the limo arrivals, when Chris came out to check on Ali, he kissed her on the left cheek? He knew that all the other guys had been kissing her on the right and didn’t want any of their sloppy seconds). But I’m pretty sure Chris L. — a.k.a. Chris of the Dead Mom — made the cut. I initially liked him a lot as well. My first thought, watching him on the beach with his dogs was if this guy doesn’t get the final rose he’s a lock to be the next Bachelor (using the formula Sensitive + Recent Tragedy + Abs = Bachelor). But something changed along the way. The more I saw him in the house with the other guys, the more something about him kind of struck me as odd. I can’t put a finger on it; it wasn’t anything he said specifically. But something in his nonverbals, his facial expression maybe, set off some alarm bells. Maybe he’s just too perfect.
Sarah: Interesting. I’ll have to watch him more. By the end, I’d forgotten he wasn’t the same person as Shooter. They’re both vaguely blond in an inoffensively handsome way. That’s the other thing that’s really squicking me out about the whole Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise: how freaking *white* it is. Roberto was pretty much the only one that didn’t fit that mold, and lo and behold, he gets the first impression rose? Seriously, ABC, what the hell is going on? It’s the 21st century, 85 percent of young people have no problem with interracial marriage, and Ali’s dating pool just happens to be 96 percent white? Ugh. I’m kind of grossed out by this, honestly.
Tigh: Well, by the way Ali mangled Roberto’s name, she’s clearly not all that worldly.
Sarah: Right. “Don’t worry about it. Just call me Robert O.” I thought this girl lived in San Francisco… you’d think she would at least be familiar with one of the most common Hispanic names! But it didn’t seem to hurt their chemistry. So, who else made an impression?
Tigh: What about Frank, the former investment banker who threw it all away to run off to Paris to be a screenwriter. Really, dude? Not very pragmatic in this economy. Haven’t you ever heard of a Low Residency Graduate Writing program?
Sarah: Exactly! But maybe he gave up his job before the crisis hit… when I left my job to travel the world in 2006, the economy seemed pretty stable. Fortunately I got back and landed another job before everything tanked.
Tigh: Of course, he now thinks this is going to make him and Ali soul mates–that they both put love before a career. Which in his case is true, but like we were saying, Ali had a pretty sweet safety net. And nobody’s that quirky. Stopping people on the street, asking them if they could believe that he used to work in this building? This one, right here! If he did that to me I’d have punched him in the face.
Sarah: Oh yeah, that was a lame move.
Tigh: The really scary part was when, after he felt his one on one time with Ali was a little lackluster, he said he’s going to have to “try harder”? Are you kidding? The guy acts like a Chihuahua on meth as it is. This leads nowhere good.
Sarah: So, there were several guys that I would categorize as “dorks” among the chosen Bachelors. A friend of mine recently emailed me the venn diagram of dorks/nerds/geeks and what separates them. And Frank? Kind of a dork. Jonathan the weather man? DORK. As far as I could tell, no definite nerds. Nerds are more my people.
Tigh: I also liked Kyle, the mountain man, telling us he ‘Needs a woman” as he bores a huge hole into a frozen lake with a giant drill. Unintentional metaphor of the week? Check.
Sarah: Oh, seriously. I also loved his list of things he’s killed: “I’ve killed a quail, a deer, a bison, an antelope, three dwarves, eleven giraffes. I don’t need to be afraid of any of these guys. I mean, I’ve killed a bear.”
Tigh: Classic. It sounded like he was quoting Sarah Palin’s foreign policy. My favorite was his house, which looked like across between a casual dining steakhouse and Buffalo Bill’s storage shed from Silence of the Lambs. I would Love, LOVE, to see Ali, the cutesy girl from The Marina’s face as she saw it for the first time.
Sarah: His hair: also not dissimilar from Buffalo Bill. I fear for her.
Tigh: The one that really sceebed me out was Kasey. That guys looks like a smaller version of Jake, at least in the face. I think this guy’s going to make a good run based on that and how during his ‘alone time’ with Ali he mentioned that his parents got divorced when he was 12 too. Kind of an odd way to make a connection, but it seemed to really have an impact on Ali.
Sarah: And he said TWICE that he wants to “protect her heart”. The thing is, the guy who’s “just in it to protect” the girl will probably get strung along for a few episodes because she feels like she owes it to him. But she’s not going to fall for him in the end. It’s too impersonal. That’s kind of how I felt about Jake sometimes; you want to be such a gentleman… but actually, this is a mutual process. You both have to figure out whether there’s a genuine match. It’s not just someone’s job to be the generic knight in shining armor and someone else’s to be the sweet damsel.
Tigh: I couldn’t agree more. Another guy who fits that mold is Craig R. Not only does this guy look like Peyton Manning, but he studies game film just as close too. He was dropping all the patented Bachelor ‘in it for the right reasons’ lines. Really? I mean play that card, but not during the first night.
Sarah: Definitely. Having the guys vote someone out on the first night? I get the whole “the guys know each other better than you do” argument — sure, once they’ve been living together for weeks. Not when they’ve had 15 minutes of cocktails together and Ali’s only had 5. It was all a bit silly. It kind of seems like every season of The Batch wants to recreate the scandals of seasons past.
Tigh: In the end, all it ended up doing was cementing Justin the Wrestler’s rose by subjecting him to that flim-flam ‘who’s not here for the right reasons’ vote (which, by the way did not live up to the hype). Again, it’s too early on. We’re in the get-to-know-you phase of the show. Big reveals and scandals can’t pack the same punch unless there’s some history and backstory with the characters. But like you say, Craig of the Peyton Face has earned at least one pity rose out of it from Ali. Can’t send him home now and save face, but his death clock is ticking.
Sarah: Right. For it to be a betrayal, there had to have been some trust and connection in the first place.
The First Rose Ceremony
Tigh: Who were you surprised to see go and who’s your dark horse to win it all?
Sarah: I found the rose ceremony mostly uneventful, since I didn’t know most of the guys yet. I kept waiting to see if Chris of the Dead Mom would make it, and apparently missed it. We definitely saw that Roberto is going to make it at least to the foreign country portion of the trip. And: did I call it or what? The second I heard they’d be visiting Turkey, I predicted a steamy Turkish bathhouse scene–and in the season preview, I totally spied a scrubbing-eachother-in-a-hamam scene! I’m almost sad that I know this show so well. Who’s your money on?
Tigh: Well, I was disappointed to see Kyle go. Again, seeing Ali moving into that house would have been the greatest moment in TV since the Moon Landing. And at this point Roberto does seem like the wise (and sexy) choice. But I’m going with Chris L. (of the Dead Mom). I think he’s just cookie cutter enough to satisfy all of Ali’s pre-ordained criteria for the man who is to inseminate her by 30.
Sarah: They’ll make little Red Sox fans together. Sox fans who’ll come to Philly and sit behind me at Citizens Bank Park and act like jerks.
Tigh: After that Bruins/Flyers series you deserve it.
The first of the group dates and drama, drama, drama!
(photos: abc.com; ‘king of all salads’ photo courtesy of authors…)