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.
After sending more than a third of the bachelors home last week, Ali, our heroine, begins the dating process with the remaining men. In this episode she will set off on two one-on-one dates as well as a group date with them before sending three more back to the magical island of single men (a.k.a: their lonely, soiled futons in their empty, sad apartments above that Chinese restaurant you only go to when you’re drunk). Tonight she will wing her way to Las Vegas, cruise Hollywood in a vintage Cadillac and prance along the golden beaches of Malibu, looking for love.
Sarah: So, week two is when it seems to me that the Batch actually gets interesting. (Well, as interesting as this show ever gets…) Suddenly there are actual dates, and actual personalities start to emerge. Characters! Conflict! It’s when we fiction writers get into the good stuff.
Tigh: We’re getting to the stage where we’re finding out who we’re rooting for, who we’re rooting against and who just scares the holy hell out of us. Of course, one of the self-described biggest personalities in the house is Frank, and (lucky, lucky Frank!) he got the nod to be the first one on one date of the season. Congrats, man!
Sarah: And what a date it was — classic Batch. The vintage car, the iconic locales (Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood sign), the romantic dinner under the stars. Ali and Frank did contend with a breakdown in their classic car, but I wondered if even that was contrived by the producers to introduce some “madcap” into the glitz.
Tigh: I totally had the same thought. First of all, there’s no more obnoxious car than the 1959 Cadillac Biarritz — the epitome of late fifties decadence, replete with notoriously bad transmission. But did you notice that when the car broke down initially (with a dubbed-in sound effect that sounded like a thrown rod, which is pretty dire and could not be fixed over the course of an afternoon as this particular car was) it was on a freeway, next to a concrete retaining wall… but when they got out of the car and started their “madcap” dash towards the taxi, the car was parked next to an earthen shoulder with trees and shrubs? Bad editing confirms your suspicions; that breakdown was as fake as the Batman out in front of Grauman’s.
Sarah: Ha — exactly. The knowledge that there’s a producer and camera crew mere inches away from the “spontaneous” couple never entirely leaves my mind when watching this show, but never was it more obvious than during this little segment.
Sure, kids, take a taxi — even though the Bachelor film crew clearly has several camera cars right behind you. But on to the rest of the date. What did you think of Frank?
Tigh: Frank? Well, the dude is…um…I don’t even know what to say about him. Of course last week we heard he’s the guy who put his career on hold to pursue some sort of Movable Feast type fantasy of being a screenwriter in Paris. Now he’s back, working as a retail manager, didn’t even bother to learn French and yet is still somehow living the dream? Did he anonymously co-write Avatar or something? Now I’m the last person who should be throwing stones in terms of not being a successful writer, but really? Your only IMDB credit is The Bachelorette.
Sarah: Yeah. When I heard “moving to Paris” had lasted all of a month and a half, my round-the-world backpacker self had to scoff a little. Dude, that’s a longer-than-average vacation. It may have been a great adventure, but six weeks does not constitute “moving” somewhere.
Tigh: Seriously. Why not just take some PTO and write at your desk when your boss isn’t looking? But in any case let’s hope that the dialogue he puts into his screenplay goes better than what he was saying on the date. Oy vey — cliché city.
Sarah: But Ali was loving it — what up with that?
Tigh: No idea. But people are still going to see Sex and the City 2, so what the hell do I know.
Sarah: Hey. Some of us are still nostalgic for the SATC glory days, okay? But as far as Ali’s impressions of Frank, I have a theory: it’s the mystique of the glasses-wearer. She thinks he’s smart because he’s the only one in the house with glasses. It’s the sexy librarian/Clark Kent thing. As someone with something of a glasses fetish myself, I get it; but Ali, woman, you gotta look under the hood. The Cadillac should have taught you that.
Tigh: And that, ladies and gentleman, is the unintentional metaphor of the week.
Tigh: Speaking of the car, though — you ever wonder whose car that is? And you think he or she is pissed that Ali’s revving it as she leaves the house and then she and Frank are sitting on its hood with their shoes on and drinking wine (without coasters!). As an old Cadillac owner myself, it made me cringe, but not as much as watching him deeply inhale the rose she presented him at the end of the date. The way he brought it to his nose and tilted his head back like he was downing a glass of champagne, I was expecting it to be a goof. But he pulled right out of the inhalation and was still in serious mode. Very awkwardly weird.
Sarah: Or watching her describe herself as a “unique” person who hates to think of herself as “normal.”
Tigh: That was my second favorite line of the night, Ali to Frank: “There’s nothing normal about you.” Truer words were never spoken on this show.
Sarah: Well, so Ali and Frank made something of a love connection on the hood of their ABC-leased Cadillac. He looks like he’s in it for a while; at least the next few episodes, I’m guessing. Shall we leave him and his lack of normalcy for the time being and move on?
Tigh: Sure. But I just got to say; I see bad things down the road for him. He was already saying that he felt like she was his girlfriend halfway through the date (and throughout subsequent segments in the show). He’s heading for a cliff here somewhere around the final six.
Sarah: Yeah – that seemed a bit delusional. Dude, it was a FIRST DATE. Cruising for an (emotional) bruising indeed.
Tigh: But he got the first kiss. Can’t take that away from him. Somebody buy the man a cigar.
On House Dynamics
Tigh: Meanwhile, major drama was brewing back at the house between Craig M. (of the Gordon Gekko) and Jonathan the Weatherman; between Craig M. and Jesse; and, of course, between Craig M. and good taste.
Sarah: I love how Gordon (I mean Craig M.) talks to the camera as if he thinks he’s the shit. This guy clearly came on the show purely because he’s always believed that he should be on TV; that the world has been waiting with bated breath for him and his feathered locks.
Tigh: Oh, he’s totally god’s gift. And I have a really, REALLY, hard time believing that he’s only 34. Homeboy looks like the spoiled rich heel from an 80’s John Hughes movie.
Sarah: …That would make him, what, 16 in 1987? Not that there’s anything wrong with being 43, Craig M. I’m just saying… not what Ali’s looking for.
Tigh: Dude, I don’t think anyone’s looking for Craig M. But that brings up another issue I’m having with the guys back at the pad — how the hell do they know who’s good for Ali and who isn’t? Especially Craig R. (of the Peyton Manning face). The way he went off on Rated R just because he wrestles? C’mon, man, wrestlers need love too. And do you really think Ali can’t figure some of this stuff out for herself? And if she couldn’t, if she was so (how can I put this gently?) oblivious that she needed to be taken care of at all times and shepherded around all of life’s dangers, would she be the kind of woman you’d want to be with? If so, then I think it tells us a lot about Craig R.
Sarah: Definitely. It also speaks volumes about Craig R. that, although his subtitle is “Philadelphia, PA” even I cannot back him up. And I’m usually such a brotherly love partisan. The waxed chest didn’t help matters.
Tigh: Yeah, and that protective mentality spilled over to the group date on the beach–a calendar shoot with twelve of the fellows in embarrassingly skimpy banana-hammocks.
On the Calendar Shoot with Twelve of the Fellows in Embarrassingly Skimpy Banana-hammocks Group Date
Sarah: Mankinis! Mankinis everywhere!
Tigh: Seemed like everyone was having fun with it, except for Craig M…. he was eating it up with a spoon and licking the bowl clean. Talk about a guy who was in his element. Cheeseball deluxe.
Sarah: It was totally his fantasy come true: being photographed with a sweater knotted around his neck and a cigar in his teeth. I decided after last week’s column that I overuse the term “douche” and need to broaden my vocabulary in this regard. But it fits Craig M. so perfectly that I’m not sure what to do.
Tigh: I think when Craig M. stops acting like a douche so much, then you can stop referring to him as such so much.
Sarah: That sounds fair.
Tigh: Of course the beach shoot led to my favorite line in this week’s episode. Craig R., when referring to Ty (of the Mississippi River Valley) and his serenading of Ali with a song he probably used to sing to his ex wife: “What’s with the Bachelorette and guitar players?” Keep on studying those game films, friend.
Sarah: I’m sure somewhere out there undergrads are writing honors theses on the encoding of mythology and the semiotics of The Bachelorette. They’re probably devoting a whole chapter to Craig R.: “(Self)Referenciality and Cliché: Craig ‘R is for the Right Reasons’ and Ali.” And a whole different chapter to Craig M.: “Douche, Jerk, or Asshole: An Exploration of Negative-Attention-Seeking Behavior on The Bachelorette.”
Tigh: The one constant throughout the day was Ali’s continuous drinking. She started with Bud Light and then moved to cocktails in plastic sport bottles, then onto wine at the post-shoot dinner/wrap party.
Sarah: I wonder if she has to be half-tipsy to make it through all her canned lines. I can’t help but feeling a little sorry for her; like, I feel like her truest self was shown back in the early days of The Bachelor, when she was bitching about Vienna with her bangs all rumpled. Now she’s got to play the role of the ever-peppy “woo” girl (that’s both a How I Met Your Mother reference and a general category), and I may be projecting, but I can half see the real her underneath gritting her teeth, thinking “be peppy and sexy and upbeat, self, you can do it.” This is the curse of the over-empathetic fiction writer; I can never just watch something. Not even the fricking Bachelorette.
Tigh: Oh! I’d have never thought of it that way, but I can see your point. Man, the inner pathos of The Bachelorette is indeed a twisting, inescapable labyrinth where the Minotaur has the head of Chris Harrison.
Sarah: Can we call Chris Harrison the Minotaur from now on?
Tigh: We can refer to Chris as the Man…THE MAN!
Sarah: Okay, Tigh – you can. I still just don’t get it.
Tigh: Well, in any case, if she was drinking to hide the pain she must have a lot of pain. Rule #3 on Tigh’s How to Survive The Bachelorette List: make sure you go have your ‘alone time’ with her later in the night ’cause she’ll be sauced and much more empathetic to your ‘opening up’. Case in point, The Weatherman. AKA, Mr. Let’s-Spend-My-Alone-Time-With-You-Talking-About-Craig M.-And-How-He-Needs-To-Be-Laid-Out-But-I-Won’t-Do-It.
Sarah: Oh, The Weatherman. Every time they call him that, it makes me wonder what percentage of The Bachelorette audience thinks about 1960’s radicals, even for a second. 5 percent? 10? Only me?
Tigh: Um…weren’t they the ones who sang ‘It’s Raining Men’?
Sarah: No, but they did bomb the Pentagon. Maybe that’s what you were thinking of? But back on topic: Weatherman Jonathan’s feud with Douche Craig M. was clearly the scandal of the week. And I found it pretty compelling, honestly, if only because both of them are so… what is the word I’m looking for? Emotionally scarred, in very different ways.
Tigh: Yeah, I’m guessing both of these guys were reprising their roles in high school — bully and bullied. Only difference is that this time around Craig M. (bully) didn’t have the backing of the rest of the guys like he did back in the day. If you noticed, every snide take-the-piss-out-of-you comment was followed by a look around to the room, searching for the approval of the masses as bullies often do (in Craig M.’s case I’m guessing the need for attention stems from the distant relationship he had with his career driven and financially successful father).
Sarah: I did notice that smirk-around-the-room. And liked that he didn’t seem to be getting much in the way of support; but I wish one of the other guys had had the balls to toss out a simple, “knock it the fuck off, dude” at least once.
Tigh: But I also wish The Weatherman would’ve been a little less wormy about it. Again, Ali is an adult, I’m pretty sure she can figure out what Craig M. is about on her own. But now, in The Weatherman, she sees she has a mole (this is the case with Craig R. too, I think) so she’s going to keep him around for a while, albeit not for the reasons he wants her to.
Sarah: I was a little disappointed that she kept him around. I totally agree with you about the reason, and maybe she’s smart to keep a spy in her back pocket — especially after her one-on-one time with Craig M. at the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party revealed him to be exactly the (douche) Jonathan had advised her about.
Tigh: Which makes all of his warnings for naught. Should have spent that time opening up about your passion for meteorology, dude.
Sarah: But I guess I hoped she’d keep guys she was honestly interested in.
Tigh: Always the hopeless romantic.
On the One-on-One Date: Jesse
Tigh: Ah, the Peculiar (Missouri) man. This was hands down the most boring date ever to involve a private jet, a Ferrari, Las Vegas and private concert from that up and coming music star Whatshisame. Honestly, I might have taken a nap during this segment, but I was awake long enough to hear Ali say he was a “solid guy”, a “great guy”, a “sweet guy” and (the ultimate kiss of death) a “nice guy.” In my experience those superlatives are road signs along the highway to Dumpsville, Population: You. Hate to say it, Jesse but your death clock is tick, tick, ticking.
On the Rose Ceremony
Sarah: So, how about the rest of the rose ceremony? Any highlights for you?
Tigh: No surprises, I think. Craig M. was a short-timer unfortunately. I did enjoy having him around and you’re right, while his time here was brief there will be dissertations written about his time here with us. The flame that burns the brightest burns the briefest, as they say.
Sarah: The thing I was curious about was what had happened to Tyler V. (the cutie who was sent home)’s face — he seemed to be covered in scabs or something.
Tigh: Yeah, he looked like he head-butted Gorbachev.
Sarah: Ha! Exactly. He seemed genuinely sad to be let go. We’ll see whether he’s still sporting any visible head injuries at the Behind the Rose tell-all — what’s it called? in a few short weeks.
Tigh: Ah, yes. All will be revealed. And there was one, final editing snafu. Right before Ali handed out her final rose of the evening to The Weatherman, in the establishing shot of the men, there’s The Weatherman with the rose on his lapel. While there wasn’t a lot of suspense going into the final rose (given what we were saying about him being her own personal Continental Op, there was no way she was keeping Craig M. over him), that totally deflated it. Boom goes the dynamite! But looking forward to next week when Frank says more things like “I feel like we’re a couple” and “I just want it to be her and me”, and then kiss her again front of everyone. Good times.
Sarah: Definitely. It’ll also be interesting to see how things progress with Chris L. and Roberto — the two we’d identified as frontrunners from week 1. I have a feeling Ali felt the same way, which is why she actually didn’t select them for a date this week: she already knew she’d be keeping them around.
Tigh: I think you’re right. But I’m starting to have my suspicions about Roberto. As we saw in the previews there’s a bachelor who has a girl on the side (maybe?) and if this ends up coming to fruition, I think Roberto is the guy. He’s a ballplayer, he’s on the road a lot — you get the drift. And watching him playing catch with her — he’s just a little too smooth if you know what I mean.
Sarah: Could be.
Tigh: Only time will tell.
More one-on-one and group dates which Tigh and Sarah prognosticate will include Chris L. and Roberto. Will Chris L. reveal to Ali that he lied about his mother being alive? Will Roberto and Ali play a different kind of ‘catch’ with a different kind of ‘glove’? Or will she throw us all for a loop and elope with The Weatherman? Stay tuned!