JAKE & VIENNA, RIP…
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.
Apologies for the slight delay, Bachelor/ette Nation! Tigh’s on a cross-country road trip and Sarah just became an aunt! But what a Monday night we all had over at ABC… Ali explored Portugal with her final five, and narrowed them down to the final four whose hometowns she’ll be visiting next week. But all that was only a prelude to the main event: Jake vs. Vienna, for the first public confrontation since the break-up. Tigh and I dove straight into analyzing our old pal Jake — recap of Ali’s exploits in Lisboa to follow.
On the Jake and Vienna special: Who could have anticipated that this would end badly?! (Oh right, EVERYONE.)
Sarah: Oh man. What a week! I miss Jake’s special breed of crazy.
Tigh: Me too. It was like seeing an old friend, a friend you really didn’t care for much back when you hung out originally, but who now has an aura of nostalgia about him. Which in the long run was bad for Ali. After all, this is HER season and all, but still, who cared? This was Jake and Vienna imploding on national television, just like Nostradamus said they would.
Sarah: And man, was it captivating! Where to even begin… Vienna went a long way towards vindicating herself in my eyes this week. She basically called Jake out on every single thing we’d picked up on about him during his season — his famewhoring, his fakely “sincere” smirky Serious Face (a.k.a. Jake Face), his need to be the center of attention and to control every situation. It was mind boggling. I seriously think we could’ve scripted this whole thing four months ago.
Tigh: And to prove it, let’s go back to the first installment of this blog, written around week six of Jake’s season of The Bachelor:
Sarah: I hadn’t realized I felt this way until now, but I’m prepared to say that, barring the excuse of being a serious athlete or actor, I just don’t think you get a 12-pack without some major personality issues. Seriously: do you know anyone with that many abs who’s also an interesting, emotionally healthy human being?
Tigh: I don’t see Jake as nuts in a dangerous way, but I could definitely see him being a little unhinged. […] But when his real emotions do come to the surface, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do in explosive outbursts. Put it this way — I wouldn’t want to piss in this guy’s Corn Flakes.
…and, from the following week:
Tigh: It’s a fine line between protective and possessive, and given his constant need for attention, I’m pretty sure what side of it Jake comes down on.
Sarah: Dude’s got so many walls up… and I’m not sure why. I think you’re onto something with the abandonment issues, but according to his bio, his parents are happily married. So I’m guessing it’s some combination of a lack of parental approval, a whole lot of childhood trauma and some serious past relationship hurt.
Sarah: Yep. This week definitely brought back up all the various theories we had about him at the time — in which we were trying to figure out what exactly his damage was.
Tigh: After watching his family interact with Vienna and Tenley in last season’s finale, it became pretty clear that Jake’s mom rules the roost. It’s her way or no way at all, and I can see her henpecking Jake non-stop as a kid and now (as her last, unmarried child) not really doling out the approval. If I were to put together a theory about the ‘why’ of Jake, I think this is what I’d come back to, why he has such a hard time taking criticisim and why he’s so painfully insecure when it comes to other men in Vienna’s life. I mean sure, if she’s legitimately messing around he’s got a more than valid point, but getting worked up over her hanging out with a gay guy? C’mon, man.
Sarah: I also found it familiar and telling that he seemed to be busting nothing but scripted, melodramatic lines. You could almost see him practicing them in the bathroom mirror beforehand: “You sold me out… to a magazine… for payment.” It’s like he could hear the dun, dun, dun music in his head. This guy is the star of his own victim drama, you can tell. And that seems to play well with your theory of his family dynamics, and my one-time theory that he might even be deeply, deeply closeted. I see him getting picked on by his older brothers, never feeling like he was getting the approval or attention he wanted, and learning early on that playing the victim — but in a cagey, self sacrificing, “no, no, don’t worry about me, I can bear the pain” passive agressive way — was a sure-fire way to steal some love.
Tigh: Absolutely! This is a guy who plays the sympathy card because its the only one he knows how to play. And I think he’s drinking his own Kool Aid too. He genuinely feels that he’s being wronged. All the girls he dated with whom it didn’t work out? He was wronged. Why didn’t he have a high school sweetheart? Because he was branded Mr. Dateless by the heartless jocks he hung around with. And when that emotional repression, caused by denial and a complete lack of any self accountability, bubbles over the top you get, “BABY! Let me finish!”.
Sarah: Ugh! And the whole “you’re interrupting me” — such a classic passive agressive move. It’s a way to (to use a word Jake’s so fond of) undermine the other person by making it seem like they’re the asshole, when actually, you’re interrupting them to tell them they just interrupted you. Thereby totally pulling a power play.
Tigh: Let’s just say communication is not either of these guys’ strongsuit. But to be honest, I could kind of see where Jake was coming from in that respect — it did seem like he couldn’t finish a sentence. But to your earlier point, I think that a lot of that was scripted on his part. I can easily see him knowing what buttons to push, what hot words to use to get her to cut in. And the flip-side of that is that Vienna was cutting in because she was emotional about the situation, unlike Iceman Jake. In the end, neither of them came off looking very good.
Sarah: Right — although, as you say, Vienna at least showed some genuine emotion. Now, as readers of the blog well know, I was no great Vienna cheerleader during the show, and I think she too has a lot of growing up and emotional issues to work through before she’ll be any kind of catch, relationship-wise — but I couldn’t help but take her side in this whole debacle. She deserves better than Jake, that much I believe.
Tigh: These were just two people who are completely incompatable. And neither should be surprised at what they ended up getting. Jake liked that Vienna pushed his buttons and challenged him and Vienna met him on a dating show for crying out loud! So why should she be surprised when he’s trying to make a career out of this whole thing and why should he be surprised when she questions the feng shui of the dresser in their bedroom?
Sarah: Right. At the time, I actually believe I said something along the lines of “she deserves to end up with him, if only to teach her an important lesson about the fact that real life is not a fairy tale.” I think the Vienna we saw this week had learned that lesson, and will probably go on to be a better person for it.
Tigh: Dude, we’re geniuses! If only they would have logged on to Celebrities in Disgrace all this heartache could have been avoided. And that poor GPS unit Jake threw from a moving car when Vienna questioned his navigational abilities could have been spared.
Sarah: I know, right? So should we turn our infinite wisdom to Ali and her remaining guys? Do we have any important tips for them?
Tigh: Definitely. But first let me say that I am so, so glad that Tenley didn’t end up with Jake. She would have been the submissive to his dominant and never spoken up for herself.
Sarah: Oh, yes. Blessings be upon her. And… I think she would have spoken up, eventually, but I wouldn’t have wanted her to have to deal with that heartbreak a second time.
Tigh: And of course my favorite exchange of the evening: Vienna: “How do you get tired of someone in six months?!” Jake: “Let me tell you…” Vienna (interrupts him again).
Sarah: Ha! I was tired of Jake the first time I laid eyes on those abs. You know, the exchange did make me reconsider why Jake chose Vienna, too — I was wondering whether some small part of him foresaw that his relationship might not end in a happily-ever-after, and he assumed that Vienna would be easier to villify should this eventuality come to pass. Because he’s incapable of being the asshole (in his eyes) and if things hadn’t worked out with sweet, angelic, already-jilted-once Tenley, he would’ve been the asshole.
Moving on to Ali…
Tigh: So the lead up to this Bachelor event was Ali looking for love in Portugal. Three one-on-one dates and a two-on-one date, with one bachelor going home in the end.
Sarah: All in all, it was an important week for Ali (as everyone kept reminding us), since next week will bring us to hometown dates. So this was her last chance to decide whose families she wanted to get to know. Important, but altogether not much drama. She got to snuggle up to Roberto, have another “deep” conversation with Kirk, share an awkward two-on-one with Ty and Frank, and ride a scooter with Chris, who finally started “opening up” more (to use another Bachelor cliche which we heard many times this week).
Tigh: Oh, that good looking Roberto. If the teasers for the Jake and Vienna interview at the end of the show turned down the volume on Ali’s part of the episode for us viewers, then Roberto’s having the first one-on-one date with Ali turned down the volume on the other fellas’ subsequent dates. The guy hit it out of the park. Talk about having a woman turn to putty in his hands.
Sarah: Anytime someone starts talking about another person being “perfect,” though, I start to hear that Psycho violin (ree! ree! ree!) somewhere in the back of my head. Ali’s “confused” by Roberto. She has to “figure him out.” It all feels a bit ominous in terms of their long-term compatibility. Not that there’s anything wrong with him. He’s super nice, seems genuinely like a great guy, and did we mention those dimples? I just can’t quite see Ali getting over herself enough to get comfortable with him. On some level, I think it’s partly a race thing. It was like she was dying to say “I’ve never dated someone who’s not white” but couldn’t, for obvious reasons. But at a certain point in any relationship, you have to get to the point of being able to fully hash out everything — including race, culture, religion, politics, family dynamics, etc. They’re obviously not there yet… but it was a thought that occurred to me.
Tigh: Yeah, it’s a valid point. But I’m not sure how into his culture Roberto is either. Did you catch it when he said his mom makes all kinds of Spanish food that he “can’t pronounce”? Dude, it’s not that hard. I mean, I’m only half Spanish, but I know how to order off the Taco Bell menu. But also to your point I think that there are some very significant hurdles for these two. When Ali, as you note, says she’s trying to “figure him out,” I hear “Let me try to find the one flaw that will make me not want to be with you because you’re too good of a thing to happen to me.” Roberto is nearly perfect on paper, absolutely (and by the way, I’d like to formally apologize to him for guessing he was the one with a girlfriend. Roberto, lo siento) but I think the issues here are with Ali (as pointed out by Chris “The Man” Harrison the other week). If I were Roberto I’d be leery, or at least try to defuse some of that before it’s too late.
Sarah: I agree with that assessment. And that’s a good point: to help Ali get over her issues, Roberto could be doing more to point out some ways in which he’s not perfect. It’s like the classic job interview question: “tell me your weaknesses.” Sometimes bonding over your neuroses and damage is a great way to feel closer to someone. But maybe that’s just me.
Tigh: “Well, Ali I tend to be a work-aholic.” Right. We’ll see how things look after the hometown date and see if Perfecto Roberto lives up to his name. On to the two-on-one: after a romantic time walking around Lisbon and being goofy and/or obnoxious with Perfecto Roberto, Ali was treated to an unbelievably awkward two-on-one date with Ty (pronounced Tigh) and Mole Rat Frank. Her two most puzzling relationships, together at last!
Sarah: Totally! And most of the date just seemed unbearably awkward, to the point of pointlessness. Ali’s had significant bonding experiences with all of the guys at this point, so to throw two of them together was pretty tough. The only real conversation seemed to happen when she snuck each of them off for some one-on-one time. She and Ty rehashed their gender roles conversation of the week before… which seemed like a bad sign. She’d clearly been giving a lot of thought to whether they were truly compatible for the long term, and this was a sticking point.
Tigh: And Ty once again just didn’t bring it. He was understanding and sympathetic, but enabling her Roberto-fueled distraction was not the play in this situation. Frank on the other hand really opened up and dropped the “I live with my parents” confession. You know, I moved back in with my folks for a few months when I moved back to Sacramento a couple years back. And I always went with the George Costanza method of being up front about it: “Hi. My name is Tigh Rickman, I’m thirty-one years old and I live with my parents.” And it seemed not to really phase anyone. And Ali seemed equally unphased. And Frank tried to spin it, saying living with his folks has brought them “close together.” No shit.
Sarah: Ha! But you know, Frank seems to have tested out my theory from above that bonding over a perceived flaw can actually be great for a relationship. It’s like the more things about a person you can put in the “Oh, that’s not so bad… I can deal with that” column, the better you start to feel. Whereas if, like Roberto, they seem to have absolutely NO skeletons in their closet… that’s when you start to worry.
Tigh: Oh, Roberto. And he was the third man on the date for sure, not in body but definitely in Ali’s heart. It occured to me watching this that there really shouldn’t be two-on-one dates at this point of the show. By now everyone’s made out with Ali and cuddled with her on some level and it’s gone beyond the speed-dating portion of the show. It’s like running into your girlfriend’s ex — not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s nothing to get mad about, but no matter how ‘at peace’ everyone is with the situation, it’s still awkward.
Sarah: Definitely. And Roberto may have been clouding Ali’s mind during her next one-on-one date, with Kirk, as well. She was mopey and unfocused for most of their day together. I’ve never tried to date five people at once, but I can imagine it’s like… well, like when you’re out with your realtor and you’ve already seen one GREAT house that’s maybe a tiny bit above your budget, and no matter how much you keep telling yourself all the good characteristics this other house has, you’re just like, but maybe it’s not THE house.
Tigh: Yeah, I always try to limit my dating to either one person at a time or six. Prime numbers for some reason are difficult to manage.
Sarah: 13 is the worst!
Tigh: Tell me about it! But seriously, I was a little worried for Captian Kirk. He was getting hit by Roberto shrapnel left and right. And throughout the entire date, the Unintentional Metaphor of the Week strummed softly in the background in the form of fado music….Rooobeeerrrtttoooooo….
Sarah: Ha! That’s a great Unintentional Metaphor of the Week.
Tigh: Even during Ali and Kirk’s most intimate moment, when she spoke about having a “hard time” with everything and that her “mind was wandering,” she was talking about Roberto. And poor Kirk was being nurturing and listening intently to her problems with another man and not even knowing it.
Sarah: …and you know what, judging from the previews, Kirk’s going to have problems with another man again next week, in the form of a crazy-eyed, taxidermy-enthusiast father. I don’t see good things coming from all this. Captain Kirk may not get his shot at the Fantasy Suite, after all.
Tigh: It looks like our Week One wish to have Ali visit that guy Kyle’s house (the outdoorsman from Colorado who was sent home the first night) might actually happen in the form of Kirk’s father. Hooray!
Sarah: So true. We really are clairvoyant in some weird, Bachelor/ette-centric way, huh?
Sarah: So the final date of the week went to Chris, the man from Nantucket, Ali’s fellow Massachuttan (Massachusettsian?)
Sarah: Oh, I thought that was a technical definition referring only to people behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Tigh: No, Chris owns a pretty rad Roger Clemens era ‘Yankees Suck’ shirt (which we saw this week). He’s a Masshole. And it was in such good condition! He probably never put it through the dryer. Wish someone would’ve given me that advice.
Sarah: Well, so Masshole Chris was put through the wringer yet again — so far he’s been through the trials of Hercules in the form of too-short Icelandic ponies with too-loose saddles, oil-wrestling angry Turkish men, and now, horror of horrors — a scooter! But seriously, I felt his pain, having tried to learn how to drive a scooter in Malaysia one muggy afternoon. Let me just say: it’s harder than it looks.
Tigh: I can’t imagine. I was freaked out just watching them. But Chris was once again game and made his move with a thoughtful gift that spoke to Ali’s soft side: a bracelet made by the same jeweler who’d made bracelets for his mom. But you know, I just don’t see the sparks with him. They’ve got what it takes to be buddies that go to Sox games together and get into brawls outside Who’s On First? postgame, but in terms of making magic together, I don’t see it. They’re like Carl Everett and the 2001 Red Sox: it started off great but the chemistry just isn’t right.
Sarah: I can see that. On paper, they should be perfect for each other, but (at least in my experience), a good relationship shouldn’t feel like work at the beginning. It should feel like… well, like some version of what Chris thought Kasey thought love should feel like: rainbows and puppies and angels singing in the clouds. Like, “holy shit, I really like this person and I just can’t get enough of being around them all the time oh my gosh!” And… Ali and Chris don’t seem to have that, at least not yet.
Tigh: So no Pre Rose Ceremony Mixer…again!
Sarah: I think it’s like the two-on-ones: at this point, she knows them all so well*… spending another 15 minutes chatting isn’t going to make or break anyone. *”well” for reality tv, at least.
Tigh: Ha! Yeah, this is Bachelorland where every hour carries the weight of a week in the real world. It’s been proven by science.
Sarah: Your heart beats faster on the show, which actually makes time slow down. I think it works that way for hummingbirds, at least.
Tigh: And it makes their heartbreaks oh so much more painful. Just ask Kasey or The Weatherman. Or Ty (pronounced ‘dumped’).
Sarah: Yep. Bye-bye, Ty. Goodbye and good luck to you in all your future Medical Sales and love-related endeavors.
Tigh: While we might have lost the Pre-Rose Ceremony Mixers, we’ve gained the Limo Ride of Shame Interview. Ty used his time in this segment to expound upon how hurt he was by the whole thing. Dude, you went through a divorce. I’m sure you can move on from a girl you’ve known for like seven weeks. It brings up the old question of how much of the hurt the rejects feel is due to real heartbreak and how much is just competitive spirit.
Sarah: Well, but the same could be said of any break-up; a bruised ego is a painful thing.
Tigh: True story.
So, next time on The Bachelorette, Ali will tour the hometowns of her four remaining beaux. What does Frank’s manroom at his parents’ house look like? Will Kirk’s dad try to make her kiss a dead stuffed fox? Will Chris’s dead mom return from the grave to send a Ouija blessing? *Is* Roberto perfect? These and other questions will compell us to watch… and to discuss. Look for a belated but special blog next weekend: Tigh and Sarah (and their blog hostess-with-the-mostest, Elizabeth!) will be reunited in person at Stonecoast. A Very Special in-person Bachelorette chat will surely ensue (perhaps even on video…?) so stay tuned!