Welcome back Tigh & Sarah! Our Celebs in Disgrace film celebrates the new year with a screening at Stonecoast Movie Night in Maine…
Sarah Kowalski and Tigh Rickman are recent graduates of 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.
With Ali and Roberto snug in their cozy San Diego apartment, we turn our lonely Bachelor eyes to Brad in this, the premiere of The Bachelor.
However, this isn’t Brad’s first rodeo. You see, gentle reader, Brad is the first ever repeat Bachelor. Sure, there have been lower case bachelors and bachelorettes who have taken up the protagonist’s mantle in previous seasons, but never before has a capital-B Bachelor returned to the mansion. And nobody would have suspected that Brad of all people would be the first to break that barrier. In his first Bachelor incarnation he left both of the final two women at the podium, proposing to neither and leaving Bachelorland the same way he came in, as, well, a bachelor. The subsequent lambasting he took from The Bachelor faithful prompted three years of therapy in order, as Brad put it, to find out “what was wrong” with him.
But is he really changed? Can he finally open himself up emotionally in the manner we’ve come to expect from our Bachelors? The mansion has had its post-Bachelor Pad delousing, the pool has been drained and cleaned, the Snickers Bar eaten.
Tigh: In the immortal words of Semisonic, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. And for Brad, our once and future Bachelor, the new journey begins here, where the first one ended in an apocalyptic fireball of ‘the wrong reasons’. At least that’s what I’m told. I totally missed his season.
Sarah: Likewise. The “most controversial season in Bachelor history” is one I, as a recent convert to the shameful status of “Bachelor watcher” have no prior interest in.
Tigh: So I take it that he didn’t choose either of the two final young ladies on the finale and in so doing proved that he had deep-seated issues with commitment, not to mention abandonment issues that were so ingrained in his persona that he had to endure three years of “intensive therapy” to return to normal. And why not? If you can’t find love in Bachelorland, you’re obviously emotionally deficient.
Sarah: Yes. Apparently Brad’s sin is the almost-unforgivable (but now, mostly forgiven) flouting of the first law of Bachelorland, “Thou shalt choose a woman on the finale episode.”…even if you break up with said woman a short few months later, as is often the case.
Tigh: TOTALLY acceptable. You can even dump the girl you chose in favor of the first runner-up on After the Final Rose and still get a primetime wedding, albeit a primetime wedding in a tropical storm. (Was that rain or was it just God crying?) But the show does have something like a 1 of 11 success rate, right? How can you just spit in the face of those odds so callously? But Brad knew right from the beginning that he had to throw himself on the mercy of The Harrison as well as all Bachelorlandians, both at the mansion and those viewing at home, and apologize for his transgressions. And then apologize again. And again. And again.
Sarah: Indeed. His arc must be one of redemption: abject apology followed by much baring of the abs as a form of penance. So, I have to state right up front that I personally find Brad relatively boring and completely physically unappealing (clearly I am not the target Bachelorette demographic, who universally seem to find him “super sexy”), but the one aspect of his season that I find mildly intriguing is the constant referencing of his Daddy issues. This guy, with his three years of “intensive” therapy under his belt, may well be the first Bachelor I’ve come across who will at least try to own up to his own psychosis. Will that make our job harder?
Tigh: I’m not sure. I think the debate here is not so much can Brad own up to his psychosis, but rather what is his psychosis? I mean, it seems pretty normal to maybe say, NOT meet your wife in a randomly selected pool of thirty over the span of a couple months. But that he THINKS he has an issue, that he is choosing the reality of The Bachelor over the real world, is going to be the most fascinating part of this season. Keep in mind Brad has two brothers (one of whom is his twin) and both of them have proven successful in getting married and procreating. Was his dad just a dick to Brad? Doubtful.
Sarah: Very astute — I’d wondered the same thing once he revealed that both of his brothers were happily married. Siblings of different ages can certainly have different experiences in the same household, but twins? You’re very right that we haven’t yet gotten the full story. In my opinion, anyone who goes on a reality show to find love kind of puts themselves in the “guilty until proven innocent” category when it comes to personality issues.
After nearly an hour straight of apologies, mea culpas and a face-to-face ambushing by the two women he rejected at the end of his first go-round as the Bachelor (both making sure that their huge diamond rings were visible during the course of their segment to prove to Brad that yes, they were worthy of love after all). it was time to meet the new women who were to vie for Brad’s heart. What ensued were slaps, distrusting looks and above all shock that Brad was indeed back and their Bachelor.
Sarah: So, speaking of personality issues… what’s your first impression of the women?
Tigh: Well, let’s see…there’s a dancing dental hygienist, a NASCAR widow, a couple of mothers, a rebounding divorcee who hasn’t been single since she was a teenager, an esthetician who specializes in men’s junk and, oh yeah, a vampire. They’re definitely going to put his therapy to the test.
Sarah: The fact that he chose the vampire to remain — over, say, the fellow Texan with some boring normal job that I’m blanking on — reveals more about him than it does about sultry-McToothy-pants herself.
Tigh: Not to mention a musical theater actress and a Rockette. If this were The Bachelorette and these were lowercase bachelors, I’d imagine they’d be questioned immediately about being there for their career or the right reasons.
Sarah: You’re so right. But we all know that women don’t really have career ambitions in Bachelorland, so they couldn’t possibly be there for self promotion, right?
Tigh: Of course not. It’s not like Melissa or Vienna had any sort of fame once the show ended. But while all the introductory conversations, the one that stood out to me most was the Vampire. In their brief talk she went from sultry, mysterious mistress of the night to being just a girl with weird teeth. All it took was a simple “why are you here?” from Brad (the first cousin of ‘here for the right reasons’) and she dropped her entire persona. Such is the power of The Bachelor! All must succumb! But it does say something about Brad. She’s obviously not cut from traditional bachelorette cloth and, unlike Dracula when he was all shapeshifted like a wolf, she heeled when he snapped his fingers. Gives us an idea of what this guy likes, I think.
Sarah: Yup. The first impression rose went to the girl who said “I’m not going to give you a hard time or ask any tough questions. If you ever need a friend I’ll be here no matter what.” This after you’ve known the guy for 30 seconds? She all but volunteered to be his toady.
Tigh: But for all the women’s initial doubts about Brad being their Bachelor, nobody backed off on the pursuit. Each of them went at him hard, fighting for his attention with the same gusto we’ve come to expect from previous season’s introductory cocktail parties. And why? Brad’s charm comes from a sort of ‘aw shucks’ self deprecation. He’s constantly complimenting aspects of these women and then using it to highlight one of his “shortcomings”. Things like, “Wow, you’ve got such a better (singing) voice than mine,” or “You make me look (bad) standing next to you,” etc., were included in pretty much all his conversations. And by extension, this explains his constant throwing himself on the sword for his past mistakes on The Bachelor. It’s the only way he knows to communicate and get anywhere with women, so it kind of makes sense that he’d keep going back to the “I’m sorry” well, even though he’d personally wronged none of the women actually there.
Sarah: Did it strike you as weird how much he complimented their clothes and shoes, too? I guess it’s just something nice to say that’s easy. But I don’t know if a straight man has ever complimented my shoes. It was a little weird. NOT that I’m raising the “is he deeply closeted” thing again. I swear.
Tigh: Well, it’s too early to rule anything out. Of course, if at the end he proposes to Chris (The Man!) Harrison, then it would indeed be the most shocking season ever. Ever!
Sarah: Oh… now that I would like to see!
Tigh: I’ve often fantasized about popping the question to The Harrison.
Sarah: I know that about you, Tigh.
Tigh: I mean, you know, if he were a lady.
Sarah: Or… The Man!
Tigh: Speaking of being a man and masculinity, though…all that apologizing wasn’t. Sure, you want to get them to, as Brad put it, “buy it” that you’re going to find a fiancée this time, but he just wouldn’t lay off. Isn’t all that groveling just as unattractive as not being able to commit?
Sarah: Agreed. He immediately put himself in this position of acting not worthy of them — which isn’t exactly an attractive position to start a romance from. The “this season on The Bachelor” promo definitely seemed to hint that his fear of the tables being turned — of being rejected by one of the women he’s chosen — will be a driving force. We may have another Frank situation on our hands before all this is through, methinks.
Tigh: Well, nothing soothes a bad case of commitment issues like the constant fear of rejection.
Sarah: And with that — shall we toast to Brad and his upcoming rollercoaster ride? Week Two, when we get into actual dates, is always when the real fun begins…
Tigh: Absolutely! This premiere was a little one-dimensional, I think. All about proving to all of us that Brad’s sorry and it will never, never happen again. I promise. We’re all teed up and ready to go. Can’t wait to see the dates!
Sarah: Here’s to it! Dentists, rockettes and vampires, oh my…
(photos: ABC.com; accesshollywood.com, realitytv.com)