Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things

Sometimes…

Barry Watson’s Back (On ABC). From the Future.

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I give you: a not-to-be-missed tv world premiere event. And by not-to-be-missed I mean absolutely watch it later via the interwebs, with friends and alcohol:

My Future Boyfriend

NO seriously, watch that trailer. You will not regret it. Whether you love or hate Barry Watson, this preview will only further your feeling. And it lends itself to the easiest ABCFam original movie drinking game ever: drink whenever Barry Watson SPEAKS IN A ROBOT VOICE. (Be warned: that’s how we will speak 1000 years into the future! Eeek!)

I love finding out about new ABCFam movies…it’s like, what not-lately-seen ABC actors will be randomly thrown together into a romance? Aaaaha, Sara Rue and Barry Watson, of course. Oozing with chemistry, those two together. Do you think ABCFam has some kind of algorithm they use for casting?

I just recently began to like Barry Watson after years of dislike fueled by 7th Heaven (which, yes, I did watch all the way into college when the “series finale” revealed that the majority of the siblings would be procreating at the same time…and then the series ended up coming back for another season…which I also watched), through when I lived with Kate and she defended him and told me to watch What About Brian, till present day when I finally did watch What About Brian and then rewatched Samantha Who? (both on Netflix right now) and finally liked him. But ABC, please just give him another show and don’t make him play a robot-like future man who is made to wear a trenchcoat to represent his being from the future. I mean, I could go on about wardrobe and product placement in these movies, but you’ll have to watch for yourself– that’s HALF THE FUN.

The Most Controversially Boring Season of The Bachelor Ever

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Editors Note: This is a VERY detailed account of the finale. Videos and images featured are by Kate herself, and were not filmed at the time of Francesca’s viewing.

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Remember when The Bachelor began this season, and the voiceovers kept calling it the “Most Controversial Season Ever”? Oh I’m sorry, but is knowing which lady is going to be picked for the whole second half of the season “controversial”? Is the choosing of the most “poised,” ladylike, blondest, nicest girl controversial?

There’s a certain amount of boredom you expect watching a two hour show weekly, but as soon as Brad’s mom told Emily she was looking forward to seeing her again and meeting her daughter it all became pretty obvious. Yet Brad decided to give Chantal a last date anyway to see if she could win him over fully. Such a gentleman!  If you don’t get this from everything below, all this episode served to do was make me think ill of Brad. I mean, he’s been boring all season, but this episode he just really locks in that image of a 38-year-old man with stunted emotions and a really small adjective vocabulary.

So that YOU don’t have to watch it, if you haven’t already, the finale recap:

Two women…one man…and the decision of a lifetime

Of course, we start with a season recap, and his special and unique relationship with each remaining girl: which basically means they show Chantal slapping Brad and Brad saying “Emily’s one in a million.” Again. I mean really, who’s he gonna pick?

Also, Brad talks about his “electric connection” with Chantal, which always reminds me of Jake Pavelka telling Tenley they had physical chemistry but not sexual chemistry. WHERE DO THEY FIND THESE MEN. Why are the only compliments they can think of concerning “electricity” or the girls’ ability to make them feel happy?

First off, we meet Brad’s fam: His mom, two brothers (one of them a twin!) and the brothers’ wives. He cries. A lot. I mean how long has it been since he’s seen them? They all live in Austin. Oh the isolation of having 25 women and Chris Harrison around you…

Brad’s fam tells us more things Brad’s already told us repeatedly throughout the season: “He’s a completely different person than he was 3 years ago.” “This is the real Brad [when he’s crying].”

“Are you considering proposing?” “100%.” Oh good because that’s the PREMISE OF THE WHOLE SHOW.

I always have issues with the finale episode because I don’t understand why the decision waits til the last second. Like, how can he or the woman he chooses immediately begin an “engaged” relationship when he, days before, was still maybe in love with someone else? …And in this case it is CLEAR he’s in love with Emily but they are still forcing the decision to the end.  Wouldn’t it be more “controversial” for him to say goodbye to Chantal early because he already figured it out?

Chantal Meets the Family

Chantal arrives to meet the fam. Chantal, what are you wearing. A smock? Also, his brothers’ wives are named Prima and Dylan. l love the South.

WHAT. Chantal: “The first time I saw Brad, it was like my parents said they had that feeling, I had that feeling where I just knew.” NO, REMEMBER HOW YOU SLAPPED HIM. YOU DID NOT JUST KNOW.

Props to her though, she seems pretty real with the family. She’s very likable. Also, the brother called her “incredibly attractive.” Is that appropriate?

Family, stop telling us that “Brad went through hell last time he did this.” OH , DID HE? Did he? After dumping two women at once? Yeah that must’ve sucked for HIM.

Brad’s twin brother is a hottie. Less facial hair. Brad’s mom asks Chantal: “I have to ask, how did you fall in love so quick?” GREAT QUESTION. I have so very much to say on this subject (short answer: feeling “in love” versus actually LOVING someone, am I right?). Chantal, your hair and makeup look soo good, but why are you wearing a smock. Ok, telling the mom “You’re so fabulous.” Winning move.

“If everything works out, I will marry her.” No, it’s not “if everything works out.” I’m pretty sure YOU are the agent here, Brad Womack.

Emily Meets the Family

Oh man.  Emily time. Brad apparently tells his fam nothing about her, except that “Emily is a remarkable woman.” And he literally jumps off the couch when she arrives. “I’m so happy to see you.” He’s jumping up and down. She brought flowers. Good move. Can we just talk about how she looks like she belongs aside the other wives in the family?

Brother Wes notes she’s a little more reserved. Yet, as soon as they find out her story they call her “poised” instead of reserved. Men are dumb.

Brad, I have a very important question for you. Why didn’t you tell your family the story about Emily’s DAUGHTER and former fiance before this meal? Awkward, awkward times ensue when brother Wes becomes very worried about little Ricki having to move to Austin. “Would Ricki’s father be ok with this?” leads to Emily having to tell the WHOLE story again to the family she just met. I just think it’s kind of awful for them (even if it was the producers who wanted the story to be told again on camera and not Brad) to make Emily do that again.

Serious convo between Brad and his bros about the child. Is Brad looking deep enough inside himself to see what he wants? “Do you get the warm fuzzy feeling?”  “Buddy, I get the warmest feeling that I can’t describe.” “This woman and her daughter…she is truly one of the most genuinely sweet women I’ve ever met in my entire life. I like that she’s a lady…she makes me want to be a better guy.” OK EFFING PROPOSE TO HER I’M SO TIRED OF THIS CRAP.

Mom interviews Emily, who says: “I am so grateful to have met your son. He has been such a blessing to me….and any girl would be lucky to have him.” She certainly knows how to win a mom over. The mom recaps for the cameras: “She said he was her angel…*tears*….her angel.”  At the goodbyes, mom says: “I look forward to seeing you again…and meeting Ricki.” THIS WHOLE SHOW IS A SHAM WHY DO I EVEN HAVE TO WATCH THE SECOND HOUR.

The Family Weighs In

Brad needs his fam’s advice. And here are their helpful comments. Thanks for the thought, Womack family:

  • “With Chantal, I could see you guys traveling, and sowing oats before you settle down.” Sowing oats? As a couple?
  • “Fun-loving on one hand, family on the other hand.”  Yes, let’s break this decision down to a simple dichotomy!
  • “Chantal seems like a great person,  but Emily’s a mom, and we could connect with her on that level. “Chantal wouldn’t get it…she would be the person we’d call for wine and sushi…it would just be a different experience.” OK YOU ARE HIS BROTHERS’ WIVES.  STFU.
  • “Emily’s just extremely poised.” “She’s just very social and sweet.” “She’s beyond great.” “I think Emily is kind of the whole package.” “If my mom could choose a future for me no doubt she would choose someone just like Emily.”

This is just insulting as possible to Chantal.  If it is really that clear to EVERYONE that he belongs with Emily, he needs to break up with the other lady and not lead her on with another romantic date where he says more super vague and romantic phrases that begin and/or end with “never in my life…” “I can honestly say…”…“happy” and “perfect.”

Chantal’s Date

Brad prefaces the date with: “My family thought Emily was the one, but I’m spending today with Chantal, and I’m hoping she can show SHE’S the one.” Speechless.

He makes her face another “fear” by swimming with sharks (I think he would find that most people fear that). But she does it for him, saying “What a great way to test out the water before we get married.” Because swimming with sharks–that’s totally relevant to real life.

She does it, prompting Brad to say: “Everything I’ve asked her to do, she’s excelled at it.” YES, but have you asked Emily to do stuff like that? Um, no. The scariest thing you did was make her ride on an elephant. Why does Chantal have to be put to these tests, and Emily doesn’t? And Chantal sums it up perfectly: “After all this, you better put a fucking ring on my finger.” HAHA. And…he’s not going to. Oh reader, does your dislike for him increase at this juncture, because mine does. TENFOLD.

“So many things have been answered with Chantal and I.” First of all, I wish that you, at 38, knew the difference between a subject and an object. “What a perfect date…what a perfect girl…what a perfect experience.” Second of all, do you know what “perfect” means? If you’re more in love with another girl and enjoy your time with her more, than a date with this girl is not “perfect.” You are being MISLEADING.  Which is hurtful. Your trite words are HURTFUL. And just sooo boring.

Back in Chantal’s room

Brad says, “It feels like I’ve known you five years.” Chantal says: “You now what I’m going to say before I even have my little reaction.” Brad says:  “I’m always myself with you.” All he ever says about Chantal is how he loves that she’s up front with him and loves that he can be himself with her. Can he not think of other complimentary phrases?

Then: the gift. She made him a map of all the places they’ve been. South Africa has the label: “Our first of hopefully many more overnights.” Oh Chantal.
And then he reads her very personal note out loud. And responds: “That’s very sweet.” So much feeling, Brad. “I love the fact you’re so vocal with your feelings.” He calls her “baby” multiple times during this scene. Stop calling her your baby when you know you’re not going to pick her. Shameful.

Emily’s Date

Is he going to jump up and down again?
He freaking loves helicopters. It’s another helicopter date. “I’m so happy…to get to be with someone I absolutely love to be with.” Can you freaking stop this date and propose to her.
“Alright, babe.” You just can’t be calling two women babe. You just can’t. “Whenever I look at Em, I see everything I ever wanted in my life.” This is a sham.

They sit in a windy spot and she asks him if he’s really sat and thought about what it means to be a father. He doesn’t seem to respond, and has a blank look on his face, so she asks what he’s thinking about. “Oh, nothing. Just…in two days…” They begin talking about the decision he has to make. Ok what about those questions she just asked?

Back in Emily’s Room

He’s so nervous during their evening date. He keeps shifting and sighing. He finally tries to respond to her questions from earlier, “I want you to give me the chance to be an actual father.” She tells him it isn’t all fun, and wants to make sure he’ll be there for the hard parts too. This is a legitimate worry! But he has a romcom worthy answer for what he thinks being a father is, and then begins to get annoyed when she has more questions.

“Are you mad?” “I’m getting there.” EXCUSE ME, what? Because she’s asking questions about taking care of her daughter, making sure you understand all of the commitment? Because she wants answers that are not vague and flowery? We only see him saying “Give me the chance, I want to do it.” That doesn’t actually mean anything. “I’m telling you I’m in it, but I feel like I’m being questioned. I’m telling you I care enough about your family to be there.” He is MOODY. “I can barely breathe it’s so hot in this room.”

And then he turns the tables in a show of how not to be in an adult relationship: “…Are YOU ready to let someone in?” “I hope YOU’RE ready for this, I’m telling you I am.”

EMILY says, “I really just messed it up big time.” No you did not. He is emotionally stunted. He tells the camera, “I was shot out of the water…I was slapped in the face. Makes me profoundly hurt and upset.”  Ok did they edit it to make him look ridiculous or is he actually that selfish?

The Decision

The next morning: introspective time with lots of shots of the girls looking far off and talking about how much they love Brad. He talks about his exhaustion, because he’s dealing with “so many very real new emotions – this is new to me.” Oh you child. “They are so different – but both women make me so happy.” Well great, which one will YOU make happy? Believe it or not, it’s not just about your freakin’ happiness. All of the sudden, he has made a decision. Thanks to the hills and farmlands of South Africa for inspiring him.

Neil Lane Promotion

Brad KNOWS when he sees the ring. “Neil, this is it. This is it. This ring is breathtaking.” THAT LOOKS LIKE COSTUME JEWELRY/SOMETHING A REAL HOUSEWIFE WOULD WEAR. Stop it Brad.

Then, Brad actually lets the following words come out of his mouth as he describes his love: “There’s something about her aura.” Neil Lane is such a great sounding board: “That sounds like love.”  “It feels so right. I’ve wanted this feeling for 38 years…for my whole life.”  “I can honestly say I have never been so happy in my entire life.” Neil Lane is smiling like he wishes his business hadn’t come to this.

Back to Brad’s voiceovers: “I just know that this feeling is right…and its the best gut feeling I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t know how to describe how I’m going to feel telling one of these women goodbye.” He doesn’t know how to describe how he’s GOING TO FEEL? Shouldn’t he already stop thinking about the one he’s not going to pick?

“I’m so confident in the fact that I love this woman with all of my heart.” He literally says this twice.

Moment of Truth

CUE BACHELOR MUSIC! WHICH WOMAN WILL GET OUT OF THE FIRST LIMO??

It’s Chantal. Smallest surprise ever in the history of the show. Is it not horrible of the editors to play the voiceover of her professing her love when all the viewers know it’s not her?

Brad shows us how not to break up with someone who’s in love with you and thinks you’re about to propose:
“Where do I begin. The very first time I laid eyes on you…I felt a connection.”
THIS IS NOT HOW YOU BREAK UP WITH SOMEONE.

“You’re someone I really have looked for for a very long time…[dramatic pause] and here’s where it gets tough. I don’t know how to say it except to say I have stronger feelings for someone else.” Oh no Chantal’s face! This is awful. Stop drying her tears and hugging her– it just adds insult to injury!

“Every single thing we had, always will have, was very very real. Wait what? Always will have? Ahem, no you are about to PROPOSE to someone else. “Anything you want to say to me?”  “No.” I would have given anything to see her slap him again.

The worst part about this, and what really made me frustrated with this show, is Chantal’s comment in the limo: “I just feel really stupid…how can I be convinced he was the one when he didn’t even love me.” Why does she have to leave feeling stupid? She was always clear about her feelings, and also told him multiple times to send her home if he knew she wasn’t the one. Instead he led her on and wasn’t honest with her. I HATE that she feels stupid because of his actions.

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The Proposal

Brad: “I want to stutter and stammer…on this little speech I’ve prepared.” You’re welcome, readers, I have recorded the speech for you:

I have come so far to get to where I’m standing today, and I’ve made so many mistakes and been through so many ups and downs…I’ve always believed that when the time was right i would find the woman I’ve been looking for for my entire life [I love this.  It’s like he’s been on a scavenger hunt and finally found the treasure! After 38 years!].  I knew it would take opening up in ways I wasn’t used to and I knew it would take me taking a leap of faith if I felt even the slightest bit of love.  All it took was coming here and finding you. You’re the one Em. You’re it. You’re my once in a lifetime, so what I’m asking is this, please give me your forever [hmm? That honestly sounds like a euphemism]. Please let me be your best friend, let me protect you and your beautiful daughter, I love you Emily, I truly love you.

That speech would be super cute if he had not described Chantal as the “perfect girl” days before.  Brad, words lose meaning when you use the same ones over and over again.

And the Seal song has been replaced, most painfully, by Train’s “Marry Me” playing behind the montage of Emily and Brad throughout the season.

In the end…

I have to say, I really did like both girls, and it seems like Brad and Emily really are well suited to each other. I just want to know if Brad decided for himself to lead Chantal on that long or if producers made him do it for the entertainment factor. There are flaws in the concept of this show, which I covered to a certain extent in my post about Shawntel Newton at the beginning of the season, but when it gets to the point where we’re really watching someone in love with someone else (and it really seemed like Brad was in love with Emily at the end), it just feels wrong to see him lead the other girl on for so long.

Do we put ourselves through two hours a week of this show because we want to see what happens to the people who sign up for it and get a little glimpse of the few crazies who get cut out early? Or do we really want to watch the evolution of a couple’s love? Because if it is the latter, I wish that The Bachelor would show those conversations where the contestants actually reveal themselves to each other, and not the moments where they are just saying how strongly they feel without actually revealing what could possibly bring up that strength of feeling (read Kate’s PopMatters post for more on this subject).  Brad mentions in the finale that the women know everything there is to know about him – when did those conversations happen? Yes, that is personal information, but Brad did agree to put himself on The Bachelor and be filmed–and I would much prefer to see a genuine match come about in personal conversations and realistic dates rather than helicopter-fairy-tale-dates where we see kisses and talk about chemistry but not much else. Give us some SUBSTANCE. Tell us what you like about Emily besides her niceness. Give us more background than “she has a daughter and went through a major loss” and “my dad was never around and I used to be emotionally closed off.”

That’s why I liked Shawntel N – and why I wanted her to be with Brad.  During her Las Vegas date, she talked to Brad about her job. It seemed like a conversation we have out here, outside of the TV. I loved Shawntel for being real with Brad throughout – that was not their only serious, personal conversation (of course, my real reasons for wanting her to be the chosen one may just be that I want there to be a season wherein men are vying to come live in Chico, CA with her). That’s the kind of stuff we want to see – that’s the kind of stuff that makes people actually fall in love with each other. When there’s real pain involved — and Chantal really looked genuinely hurt, it was hard to watch — we’d like to see the real that could cause that kind of feeling. Or maybe we just watch it for the few crazies.

The Bachelor Unexpectedly Prompts Stirrings Of Thought

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I caught The Bachelor Monday night at the gym, and though I hadn’t watched any of this season I was hooked after about 5 minutes (sigh). Most notably, when funeral director contestant Shawntel Newton was being interviewed, I saw that her hometown was none other than Chico, CA: my hometown. She works at a funeral home owned by her family and another Chico family. I went to middle school with the son of the other family (I remember him because I had a big crush on one of his friends. I had the makings of a FB stalker pre-Facebook, apparently). What’s more: internet spoilers say she’s getting a hometown date. Woo. Chico hasn’t been featured so prominently since the original Robin Hood (and that Playboy 1987 party school ranking)! Oh yeah wait, and the Green Bay QB who’s also from Chico. Anyway…

The fact that Shawntel is from Chico was just a (greatly) fun fact for me, but I started thinking more about it because of a few other things on my mind the past week. Namely: Emily’s blog post about the toys marketed to girls, an interaction between a teacher I observe for work and her female students, and David McCandless analysis of Facebook statuses to see which time of the year is prone to breakups, which was published a while ago but came back into memory because we’re nearing Valentine’s Day.

Shawntel Newton and I grew up in the same place, about one year apart in age. Chico is fairly homogenous amid the middle class population and small (about 100,000 people), so we were likely to have been brought up under similar cultural experiences and expectations (outside of family). There were only a handful of elementary schools and two middle schools in town at the time. What’s more, our families knew some of the same people. Obviously there are still many contributing factors to make us different people – particularly family, which I can’t use as a comparing factor at all (and I do have to mention that I left Chico at 14 for Tennessee, so at high school the surrounding similarities go out the window) – but nevertheless, having this much in common in childhood, especially things that are so essential to social understanding (schooling, friends, the kind of people you see around you every day, the cultural markers, town haunts, one of a kind places that make a town unique and that shape those who grow up within it) makes me suddenly think very seriously about The Bachelor. No, not about competing, but about why people compete. Normally when I considered this question, my answer was easy: these are crazy fame seekers, or, even easier…these are DBs (Dumb Bitches, for those of you not in the know). But now, someone whose background I partly share in is a serious contender on The Bachelor. Suddenly, instead of assuming that the people who compete are of course not like anyone I would ever know, it’s quite the opposite.

The Bachelor can be compelling because it mixes the possibility for fame with the childhood fantasy of romance and a “prince charming.”  These are powerful motivators. They’re powerful motivators that have an inception in the Disney movies on which our generation of girls was brought up. Even Mulan, different because she succeeded in a traditionally male role, still earned herself fame…and a prince. (It’s true. He’s not a prince; he’s the son of a general. But you know what? Until I re-watched the movie a few months ago, I had remembered him as a prince. That’s what we remember.) But could these childhood princess fantasies really still be at play in the minds of (some of) these women, now in their 20s and 30s? That’s where I thought of Emily’s post from earlier this week: what kind of cultural messages or expectations are set up for girls via their toys? Luckily we didn’t have to deal with Bratz dolls back in the day, but it was before Barbie got her boobs-to-scale makeover, and when classic Disney princess movies were still being churned out regularly (not to say that I don’t love them).

This brought to mind another scene that I watched recently, one that made me think about the implicit messages we pick up as children, in social interactions and the culture we intake, be it through toys, movies, or the people we see every day. Part of my job is to observe public school teachers implementing an online math program. One of the teachers I see works in a computer lab, so she has multiple classes coming in throughout the day. When any class enters, she instructs the boys to pull out the girls’ chairs. The girls sit down, and then the boys push their chairs in for them. The girls say thank you, and then the boys can be seated. This is repeated in reverse at the end of class. On my most recent visit, the situation was too paradoxical not to find concerning. “Boys, pull out the ladies’ chairs for them. Ladies, you should never have to touch your chair.” Later, when the boys were pulling the chairs back out at the end of class, with the girls still seated in them: “Ladies, don’t make the boys do all the work themselves. Some of us are heavier than others.” Wait. What I had first thought was pretty adorable (they were second graders, after all) had just become problematic. Is this thrice-weekly mantra seeping into their subconscious little by little, throughout the 5 schooling years they spend in that computer lab, and affecting how they interact with the opposite gender? Did our childhood years spent obsessing over Disney movies and Barbie and Ken actually help form our idea of love in our own futures? Or is Shawntel Newton just another fame-seeking lady who happens to be from the same town as I am, another anomaly?

It’s probably the latter (especially since we can blame high school, college and after for the heartache that might serve to make someone motivated enough to be on The Bachelor) but that doesn’t mean that those childhood hours spent playing house with Barbie and Ken or singing along to “Part of Your World” at sleepovers — or that the odd “role model” in your childhood who told you you were fat while simultaneously telling you to let men do everything for you — aren’t greatly affecting our individual manifestations of gender roles, and expectations of the part each sex should have in a romantic relationship. And by signing up for The Bachelor, a woman is actually signing up for dating someone and the possibility of having a romantic relationship with him. A romantic relationship with someone she’s not met. How could anyone sign up for that unless a part of her still believed that “Disney” love was possible?  (Thanks for the irony, world:  The Bachelor is an ABC show so it’s actually produced by Disney.)

But let’s talk about the part of one’s love history that comes after childhood, the part of life where I can no longer compare my cultural upbringing to that of Shawntel Newton. Here’s where I was reminded of David McCandless Facebook status analysis, which finds that break-up season comes twice a year: the holidays and spring break. The numbers start to rise again right around now. How does that relate to The Bachelor? Well, personally I have no Facebook friends who update their status about breakups.  Who are the 10,000 people producing the break-up statuses that McCandless analyzed? Relationships are playing out in the public domain, via Facebook, The Bachelor, etc, and clearly there are thousands of people not only watching but participating by publicizing their own relationships, or participating in relationships that are almost entirely public. So what happens to today’s girls who have The Bachelor instead of Disney princess movies; how much more public can they make their future relationships? (American media, this is not a challenge.) Whether it’s the childhood toys and movies that still flit through the subconscious or the quarter-life breakups at work, a girl with whom I shared a fairly small childhood landscape is a Bachelor contestant, and the publicizing of our most personal moments has taken another step to becoming normal.

ABC Family Holiday Movies on Hulu: An Internet Wonderland

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As we go home and immediately find the need to hide from our families, here’s a way to wile away those hours in 90-minute increments: Let ABC Fam transport you to a winter land where Andy Dick plays a sandwich delivery man who has someone else’s child in his care…where Olivia Newton John stars as a small-town American woman…where Shannen Doherty is a thief.  Where love and Christmas are synonymous. Obvs.

I give you my guide of the current internet options (minus the kids’ movies) ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas makes available to us. Note: as Kate, Jessie, KB and I well know, any TV movie is best watched as a drinking game. I just doubled your potential enjoyment of these movies; you’re welcome.

It Nearly Wasn’t Christmas (1989):

Because I’m filled with the Christmas spirit, I want to give you this gift: Do not watch this movie. Santa is “tired of caring when everyone else doesn’t.” Luckily a small child with rockin’ bangs shows him that people are still caring, and ensures that Santa delivers all the presents in time! With help from a plump and aproned Mrs. Claus, and rhyming elves.

Check out those bangs.

A Christmas Romance (1994):

Three words: OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN. She stars as poor single mom Julia Stonecypher (I couldn’t even make that up), living in a small American town…about to have her house repossessed by a man from the big city. Olivia’s real daughter plays her daughter in the movie. Tagline: “Two people are about to discover that what they need most is each other.” That’s all I’m sayin’.
The taller daughter is Olivia’s.

A Holiday for Love (1996):

Jake Peterson (played by Tim Matheson, VP John Hoynes from West Wing) returns to his small Nebraska hometown to shut down a major business there.  Love happens. With Michelle Gilbert (HELEN KELLER/Laura Ingalls Wilder), whose daughter is played by Michelle Trachtenberg. These connections are making me breathless. So… city business man is wooed by small town down-to-earth woman.  Do you have ONE writer, ABC Family? However, Tim Matheson and Michelle Gilbert are pretty cute together, and seeing young Michelle Trachtenberg constantly reminds me of Harriet the Spy.


This makes me want to watch West Wing, and then Little House on the Prairie.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1997):

It opens with the eponymous song and is set in St. Nicholas, Iowa. And depressingly, it’s not the I’ll Be Home For Christmas that starred Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Instead it involves a town of 1500 that needs a doctor, and a widowed surgeon from the BIG CITY who returns home (with his terribly annoying daughter) to St. Nicholas for the holidays. Who was high school sweethearts with the part-time mayor/town veterinarian, Sarah. Paula Deen couldn’t come up with a better recipe for love. Although she could definitely come up with a better figure of speech than what I just wrote.

The celebs of St. Nicholas, population: 1500.

Special Delivery (2000):

Gah, Andy Dick in a family movie? Let me share with you the most preposterous plot ever, ever written.  Andy Dick is a sandwich delivery man who delivers sandwiches to an adoption agency, which has a lot of babies in a room waiting to be delivered to their homes. WHAT? The adoption agency lets him hang around and touch the babies and since there is a holiday rush for babies, they end up needing him to “deliver” one. Across the country.  Featuring this gem: “Adoption is where the baby grows in your mommy’s heart, instead of your mommy’s tummy.”

Would YOU trust this man?

Snow (2004):

This movie is everything I love about ABC Family original movies. It stars Tom Cavanagh and Ashley Williams. Ashley Williams played Victoria (ugh) on HIMYM, and she’s the younger sister of Kimberly Williams-Paisley, of Father of the Bride and…Lucky Seven. Tom Cavanagh (of Ed, which coincidentally features Gregory Harrison of A Christmas Romance) plays Nick Snowden, a young and single Santa. He must rescue a reindeer from a zoo in CA before Christmas in 3 days, and meets Sandy (Ashley Williams) along the way. Little does Sandy know she’s about to fall in the trap of a lifetime: becoming Mrs. Claus. You think Santa does all that work by himself?
Irresistible, right?

Chasing Christmas (2005):

Oh good, another movie based on A Christmas Carol.  I’m sure that when Dickens wrote his novella he wished for it to come to this, someday. He dreamed big.
I don’t know who any of these people are. Disinterested.

Christmas Do-Over (2006):

A self-centered man (Jay Mohr) has to relive Christmas Day over and over again.  Much like we have to relive this plot idea over and over again. Featuring Daphne Zuniga, from the original Melrose Place.
Ever wish Christmas were every day? Thanks, subjunctive mood!

Snowglobe (2007):

Another Christina Milian treasure. Christian Milian plays Angela Moreno, whose fam doesn’t like to make a big to-do about Christmas, but it’s her favorite holiday. So she is sad. Luckily, a Snowglobe sent through the mail allows her to be transported into a world where everyone loves Christmas more than anything. And she can go back and forth whenever she wants to.  Until she can’t. And! there’s a man for her in each world. She must make so many tough choices. Luckily, and despite so many inconsistencies (she’s a butcher, yet lives alone in a swank apartment, she’s supposed to be Italian, etc.), entertainment value exists especially in the form of Josh Cooke, the love interest in the real world (who plays the long-term boyfriend Ben in Better With You).
She looks like she’s 15.

Christmas Caper (2007):

Shannen Doherty! Thievery! Children!  Shannen plays Cate Dove, a thief whose latest heist went bad so she returns to her hometown and ends up babysitting her niece and nephew (it was first titled Auntie Claus).  She refriends everyone from childhood but is simultaneously planning to steal from them.  Fittingly, her love interest is a cop.
Oh, is that black outfit supposed to denote criminality?

Holiday In Handcuffs (2008):

If you enjoy seeing Melissa Joan Hart back on TV in Melissa & Joey as much as I do, you will like this movie for the same reason. Except know that her romantic opposite is Mario Lopez, and it is 100% impossible to suspend disbelief and accept the likelihood of that. ABC Family seems to have an obsession with crime and Christmas, because this time Melissa Joan Hart (Trudie) kidnaps Mario Lopez (David) so that she can pretend to have a boyfriend at home for the holidays. And somehow, despite his muscles, he cannot escape. Luckily they fall in love and both do escape the huge awkwardness, both personally and legally, that would have ensued had they not.
I don’t think he’d crown her Miss America.

Snow 2: Brain Freeze (2008):

If popular physiological phenomena are to be used as movie titles, what will be next, Hiccups? Ear Ringing? Eye Twitching? What confuses me most about this movie is that both Tom Cavanagh and Ashley Williams reprised their roles from the original movie Snow. How much is ABC Family paying? Or do they both just really love spending time in Canada? Further, they reprised their roles in THIS plot: Nick Snowden loses his memory by walking through a magic mirror, and Sandy (now his wife) has to help him regain it in time for Christmas. Yes.  Santa loses his memory.  That would be the brain freeze.
Ugh, she looks more like Victoria in this pic.

A Holiday for Love, Snow, Snowglobe, and Holiday in Handcuffs seem to be the best bets here, but no one will stop you if you want to watch Andy Dick deliver an Indonesian baby across the country to his adoptive parents, waiting eagerly for the baby that has grown in their hearts and not their tummies.

And if you want to watch the real television, here’s what the 2010 ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas has planned:
Dec 24th: Jack Frost, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, The Year Without A Santa Claus
Dec 25th: Miracle on 34th St (1994), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version)

Also: 12 Men of Christmas (of Lifetime, not ABC Family) is playing at 8 pm 12/24 on LMN and 11 am 12/25 on Lifetime. Kristin Chenoweth and Josh Hopkins (beady-eyed Grayson from Cougar Town) in the ultimate holiday made-for-tv-movie.

Christmas Cupid: As If You Were Watching With Me

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Previously, on Smart Girls Stupid Things: ABC Family Gets You Psyched for Christmas with Angels and Dogs

Let me start by saying that this movie is worth watching (in the so-bad-but-so-good way), mostly because of Chad Michael Murray and his emotional face, and the confusion between Cupid, angels, and ghosts, which never seems to be resolved.

It all begins with Mariah singing “Santa’s gonna come and make you mine this Christmas,” because Santa’s a criminal. And of course, with a shot of Christina Milian (Sloane, a publicist) lookin’ super busy and important. Tossing her hair and knocking back her empty Starbucks cup.

Sloane is working hard planning a Christmas Day launch party for a lush actress, Caitlin Quinn, who is starring in a family movie. As Sloane is sucking up to her boss, Andrew, we find out that she is actually sleeping with him to get a promotion.

Throughout her busy day, we see Sloane trying to make time for her friends and family, who are used to being sadly neglected in lieu of her VERY important job.  Side note: Sloane’s mom is played by Tia and Tamara Mowry’s mom in Sister Sister. Con.nec.tions.

Yea this woman. Unfortunately, not this man.

Finally: stuff happens.  Caitlin Quinn gets on a yacht and chokes on a martini olive.  And dies. Immediately after her death she shows up in Sloane’s apartment and informs her that she will be visited by three ghosts. “Too bad it wasn’t an apple martini, or she’d be alive today.”

“Distraught,” Sloane goes to the hospital to see Sloane’s body (unsure of the necessity of that…) and lo and behold– her exboyfriend Patrick, played by Chad Michael Murray, is a doctor there!  And now I’m interested.

It becomes clear to the audience and to Patrick that Sloane really only cares that Caitlin Quinn died because it’s going to ruin the launch party. Luckily Caitlin Quinn’s ghost shows up in the morgue to make her rethink that! “Just like Marley from a Christmas Carol.” Ok yes, because if you make direct reference to the work you’re hawking, that makes it a smart movie!

Quick segue, though, it’s not like someone died or something – Sloane and Patrick need to rehash their relationship in the hospital cafeteria.  It turns out she didn’t move with him when he went to “the middle of the nowhere” for med school, so they had to break up.  But she misses him.  And says so.  And grabs his hand.

The next morning, she is visited again by the ghost of CQ.  Sloane pretty much is accompanied by the ghost of Caitlin Quinn for the rest of the movie. Wearing booty shorts and carrying a martini the whole time. She DIED choking on a martini olive, how is that ok?

Since we need to be convinced that Sloane is a horrible person before the first ghost arrives and tries to improve her that very night, we watch next as Sloane decides to make CQ’s memorial service the same event as the launch party. On Christmas day. So no one gets the day off, despite the existence of families.
Cuteness update: Patrick calls Sloane to make sure she’s ok. And to ask her out.

But then, it’s midnight, Day One. Ghost of Christmas Past:
Caitlin transports Sloane to her high school football field, where her high school boyfriend is standing in his football uniform.  Caitlin informs Sloane that instead of the “ordinary boring traditional ghosts like in Charles Dickens, I’ve arranged for you to be visited by 3 ex-boyfriends.”  “Are you telling me that Brad is the Ghost of Christmas Past?” “Actually, since he’s your ex-boyfriend, he’s the Ghost of Ex-Mas Past.” WHY ARE YOU REMAKING GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST?????

Look at those girlfriends, lurking in their picture frames.

Sloane is taken back to watch scenes of childhood and high school and college and all different associated boyfriends of the past…which means we get to see more Chad Michael Murray, college boyfriend, kaCHING! We see the scene where Sloane actually LEFT him in the middle of the night! And broke up with him in a note (though not a post-it, which is the most epic in bad form and can cause one to knock a vase of carnations over). As Sloane rewatches this event from the past, she sees Patrick come back to the empty apartment they shared, and finds out that he actually was planning to propose! That coupled with his niceness and hotness means they are MEANT TO BE!!!!!

Her high school boyfriend and the ghost of Caitlin Quinn show her all the boyfriends she’s dated up til now.  And lecture her about how all she does is “trade up.” “You don’t care what your heart wants. All you care about is the shoddy wrapping, not what’s inside.” Yes Sloane, listen to the spirit of your high school boyfriend, dressed up in his full football pads.

The very next morning, Sloane finds out her boss/bf Andrew is cheating on her, and they break up.  Then she calls Patrick and they go out that night. They are having a great date, until Andrew shows up…and proposes.  And…she accepts.  The palpable awkwardness of this scene is pretty much too much to watch, and it’s compounded by the fact that her (now) fiance is NOT attractive, and Chad Michael Murray is, and she just leaves him sitting at their table as she accepts  Andrew’s proposal. I will say though: at least there wasn’t an entire bottle of jelly or another condiment on the restaurant table as the poor man’s version of product placement (see Lucky 7 and Welch’s grape jelly). ABC Fam has definitely upped the props budget.

Moving on…
Midnight, 2nd Night: Ghost of Ex-Mas Present, where Sloane sees all the people she’s hurting with her current behavior.  Which is, um, everyone.

When she wakes up the next morning, she tries to repair relationships but fails. Mostly she just prepares more for the super important launch party the next day.  We all know that Christmas is a popular day for launch parties of family movies.

Midnight, 3rd Night: Ghosts of Ex-Mas Yet to Come turns out to be…Santa.  “Santa” is actually Andrew, her fiance, dressed up. It takes Sloane a little while to get that if Andrew is the Ghost of Ex-Mas Yet to Come, that means they will be exes in the future. He takes her to see her future life, where they are divorced and she has no friends or family left because she cares too much about her job. The night ends with Sloane looking at her future self dying alone in a hospital bed, holding her own future hand.

And thus the movie starts its grand resolution, where Sloane makes peace with everyone and becomes an awesome person, and of course gets together with Chad Michael Murray despite having accepted someone else’s proposal right in front of him two days earlier.

Best parts of the last 10 minutes:
When Sloane apologizes to Patrick: I’m sorry “for running away instead of taking your ring and becoming your wife.” Christina Milian uttering the word wife in reference to herself is just…hilarious.
At the memorial service/launch party, it’s time for the ghost of Caitlin Quinn and Sloane to say goodbye for real. Once they have, Caitlin suddenly gains angel wings and vanishes up to heaven, as a photo montage of shots of her from the movie fills the screen.

And because making continual reference to the means of someone’s death is funny, the whole thing ends with Sloane saying “Merry ExMas, Caitlin” while waving a martini olive. Really?

Since I could’ve only made you want to watch this movie more by sharing all details about it, here it is.

ABC Family Gets You Psyched for Christmas with Angels and Dogs

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Did you know it’s the holiday season? In case the over-eagerly hung greens everywhere have not put you in sufficient holiday spirits, ABC Family wants to prepare you for Christmas, too. That’s right, it’s almost ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas time!
But wait! ABC must squeeze everything it can out of the season with the Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas, happening now.

If you’re a TRUE fan of ABC Family original movies (definition: you own one, you search for them on YouTube and watch all parts, you watched one more than once on purpose), you’re going to ask: what high-quality, engaging, aptly titled, filmed-in-Canada-with-once-popular-stars, will ABC Family be premiering this year?

Here are your previews:

Christmas Cupid

What to look forward to: Chad Michael Murray, Christina Milian, Ashley Benson, exes, angels, a high-powered woman who’s a bitch until she falls in love, misogyny, a new Mariah Carey song. And true love, of course.

The run down: CMilian plays Sloane, a Hollywood publicist and a bitch face.  She is a bitch face because she both is a woman and works at a “high-powered” job. Her star client dies and returns as an angel, telling CMilian she needs to take a look at her past relationships and atone for misdeeds. So begins a) another story based on A Christmas Carol (did we NOT learn from Ghosts of Girlfriends Past?), and b) where CMM comes in (as one of the former BFs).

Fun fact: this movie was originally titled “Ex-Mas.”  Hats off to the person who realized that made absolutely no sense, but to whomever chose the new title, I ask: did you really try your hardest?

Watch the preview, not to be confused with Christmas Cupid Shuffle, which you should still watch, because I accidentally did. Premieres Sunday 12/12.

The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation

This is the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW ABC Family has premiered a new movie about a dog saving Christmas and consequently what makes my extreme fanship of ABC Family original movies HARD to sustain.

What to look forward to: The star dog, Zeus, is voiced by Mario Lopez. He meets a snobby poodle voiced by Paris Hilton and falls in love (this is a side plot, the main plot involves robbery foiled by the dog, duh).  Wait, what? Maybe I should watch this.

Premieres Sunday, 11/28; watch the preview here.

Stay tuned for more on what ABC Fam has gifted us with in past years, and what else to look forward to this year.  Full schedule here–yeah, it’s a pdf.  Print it. Hang it up.  Look forward.

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