Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things

Sometimes…

The Most Controversially Boring Season of The Bachelor Ever

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Powered by Cincopa WordPress plugin

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.

Powered by Cincopa WordPress plugin

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

© 2009 Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things. All Rights Reserved.

This blog is powered by Wordpress and Magatheme by Bryan Helmig.