It’s 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, I’m sitting in the middle of my bed, eating a salad (but it has fried chicken in it so I mean that in the loosest sense of the word), and I’ve just queued up the last two weeks of “The Bachelorette.” It’s at this point my world stops turning momentarily and I look down on myself and think, “Who the hell are you?” Then I shove another three parts fried chicken, one part lettuce bite dripping in ranch dressing into my mouth and press play.
Despite being an avid denier of all things reality television, sinking to the depths of “The Bachelorette” has surprisingly been painless, but not without introspection. As Nietzsche said, “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss will stare back,” and this season is nothing but a giant wasteland of hell. And it’s glorious.
As a “Bachelor/Bachelorette” virgin, I perhaps picked the worst and/or best season to start, as it has more drama than your first co-ed dance in middle school. In the most Machiavellian sexual practice possible, one woman has been thrown into the “Lord of the Flies” house where the delicate male ego must compete to win her “love.”
Perhaps this is what has drawn me to it, I can’t help but sit back with glee and watch Chris Harrison, the secret “Saw”-guy master manipulator, pull the man-pain puppet strings on 25 men. It’s a microcosm of self-destruction, measured weekly in man-tantrums, man-tears, an excessive number of dicks on display, and the absurd amount of chapstick the bachelorette herself must be going through. It’s the sexual “Hunger Games” but instead of life-threatening challenges, they utilize terrible euphemisms and atrocious evening dresses to achieve a level of cringeworthy TV more awkward than five guys giving a eulogy for someone (not dead) in the room (something that actually happened this season). It’s a 25 car pileup GIF that you just can’t stop watching.
And my willingness, nay eagerness, to stay up-to-date with it has alerted me to the abyss within me. As I tune in for this horror-show worthy of becoming “Clockwork Orange – the Romantic Comedy Edition,” I’ve realized the following:
The emotionally constipated need not apply
Every time Kaitlyn Bristow says, “I am here to find a husband,” “I know in my heart my husband is in this room,” or “It’s really important to me that they open up to me and let down their walls,” I die a little more inside. My inner curmudgeonly introverted heart clamps shut tighter than EU’s pockets when Greece asks for a handout. The idea of having to not only be around that many people for that long, but talk about my feelings sounds like the seventh layer of hell.
Men are the real little bitches
As this season progresses, instead of falling deeply, irrevocably in love with one girl, they all seem to just hate her and each other. Each week we see another guy bailing on his own accord because he can’t handle sharing a near stranger (whom he gets 30 minutes with a week) with other guys. The men sit around shit talking one another, trying to sabotage everyone else’s relationships with Kaitlyn, and have the romantic version of dick measuring every time they get around each other. “My heart’s the most open” “No you insensitive coward, mine is! You’ll never understand our love!” Perhaps men will compete over anything, including how true their love is, but whoever said that the fairer sex were the gossipy back stabbers has clearly never seen this show.
Man-pain fueled tears are priceless
Perhaps host Chris Harrison is slipping smelling salts in everyone’s mic packs (he’s clearly a sadist), but the amount of outright sobbing men each week seems to far exceed the normal bell curve. The front runner Ryan Gosling look-a-like tears up and storms out every time he remembers that he is not the only one dating the Bachelorette. One guy was dumped on Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher and sobbed so hard it looked he was about to tumble off them. Dick measuring aside, these guys are clearly not ashamed to show their man-pain no matter how absurd. It could be a solid ploy to make them look sensitive, but it’s certainly turning off Kaitlyn. Every time someone tears up (or even dares to stop worshipping her) she takes a step back, which makes the waterworks start up again. Maybe if they send the show back to California the men can do their part for the water shortage and some good could come out of this.
Jealousy is the equivalent of dressing a male model in dog shit
Sadly brains and brawn aren’t always paired together, as some men clearly can’t grasp the concept of the show. At all. Ryan Gosling Dude received a lot of Hottie McSweetBabyJesus special attention because his wardrobe is straight out of “Crazy Stupid Love” and his abs look like they were photoshopped. Sneaking down for a little “off camera time” with him, Kaitlyn told him he’s the one (halfway through the season) and he seems to think that means it’s a done deal. Send the other guys home, turn off the cameras, let’s get hitched. Legally binding contracts aside (I assume?) it couldn’t have escaped the guy that the show doesn’t work that way. In some astounding cases of man-privilege “My special feelings are more important than anyone else’s” moments, he stormed off to confront Kaitlyn multiple times because he wasn’t feeling enough like her gold star man. Each time he showed up you could see her losing more interest, and looking at him as if he had leprosy. While clutching his pecs she even said, “Maybe we should take a step back.” You can’t blame the girl for keeping him around for the official “off camera time” next week, but here’s hoping she dumps his ass. No one is hot enough to warrant putting up with that shit.
You have to accept someone else’s horrible taste
One of the show’s biggest d-bags, the usurper Nick who just randomly showed up mid-season after failing to win the fair maiden’s hand the last time, is clearly the guy Kaitlyn should end up with. He’s kind of God’s own asshole, everyone there hates him, and he seems like a Skeevey McCreeperson, but as soon as she sees him, her lips become surgically attached to his body. On their first 1:1 date she had “off camera time” which is their (terrible) euphemism for having a mad awkward sex party while the sound guys record their gasps of intimacy. There are other, far nicer guys who nearly every other person would root for, but as Kaitlyn says, she has a “spiritual connection” with Nick. He may be a baffling and utterly absurd choice, not dissimilar to many partners I’ve watched my friends pair up with over the years, but hey, you do you Bachelorette. If D-bag is your #1 guy, that’s your life choice to live with.
As the show comes to its much needed conclusion, it will likely be filled with more awkward sexin’ that makes you think walking in on your parents might be less horrifying. Hopefully we’ll continue to wonder if the show is more likely to end in fisticuffs instead of a ring. Either way, I know where I’ll be. In my bed, pretending to scoff while I eat fake healthy food, scarfing up every cynical bite that reality TV love is for suckers, and live-texting the entire event to everyone I know.