30 May 2016

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

I have never seen a season of the Bachelorette but due to following many Grantland / Channel 33 podcasts, I know more than my share about the shows. And while it’s fun listening to Juliet and Co. break down the contestants, I’ve decided that I’m going to follow the Bachelorette even more closely: by watching it.

I’m in because there’s a hole in my summer programming — the NBA playoffs are ending soon — and also because I hear good things about this season’s Bachelorette, Joelle “Jojo" Fletcher. She’s supposedly down to earth, goofy, a good hang, funny, and pretty real, by reality standards.

Oh right, if you don’t know how the show works, and really, congrats on avoiding the mega-franchise all these years, one lucky guy or gal gets sequestered in a house with twenty-plus members of the opposite sex and then they go about a process of dating, elimination, and heartbreaking to win a chance at eternal love. Currently only a few Bachelor/Bachelorette couples have made it all the way through to a successful post-show relationship, but hey, that’s just math isn’t it?

The popular parlour game is to ask your friends if they’d go on a show like this. Most sane people would say “hell no!” but really, when you think about it, when else are you presented with twenty odd people who are all vying for your attention? Sure, most of them have ulterior motives and some of them are total douchebags, but chances are you’ve probably never had so many people working so hard to get to know you.

Having now caught up on the premiere episode, here’s what I noted from EP1 of the twelfth season of the Bachelorette.

• There’s a meet and greet when the guys first get to the house. They emerge from a limo and have a few minutes to make an impression on Jojo. As one of the guys in the house succinctly puts it, there’s two types of guys in the house: classy dudes who project confidence, and then the ones who try too hard, were super nervous, and trotted out the gimmicks. The latter type sometimes got a laugh but when the jokes fell flat and the gag flopped, it just left the contestant in shame, on national television.

While there were a lot of shockingly horrible entrances, bad puns ("I must-ache you a question, but I'll shave it, for later”), and cheesy lines, the ultimate fail grade goes to Jon, the hapa contestant who actually said, "I’m half Chinese and half Scottish. But luckily for me, I’m half Scottish below the waist…” Whut?! Jojo was not amused. And while we can bag on Jon for his awful line, the fact that everyone else in the house ragged on him for wearing a “skirt” was even worse. Get over it, it’s a kilt. (Oh yeah, by the way, most of the Bachelorette contestants are total douchebags, even from the go, and I wouldn’t want to hang out with more than one or two of them for longer than five minutes.)

• Most everyone gave Jojo some variation of “you’re so beautiful, sweet, beautiful, etc.” A few contestants came out sincere, with move like "I didn't come here for a rose, I came here for a relationship.” The one was my favorite, “I love that you have a really good sense of self, that you're grounded, and that's super sexy.” I don’t know if this kind of stuff works, but it’s probably better than just saying how stunning Jojo looked all the time. Seriously, Jojo must have been gorgeous in person because all the guys were drooling over her.

• And there was one guy’s job description that was simply “hipster.” Unfortunately, a show like The Bachelorette has no idea what a hipster is and Brandon simply has longer hair than the other guys — and a weak chin. He confessed to having no idea about this show, or Jojo in general, and I was shocked to see stick around until next episode. (At the end of EP1, six contestants are sent home.)

• One guy also came out of the limo and greeted Jojo with a cheery, "How's it going girlie?” The use of “girlie” irked me to no end and it seemed so condescending. Tell me, is it condescending or not? Especially when the guy using it had just awful hair.

• Who knew All-4-One wasn’t a group of white guys? They came out to sing “I Swear” for one of the contestants and I was like shocked. All those years of George playing the song over and over and I had no idea they were a diverse group. In my defense, I didn’t know Billy Ocean was black until at least fifteen years ago.

• When in doubt about what to say, repeat Jojo’s mantra: “I’m so excited you’re here, we’re gonna have so much fun!” This will be my new go-to line in awkward situations. The best thing about Jojo was her absolute lack of a poker face. You could tell when she was into someone and when she was simply confused or put off. And that’s when watching her fake interest in stuff got 200% more exciting. To her credit, Jojo was really good about being game for everything the guys threw at her. Including sitting on an ex-Marine’s back while he did push ups. Who does push ups to make an impression? Oh right, little dudes with a Napoleon complex.

• So the big loser move of the night had to go to the guy who did the origami fortune telling thing and the “prize” was a kiss. After Jojo gave him a half-hearted peck, he asked her if it was a sympathy kiss. C’mon! If you have to coerce someone into a first kiss then you’re doing awfully wrong. Especially when you’re doing it elementary school style.

• Let’s talk about touching. Like is it normal for guys to touch a girl so much on a first date sort of thing? Technically the contestants weren’t on a date but they each had a few minutes alone with Jojo and the camera really zoomed in on how certain guys were so touchy with her. Caressing her hair, rubbing her back, holding her hands, etc. Is this okay? I feel like guys who are touchy feely off the bat are so gross. Who’s with me?!

• The Canadian guy with the creepy stare. Was, creepy. And then he got drunk and took off his clothes and started poking people in the belly button. And then he jumped in the pool. That is why you definitely need to meet your dates quickly in the process, otherwise a perfectly nice looking guy could turn out to be a total creepster. It's all in the eyes!

• Dating tip: If the best thing a girl can say after meeting you is “he’s so sweet,” you’re in trouble. Most of the guys who got the “sweet” kiss of death made no impression and were swiftly kicked out. Maybe nice guys don’t finish last in reality, but on reality TV they certainly blend into the background.

• Aaron Rodger’s younger brother, Jordan, is on this show. There’s no question he had the best chemistry with Jojo, both physically and emotionally, and he really put her at ease while most of the other guys were tense and nervous. However, there’s already drama about him as Jordan’s ex-girlfriend has taken to the interwebs to call him out for cheating. "Riding the bench [Jordan used to play in the NFL] doesn't get in the way of a relationship, but cheating does.” Oh snap! There’s also allegations that he’s on this show for exposure and not “in it for the right reasons.” While all of this may be true, it’ll be a major upset if anyone but Jordan wins Jojo’s heart.

• My friend Des is in a Bachelorette pool at her office so I'll be exclusively cheering for Chase, Derek, Robby, Chad Jordan, and Christian. The promos suggest Chad becomes a physically dangerous maniac so luckily Des crossed him off her initial list. I will be cheering extra hard for Christian, who seems like a stand up guy, and more importantly, is biracial and would be a nice reprieve from the complete whiteout of the previous Bachelorette winners. Oh yeah, there's so many basic dudes on this show it's like a documentary for me. David Attenborough presents Planet Earth: White Guys. Then again, most reality TV is full of these types so maybe it'll be nothing new.

• So far it has been interesting to see the guys size each other up, get jealous, sweat in nervousness, and generally try to create a pecking order. I'm hoping this type of shenanigans continues and I'll be taking careful notes all season long about what tips I can glean from Bachelorette.