Week 5: !Bienvenido a Mexico!

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This week, we send our most dysfunctional polyamorous sample across the border to Mexico City. I’ll just be happy if we can get through this whole episode without a culturally insensitive slip of the tongue, but according to last week’s previews there is plenty else to look forward to. Let’s see if Chris Harrison can deliver on the promise of Drama.TM


 

Up Up Up

Even though Olivia’s “gut” tells her that the one-on-one date belongs in her cold little clammy hands, it is with Amanda that Ben would like to “put all his eggs in one basket,” as says the card. The shock this news brings to Olivia is a delight to every viewer on this scorched planet. In Olivia’s view, if Ben is the insurance company then Amanda’s adorable children are the pre-existing conditions: non-starters. And,unfortunately for everyone involved, this setback means Olivia will work harder to Git That Rose this week.

200_sWe soon learn one of Ben’s traits must be gullibility because someone has convinced him that it would be “fun” and “clever” to barge into the Ladies’ common suite at 4:30 in the AM, to see them in their most vulnerable splendor: sans weave, makeup free, con retainer. Or as some like to call it, Fucking Fifth Base DUDE. Thankfully, sunrise Amanda looks like a radiant baby angel as she rolls out of bed effortlessly, leaving some of the other Ladies awake for more hours to spend more hours than usual ruminating the odds that their friend will survive her date (with a rose, not literal death).

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reason #25312749 to never go on reality tv

Ben and Amanda take a hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan before being dropped into a romantic little meadow where all the birdies and colorful butterflies can surround Amanda like she’s always deserved. This is also her chance to tell Ben her back story, which here involves marrying a very selfish person who partied his way through their short marriage and cheated on her throughout, before she decided to leave  with her two children. Amanda’s baggage is mostly the shame she feels re: divorcing, which is a pretty small baggage in the grand scheme of baggagey things. Ben can get behind that. Plus, it’s refreshing that Amanda has lived through hard times, heartbreak, and marriage: a combo that will do wonders for a person’s maturity and toughness. Okay he doesn’t say that exactly but, like, it’s in his eyes. If anything is clear, it is that Amanda could be a darn good fit for someone with a great sense of loyalty and some Savior Syndrome tendencies like, maybe, I dunno, definitely Ben. One rose for the Lady!

The Way to a Man’s Corazon

Our streak of luck continues as Olivia’s gut proves less accurate than an MSNBC straw poll. The next one-on-one is reserved for Lauren H. Until then, consolation group date! Ben invites Jojo, Jubilee, Leah, Jennifer, Lauren B., Emily, Caila, Becca, and (HAHA) Olivia, to come take an Español as a Second Language class. Jubilee struggles to get her jelly feel under control in the midst of nine other Ladies, while Olivia revels in the opportunities the group date presents to publicly perform Forced Emotional Intimacy at Ben in front of her competition.

Hypercool brother-sister-chef duo Nico and Lula (like, seriously, how are their names even cooler than everything?!) welcome the Ladies at a lively open air market. There, Nico and Lula explain that the Ladies will have to put their dual language skills into practice by shopping for several ingredients in Spanish in order to put together the delicious recipes the chefs will hand them.

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olivia, ben, becca’s hair-why(?), jojo, emily, jubilee, lauren b., jennifer

But there’s a twist! They must work in pairs. As it becomes clear that Ben is walking either toward Lauren B. or Jubilee, Olivia brands him as her partner like he is cattle from her home state of Texas. Our conciliatory boyfriend and associate girlfriends reluctantly give in to avoid prolonging the ensuing awkwardness. Props to Olivia, it’s an incredibly shrewd way to turn this already fun activity into a mini one-on-one date, while fucking with the other Ladies’ heads. All it takes is for Olivia to feed Ben some crickets or to throw her head back in delighted laughter at the right moment, within sight of the other Ladies, for the damage to be done.

If the other ladies seem more adept than Jubilee at hiding just how shitty watching Olivia makes them feel (extra credit to Jojo), it’s because they are. As we long ago unilaterally decided, Jube is way too real for this shit reality. Unfortunately, her inability to summon smiles and giggles fast enough does not go unnoticed by Ben. But more on that later – dundundundun. At the lunch table, chefs Nico and Lula judge each team’s each dish. By then, everyone has loosened up and enjoys the present moment. Mindfulness:1 ; TheBachelor franchise: 0.

The bragging rights for best execution goes to Lauren B. and Jubilee, which cheers the latter right up! Good, we says to ourselves, just in time for the evening portion of the date. Not surprisingly though, it opens with Olivia doing That Thing she does where Ben has barely finished his welcoming speech before she drags him away for her hourly dose of validation.

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Although ordinarily we doubt this would shake much in the dynamics of the evening, this was the night Jubilee intended to grab Ben first. After her missed opportunity, Jube’s mood faces a death spiral. Unaware Ben, meanwhile, comes and goes from the cocktail party, grabbing a different Lady from Jubilee several times over and not thinking much of it. He’s out with Lauren the longest, as he takes her into the street for a short romantic stroll where the two kiss passionately several times. By this time, Jube has gone from stewing and hurting to bad-decisions-Pissed-Off. When Ben comes to grab her from some alone time at last, Jubilee refuses to hold his hand, in front of the whole school of Ladies.
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All … downhill … from here. Jubilee opens with her feels, which are insecure and dark tonight (like, maybe, other nights also). For normal human beings, it is okay to have many “off” nights with one’s boyfriend. In the Bachelor, we think that high count may be at two. Three if your name is Olivia. The questions Ben asks Jube at this point sound more like an exit interview prequel than Caring, but this detail sees to escape Jubilee as she continues to unload. When she asks him if he still sees a future for them, he says he’s just not that confident. Ben even looks a twee angry when he asks her how he’s supposed to feel when she refuses his hand in front of a group. Oh. Noowwww Jubilee realizes that she done effed it up. With the balance of power having this quickly shifted, Jubilee begs him to not give up on her, to give them another chance, to pretend she’s pulling back.

Jubilee tells him that she wants him to still see something in them to which our boyfriend answers: “As hard as it is … and as incredible as it’s been …” And just so, the writing’s on the wall. It’s goodbye to Jubilee, right here in the garden, on the goddamn group date. Like many before her, our last remaining melanin-blessed Lady must sail into the night, along with our dashed hopes of a Black Bachelorette next season. But not before leaving us with the most haunting words as she cries into her newly single hands, “I’m like the most unlovable person in the world right now.”

the-bachelor_video_2735400_362x204_1454373290597This is pretty sober and it sure feels like the episode should end right here, with us processing the fact that this cut-throat path to finding Love is just not right for the Laces and Jubilees of this world (you go take care of your souls, bee-bees! find yourselves some nice partners who can devote the many hours your needs and neuroses deserve).

But this is The Bachelor and the show must go on, starting with Jojo strangely congratulating (?) Ben for breaking up with people “so well.” This touches easily-touched Ben, who then gratefully grants her the last kiss of the group date. When Ben sits back down, it’s time for business. After scooping the group rose off the table, Ben tells us, “I’m going this rose to somebody that I reconnected with; somebody that, I think, had struggled for a while.”

Is it going to Emily whom he is separated from his twin, in front of their mom, the week before? Is it going to Lauren B., with whom he clearly felt a real sense a intimacy just an hour earlier? Is it Jojo, who just worked so hard there is still a trace of brown up her nose? NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE. It’s fucking Olivia, because guess what: there is no God, there is no justice, only “mission accomplished” banners waived by Texas’ worst. And so, the group date ends. Should have named this episode recap: The Blindside.

Lauren à La Mode

Lauren H. (that’s the goofy one) (also the one who thought Jubilee wouldn’t jive with the “soccer mom crowd”) is going on her first one-on-one date with Ben! After rehearsing for a few minutes surrounded by pro models, Ben and Lauren are put into make up, gorgeous clothes, and sent to stalk down the Mexico City fashion week runway with Very Serious faces and gorgeous Pineda Covelin clothes. Seriously, Lauren H.’s boring freakout is worth getting through just to get a peek of the stunning designs!

LAUREN H., BEN HIGGINS

While Lauren’s friends back at the  Mexico City Four Seasons seem skeptical that she’ll will be getting a rose, Lauren is holding it down at dinner and actually opening up. Ben was uncertain there was substance to her because girlfriend is so relentlessly happy and giddy. lauren-himle-1His perspective changes when she reveals that her boyfriend of four years dumped her out of the blue, after cheating on her with three different women including one of her friends. To the sound of piano piano, Lauren says that happiness was a choice for her, a way to do hold on to herself, blah blah blah. It’s actually really touching and a great advice for anyone who’s ever been destroyed by love. Makes total sense when Ben hands her that rose, inviting her to continue on his Epic Journey to Find Love.

Rose Cere—

For the first time in the history of this season, Ben is allowed to complete his welcome speech without the interruption of a Desperada trying to secure her place in Ben’s rose-studded heart. While Ben is talking to one Lady or another at this cocktail party, the camera rolls over to a conversation in which Amanda is discussing a weird dream she had that might have been engendered by some anxiety over her ex picking up her children from her mom’s this week. To which Olivia (for a split moment having forgotten said cameras were said rolling) responds with no light behind her eyes: “I feel like it’s an Episode of Teen Mom. Well you know that show … like—”

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Not that Amanda should have to explain this to an adult woman, but it is an incredibly offensive thing to say. At once, Olivia remembers that her mic is hot, and that this episode will air. She apologizes, leans in and, through Highly-Suspicious tear microdroplets: “I want you guys to know, like, I’m gonna try harder from here on out.” I don’t speak much Spanish but it sounds a lot like Please Don’t Tell Ben What I Just Said.

This is Emily’s breaking point. Carrying her torch of Keeping It Real, Emily goes to find Ben. When it is time to stand in her truths, however, Emily becomes emotional and teary-eyed and annoying (to me). One wouldn’t think it was this hard to tell the man he has sacrificed enough of his group date roses to the Spawn of Satan once and for all. Yet here we are. In fact, Emily takes so damn long in getting the words out that it is impossible to tell just how much she gets out before Olivia strategically interjects with a fucking ring “gag gift.” Hmm. Savage. Also, we’re just mad we didn’t think of it first.

Ok. I’m gonna skip over the part where Emily calls her twin over the phone while UGLY-CRYING  because: NO. Despite Olivia’s best efforts though, Ben’s curiosity is peaked and the man uses his one-on-one time with the other women to do a little due diligence. Soon, Chris Harrison comes back to call the cocktail night to a end. EXCEPT. Ben throws us in for a loop and asks to talk to Olivia alone before the rose ceremony commences, leaving us with all these questions and so little time to figure it out!

Holy Bat-meme!

EMILY YOU ARE GROWN BE GROWN

Does Ben’s gut function better than Olivia’s? Will a rose given on a group date be revoked before the rose ceremony? Specifically Olivia’s rose? Or will he give her One More Chance?
Whatever the answers, promise the collective Ladies’ tears, prepare to be disappointed to your ore.

And on that bright note, farewell til next week. Same time same place!

 

 

Week 3: Queen Bees

For those of us who watch this show semi-ironically, part of the franchise’s charm lies in its predictability and unthwartable phoniness. Its contestants are seldom complicated and its dates almost never surprising unless something goes awry.


The token Interesting girls, like Ashley S. last season (left) and PortlandMandi this season (right), are usually so “out there” that the adjective just becomes a pejorative qualifier. For whatever reason, their kookiness is played up so hard for the cameras that it is a short slip from cute-but-entirely-unrelatable to straight-up-insufferable. The Bachelor tends to feel the same, and it is rare for Interesting to make it past the third or fourth week on the show.

The second category of Interesting women are the Alphas, which you’ll recall as the women who strut the house with the confidence of whatever popular senior girl intimidated and probably hated you the most in high school. There can only be one or two per season because any higher number would inevitably  lead to an internal collapse of relations in the Bachelor Mansion and we need these women to make it a few weeks. A common trait of the Alphas is their unhealthy sense of possession and jealousy, which usually has escalated to full blown villainism by the time the Bachelor sends her home.

With Interesting choices like these, the show sets us up to root for the vanilla candidates. All of sudden, the colorless crowd looks more and more attractive. We concede to cheer for them, despite the fact that their two Excitement Meter settings are 0 and 100. We ignore the crying, which mostly revolves around The Bachelor or some middle-to-low-grade hardship being recounted in a show of vulnerability that will pass as depth. We make peace with the fact that the Bachelor Bot who will get the final rose will likely have a high-pitched voice, a dainty laugh, All-American teeth, and no professional aspirations to speak of as those departed with whatever limo dropped her off here. And that it is okay because for the most part, the Bachelors themselves are vanillamen who would struggle with more complicated women anyway. It just is what it is and the best we can hope for is that the producers will engender enough  romance though these comically grandiose dates, and drama among the women, to last fourteen more years.

Of course, their job becomes easier as the season goes on. The contestants eventually let their guards down and begin to experience romantic feelings that make it harder to suppress their vulnerabilities and less savory personality traits before the Bachelor, each other, and naturally the cameras rolling around them. Accordingly, the best drama builds upon weeks of pent-up resentment and anxiety. Cliques form and a villain — whose contempt usually well earns the status — is coronated, after which time it becomes acceptable to exercise social control, or in our case spit outright vitriol, in order to put her back in her place to protect The Bachelor’s heart. 203d7eef3e63961365b3ddca6755af86

Tonight, though, we skip ALL the steps and allow things to get real real and real dirty. If I have learned anything from having found myself bawling for five minutes straight while watching this week’s episode, it is that I was Not Ready and that watching this show this late in my menstrual cycle is never a good idea.  Let us now trace back how we got there.

Stuff White People Like: Little Propeller Planes

The day starts with all the women restlessly waiting for Ben to summon them to him. Each appears to be whining about how difficult this process is until Chris Harrison rescues us from this dullness to drop off the one-on-one date card. Lauren B, the flight attendant, is the chosen one. Ben picks her up in a gorgeous convertible, which appears to be his thing this season. Good for you, Ben. You go ahead and milk ABC for all its worth. They drive up to a patch of dirt where a yellow, single-propeller plane takes them up to the clouds and over the Pacific Ocean, which sounds a nice way to die to me. But Lauren B and Ben have a blast, and also the audacity to fly over the  Bachelor Mansion and wave at the women who Very Much know who is in that plane. plane-crashAfter this rather cruel stunt, the love birds cuddle up in a hot tub erected somewhere in the middle of the desert. Then Lauren B and Ben go to dinner where Lauren says she’d love to have kids so she can give them a life that was as easy as hers. Leaving his date’s privilege unchecked (I kid I kid) Ben gives her a rose and takes her to a personal concert where some lady who might be famous sings The Country. This feels like deja vu because it is! Ben planned this exact date with Caila except instead of an intimate plane ride, Caila had to settle for aging B-lister actors Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, whose time to be fair probably cost as much as renting that little plane.

Sock Her

Speaking of Caila, the stir-crazy is setting in. Little Miss Sunshine has a breakdown as the rules of the game “just hit” her and bring her to tears. It is hard to stop our eyes from collectively rolling to the back of our heads because this show has been on air since Caila was in the Sixth Grade, so How Is Any of It A Gahtdamb Surprise.

The card arrives for the group date. Amanda, EmilyHailey, Jennifer, Shoshanna, Leah, Amber, Lauren H, Olivia, Jami, Rachel, and Lace, are called to join Ben. Oh, and World Cup soccer champions Alex Morgan and Kelly O’Hara. The pros run the girls through some drills and divide them in two teams, for the first time splitting the twins into individual women. The MVP of the game actually turns out to be itty bitty Emily twin, who stops hella balls as the goalie for the Stars team. The girls are playing super aggressively and Ben comes alive at the sight of such passion. Literally, the man is clapping and jumping and maniacally laughing on the sidelines. This is super refreshing to see and also very attractive because it turns out the stick up his arse is in fact removable. Ultimately the Stripes team takes the win, which unfortunately means EvilOlivia gets to go on the rest of the group date. Rachel goes home injured and the best shot of the night is tiny little mathematician Shoshanna carrying her like into the house like a boss.

AMBER, LEAH, HALEY, LACE, OLIVIA, JAMI, BEN HIGGINS

On some hotel rooftop, Ben congratulates the winning Stripes team over drinks. Before he is done with his welcome speech, EvilOlivia steals him and takes him to one of the hotel rooms from where she waves at the girls because she is The Worst. The girls retaliate by making fun of her fat toes behind her back, a gossip that Jami faithfully runs back to EvilOlivia as soon as she returns downstairs. The latter takes the dig comically personally (“What were they making fun of? My ankles? My cankles?”). No, not the cankles. Just the toes. So helpful, Jami. Ultimately, Ben decides to give the group rose to Amber and EvilOlivia reads way too much into the fact that he taps her thigh as he gets up from the sofa at the end of the night. While this is a perfectly normal interaction to dissect in the safe space of Girlfriends Who Care About You, we note that it is definitely NOT okay to discuss into the camera that will replay your obsessive commentary before thousands of judgy betches like me.

Back at the house, Jubilee is stressing out because this means the one-on-one date will go to FuckingBecca, JoJo, or her. Because the other two girls are really nice and the I’m always happy type, our girl is convinced — rightfully so — that Ben will gravitate towards them and never be attracted to her.  “He has a type, but it’s not me at all,” Jubilee says in tears, to Jojo who quietly acquiesces like that card will definitely have her name on it. This is part one of us all pretending that Jubilee is also not referring to her expectation that Ben will inevitably end up with a not-Interesting white girl. By the time the next one-on-one card arrives, Jubilee’s pretty much given up. That is, until her name is called! SURPRISE!

Queen JuBeelee

Ben arrives in the Bachelor Mansion living room and casually asks, “What time is it right now?”

“You know, just twenty minutes late,” Jubilee answers. It’s a joke, although Ben probably is late. The girls, who are still here at this point, laugh tensely in the background.

Cue Jami — one of the other two light skinned girls on the show — who in her side interview, mimics Jubilee with an emphasis on a neck roll that was not actually a thing. Jami makes sure to adopt a sort of African-American accent in doing her imitation, which is also not really Jubilee’s accent. What am I saying? Did one Black girl stereotype another in an effort to ridicule her just because her sarcasm rubbed her the wrong way? Yes. Shady as fuck. But it gets better.

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jami is the worst

Over the sound of helicopter blades, Ben invites Jubilee to come outside as their ride touches down in front of the Bachelor Mansion. Jubilee is deathly afraid of heights, and turns around to say to no one in particular, “Does anyone want my date?!”

It’s clearly another joke, followed by some light laughter, although the level of earnestness on Jojo’s face as her arm shoots up is a bit disconcerting. After Ben and Jubilee fly away, Caila decides that Jubilee is not appreciative enough of her date and that it won’t go well. Jami declares it “was offensive to listen to,” while Amber decides it was just disrespectful.

“I would be shocked if Jubilee came home tonight. I just feel really bad for ben that he has to sit in that little box in the sky until it’s over,” says Caila with a saccharine smile. Didn’t take very long for this one’s claws to come out.

Jubilee and Ben touch down into a gorgeous health spa nestled in the hills. They start eating and Jubilee spits out her caviar with so little grace that it cracks up Ben. He relaxes too and when it comes up, Ben is surprised that she would be surprised to get the one-on-one date.  There is a lot of unspoken communication here, but I’m pretty sure Ben’s face says, “Nah I like Black girls too, furreal-furreal.”

Their date looks really fun and natural. Ben is not scared off by her sense of humor [while they’re playing, she says, “I’m not playing, white boy,” and also later definitely makes a joke about his big dick? At which he laughs both times. Adorbz]. She calls him out on the fake-ass laughs he serves throughout the season but is excited to see him laugh genuinely on their date. How much life is Jubilee giving me right now? ALL of the life. ALL of it. Then they supremely make out and it’s perfect. Shout out to all my awkward Black girls; this one’s for us.

Over dinner, things get more serious and Jubilee tells Ben that she is the only surviving member of her family and that she has not gone back to Haiti, but that she hopes to with someone special because it’s too much to go back alone. Jubilee and I are crying because this is really fucking real and sad and someone thing I would not wish even on Ted Cruz. Because the game’s the game, Ben must interrupt the moment to give her a rose but for after that they resume kissing and hugging and it’s good that Ben can do that for her because I just want to reach through my screen and hug her and be her surrogate mom even though Jubilee was successfully adopted a while back.

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so many FEELS

The next morning, everyone is Shocked to see that Jubilee has come home. All of them are clutching their pearls. Lauren H “knows that Ben wants a wife who will be friends with all the other soccer mooooms,” which I will try to not read much into but cannot help but feel like there’s a wee bit of bias sprinkled in that statement. Everyone is flabbergasted that Ben can see a future with Jubilee and thus decide to punish her through a round of isolation. “There’s so much tension in the room,” says Amber to the cameras, before she returns to talk shit about Jubilee (who they’ve inexplicably christened Queen Bee) with other women.

Rose & Toes

The rose ceremony opens as grimly as the previous day ended. Ben announces that a couple of family friends died in a plane crash the previous night, and so he finds himself in a rather somber mood. This will be an interesting test, methinks.

“Can I graaaaab you?” EvilOlivia asks, which will be our first chance to see what this woman is made of. Will she ask how Ben is holding up? Will she try to cheer him up or let him vent? No. In true villain art form, EvilOlivia decides that this moment is the right one for her to open with a conversation about her legs, which she allegedly hates all the way down. “People have written blogs, that I have cankles …”  she says, fighting back the tears, “I try to be strong all the time. It’s the scariest thing ever.” Ben tried to give some fucks but in his interview reveals that in that moment, fucks-to-have have departed his body (he says this much more nicely, obvi.). In short, EvilOlivia’s inability to Comfort and makes things not about herself rubs him the wrong way.

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“toes, toes, toes, me me me” – EvilOlivia

Inside the house, the women seem unable to talk themselves down from the irrational haterade they have built against Jubilee while they were punishing her all day. We catch one maddening shot of the gang-up dynamics when Jubilee joins JoJo and Caila in the kitchen, while Ben is busy with other women outside. Instantly, Jojo leaves to “get some lipgloss or something” in a classic Mean Girl move.

But Jubilee, not giving no shits, moves right along and joins Ben outside where the producers have she has set up a massage table to help him relax. The other girls flip their shit, upset that Jubilee would dare take up Ben’s time since she already has a rose. The idea that she might be doing something nice for him does not even cross their little bird brains, so eager are they to swoop in and interrupt. Jami does just that with so much attitude that I literally palmed her face through my phone. AmberAlert decides that it was so rude and so disrespectful for Jubilee to come up with this brilliant idea first. She stalks to the next room to get secluded Jubilee off the couch for a Girl Talk, which I’m pretty sure is code for a one sided dressdown.

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mean girls: emilyhailey, jamie, lace, amber

Shockingly, Jubilee says thanks but no thanks, and so AmberAlert decides she will instead bring the girls to Jubilee who she deems to be acting like a Queen Bee for refusing to be confronted like that. This gang-up is happening if it’s the last fucking thing AmberAlert is doing on this show! Jubilee, who continues to channel my inner self, literally runs away to the bathroom and hides. AmberAlert mimics Jubilee shrug-off to the other girls with, again, an unnecessary  neck roll. Second light skinned girl to do this shady shit where she tries to make an angry Black woman out of a Black woman who is not actually being confrontational.

The whole thing backfires, thankfully, because Ben ends up giving Jubilee more attention as a direct result of AmberAlert’s shenanigans. He huddles up with her in the bathroom to console her and soon enough AmberAlert joins too, but only to tell off a crying Jubilee in front of Ben. She accuses Jubilee of being insensitive when she left for her date the day before and also for not being “grateful.” AmberAlert basically tells Jubilee to toughen up as the girl continues to cry because let’s be real, when you start, that shit is hard to pull back in. Ben tells AmberAlert that he likes that Jubilee doesn’t walk on eggshells and that he likes her little jokes and then they hug sweetly in front of steaming AmberAlert. Pretty sure he regrets giving the latter a rose.

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Lace pulls Ben aside and does the most adult thing she’s done all season by sending herself home to work on her feelings and thoughts, which she has a lot of. Good luck with all that, bee-bee! It ‘s really touching, even as she quotes her own tattoo through her tears “you can’t love others until you love yourself” — Lace) and Ben returns to start the rose ceremony. Nothing to write home about, except for the fact that EvilOlivia gets the last rose. The eternal hopeful and over-confident gal appears to take it as a good sign though, a last-but-first kinda thing, rather than punishment for discussing her fucking toes while the man was grieving. Lesson learned: none. Shoshanna and Jami, who you’ll recall is a terrible human being, are sent home. I hope Jami remains single for longer than she wishes and honestly, send no good vibes to her.


I am excited to see how far Jubilee will go though! And to see EvilOlivia have a meltdown next week, per the previews. On this note, good night and good luck to us all. See you in week 4 of this ginormous waste of our collective times.

 

Week 2: A Sour Note

After an exhilarating first night, Ben and the Ladies are excited to get to know one another and, more importantly, to upgrade this rejection scheme from formulaic to personal. Hold on to your clip-on hair extensions, bee-bees, because shit is about to get real-ish.

School Belles

We open our day in the Bachelor Mansion where our Ladies of leisure patiently await the arrival of the first date card. Our Bachelor Ben Higgins, who #wokeuplikethis, slips some jeans over those briefs and contemplates his day by the window.

ben-junk


 

Lace is praying hard for her name is on that date card. If anyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves from having revealed their true selves wayyyy too early a somewhat aggressive and slurry first impression, it is Lace. As Jewel’s look-alike, Lauren B, reads the names on the date card, it appears that in a brief truce, Fate is on board with Lace’s plans. In this order, the cards summons Jackie, LB, Lauren H, Becca, Amber, Mandi, JoJo, Jubilee, Jennifer, and Lace. If this is testing Lace’s ability to successfully gloss over the fact that her name is called last, our Lady passes with flying colors. So impressed are we with Lace that we drop all grievances with that denim vest she insists on owning/wearing.

With a few champagne flutes downed in the limo — the only way to get through a 10:1 “date” — the Ladies pull up to a high school that Chris Harrison had creatively rechristened “Bachelor H.S.”  Ben welcomes them with a bright smile because, predictably, he is one of Those People. You know, the kind who actually enjoyed this tortuous four-year phase — in no small part, we figure, as a result of being a jock whose awkward phase didn’t stretch into college. Like some people. Who are definitely not us.

Chris Harrison, our naughty principal for the day, announces that the Ladies will compete to become Ben’s Homecoming Kweens in pairs. With their partners, the Ladies will have to pass four “classes.” We start with Science. The Ladies must follow what we can only assume to be a hyper simplified set of instructions that requires them to combine the contents of a number of flasks labeled love, trust, appreciation, communication, sodium dioxide, etc. Ultimate goal: make Ben’s “volcano explode,” in an exceptionally subtle visual. Right off the bat Team Lace-Jubilee gets the axe, having failed to acquire and apply the above ingredients to their own relationship. Ah, sweet irony.

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For Class Two, the Ladies must extricate a red apple out of a fish tank with none other than their mouths. This is the part where I would have most definitely walked off the show, with my dignity and, more importantly, me edges, intact. With formidable disregard for their foundation creams, the remaining Ladies  dive in. Not fast enough for the Jackie-Lauren Team, though, whose ultimate downfall is Jackie’s lack of depth in the mouth area.

Class Three is geography, where the girls must place an Indiana cut-out as close as they can closest to its actual location on a blank U.S. map. Team Becca-Jojo  gets an E for effort after a nice attempt at fitting Indiana horizontally into Massachusetts, and a second Efor Ejected-from-this-competition.

140952_0940With only one more team to beat, Team DentistMandi-Amber rises to the challenge and scores their free throws the fastest. But because there can only be one Date Kween, Mandi and Amber face in a hurdle 100 meter sprint. Mandi elegantly blows Amber out of the asphalt. For being the weird Portland girl, Mandi seems genuinely stoked about taking a victory lap in a convertible, with Ben’s letterman jacket on her shoulders, Ben at her side, and a goddamb tiara on her head. Shhh. We won’t tell Spike you sold out if you don’t.

AMANDA K., BEN HIGGINS

In the evening, the girls change into shorter batches of shimmery fabric because this is the sexy part of the date and a rose is at stake, and casual girls who don’t wear make-up don’t get roses, and girls who don’t get roses DON’T GET RINGS. Breathing, breathing, okay. We’re back.

Becca steals Ben first and, while nailing a series of free throws with impressive ease. She tells him she’s really excited to be here and makes an obligatory her spiel about not being afraid to get hurt anymore, as though that was the reason she left season-18-Chris rather than just not being that into him. But, Ben gobbles it right up and is like ditto on wanting to hang out. Shrug!

There are other Ladies thatBen must dutifully entertain. At one point, Ben kisses Jennifer, the discovery of which sends Lace into a slow-spinning spiral. Is Ben even  noticing her ? Does he not know she’s here? Hello?

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Not-willing-to-take-it-no’-mo’, Lace rises to her feet with the determination to help Ben immediately realize how much of a catch she is. Are you worried, bee-bees? Me too. Sooooo worried.

A Brief Repose

Meanwhile the one-on-one date card has arrived at the house. Olivia, radiating with confidence, reminds us that she is the front runner because of her first impression rose. Olivia looks unhinged — we do not use that word lightly, LOOK AT HER JAW — as she does  her best impression of someone who thinks there is less than a 100% chance they will get the card. “If someone else’s name was on the card today, I would be shocked, honestly,” Olivia says, seconds before the name called out is … Caila the Sunshine.

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Olivia quietly recess into the background where she proceeds to chew on her crow pie, while the cryptic card beckons Caila to join Ben for “a day of surprises dot dot dot.”

Back to School

Meanwhile, back on the group date, Lace apologizes profusely for “whatever” she “came off as.” Ben gracefully accepts the mea culpa but where Lace should stop talking, she continues.”Crazy, right?” she asks him, of herself. Undeterred by her commitment to making us all uncomfortable, Ben assures her that he didn’t mean to avoid eye contact at the first ceremony and that he appreciates the apology and her as a person. Having learned his lesson from Lace’s first freak-out, Ben delivers this information with sustained eye-contact. We learn, in a side interview tuned to coocoo music, that Lace reads this moment as them “basically eye-fucking” and being close to kissing when … Jubilee asks to steal Ben a minute. Hope Ben came prepared for Class Five: Drama. (LOL, thanks, readers.)

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Jubilee and Ben talk about some of the relief work that Ben does in Central America and Jubilee explains that she was in an orphanage in Haiti until age six, before getting adopted. Ben tells her he thinks she’s amazing and that he wants to get to know her, starting with her tongue into which he promptly gets. Contrary to my description, it’s actually the sweet kind of tongue-locking. Jubilee is kind enough to not brag about the kiss with the Ladies when she gets back to the sofa.

Feeling especially betrayed by her former class partner, Lace fumes that she simply has not had any time of Ben. Amber chimes in to remind us that she is alive, and here, and that she is an actual person who actually has not had any actual time with Ben. In an effort to further prove she is nothing like the person she was the previous night, Lace storms off to interrupt whatever conversation Ben is having right this second. “I promise I’m not crazy,” Lace says, “I just wanna finish our conversation.” Ben humors her a few minutes and then Lace leaves. Even without a kiss, our Lady seems pretty sure she’s getting the rose. This moment says a lot abut Ben, who we think should perhaps consider a career in the hostage-negotiation field. Forget the Homecoming King; Ben deserves a sash fit for the King of De-Escalation he is.

Ben returns to the group to grab Jojo and take her to his “special location”aka the roof. Passionate kisses happen on roofs so this must mean Jojo really is on Ben’s radar. “Oh my god I am so happy right now,”she moans as he sensually rubs her shoulders up and down, and devours her visually. The two of them make out under the stars for a while after which Jojo announces into the camera that she has “100% developed feelings for Ben.” Ah, to be in our dreamy early twenties again …

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slurp!

The rules are the rules and tonight, the rose can only be bestowed to one J-named girl. When Jojo gets it, Jubilee must deal with the lousy feeling of having shared something deeply personal and seeing another girl get the prize for best date on group date.

Hart-to-Heart (groan)

Ben comes for Caila the next day. In a rare moment of Bachelor-producing honesty, Chris Harrison admits that Ben did nothing to plan the date except pick Caila. Legends Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, who just so happen to have a movie I won’t even link here because it looks so bad, walk in to help Ben nail this date. Unsuspiciously cut camera one to Jubilee for an opinion on Ice Cube and Kevin Hart’s hipness, and follow Ben, Caila, and the Boys to their carriage: of course, a convertible low rider.

This is going to be a cheap date, Kevin Hart announces, and he is not kidding. While they’re cruising around L.A., Ben buys Caila yellow roses off the street, stops at a liquor store, and wraps up the first part of the date in a hot tub … store. The whole exercise is a little gimmicky and forced — with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube having less chemistry than Lace and anyone — but at least, Kevin Hart is enjoying his side hustle for the day.

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how i felt watching that date tho #GetMeOut #Yawn

“You made it relaxing. You made it fun for me,” Ben tells Caila over dinner, as he reflects over their day date. His voice is strong and flat and stern, like when my dentist tells me he can tell I’m not flossing everyday. But maybe some women find that attractive. After he hands her the rose, Ben and Caila head to the Regent where a bespectacled man is singing some kind of “Sweet Pea” themed song on stage. Ben is beaming, and Carla is beaming, so I guess everyone knew this was Amos Lee but me. Ben’s favorite song comes on and for the next four minutes, our Bachelor struggles to stop his gaze from darting back to Amos while slow dancing with Caila. The night ends with some passionate making out on the dance floor.

Ladies Packing Heat

Back home, the women have spent all day waiting for a sign from their mail/male idol. The group card that arrives at the house invites EmilyHaley (seriously, I will consider them the same person until they make an effort to distinguish themselves from one another), Shoshanna, Sam, Olivia, and Amanda, to find out if they “are a perfect match.”

The Ladies arrive at a facility where a robot guides them to a sterile-looking room. There, Ben greets them in a white coat and dorky headgear. Dr. Love and his team are here to test the Ladies and see if science can help Ben find his most compatible mate. The tests become gradually more intimate. With the retina test, the girls are tested for what attracts their pupils’ attention. Diamonds or children? Another Bachelor or Ben? Cool, cool, cool.  Then comes experiment #2: the smell test. For this one, the girls run on a treadmill and then stand around while a blindfolded Ben smells the glands by their waist, to see if he likey.

OLIVIA, BEN HIGGINS, PAUL J. ZAKS

olivia aka evil face o

Shoshanna, who I think eats a lot of borscht, seems legit worried that she will smell like cabbage even though she has not eaten it in like two weeks. Not to worry, the verdict Ben reaches on her odor is “very flowery.” EmilyHaley too is “very flowery” while other EmilyHaley has a fruit aroma. Amanda is “almost beachy.” Olivia is very sweet. And last one: Sam.

“A little more sour,” Ben says with his nose rubbing against her waist. In front of everyone.

“Sweet and sour?” asks Dr. Love.” That’s really great in Chinese food!” In front of everyone.

Poor Sam snorts in a display of mortification and we feel so bad, we send her our best thoughts and prayers as this embarrassing episode airs before millions of judgy watchers.

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sour smelling sam (middle)

Finally, the last exam involves a thermal measurer. Clad in an all-white tank and booty-short combination that I am not convinced is required by Science, each Lady sits on a bed with Ben in a closed-off room … while the other girls watch the thermal silhouettes of their Ben and frenemies heat up on the screen. There is some uncomfortable gasping at the touching of chests and hands and arms. Seizing on her  high from getting the first impression rose, Olivia tries to convince Ben to kiss her when it’s her turn. But, being the gentleman he is, Ben gently denies her because “people are watching.” The sting of almost-rejection evaporates as soon as the results come in though. Evil O Face aka Olivia — as it is now safe to call her — has annihilated the Ladies with her 7+ score out of 10. Meanwhile,  Sour Smell Sam must make peace with having earned the lowest compatibility score of the day: a paltry 2.42 out of 10. Guess the LSAT can’t prepare us for everything, or … anything really.

The evening portion of the festivities is held in some kind of house,which may be the quarters where Ben is staying. Ben arrives in an a sweatshirt-sport jacket pairing that could still give Gaps’s failed Normcore collection12508873_10208221089227977_8272342865076193810_n a run for its money like it gave us all an urge to run with our money. Ben steals Olivia away first, which does wonders for her already healthy self-esteem. They talk on the couch a while but soon enough, it’s all in the hands of Smooth-Jazz Ben — our Bachelor’s suave alter ego, we have decided — whose fine-tuned timing lands him a passionate kiss that leaves Olivia  reeling. When Olivia returns to the Ladies from her magical encounter with Ben, she asks them where in the building each will take him. One Lady asks if they kissed and Olivia retorts,  “Oh I don’t want to talk about it.” Then, she abruptly storms away from the group. It’s a little nonsensical and red-flaggy, and likely just our first taste of Evil O Face.

After EmilyHaley, Shoshanna, and Sam get alone time, Amanda seizes her chance to tell Ben about her daughters Kinsley and Charlie. “Kids don’t scare me,” Ben says. This is, of course, music to a single-mom and mom-aspiring Ladies of all stripes. He seems genuine about it too, which is really sweet and refreshing because for reals, trying to date as a single mom must be hella hard.

tumblr_ny1nl7bzht1rzy5lko1_500After thanking Amanda for sharing more about her family  though, Ben gives Olivia the rose, which is devastating to anyone with two eyeballs and a hunch that Olivia may not be a very nice Lady.

Pity Rose

It’s ceremony time and Ben is serving us a three piece suit that does him more justice than the former ensemble. He is out there, in the beautiful Bachelor Mansion courtyard talking to Leah (who does not yet have a rose) when Olivia (who, recall, has a rose) takes precious time away from other Ladies in more precarious positions to monopolize Ben for a few more minutes. Ben welcomes the interruption though and kisses Olivia, which makes everyone feel very upset, very quickly. “What a selfish bitch,”mumbles one mic’d Lady, possibly while stabbing a paper doll made in Olivia’s likeness.

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never forget

In case we had any doubt about the vicious side she will almost certainly succeed in concealing from Ben through the season, Olivia returns to the Ladies and firmly declares: “So now I’m done. Now everybody have at it and I hope that you can respect that.”

What does that even mean? Unclear. Beautiful Ladies have the luxury of not having to make sense sometimes.

“Well thank you,” responds one icy Lady.

All this sexual tension between Ben and other Ladies is making Lace feel a bit jittery, which is a good sign to stay away from Ben for a few minutes. You know, as opposed to what Lace actually does next. “I know I’m coming off a little crazy to you, right?” she says immediately upon having located Ben.

ARGH, screams our feminist insides. Don’t we just want to grab Lace by the shoulders in a gentle, non-threatening, way and tell her that she needs to stop describing normal — okay, mildly heightened — emotions as “crazy” because her insecurities are quite valid in this situation, considering the amount of Ladies she must compete with for one man’s attentions?? Yes, we do.

tumblr_mrpjv9b39h1qzh561o3_250Smooth-Jazz Ben, it turns out, doesn’t quite know how to deal with Ladies like Lace but does his best to reassure her that he thought her apology at the group date was their clean slate. “I’m a lot to handle,” Lace continues. To explain why she is the way she is, girlfriend melts into a long story about how she was an ugly duckling growing up and begin describes a photograph, in too great detail, of just how bad she looked. By this point, our faces are frozen in a cringe that only worsens when a Lady interrupts the conversation before Lace fish back this tangent from the pools of hell. We pour ourselves a drop more of wine as Lace goes to cry in the bathroom and also into the camera, where she bemoans the failure of Operation “Hide Insecure Lace,” in so many words.

Back where the action is, Smooth-Jazz Ben sweeps Jewel Lauren B off her feet with a printed photo of the two of them talking on the first night. Ben tells her that he’s been thinking about her a lot, which is great, because we super need someone who can go toe to toe with Evil O Face. Smooth-Jazz Ben then gives Lauren H a first place ribbon for the largest explosion at the science fair. And, for the coup de grace, Amanda comes over to a side room where Smooth-Jazz Ben has laid out some wee plastic roses. Why, you ask? Oh, just to glue them on some fucking hair barrettes for her baby daughters. Excuse us while we mop the small puddle beneath our bar stool right now?tumblr_inline_n5zu70m8ml1qzk8hc

Then it’s time for Business. Chris Harrison beckons Ben to the roses. Amber is losing her shit because Ben has made zero efforts to talk to her and her hair highlights, that I wish I had more time to discuss. The Ladies line up and await their fates as Ben slowly calls out their names. Amanda first, Jubilee second, Lauren B third. Hope you’re watching real close, Evil O Face. Becca gets a rose but in the middle of the pack, which right where she belongs. When Lace gets a rose, we check our wallet to make sure the Powerball ticket we just bought is still nestled in there because apparently it is a week for Miracles.720872

When Ben calls LB’s name, she asks to speak to him in private. Ultimately, this “journey” is not for her, which leaves a spot for someone whom every other Lady will presume to be an underbitch (as in, female underdog, obvi). A though position to be in. Scheduled programming resumes and Lauren H gets a rose, Shoshanna gets a rose, EmilyHaley get a rose, and other Ladies too, until only the Pity Rose is left.

Amber is crying because she never had a chance. Sour Smeling Sam is sweating up a storm of sadness. Mandi the dentist is hoping for her name to be called, but her luck has run out. Thanks to LB, the Pity Rose goes to Amber-with-whom-he-has-not-spoken-at-all. And just like that our ceremony ends with Sour Smelling Sam, the poor thing, feeling quite crushed. Upside, the number of billable hours she’ll have to bill to make up for the two days she missed while on the Bachelor will probably keep her busy enough to forget about Ben soon.

This concludes our second episode of season 20. Cue the previews, which promise plenty of crying and Evil O Face driving everyone to tears. Also, there’s going to be a single engine yellow plane! ‘Til next week, feast on Smooth-Jazz Ben! Woo!
BEN HIGGINS