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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"The Bachelor," Season 15, Ep. 7: "Brad's breakin' all the brules"

Brad and Michelle, enjoying a good stare.
  • ABC
  • Brad and Michelle, enjoying a good stare.
Hi. Welcome to my weekly recap of “The Bachelor,” a new feature I’m kicking off just in time to be several weeks late.

But, really, what better time than a manufactured holiday to enjoy a little manufactured romance? Never. There is literally no better time.

First, we have some catching up to do …

Our bachelor, Brad Womack, undeterred by a one failed attempt at finding everlasting love in the most reliable place possible — i.e. ABC reality TV — is back to give it a second shot. I didn’t watch Brad’s first season (Season 11), but here’s what I’ve learned about him this go-round: he is weird. Shifty, but also unsettlingly earnest. Small eyes. Even smaller personality. And like every other bachelor/bachelorette in the history of this program, he’s completely and inexplicably irresistible to everyone in his orbit. Also, he has a very large and unfortunate cross tattooed on his back, and gets to show it off a lot, because if there’s anything this show’s producers like more than sending these people on helicopter rides, it’s making sure they’re in swimsuits as much as possible.

If you’re reading this (hi, mom!), then you’ve been watching the show, so I’m not going to bother laboring over the details of the previous episodes. In short, there were 15 love-hungry ladies in Brad’s harem of sadness, and now there are only six.

And those six lucky gals are …

Emily. Poor Emily. A few episodes ago, we were treated to three women’s sob stories — two of them dad-related, ZZZZZZZ — but Emily’s was by far the sobbiest. The love of Emily’s life was a racecar driver who died in a plane crash. She would’ve been on that plane with him, but she wasn’t feeling well. Of course, the reason she wasn’t feeling well IS SHE WAS PREGNANT WITH HIS BABY. So, she gave birth to a dead man’s child and eventually auditioned for “The Bachelor,” because that’s a good idea. (I say that because the producers have had one hell of a good time torturing this poor woman, first by forcing her to travel with Brad on a tiny La Bamba plane during a one-on-one date, then by making her drive a racecar at a track where Dead Boyfriend had raced.) Emily is the kind of girl you’d want to hate for being so pretty, if she wasn’t so genuinely nice and tragedy-prone.

Shawntel. Shawntel is a mortician, so she drains fluids from dead people’s bodies and then talks about it during dinner. She’s pretty, though, and nice enough. And she and Brad have horrible back tattoos in common. It’s love!

Chantal. Not to be confused with Shawntel, Chantal looks tired almost constantly, but she’s busty and Brad is really into her. She is huge fan of forever telling Brad she loves him (because that is a thing guys like).

Britt. Despite being a “food writer,” Britt is remarkably skinny, so skinny, in fact, that she is invisible to the untrained eye and has managed to make it this far for that reason alone. Don’t get attached to her. Dead woman walking.

Ashley. Ostensibly, Ashley’s a catch — small, blonde, perky AND a dentist — so the fact that she’s even on this show lets us know that there’s something horribly wrong with her.

AND, finally, Michelle. Michelle is a nightmare of a human being, the kind of person who’s relied so heavily on her looks that everything else that makes a person a person has atrophied — except for the residual person parts that make her terrifying. It’s almost boring to hate her because she’s so obviously supposed to be our villain, but we’re a good, obedient audience, so we still do.

OK. Now that we’re all caught up, let’s pack our bigger bags full of smaller barf bags and jet to sunny Anguilla, where Brad is just breakin’ all the rules. Broken rule #1: Smug, bird-faced, but still-strangely-likeable host Chris Harrison explains that rather than the usual format — two one-on-one dates and two group dates — Brad has opted for THREE one-on-ones and just one group date. Our smug friend is sure to apply ample gravitas to the proceedings because, as we’re reminded ad nauseum, next week Brad’s doing hometown visits.

Skinny, sad mouse Britt is itching for a one-on-one because she’s the only girl who hasn’t gotten one yet, no fluke considering she is an imperceptible, wisp of a person. Alas, Emily gets the date.

Brad arrives at the suite and refers to the women as a “bevy of beauties” because he is a weirdo.

Brad and Emily travel by helicopter (doi) to a private island where they enjoy the kind of interaction that’s always made me wonder if the show’s contestants are contractually obligated to limit conversation to, 1.) Their feelings about one another, and 2.) Their feelings about the immediate surroundings at that very moment in time.

Case in point:
Brad: I like it out here
Emily: Me, too. What are you thinking?
Brad: This is a really cool view.
Emily: It is really pretty
Brad: Love it here.

Still, Brad and Emily are emphatic about the fact that they had a GREAT time. Later in the date, they work her daughter into a conversation about their feelings about one another, and Emily makes it clear she’s not sure whether introducing Brad to Lil’ Rikki (I’m guessing on the spelling, and added the “Lil’”) is a good idea. “I don’t want to confuse her in any way,” Emily explains, because running away for a month to appear on a nationally televised dating show is probably not confusing to a child.

Ever the rebel, Brad breaks another rule. Broken rule #2: He tells Emily she’s a shoo-in for a rose at the final ceremony.

Time for another one-on-one, and the producers STILL haven’t told Brad that Britt is a person who is on this show, so Shawntel the Mortician gets the date. They hop on a couple of bicycles and take the shitshow to the streets of Anguilla. The two spend some quality time disturbing good-natured natives however they can — you guys are jumping rope? Now WE’RE jumping your rope. You guys are playing dominoes? Now WE’RE playing your dominoes — and settle down in a field filled with baby goats (aka HEAVEN) to talk about current events. JK. They settle down in a field filled with baby goats to talk about THEIR FEELINGS ABOUT ONE ANOTHER. Brad’s impressed with Shawntel’s social skills — “You seem to be friendly with everyone” — a feat considering she spends most of her time with dead people. Then again, Brad has about as much charisma as a corpse, amiright?

Later on, Shawntel — politely overlooking her date’s mauve polo shirt — takes a cue from Chantal and tells Brad she’s falling in love with him.

And, FINALLY, Britt get’s a one-on-one. And it is bad. By the time they’re back on their yacht for dinner, Brad barely lets Britt finish her food (and she must be so hungry!) before giving her the ol’ heave-ho. He says he thinks it’s time to say goodbye, and it doesn’t appear that Britt realizes he means, like, that very second. After an awkward pause, she boards a dinghy that’s waiting to get her as far away from Brad as possible. Back at the house, Britt slips on a pair of white, foam, platform flip-flops, and slips out of our lives.

Finally there’s the group date with Chantal, Ashley and Michelle — and it is SEXY. Well, not a first. Brad wakes the makeup-less, mush-faced women in the middle of the night so at the crack of dawn they can be photographed for the “Sports Illustrated” Swimsuit Edition. Ashley poses with conch shells over her little boobies. Chantal takes her top off, and sucks in her gut best she can. Michelle — who makes sure to point out that she’s done some modeling in the past — uses her shoot as an opportunity to simulate sex with Brad. Because she is terrifying, simulated sex means plenty of prolonged eye contact and face licking.

Post-faux-coitus, Brad realizes that — uh oh — Ashley and Chantal are upset. He spends the remainder of the date making up for his careless behavior by acting like a mannequin, and making the women cry (Chantal mostly) and beg (Ashley exclusively). Ashley’s begging works, and she gets the date rose.

ROSE CEREMONY TIME. And time for Broken rule #3: Brad tells Chris Smugisson he wants to skip the cocktail party, and go straight to the roses because he’s already made up his mind. Michelle, who realizes she alienated Brad by acting like a slut (a thing that he was not AT ALL opposed to in the moment), says, “I really wanted to talk to him. If I go home tonight, I’m going to be fucking pissed.” Turn on the teeeeeeeears. Then Chantal makes a pretty good joke, saying, “I feel like [Brad’s] face will tell it all.” This is funny because Brad is the most expressionless person ever. (I had a dog once that wouldn’t show affection the way that dogs normally do. Instead of licking your face, she would get very close to it, and kind of sniff it whilst staring blankly at you. She was like if aliens had some notion of what dogs were supposed to look and act like, and made something vaguely dog-like to do their bidding on Earth — Brad reminds me of that dog.)

Brad keeps his promise and Emily gets the first rose; second one goes to Shawntel. So, it’s down to Chantal and Michelle …

And Chantal gets it.

Michelle is going home. And based on her reaction — silence, staring — we can assume she’s going to kill a lot of innocent people back home in Salt Lake.

But that’s their problem! We have hometown visits to look forward to!

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