True confessions time: Normally, when a special political announcement interrupts my reality TV viewing, I’m all “I don’t need to see that!” But in the case of this week’s edition of The Bachelorette: They’re Just Not That Into Her, I suspect that President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner were simply protecting DVR users from having to watch a completely pointless rose ceremony in which our dim heroine pinned her flowers on the lapels of the only two dudes still in the running toward becoming America’s Next Top People Magazine Breakup Cover.
But let’s not get bogged down with that gloomy debt ceiling business. We’ve got to discuss the important work of Ashley’s Great Televised Husband Hunt of 2011.
The episode begins with Ashley in a tiny tank top, a wisp of a skirt, and giant wedge heels — a practical choice for teetering from sea plane to boat to idyllic Fiji resort. Ashley takes some time to be alone with her journal, where she presumably writes out 100 more lines of “Ashley + Bentley 4EVA,” but the camera guys obviously can’t get a clear shot through the cloud of self-doubt and insecurity that surrounds the star of the show.
Ashley prepares for her date with Ben, but — surprise? — it’s Ryan at the door! The flip-flip-wearing evictee looks nervous and slightly demoralized — like he’s spent the last two months listening to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on repeat — as he begs Ashley for another chance. I find myself wincing as Ryan begins a sentence with the words “call me crazy” — an unfortunate choice of phrase from a guy who’s flown halfway around the globe to ask for a second chance with a chick who’s already dating three other dudes. Ashley tells him she needs time to think, but that’s just code for “It’s always good to have a Plan D.”
Then it’s time for the real dates. You know, the ones that end with Chris Harrison inviting the happy couples to spend the night together in fantasy suites thick with the scent of pricey candles, rose-petal-strewn duvet covers, and overworked TV camera crews. It will always be a mystery to me why these invitations for “alone time” come directly from Mr. Harrison. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for Ashley to extend the invite? Or for the card to not be from anyone in particular? Whatever the case may be, I always find myself suppressing a giant “ewwww” whenever I hear the words “Yours truly, Chris Harrison.”
Speaking of which, fashion-challenged Ben arrives for their date in an orange short-sleeved Henley that washes out his color — and apparently drains any and all animation from his voice. “I’m happy. I’m very happy,” Ben says in a monotone that makes me wonder if he’s been paid a visit by the ABC staff hypnotist to ensure he rides this beast to the finish line. Our young couple boards a yacht where Ben rubs the lotion on Ashley’s left breast, and she returns the favor by straddling his groin and applying a little sunblock to his torso, too. The sensual application of SPF leads to the following exchange of innuendo.
Ben: “Thanks for all your hard work.”
Ashley: “Thanks for all your hard work.”
And then it’s time for snorkeling! Ashley says Ben makes her feel protected – like anything can happen and she’ll be okay — and I imagine an ABC producer weighing the pros and cons of dumping a bucket of chum overboard and seeing if Ben can literally protect Ashley during a shark attack. Yet there’s something even scarier waiting in the wings: Ben’s sheer white horizontal striped sweater, which he wears to a romantic dinner in which he confesses he’s on his way to “the whole ‘I love you’ thing.” The happy couple then head for the swimming pool, which happens to lead directly into the bedroom of the fantasy suite. Let’s cut to commercial before anyone else shows off their “hard work,” okay?
Ashley’s date with Constantine opens with a shot of two damp, dark green toads. Is this some kind of producer symbolism for Ashley having to kiss a lot of frogs on her journey to land a prince? Maybe. Am I overthinking the stock Fiji footage? Absolutely.
Uh-oh. Constantine arrives and laments his growing “Euro mullet,” and all I can think is that if he intended to propose marriage to Ashley on this trip, he’d probably have taken an hour or two to get his hair did. Then again, if Ashley wanted an engagement ring from the guy, she probably wouldn’t have chosen a hideous midriff-baring blouse with spaghetti straps and a tie at the navel. The duo hop into a helicopter, and Constantine offers Ashley a high five. This is not going to end well.
The helicopter buddies visit a waterfall, and after frolicking in its spray, Ashley delivers the most self-aware comment she’s made all season: “I have water in my brain right now.” But wait: The time for introspection is over, as Ashley begins rattling off Constantine’s relationship flaws: “You think things through.” “You take time.” “You put in effort.” Constantine looks alarmed when Ashley starts griping about how he looked at 108 houses before he purchased his home. “Houses and women are not the same!” he says, but the little fixer-upper with water(fall) damage isn’t so sure. At dinner, she finally pops the question: “Are you ever overly consumed by your emotions?” Constantine cuts Ashley off before the topic of the overnight suite arises, telling her he wouldn’t spend the night with a woman he wasn’t sure he loved, and that he has too much respect for her, for himself, and for their families to continue the Bachelorette journey. (Funny, I don’t remember a warning at the top of the show for content rated EM: Emotionally Mature.) Ashley doesn’t really seem upset by Constantine’s departure — having his doppelganger Ben on the bench probably eases the pain — but in the morning, she huffs that she’s “still kind of hurt he didn’t give the relationship a chance.”
With Constantine out of the mix — and an overnight suite invite burning a hole in her pocket — Ashley gets the foggy feeling she’s forgetting something. “Oh, Ryan! Where did I leave him again?” she wonders. Finally, the producers point her to his hut, where she thanks him for playing and sends him home with some Rice-a-Roni and a free copy of The Lean Belly Prescription by Dr. Travis Stork. Ashley leaves Ryan on repeat loop: “It’ll happen. It’ll happen. It’ll happen. It’ll happen.”
This is no fun to watch.
Let’s go fly a sea plane with muscular JP! As with all Ashley-JP dates, everything feels like a prelude to a kiss, or a hot and heavy makeout session, to be more exact. The duo land on a private island that really does look like a postcard, and Ashley makes an actual sorta funny by asking if he wants to live in New York or Fiji.
At dinner, Ashley plays mind games with JP. “I said goodbye to two guys this week,” she grins, and even though the dudes on this show need Chris Harrison to tell them when Ashley has reached the final rose of a three-flower ceremony, you can see his face light up as he performs the rudimentary math: “If three guys go to Fiji with Ashley, and she says goodbye to two of them, what does that mean for the guy who’s alone with her having dinner in the jungle?” Ashley reveals that her math problem was really a trick question by sharing that Ryan — ugh, that dude again? — had returned ever so briefly to the fold, and now it’s down to Ben and JP. JP is okay with this, but he’s got a game of his own: He’s going to withhold his “I love you” for one more week. (Well, he’s withholding it from Ashley, but he confessionalizes that he is indeed feeling the word that rhymes with dove.) But as Extreme once sang, it takes more than words to make it real. There’s Ashley in a white dress shirt, there’s a hot fantasy suite with an ugly bedspread to roll around on, and a TV camera ready to capture it all. JP goes in for the smoochin, and all is right again in the Bachelorette world. At least till next week.
What did you think of this week’s Bachelorette? Were you as impressed as I was by Constantine’s exit? How did you feel during the Ryan segments? And which T-shirt are you sporting: Team Ben, Team JP, or Team Emily? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!