I’m pretty sure it wasn’t ABC’s intention to have Brad Womack, current leading man of its Bachelor franchise, outfitted like a live-action Ken Doll this week, but each of his three dates conjured up the idea that the drawling hunk of plastic was nothing more than a blank canvas onto which a variety of fantasies could be projected. (Hey, if the Mattel shoe fits…)
Who spies Personal Shopper Ken, bearing gifts of shoes and bags and dresses? And there’s NASCAR Ken (accompanied by Grief-Stricken Barbie)! Oh, and look, it’s Soldier Ken, rocking guyliner and Lycra camouflage. (Er, maybe that’s not so much Soldier Ken as Pride Weekend Ken?)
Ah, yes, I digress. This week found Brad and his pack of hyper-competitive, desperate-for-marriage, frequently inebriated lady friends ditching their Los Angeles digs and heading to Las Vegas. You know at some point on the plane ride, a Bachelor producer coaxed the women into lavishing praise on the Aria Hotel as follows: “Whoever says ‘most beautiful hotel ever’ in the most convincing voice gets an additional 15 seconds of screentime!”
And now, as living proof that what happens in Vegas does not actually stay in Vegas — not if it’s filmed as part of a popular reality dating series, anyway — let’s recount the action:
Date One: Brad takes Shawntel N. to the mall and uses an ABC corporate card to buy her a lavish assortment of gifts. (Dude is such a giver.) I cannot lie: The only thing that offends my inner feminist more than The Bachelor‘s time-honored tradition of “man emerge from cave, dress woman up real nice!” dates is the fact that it inevitably leads to some gooey-eyed female contestant (in this case, The Nanny) spouting something along the lines of “It’s like the perfect Pretty Woman moment that every girl dreams of.”
I have a question for any woman from any Bachelor season who’s ever made reference to a “Pretty Woman fantasy”: Have you ever seen the movie you’re referencing? And if so, are you aware that Julia Roberts’ character is a working street prostitute? That’s a pretty rough way to find love, ladies and gents. So unless your fairytale ending starts with you in a skintight miniskirt leaning through the passenger window of a late-model sedan and ends with a wad of bills on a hotel nightstand, can we please dispense with grown-ass females acting as if the height of romantic achievement is having a relative stranger take you shopping? “All the women who independent, throw your hands up at me!” Thank you, Beyoncé! Okay, end of rant.
So Shawntel N. makes a pitstop at the hotel suite, just long enough to send Michelle into a jealous convulsion over her new $5,000 purse, and then — whoa! — Brad has let himself into the room. “LADIES, YOUR LOCKED DOOR MEANS NOTHING TO ME!” Creepy much? Up to the rooftop for dinner, where Shawntel N. behaves like a human being by eating the food in front of her and talking about her job as a funeral director and embalmer, not to mention her cross-eyed cat named Peaches.
Oh, hold on a second. What’s that, Brad? “She’s telling me that she embalms deceased bodies.” Yes, Brad, as opposed to living ones. Now give Shawntel N. a rose, even if — despite my deep cynicism about reality TV romance — I kind of want her to travel across country, knock on Chris Lambton‘s door, and kick-start their “journey” to happily ever after.
Date Two: Is there really anything more to say than the fact that Bachelor producers sent Brad and eight women (Emily included) to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the exact site where Emily’s deceased love (and father of her child) suffered a career-ending injury? Yes, apparently there is! Michelle? “I am fun and HAUGHT and you should see me in a racecar!” Michelle, why do you say “hot” as if you’ve got a chest infection and you just swallowed half a bottle of Mucinex?
Okay, so we can stop talking about this woeful date, and how anyone who watched it is probably going to burn in hell just by association? Alli, is that why you’re crying again? No? You have a question? Go ahead. “Just because someone comes in with the worst story means they get the most attention?”Alli, you know what? I am going to laugh hardest of all when Brad finally gives you the boot.
Whew. So we’re almost done with this NASCAR date. After saying Emily shouldn’t do anything that makes her uncomfortable then watching while an ABC camera gets an engine’s-eye view of her weeping in a racecar driver’s seat, Brad announces “I need to go check about someone I care about.” Then he goes and waves the emotional checkered flag. And Emily’s off. Zoom-zoom! “The first laps were for Ricky, and the last one was for me.” Holy unexpected emotions, Bachelor fans, Emily just broke my heart a little.
Oh, and try competing with THAT, ladies! Here comes Alli, crying about how she doesn’t want to cry. (Then for the love of Kleenex, knock it off!) Here comes Chantal, also crying and kind of damp-snotty, “accidentally” slipping the word “love” into the conversation. And here’s Michelle, very un-accidentally slipping the word “tongue” into Brad’s mouth. Brad asks if she’s enjoying the group date. “Yeah, whatever,” Michelle huffs. Hey, you have to give the woman a few points for honesty. Still, Brad seeks a woman with “unique characteristics,” whatever those may be, and so the rose goes to Emily.
Date Three: An envelope comes through the door on its own (joining the rogue champagne cork from Shawntel’s date and The Dentist’s perma-grin as this week’s creepy inanimate objects): It’s a date card announcing “Two Ashleys enter! One Ashley leaves!” In other words, it’s time for the two-on-one date. The Nanny, matures as always, declares, “I feel like I’m gonna pee in my pants.” Michelle cackles that it’s “time for the Ashleys to part and go their separate ways.” Some other chick who needs a better brand of conditioner is crying, and she’s not even named Ashley!
Brad takes The Dentist and The Nanny to watch a rehearsal of Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis. I’m pretty sure the competition is over the second The Nanny watches some contortionists writhing inside a giant engagement ring and declares, “My body doesn’t move like that.” Wrong answer, Nanny, and now Brad doesn’t love you anymore! Then The Nanny mewls, “I’m going to be fighting a lot of inner demons today.” Strike two! And apparently, she’s not a natural circus performer. Strike three!
Brad and The Dentist respectively don ridiculous soldier and slutty-nurse-wearing-air-mail-envelopes costumes, and get hoisted above the stage on wires to perform a pas de deux to the tune of “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” (Surely, off camera, at least half the audience demands a refund.) These scenes are juxtaposed with The Nanny falling apart. “I felt like someone punched me in the stomach — and the heart,” she squeaks, fondly remembering that time she got the first-impression rose, the basis of at least 33% of successful U.S. marriages. The camera dips to capture The Nanny hunched over, crying into her hands. Surely, the cameraperson could’ve then angled the telephoto lens directly up her nose, the better to search even deeper for her reserves of grief.
And now it’s time to call Brad’s therapist! “Blah blah blah…you are on a journey…blah blah blah…it’s okay to string along as many chicks as you want…blah blah blah…be real, be present…blah blah blah…this will be the deepest place you ever get to with a woman, er, a few women.”
Cocktail Party/Rose Ceremony: Brad gives Alli a tiny chocolate cake with some green frosting because a producer reminded him she wore a green dress the night she came out of the limo. Chantal O’s breasts fight to break out of their mesh prison. Marissa says something completely insane about not being able to text Brad and needing to give him an envelope instead. “This means the absolute world to me,” lies Brad.
Michelle steals Brad — and the episode, and maybe the entire season — by taking our protagonist into a closed-door session, demanding that he shut his stinkin’ pie-hole, and vaguely listing the sins of her competitors. “I think you need someone who appreciates everything about you,” she hisses. “I don’t know if some of the girls realize what is right in front of them.” (A camera?) Michelle then teases Brad with tiny kisses. “The next time we’re together, you can talk,” she says. Dude is majorly, majorly turned on. (I kind of love this woman, not as a human being, but as a TV character. Which is her whole point, right? Right?)
Brad then decides it’s all “Roses for everyone!,” except for Marissa. Oh, and also the one with the shaggy hair and the bizarre manicure that makes her fingers look like thin, featureless cocktail wieners. (These women are presumably left behind in Vegas to become showgirls/blackjack dealers/spinsters.) And our hero continues his “journey” with eight ladies. A future episode is teased and we see a shot of some lions. WILL A TWO-ON-ONE DATE END WITH A CONTESTANT BEING THROWN TO THESE BIG CATS? Tune in to find out…on The Bachelor!
What did you think of the episode? Did Brad send home the right women? Does everything about this show leave you feeling as pure as a collapsing, moldy bathroom-ceiling tile? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality TV coverage, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.