In the hiatus between the end of The Bachelorette Australia and this latest installment of The Bachelor US, I kept my appetite for all things cheesy reality romance by binge-watching the dramedy Unreal on video stream. If you're capable of realizing The Bachelor for what it is, do yourself a favor and give Unreal a go. If you think it is actually about the quest to find love, don't. I have to admit, it changed the way I view these types of programs. Sometimes art imitates life and sometimes life imitates art and sometimes the story is so contrived that is neither real nor art, but my word - as an example of the latter, season 21 of The Bachelor promises to be compelling.
The Bachelor this season is Nick Viall, two-time runner-up and bad boy who apparently managed to redeem himself on season 3 of Bachelor in Paradise. He is the highest profile bachelor ever, all of the girls know who he is and have still applied anyway. So, our contestants this season are a combination of girls who like Nick, girls who think they can save Nick, girls who would root anything for celebrity and the genuinely desperate and neurotic. And into that mix, in a scenario that could have come straight out of Unreal, is Liz. But more about her later.
Our season begins with Nick giving us a bit of background about himself. This is a little more of an evaluation of where he has gone wrong in his past efforts to find love. There are three main issues: he talks into his hand (decidedly shifty), he doesn’t make eye contact (just like a liar-liar-pants-on-fire) and he has trouble sitting straight on a couch.
We are taken to the family home in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a town so chock full of service groups it must be the most wholesome town in the whole United States.
Here he seeks out the counsel of his youngest sister, Bella, who is apparently wise beyond her years. She suggests that he doesn’t mumble, makes eye contact and avoids soft furniture. Then he makes a pizza with some babies (he’s holding a baby, not using one as a topping) before popping off to seek more advice from the Ghosts of Bachelors Past: Sean Lowe (who actually married his chosen one), Chris Soules (who became engaged but then broke up with his girl) and last season’s Ben Higgins.
The former bachelors offer sage advice, like 'be yourself'. The trouble with this is that Sean reminds Nick that on his previous outings he has come across as a ‘giant tool bag’.
“But then on Bachelor in Paradise, you seemed much better,” continues Sean. Or it could just have been that on that show he was surrounded by even bigger tool bags. Oh Chad!
Chris Soules can hardly give too much advice about marital bliss, but he does teach Nick about the value of a strong antiperspirant.
Meanwhile, Ben exchanges pleasantries, but his face looks unconvinced that Nick isn’t full of baloney.
Anyhow, the outcome of all of this advice is that Nick is keen to give America a ‘happy ending’. Well lube up America, because it’s sure to be one hell of a ride. Bring on the vignettes.
The package showcases ten of the girls. We can only assume that the winner is in there somewhere. It could be Rachel the vacuuming attorney, but I’m doubting it will be nail salon entrepreneur Danielle L, special needs teacher Vanessa, or neo-natal intensive care nurse, Danielle M all of whom have quite normal (boring) stories. Taylor is a mental health counsellor, but there is something about her that suggests it will be a case of ‘physician heal thyself’ if she gets too far in. Nor will Josephine, a nursing student from California, get a look in. She made the fatal mistake of mentioning her cat as “the love of her life” and then asking some fur seals to endorse her decision to go on The Bachelor.
Next, there is Alexis from somewhere called Seal Carcass, New Jersey. No…no! Secaucus. She’s ZANY. She likes lounging around in hammocks wearing a sumo suit. She’s also an ‘aspiring dolphin trainer’ because she has lots of dolphin statues, in the same way I could call myself ‘an aspiring golfer’ because I own a set of clubs. She also does a mean (ie. incredibly shrill and annoying) dolphin call, effectiveness of which was unclear because Secausus is nowhere near the ocean.
Corinne is a ‘business owner’ from Florida. I am always dubious about people who don’t specify what type of business they are in. It could be that they are about to show you the Amway plan or they could be importing cocaine from Columbia. Corinne will be quick to tell you that hers is a ‘multi-million dollar’ business, allowing Corinne to live a luxurious lifestyle, which includes the service of Nanny Raquel who brings Corinne bowls of cucumber on demand.
To be frank, I couldn’t believe the cucumber was in chunks, because Corinne gives the impression she could swallow one whole. My personal favorite is Raven from Hoxie, Arkansas. She kind of looks like a Kardashian, if Kardashians came from Arkansas. She even owns a fashion boutique, THE fashion boutique in Hoxie.
Hoxie town is based on lots of F-words: family, faith and football. And fun. You can go mudding. Fun! You can shoot your gun. Funner! You can read your bible. That’s the funnest of all! There’s no way a girl named Raven from Hoxie, Arkansas is going to win over Nick, but let’s hope she gets to stick around for a while.
And then there is the afore-mentioned Liz. Liz breaks new Bachelor ground. Not only has she met Nick before, but at the wedding of Bachelor in Paradise alum Jade and Tanner where Liz was maid of honour, fuelled on alcohol and happy ever afters, they apparently screwed each other senseless. When Nick asked for her number, she wouldn’t give it to him, but then she found out that he was to be the next Bachelor. Hmmm. Someone more cynical than I might call her an opportunist. Or that she was deliberately sought out by producers. But I’m not cynical like that. Nothing fishy about that at all.
Finally, it’s time for the girls to arrive; thirty of them - most of whom are happy to demean themselves with gimmicks and tactics. There are the cheesy one-liners:
"Your past relationships have been lemons. Let’s make lemonade."
"Do you know what a girl wearing underwear says? Neither do I."
"You have balls. I have balls."
(Exposes ball nose ring previously inserted in nostrils) Hilarious. Then there are the cheesy one liners combined with gimmicks:
(Arrives on camel) "I hear you like a good hump."
(Jogs in wearing trainers) "I thought you’d appreciate another runner-up."
And then there are the just straight out gimmicks. There's always someone who speaks in a foreign tongue because, you know, German is the language of love. Surely there are better ways to get achtung!
There’s Jasmine G, a pro basketball dancer. I’ve heard of Thai pro dancers who do amazing things with ping pong balls, so I can’t help but bow my head in respect for this girl. She rocks up with The Bachelor’s resident jeweller and already has three rings picked out. Meanwhile Danielle M brings maple syrup. Susannah gives Nick a beard massage. Brittany offers a rectal exam.
Then Josephine rocks up with a hot dog sausage in a hollowed out novel.
“You’re a weiner in my book.”
Is there no greater profession of love that smallgoods encased in literature? Alexis then arrives dressed as a shark, insisting she is a dolphin. There is one in every crowd.
Just when you think it can't get any worse, there are a couple of really bad ideas:
Your name’s Viall and my name's Hussey. So together that makes us a terrible slut.
My friends all think you’re a piece of sh*t.
But it is Liz who we are all intrigued about. She arrives half-way through the pack. The pair exchange pleasantries, but there is no immediate sign that Nick recognizes her.
She turns to enter the house, and through the straps of her dress, Nick sees the tattoo on her back. A light bulb comes on as he realizes that he has f*cked that tattoo before.
The cocktail party is the usual roundabout of jostling for attention and bitching. There are too many red dresses. She’s already had a turn with Nick. Why is that woman dressed as a shark?
“I’m a dolphin.”
No-one can convince Alexis that she is dressed as a shark. Little worry, because by the end of the night she just looks like Jaws has had one too many martinis and is trying to vomit up his last meal.
Chris Harrison appears with the first impression rose. Corinne looks at the rose ready to devour it length ways, like it’s one of Nanny Racquel’s cucumbers. She decides it’s time to make her move. First she drags Nick outside and produces a bag of coins from under a cushion. The mind boggles as to how she was able to secret those into the house. She tells him they are hug tokens. And here was Nick thinking that he could just tie them around her ankle and then throw her into the pool...
Nick and Liz have a chat about their debauched night together. He wonders why she never tried to get his number. I wonder why he never tried to get hers. He wonders why now? I think we all know why.
Corinne manages to barge in on one of the other girls and goes in for the pash. Confident that she has made a great first impression, she goes back to smugly brag to the other girls thereby establishing herself as the villain of the piece.
But Nick gives the first impression rose to Rachel.
“This is so unexpected,” she says as they walk out into the courtyard.
What I think is unexpected is the other cock in the hen house, clearly visible as they pass the open French doors. Or maybe that’s Alexis without her shark…dolphin suit.
I'm not surprised that he chose Rachel. They had a very sensible conversation earlier in the night. They have a Milwaukee connection; she studied law there. She has eighteen aunts and uncles. She wore a classy red dress which required no Hollywood tape to stay in place. She's exactly his type - female.
Chris arrives again to announce the imminent departure of seven girls. Kristina, the dental hygienist who speaks like her jaw has been wired shut goes into a meltdown. Hailey worries that she might be overlooked and have to hug a dolphin. Corinne adopts resting bitch face to get ‘get through this shit’.
Gone are Briana, Jasmine B, Olivia, Angela, Ida Marie, terrible slut Lauren and beard masseuse Susannah. As the dust settles, the dolphin gets to stay, as does Liz who despite her shaky status received the last rose. She’s not concerned about Corinne’s kiss, because she has her secret…for now.
So it’s game on. To take Nick’s own words, let’s hope he doesn’t f*ck it up. Even better, let’s hope he does. Cheers to the class of Season 21.
Photo Credits: 9 Now (Australia)
Originally published on www.fridaynightwithkath.com