Monday, May 23, 2011

Regrets? Well, maybe a few

Really? Am I back for more? What can I say? I just can't quit this damn show. I don't even think Ashley was a good choice for Bachelorette. And not just because of her new look, which is too dolled up for her girl-next-door image. She just doesn't have the je ne sais quoi I expect in a Bachelorette. But that's the beauty of this show: it works whether you like the characters involved or not. You either pull for the train through the tunnel or the train wreck.

This season opened with news that Ashley has been demoted from dentist to dental student and followed with a recap of just why she was not a good selection to be the rose distributor. We saw her in an endless loop of self-sabotage last season. But she assures us this season will be different. She won't let her insecurities get in the way of her happiness this time. I didn't believe her until she proved her point by dancing an interpretation of 'regret' alone on a big theatre stage. I guess she means business this time.

When did she become a dancer? Did we know that about her last season? Was Tenley her life-coach?

In fact, that was her theme: No regrets. No regrets.

So let's cut to the chase, shall we? Right off the bat, Ash tells Chris Harrison she was warned from a friend about a certain contestant (what do we call the guys?) who was there for, get this, "the wrong reasons". He was there just to promote his business. Still, the good-hearted no-regrets girl wanted to give him a fair chance. As she should. I mean, has any contestant in the history of the show that others have warned us about ever turned out to be anything less than misunderstood and upstanding citizens?

So she picks the dude. Hey, he's so smoking hot. What we take from this is that a) Ashley believes looks trump character and b) she's blind as a bat.

So we see the upcoming highlights at the end of the show and see that this guy – let's call him Bentley – is in it at the end. They're in Fiji and Ashley is professing her undying love for the single father. They kiss and kiss hard. Cut to Bentley telling us he's just not that into her, saying it would be a different story if it had been Emily. Then we see Ashley wailing on a bed, wondering how life has done her so wrong.

If we've learned anything from this TV franchise it's that humans are incapable of knowing what's best for them. Listen to your friends, people. They know what's best for you better than you do. Is there any way to rejig the series to make it about an arranged marriage? I think there's potential there. The South Asian market alone would make it a huge hit.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's take a look at the 25 bachelors, who arrived five at a time in five limos. Based on their brief introductions, I gave a preliminary thumbs-up or thumbs-down to each one. Nine of the 25 gentlemen received the coveted thumbs-up from me. They are, in order:
  1. Ryan, 31, the solar power saint and hopeless romantic. This guy is the chosen one of the producers, too, it would seem. He was the first in the series of vignettes, the first bachelor out of the limos, the first to sit down with Ashley in the mansion, and the winner of the first impression rose.
  2. Lucas, 30, oil man from Texas.
  3. William, 30, the Ohio cell phone salesman and hard-luck case whose umbrellas always fold up in the wind. His dad was an alcoholic and when he died, William's watch stopped. He also does impressions of Sean Connery and... Joan Rivers? Who was that second one he did? Anyway, he's clearly hiding behind the jokes. He also, refreshingly, told Ashley he was "just" a salesman.
  4. West, 30, a widowed prosecutor.
  5. Ben F, 28, a cute winemaker with a dead father, too. He likes well-rounded, cultured brunettes. Maybe that make-over will pay off afterall for Ashley.
  6. Michael, 29, who did a funny bit about dentists when he met her. Well, funny as far as contestants on this show goes.
  7. JP, 34, construction guy who's a sweet skinhead.
  8. Blake, if only because he's a dentist and didn't feel the need to tell her right away. I admire restraint.
  9. Constantine, if only because it's a memorable name. Didn't like the floss around the ring finger, though. I don't admire gimmicks.
Those were my keepers. Interestingly, she handed out 18 roses. Eight of my nine got one. So maybe you'll listen to me in the future, no? Only Michael got sent home.

We can't go any further without mentioning poor, drunk Tim, the liquor distribution guy. I guess they couldn't very well ignore his storyline, but did they have to show so much? Not to drop names or anything, but just this afternoon I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Bee, the senior correspondent of The Daily Show. She said that despite what people think, they often leave out hugely embarrassing or sensational statements from their subjects. And some segments even get killed just because they feel bad for a subject. You get the sense, though, with this franchise that we always see the worst side of someone.

And then there's Jeff, the masked man. He's not just some freak; he's covering his face to get to a deeper place. It's not what's on the outside that counts, it's what's on the inside. For all Ashley knows, he's got a horribly disfigured or grotesque face. Or at least the nose, eyes and forehead. Because let's face it, we can see most of his face, and the shape of his body. And from what we see, he looks fine. And that mask can't hide his self-seriousness. Which will happen first? Will he remove his mask or smile?

One guy (can't remember who) called his mom, who offered the sage fantasy suite advice (on the first episode yet!) to always remember protection. Nice. (No word of a lie: as I write this, Ella Fitzgerald is singing "The Lady is a Tramp" in the background.) Also, are they allowed to call whoever they want? Are there no rules in the house?

Some random priceless quotes:
"I cannot believe there's one that plays the guitar." – Ashley, who apparently has never seen an episode of The Bachelorette before.

"You cover up half your face and all of a sudden you're strange." – Jeff. Yup.

"That's a good thing." – Ashley when William told her he was a 30-year-old boy and hopes to continue acting like a boy the rest of his life. Ah, sweet youth.

"I'm a mature adult." – Jeff, the masked man.

"You seem really genuine." – Ashley, to Bentley.

"I think my husband is in this room." – Ashley, to the remaining 18. Again, she's obviously never seen the show or is aware of the marriage statistics it generates.
So what to make of it all? It has the makings of... all together now... the most dramatic season ever!