Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bachelor Ben: Courtney's mea culpa

The annual Women Tell All episode is always a classic, always good for 15 minutes of entertainment wrapped up in layers of network time wasters. This year's was no exception. The segments featuring the new and improved Courtney 2.0 were the only worthwhile bits on the show. We got to see a tearful and regretful model being attacked from all sides. That's always fun. But we'll get to that. I don't have much else to say about the other segments, but let's, as usual, go in order.

Why does Chris Harrison get a standing ovation? He's the constant face of the franchise, but his total face time is maybe 5% and he says the exact same things from season to season, depending on the show. But hey, I realize everyone in attendance is stoked just to be there. It couldn't be that they're told to stand and cheer, could it? Nah.

Oh, before I go any further in my stream of consciousness post, I got a comment last week from a newcomer to these pages, so far as I can tell. It was signed 'Anonymous', as many are, but I have ways of seeing which city it comes from and it's one that hasn't been represented in the comments before. In case you missed it, here it is:
Just a note, FYI. They drive the girls around in that limo (after they are eliminated) sometimes up to 6 hours egging them on emotionally trying to get them as worked up as possible to get that footage we see at the end. The producers do not stop badgering them, bringing up their past failed relationships, dead pets, whatever it takes, to get them to cry and become hysterical. Thought you'd want to know. 
That doesn't sound outside the realm of possibility, but it's nothing I had considered before. The comment suggests that often the women are completely fine after being dumped on national television so sometimes it takes up to six hours to get them to show some emotion. If that's the case, it truly sucks, but it doesn't surprise me. I'd just ask Anonymous for some information that corroborates the claim. Was Anonymous a contestant? Does Anonymous know a former contestant? Does or did Anonymous work on the show or know someone who did? You'd think that someone like Kacie B., for instance, who suffered a huge limousined breakdown, might have offered up the above excuse just to save face, although I'm sure there are contracts signed that forbid such talking out of school. But I always wonder what the consequences would be if someone reneged on that contract. Would a court uphold the contract and force the contestant to pay millions of dollars? Someone should test it out, thereby exposing the show for what it really does. I think the show would risk losing fan or network support if they successfully sued some twentysomething fan favourite who was put through emotional torture for the entertainment of the masses just for talking about the process.

But I digress.

Loved the reunion clip featuring our "favourite cast members." You know, such favourites as Mickey and Christina (who?) or Jon and Stacey (never heard of them) or Kasey and Lisa P. Okay, on closer inspection I remember Kasey but that's only because someone described his makeout session with Lisa P. as weird so I took a closer look. Sure enough, that was Kermit. Maybe Lisa P. was hoping he'd turn into a prince. Why else would anyone kiss that guy ever?

Then they showed Ed and Jillian followed by Roberto and Ali. You know, all the Bachelor success stories.

We're finally introduced to this year's former contestants and I'm struck, as I am each and every Women/Men Tell All episode, at how few of them I remember. And I write their names every week! Going on this show trying to reach some sort of lasting fame, beyond the metaphorical fifteen minutes, makes about as much sense as going on to find lasting love.

Harrison is always interested in getting their opinions and feelings regarding the first day they pull up to the house in the limos and meet Ben. Why? How is this relevant? Then again, Harrison is a former sports reporter and we know they're not exactly renown for their insightful questions.

The first montage sequence is on Blakeley, who completes the circle: She started out as a jerk, turned into a good girl midway through, and now returns as a jerk. It was a veritable circle jerk. But by the time Lady Courtney arrived, Blakeley was back as the good girl. Pick a character and stick to it, girlfriend.

When someone named Samantha asked Blakeley why so many of the women are such good friends but Blakeley isn't, the VIP Waitress with the sailor tattoo on her forearm said, "Because I'm a lot older than you and I'm more mature than you and I actually don't bother myself with small-minded people, that's why." Spoken like a mature adult.

Fashion notes: Emily was practically falling out of her top and Kacie B. had her shirt open to her naval, like Wes. Only Wes had bigger boobs.

Brittney, the grandma's girl who left the show, revealed her reasons: she felt "no attraction towards Ben whatsoever." No one asked about how her grandmother felt. Come on, Harrison, do your job. That was an obvious follow-up.

Brittney was always a quiet, almost invisible, presence on the show but she showed some firepower when she stopped the shrill Samantha in her tracks by saying, "You're like the chihuahua in the house: you just don't stop talking, you just don't stop talking, so shut up!" clapping her hands on each word for emphasis.

My gal Shawntel came back to talk about all the misplaced anger towards her. She felt bullied by the negative comments about her body image and how she was treated. And I don't blame her. She's hot. And why would anyone be upset with her rather than the producers or Chris Harrison who arranged for it to happen? That never ceases to amaze me. If the producers didn't think this would be a good idea, it ain't happening. In some cases, I'm sure they even approach former contestants to come back.

Emily flexed her impressive head muscles with some flawless logic and psychological analysis. She lost some respect for Ben (just as most of North America has), crystallizing our thoughts on the Great Skinnydipping-gate scandal of 2012: Ben disrespected the ten or so other women involved in the process when he got naked with Courtney because his judgment would always be clouded due to sex on the brain. Valid point. And fair enough if he admitted it and stopped the show right then and there, but he went through the process as if that nude embrace played no role in his future decision-making, putting girls through the emotional wringers by giving them false hope.

Next up was Nicki, the "beautiful divorcée." The hyperbolic Harrison said, "We all fell in love with you and your story." Really? Did I miss that? I liked Nicki but at no time did I feel she transcended the show and became America's sweetheart. Not even within the show. They showed the clip of her tragic limo ride and she said she didn't know if she could ever get over this heartbreak. In response to Harrison's queries, Nicki now says, "It hurt a lot but it's been a few months and I'm myself again." Oh good. We were all worried.

Kacie B. got her turn in the hot seat and was grilled by Harrison, the former sports reporter, with this gem: "So you think you'll find the man of your dreams?" To which Kacie replied, "No. I think that was my last shot. Ben was the only man for me. I'm destined to live a life of misery now." What the hell?! What kind of question was that? I mean, even for a former sports reporter! (If you missed the show, that wasn't Kacie's response at all, but you probably get that. You get it, so you know just how ridiculous that question was.)

Kacie got in a nice little jab at the once golden Ben, saying she now realizes they're not meant for each other because their "core values" are different. As in, she has some; he doesn't.

Now we get to the good stuff with Courtney. This was such a big segment they decided to hire the segment producer from the Maury Povich show. So we got to see Courtney pacing backstage, unable to hear what was being said about her onstage. I half expected she'd come out and we'd find out if Ben really was the father.

How do we all feel about Courtney's performance? Here's my take on it: I hate to hit a girl when she's down, but my sense is that she truly is upset but not because she hurt people or bad-mouthed anyone on TV, but because the tabloids are tearing her a new one, which is causing her and her family grief. I get the feeling that if the tabloids either ignored her or somehow painted her as a hero or comedic genius, she'd be totally happy, even if the women in the house were upset.

In other words, I agree with Jennifer that it was a complete image repair job rather than heartfelt mea culpa.

She said, "I have many regrets. I'm disappointed in myself and how I acted and how I treated the women. Looking back, there are so many things I would have done differently." Okay, fair start. But she kept tripping over her self-delusion. She went on to say, "Living in the house was the problem. I felt like they didn't like me." So she only acted in self-defense, is that it? Because she wasn't liked, she lashed out. It didn't occur to her it was the other way around?

She continued: "I came into this not wanting to have confrontation at all. But there were things that were said that were pretty nasty. And I knew people were talking about." Again, it was only self-defense, she implies. But when Blakeley asked her directly what she said to deserve being called a stripper and the kind of girl your boyfriend cheats on you with, Courtney said, "Nothing. Absolutely nothing." In other words, she only lashed out because people were saying nasty things about her, except she admits Blakeley said nothing about her. Ah, classic sociopathic reasoning.

The C-name passed off her behaviour as a result of insecurity. Enter Professor Emily, who pointed out that everyone else was insecure, too, only "we were human beings and we tried to make a connection to get through." Courtney said nothing, just shook her head and willed herself to tear up.

More inconsistency from Courtney: "I wish they would have had the chance to get to know me a little better and know my story a little bit." And who knows, maybe she was actively wishing this when she locked herself in her room while everyone else was socializing.

Even her apology was a fake: "If I've hurt your feelings, I'm really sorry for that." Note the conditional if. And Professor Emily once again cut through the BS to find the illogic of Courtney's pleas for forgiveness. She cited Courtney's refusal to accept Emily's own apology when C said, "I don't forgive and forget." Emily asked, "Are you asking us to do the same things you wouldn't do?" She's a sharp one, that Emily. And did I mention she was practically falling out of her top?

Harrison is a sucker for tears. He was more interested in asking about how the negative press has affected her and her family rather than how her own behaviour affected her family. I'd like to know what her parents thought of their daughter's behaviour on the show. But it provided another chance for Courtney to deflect: "I don't like being tore [sic] apart by the tabloids – it's awful!" I don't blame her, but she's not looking at the root cause. Why are they tore-ing her apart? Also, I'm always amazed when celebrities care about tabloids because, really, who reads them? And who believes them? I know, I know, millions do, but it's not like they're respected publications.

Courtney gave us a hint as to the outcome next week when she said, "I'm sorry for hurting Ben. I cared for him." Note the past tense. Catching herself, she added, "And still do." If he did choose her, it doesn't sound like they're still together. But we never expected that.

As we saw her walking off-stage (completely tear-free, by the way) and out the back door to a waiting limo, we saw interspersed shots of the girls gossiping about her. I could catch the odd word among the whispers but that's about it. Did anyone hear what was said? Where were the subtitles the show usually gives us?

Then it was Ben's turn, and that was really a nothing segment, other than we learned that Chris Harrison doesn't know how to use the phrase 'begs the question' correctly. Jamie, who tried to walk Ben through a kiss earlier in the season, felt that that embarrassment wasn't enough on her résumé so she decided to throw herself at Ben saying if things don't work out with whoever he chooses, she's still available.

All that was left was a final montage of the final two contestants. And all I could think is that neither one is a good match for Ben, despite him insisting he could see himself living the rest of his life with either one of them. This is one of the few seasons where I don't have a positive rooting interest. My only rooting interest is negative, hoping he finally figures Courtney out.

And just when I realized they spent the last two hours with all the former contenders and didn't spend a single second on the train wreck that was "professional" blogger Jenna, we were treated to the outtakes. Monica revealed she thought Jenna was "batshit crazy" (this just in!) and then offered to share a (new, wrapped) tampon with her. They hugged. And... scene.

Next week: The most controversial season finale in Bachelor history!... What else did you expect?


Anonymous said...

Hi Guy,

I was the one who posted about the 'hysterical exit-limo' footage. I learned about this practice (and much, much more) by reading other people's blogs, including Reality Steve. There's a ton of information about The Bachelor franchise out there, posted by insiders who know what goes on behind the scenes. Can I absolutely guarantee that it's true? No. But based on my gut instinct and what I see on my TV screen, it makes perfect sense.

Thanks, and great blog!

Guy MacPherson said...

Thanks, Shelby. I believe it, too. Just wish someone from past seasons would confirm it.