Mary reviews Carol (terribly)!

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Carol is a movie that takes place in the 50s or 60s in New York or England and is about two gay ladies who like to wear hats and look at each other a lot.

Rooney Mara plays the more American one and Cate Blanchett plays the more English one. Rooney Mara has a boyfriend she doesn’t really like that much and Cate Blanchett has a husband she doesn’t really like that much and from whom she may be divorced, but they still live together and dance together at parties because it’s the 50s or 60s and I guess divorce isn’t that okay yet, nor are gay wives.

Anyway, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara look at each for like 3 hours and every conversation seems to be punctuated by Cate Blanchett telling Rooney Mara what a “strange girl” she is. I mean she’s gay and wears an ugly hat the entire movie, but I don’t know if that constitutes strange.

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Anyway, at some point they finally touch each other’s boobs and simulate oral sex as a tender orchestra crescendos in the background. They look at each other some more and that is how the movie ends.

Also, I saw maybe a total 20 minutes of this movie in between REM-less bouts of sleep, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss any major plot points. There is a lot of looking. And most girls like dolls but SOME girls like trains and aren’t those girls strange and ugly hat-wearing? Also men wear hats and are annoying and maybe one of them tries to hit a woman? There was a loud, seemingly violent moment that woke me up, but idk. Anyway, that’s Carol.

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A Blog Post from January 2017, Shared in January 2018

Greetings from a little over a year since my last blog post! Oh, if on-the-cusp-of-25 Mary could see 26-year-old Mary now… I think she’d say “Congratulations on moving out of your parents’ house,” “No, I think you can tell that you’ve been doing Pilates… really!” and “You’re still wearing that?” Anyway, I didn’t share a lick of my writing in 2017, which felt like a step back after balancing 3 writing/editing jobs in 2016 (while still managing to recap The Bachelor). I just find that these days I’m more likely to tweet a couple good one-liners at work and then go home and fall into bed with all the lights and my glasses still on… rather than, say, spend an entire day perfecting an essay. I still write something substantial that I’m proud of every now and then. I wrote this blog post in the hangover of my first cross-country work trip. Once I was done, I thought about sharing it, but I didn’t think it was good enough. Now, a year later, I found it in the rubble of notes on my phone and I actually like it. And even if it’s not perfect or neatly structured with a strong conclusion, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing. As a new year kicks off, I’d like to share more of my writing and write more! So here is a blog post I wrote in January 2017, shared in January 2018:


I’m going to start this blog post by trying to recall the plot of Newsies. Because why not?

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Okay, the year is anywhere between 1914 and 1940, and a group of poor newspaper boys in New York City who are also possibly orphaned/homeless band together to get better payment for being Newsies.

Alright, I’m satisfied with that summary. Now to look it up…

“A musical based on the New York City newsboy strike of 1899. When young newspaper sellers are exploited beyond reason by their bosses they set out to enact change and are met by the ruthlessness of big business.” –IMDB

… nailed it?

Funny story about Newsies. I went to a theater camp when I was around 8 or 9 and it culminated in the campers performing shortened versions of well-known musicals for friends and family. I think one age group got to perform Cats. Another got to do Grease. My age group had Newsies. I knew this was some shit because Newsies wasn’t even a real musical—it was a movie musical! Also it was a total sausage fest. So my predominantly female group had to don some ugly flat caps and slacks and act like rowdy (and apparently pre-Depression-era) newsboys.

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Being forced to wear this as a preadolescent girl may or may not have scarred me forever. (Fun fact: This is an actual costume you can buy, labeled “Plus-size 20s newsie party costume Halloween Costume Adult Kids Newsmen cosplay costume for carnival party top quality”)

I remember the day our camp counselor asked each of us if we wanted to dance or have lines in the show. I struggled with her creative pronunciation of “lines,” but after processing it for a moment, I obviously jumped at the opportunity to portray a lion. Nobody believes me when I tell them this story. I think because 1. That is a very stupid mistake for a child nearing 10 years old to make, and 2. Our group had already screened Newsies and therefore knew the subject matter we would be tackling (in which lions did not play a key role).

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Listen, all I can say is I had an imagination (a good thing, the last time I checked!) and thought our counselor would somehow work lions into the story. Also, I was not the GROWN ADULT in this scenario who couldn’t pronounce “lines” correctly!

Anyway, I was given one line, which to be fair to younger me, was more like a mini monologue. There were dates, locations, and names of historical figures to remember… guys, you read my introduction to this blog post. You know the timeline in which I approximated Newsies to take place. Now imagine my 8-year-old brain trying to recall about seven different boring turn-of-the-century trivia items.

Looooong story not so short, on the night of the show, I forgot the line. I think I got maybe 10 words into it before my mind completely blanked. And I drowned, y’all. I stood on that stage in silence for almost a full minute and felt a prickly heat rise up to my head. I stared blankly at the exasperated face of my counselor who sat at the foot of the stage, making crazy shapes with her mouth and trying to mime the words to me, to no avail. I heard sparse, uncomfortable coughs throughout the auditorium echo like slamming doors.

“I just wanted to do Cats!” I thought, under the glare of the spotlight.

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Tbh I seriously contemplated running off the stage and just peacing out of that building. Like, that was the only instance in my life where I could think of no other option than to flee. I somehow gathered myself after that torturous minute and choked out the last few words of my line. So it played something like:

“In 1899, the streets of New York City echoed with the voices of newsies……………………….……………………………………….…..…………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………………………………………………………..……………..………………………………………………………………………..……. until one day all that changed.”

I’m fairly certain this monologue was meant to impart that the newsies were able to organize once they established leadership within their group, but without the 5-6 historical references my mind simply refused to hold onto, the monologue lost most of its context and basically implied that the newsies died or were in some other way silenced.

I also think this was the monologue that immediately preceded the only kind of good thing about Newsies—the musical number “Seize the Day.” And I sort of botched the segue into that song with my curious “The newsies were around… until they weren’t” monologue.

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Apparently one of the newsboys had an eyepatch? Also, yes, a young Christian Bale was in Newsies,  but that’s a whole other blog post.

Once the show came to an end, I met with my family in the audience. They were very nice to me and gave me flowers, and I was deeply, deeply ashamed.

This experience did not sour me on musical theater. I continued performing in plays and musicals for another 10 years and never forgot another line on stage again. Though I do have persistent nightmares about being on stage and forgetting my lines, and I think we all know who’s responsible (looking at you, lady who couldn’t pronounce “lines” correctly!)

The only thing the experience really soured me on was Newsies. It’s a movie that many of my peers seem to have a fondness for (I won’t deny that “Seize the Day” is a dope song and I have it on a mix CD). But I’ve never been able to get into the story.

A few years after my disappointing Newsies-away camp, a babysitter, who had been informed of my affinity for musical theater, came to watch me for a night. She had a DVD of Newsies in tow. I sighed grimly. Obviously my parents didn’t give her a thorough enough briefing of my personal history in musical theater. But I decided to give it a shot. I hadn’t been paying close attention when my camp group viewed the movie (another possible explanation for my vague understanding of how lions played into it), and maybe I’d like it this time around.

We made it 15 minutes into the movie and I asked her if we could watch Little Shop of Horrors instead.

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She reluctantly agreed, and we sat through 90 minutes of a man-eating plant singing the word “shit” over and over again (and don’t forget Steve Martin’s playful portrayal of a sadistic dentist who beats his girlfriend!) My babysitter was undeniably uncomfortable, and seemed to be wondering if she would be reprimanded for having let a 10-year-old child watch this movie. I was delighted at having put Newsies in its place, and probably also low-key developing feelings for Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn.

Newsies sucks and is boring, is my point. But mostly I think it’s one of those shame balls buried deep down inside of me, like in the movie Inside Out, where every experience a person has is a little orb inside of them and they all get filed away and some of them you never think about again, but some of them you keep coming back to, and they’re like your shame touchstone or your contentment touchstone or your sexual confusion touchstone… “core memories.” Thanks, Google! Well, forgetting my lines in Newsies is a core memory, and a memory that a lot of things were built on:

My drive to succeed in theater and become an A+ line memorizer (I may have skated by with barely passing grades in school, but if you asked me to memorize a lengthy and farcically complex monologue, I was your gal!)
My hatred of newsboy hats (seriously, I hate them more than fedoras)
And most of all, my hatred of Newsies. God, I hate it.

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Ugh.

But you know what? I remember my sister telling me a story about carpooling to swim practice in middle school with an older boy she looked up to. He was kind of a cool and removed athlete type and he had his MP3 player hooked up, playing whatever was cool in the early 2000’s. Eminem? Nelly? I don’t know. I was playing Tetris and listening to Weird Al in my bedroom literally every day.

Anyway, amidst all the “hot” tracks, a new song started in with a plaintive horn refrain followed by a shaky-voiced teenage boy crooning, “Open the gates and seeeeize the daaaaaay…” My sister was awestruck.

“Is this… from Newsies?” she asked.

The boy’s mother, who was driving the car, cheerfully chimed in. “Oh yes, he just loves Newsies!”

The song was quickly switched off, egos were crushed, core memories were formed, etc.

But my point here is that even though I think Newsies is lame and boring and a sausage fest and the source of all my pain in life, if it made straight boys interested in musical theater, bless it! Man I hate it, but bless it! What the world needs now is for everyone’s taste to be a little gayer (Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s original song title). Seriously, how much better would the entire world be if everyone respected a well-timed key change and some tight choreography? The world would be so much better.

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It’s like how when you see trash TV like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, you want to jump to the conclusion that these people are ignorant and bigoted, but then they’re all really cool towards their gay uncle and 7-year-old Honey Boo Boo plainly says, “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a little gay. Everybody’s a little gay.” And, genuinely taken aback, you think, “Amen! You know what? The world is big and we’re all just people and everyone deserves a chance.” And then you find out that her mom got back with her sex offender boyfriend who abused one of her daughters and you think, “Never mind. The world is a dumpster fire. Sorry, I forgot.”

ANYWAY, this post really went somewhere. After trying to remember the plot of Newsies, it was meant to go into general life updates and how January went (I didn’t drink for the entire month and Donald Trump became president—two things that should never go hand in hand). But, I couldn’t resist reflecting back on that horrible theater camp experience. And we did this whole stream of consciousness thing and here we are. At Honey Boo Boo’s mom. Where we all find ourselves at the end of our respective journeys.

What? Okay, bye.

TLC

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Mary Guesses Movie Plots 2

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Jack
 Reacher: Never Go Back
 is the second installment in the Jack Reacher series. Reacher is a frustrated but determined man, so named because of his persistence, yet inability, to reach things. Whether those things are of the physical, like a cookie jar on a high shelf, or the conceptual, like the happiness within oneself, Reacher is forever grasping. In this film, Jack Reacher is trying to reach a particularly important button that rolled under the refrigerator. He has these custom pants, you see, and the buttons are one-of-a-kind. He can’t just go to the fabric store and buy any old replacement button! The button he needs is right there! But just out of reach…

Boo! A Madea Halloween

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Tyler Perry’s long-running Madea series sees a significant genre shift with Boo! A Madea Halloween. In this film, Madea and all your favorite characters are preparing for the spookiest and most outrageous Halloween night of their lives! But little do they know, a much more sinister force has gotten a head start on the festivities…

Soon, a bloodbath descends upon the town. Candied apples and smiling jack-o-lanterns are traded for chainsaws and machetes as a masked murderer feasts on the flesh of the innocent. But even this madman may be no match for Madea. Find out… this Halloween.

Underworld: Blood Wars

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This movie has no relation to the popular Underworld film series about vampires and werewolves. Underworld: Blood Wars is a historical drama, about a much forgotten leg of the Revolutionary War deemed “The Blood Wars,” in which soldiers in the colonies used blood as a weapon. Seriously. They filled entire cannons with old, coagulated blood that they’d scooped up from the battlefields and just start firing away. They outfitted muskets with special blood pellets fashioned by soldiers versed in the art of “Bloode Packaging,” a now obsolete colonial art form that is sadly only detailed in more obscure, out-of-print history texts. In Underworld: Blood Wars, audiences will see for the first time the heroic efforts of American soldiers, who dared to fight fire with blood, in hopes that it would gross out and confuse the British. It did.

Inferno

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Inferno
 
is the third film installment of Daniel Boone’s mystery/thriller series. First there was The Da Vinci Code, in which Tom Hanks’s hard-nosed detective character Buster “Jinx” Maloney tried to decipher a secret code hidden within the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci. Then came Angels & Demons, in which Hanks—this time with a drastically different attitude and hairline—attempted to steal the Declaration of Independence. And now with Inferno, Hanks will march straight into the bowels of hell to retrieve the Holy Grail, but not before he endures a series of trials and obstacles with his father (Sean Connery) and a couple of handsome Nazis. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for twists and turns at every corner, as 60-year-old Hanks and a beautiful 25-year-old co-star uncover long-hidden truths that could completely change life on earth as we know it!

Priceless

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Priceless 
is about those moments in life that money can’t buy, like laughing with a lover on a lazy Sunday morning. Passing a hot bowl of mashed potatoes around a table of smiling friends and family. The excitement and anticipation of a first dance. The dog eating your homework—no really, he did! Honest! Letting your 5-year-old help you paint the baby’s room and… oh no! You didn’t need to paint the furniture, too! *gentle head shake with a smile*

That feeling of coming home from a long business trip and setting down your briefcase with a sigh of relief… only to be pummeled by a happy, well-lit golden retriever! An attractive young couple sitting on a park bench and condescendingly cooing over a hunched elderly couple holding hands. The young woman muses, “Do you think that could be us someday?” only to turn and see the man down on one knee, bearing a small black velvet box, which causes beautiful, shiny tears to spring forth from her eyes as the screen fades to black and a Sarah McLaughlin-esque song rolls in. There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.

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Mary Guesses Movie Plots

Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Mary Guesses Movie Plots. This is something I do often when a movie is on the threshold of being released, and I only have a title or poster to go off of, so I figured I should write some of these down. You may find I’m inconsistent with the way I guess movie plots. For some, like Miss Peregrine’s, I had a little bit of background knowledge to work with. For others, like Deepwater Horizon, I only had a title to work with and I completely fabricated a plot, going as far as casting my own actors. (I later learned that this is a movie about a horrible oil spill, and not, as I first thought, a gritty drama about cabin people. Welp… you can’t win them all. And you shouldn’t post them all on the internet. And yet you do, as the vague promise of validation hangs in the air…)
Enjoy!

MechanicResurrection 

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In an ironic twist, a dead mechanic, who spent his life resurrecting cars, is resurrected. But he finds that sometimes being given a jump doesn’t always guarantee things will run smoothly!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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These are kids even the orphanage doesn’t want! Miss Peregrine takes in all the fish-scaled, cloven-hooved, eye-patch wearing, telekinesis-having weirdos and makes them delicious soup on a nightly basis. At this home, they learn how to wield their powers. Even if that power is only creepily holding a single red balloon with a dour expression. Get ready for your next bundle of merchandise, Hot Topic!

Deepwater Horizon

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Jennifer Lawrence stars in the role of a lifetime as a haggard, mute 78-year-old woman who lives in the wilderness and has learned to make beautiful wood carvings with her teeth. Her life is comprised of hard work and simple pleasures, until a handsome, mysterious stranger (played by Chris Hemsworth) wanders into her neck of the woods and dares to give her the gift of speech. But sometimes the language of love can’t be taught.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax

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Louis Drax is a cat on the last leg of his journey on this crazy blue marble. He’s been everything from a pampered Sphynx in Ancient Egypt to a rambling barn cat in Louisiana, and now, as a sedentary Tabby in Brooklyn, he must close the book on all the lives he’s led. But first, there’s amends to make with his estranged daughter-turned-stripped, Angel (a Calico), and his successful ex-wife Smokey (a Persian blue), whose writing career took off while Louis’ hard-won novella met with dismal reviews. It’s not easy being Louis Drax, but on the ninth go-round, maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…

Sully

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Sully
stars Tom Hanks as Sully! In this movie, he has gray hair and his name is Sully. Tom Hanks prepared for this role by dying his hair gray and asking everyone to call him to call him Sully. And it paid off! What a performance!

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The Bachelor Season 20 Premiere: Chickens, and Horses, and Small Town Values! Oh, my!

Ben Higgins introduces himself as “just a normal guy from a small town in Indiana” who can’t believe he’s the Bachelor! Why, it weren’t long ago he was helpin’ his Pa with a carburetor out back. Seems like only yesterday he was pushin’ a tire down the street to pass the time ‘cause Ma couldn’t afford one of them fancy handballs. He don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout these Hollywood types, his family don’t even have one of those moving picture boxes! But let me tell you, homeboy knows how to pose for the camera!

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Get outta here with those bedroom eyes!

Anyway, The Bachelor tries its best to make Ben seem like he came from humble origins and not a wealthy as shit family.

Ben goes back to his hometown of Warsaw so the crew could get this artistic through-the-armpit shot.
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He talks vaguely about how Warsaw has instilled “small town values” in him, though he doesn’t specify what those are beyond being good at basketball. Of his hometown, Ben also states, “Indiana to me is about a way of life” and “I think Warsaw feels like America,” so brace yourselves, folks, because we’ve got a real wordsmith on our hands.

As I mentioned in my recap of last season’s Bachelorette, Ben has a face that I want to both punch and kiss. He’s so fucking cute, it’s infuriating. He has the sort of boyishly cute face I was always drawn to as a youngster but was never able to get, as those faces often belonged to guys who were socially out of my league. So it made sense when I found out Ben was the quarterback on his high school football team.
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I wasn’t especially attracted to football players in school, but there would often be a well-liked, socially-accepted-across-the-board rogue who might have laughed at my joke once and I’d think, “That’s it! I have a chance with him!” and then I’d find out he got a blow job from a girl in my gym class who was allowed to smoke occasional cigarettes from her mom’s purse, so… I guess what I’m trying to say is Ben reminds me of high school heartache.

Ben hitches a ride back home to see his folks in the little ol’ log cabin where he grew up… PSYCH! Ben’s parents live in gigantic lake house that looks like it could house multiple families.
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I want to scoff so badly, but his parents are genuinely adorable and give him good old people advice that is boring, so I won’t relay it here.

Ben closes the Warsaw montage by saying, “I want to find somebody who supports those small town values that are very important to me.” Wow, the ladies in the mansion better be good at basketball!

Ben meets three previous Bachelors: Chris Soules, Sean Lowe, and Jason Mesnick. This is the first season of The Bachelor I’ve actually watched, so I’m kind of flabbergasted that women once competed for these men. They look like the Lollipop Guild.
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Enter Chris Harrison, whose hairline looks about four years older and whose eyes look about dead after countless years of feigning interest in hot tub-fueled relationships between personal trainers and kindergarden teachers.
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We then meet the special contestants who get a 1-minute TV spot, which means they probably will not be eliminated tonight. So here are some faces you can get used to:

We meet Lauren, who I will forget because she has long blonde hair and not much else going on like 10 of the other contestants.
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There’s Caila, which is one of the more interesting spelling variations of Kayla I’ve seen. She broke up with her boyfriend after seeing Ben on the previous season of The Bachelorette, so we know she has really good judgement. Caila is also shown doing a still life painting, so we know she’s #deep.
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I’m sure she has more than a few beanies in her closet and more than a few Mumford & Sons albums on vinyl.

Jubilee is a war vet, which is definitely a departure from the kindergarden teacher/nutritionist/lifestyle expert trend I’ve noticed with women on this show. I feel kinda pervy for immediately being like, “Jubilee’s body is banging!” but I mean…
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Also one of her favorite movies is Newsies, so I like her.

Mandi is a dentist from Portland who I can only assume was invented by Portland. Like, she literally emerged from the earth, already predisposed to crazy hats and industrial circus music or something. There are just so many different things going on with Mandi.

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In the bottom photo, Mandi stands in front of a man on a unicycle playing a flaming bagpipe.

Then there are Emily and Haley, whose occupations, respectively, are listed as “Twin.”
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They say a lot of things in unison, they wear matching outfits, they ride tandem bicycles, they are here because the producers thought, “Why not?” These girls also have yet to encounter an inevitably huge identity crisis.

Amanda talks like a baby and HAS babies!
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I actually think Amanda seems very sweet, and I wish she could bring her kids to the mansion because they’re fucking adorable. I’m sort of rooting for Amanda, even though it seems unlikely that a woman with multiple kids will make it very far in this competition.

There’s also Tiara, and no, her name is not the most interesting thing about her. It’s her chickens!
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Tiara keeps many chickens and has one special chicken who is with her at all times. Could Ben be her new special chicken?
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Probably, since she has a picture of him (and her chickens) on her mantle.

Then there’s Sam, an attorney and also our first obligatory “contestant with a tragic backstory.” When she was young, she lost her father to ALS. Sam has clearly been through a lot and made some tough decisions in her life, but this outfit was not one of them.

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Come on, girl. Flowy shorts or flowy top? Pick ONE. You can’t have both.

Now it’s time to meet the other girls who are less interesting and several of whom will be eliminated tonight!

Before the ladies exit the limo, Chris Harrison asks Ben if he can get him anything to calm his nerves. Ben asks for a hug, which is surprising and kind of adorable. Chris Harrison kindly obliges, but his initial reaction face is magic.

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“I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.”

Caila with a CAI gets a running start out of the limo and leaps into Ben’s arms! A leap of love! A leap of faith! A leap that says, “I saw you on TV and left my boyfriend for you!”
Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 11.53.29 AMThen there’s Lace, whose name is pronounced just as you’d think. My guess is her parents looked around the room and decided Paper Towel Holder didn’t quite have the right ring to it. Lace it is! Lace decides she’s going to be the first one to get in there and give Ben a smack on the lips. And that she does!
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Ben seems genuinely bewildered, but is polite about it. Lace says some vaguely flirty/threatening things through gritted teeth, as she will throughout the rest of the episode, and struts away to some studio electric guitar, signifying that Lace will be our force to be reckoned with this season!

Leah, an event planner, exits the limo, football in hand. Um, “small town values” are about basketball, Leah, but you’re on the right track.

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Leah makes an entrance that can only be described as regal.

There is a girl who wears a unicorn head.
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A girl in pajamas, who I actually really respect. Fuck an evening gown.
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Portland wears a giant rose on her head and really commits to it for the rest of the evening.
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One girl brings a miniature horse.
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A ginger steps out and she’s cute as a button, but I know she’s going home because she’s a redhead. I mean, let’s be real. Gingers only make it so far in this world.
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(I’m allowed to say this because I’m a fake redhead. If anything, that gives me more merit in saying it. I CHOSE this for myself!)

Haley and Emily make their entrance and once the other women realize they’re competing with twins, the general consensus seems to be, “Shit.”
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Many of the contestants think the twins have an unfair advantage, but you would think more them would accept the twins since The Parent Trap was frequently listed as a favorite movie among the contestants. Other recurring favorites? The Notebook, Bridesmaids, Elf, and The Hangover. Come on, ladies! Haven’t any of you seen a Coen brothers film?

There’s also a nutritionist who hates gluten and breaks some baguettes on the ground to prove her point.

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Incidentally, one of the contestants is named Baguette.

Inside, Lace is throwing shade at everyone and saying that she’s the best looking and all the other girls are ugly, dumb, and fake. But her name is still Lace, so I mean…

There’s LB, who I think resembles Kaitlyn Bristowe.
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I wonder, “Will this be too much for Ben? Can he reopen the door on another big-eyed, bubbly brunette? Can he reopen the door on love?”

Enter Olivia, a news anchor in a sparkly dress with even sparklier (?) eyes.
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She has the wide-set, striking facial features of a beautiful lion. She scares me a little. If I encountered her in the wild, likely as a small one-armed monkey or something equally pathetic, I would immediately lay down my life in defeat so she could make a subpar lunch out of me. She has that commanding energy about her. She’s the sort of woman that other women look at and just say, “I surrender. I give up. I don’t know why I thought I could ever be a beautiful, successful woman. Here, take all my bangles and blushes. I’m gonna go live next to that trashcan fire behind the Rite Aid like I should have done a long time ago.”

I have a feeling Olivia the jungle cat could win this thing. It’s the same feeling I had when Shawn Booth, a.k.a. Doofy Ryan Gosling, stepped onto the set of The Bachelorette last season. We shall see.

Finally all the ladies have made their entrance and Ben is ready to address his throng of admirers. But before Ben can even wrap up his spiel, before the fake laughter from the ladies has even subsided, Portland cuts in to get some alone time with our Bachelor.
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It’s like Bret Michaels said, “Every rose has its thorn.”

While Ben is getting to know some of the women, Becca and Amber, contestants on the previous season of The Bachelor, arrive to get to know Ben as well.
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I don’t really care, but apparently this a big deal and the other contestants lose their shit.

Lace tries to kiss Ben again. He gives a very diplomatic response about how he’d rather to talk to everyone first than be distracted by the physical, but reassures her by telling her she’s beautiful a million times. This is reassurance Lace does not need.
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There are few strong contenders for the First Impression Rose this evening, but as is in the Circle of Life, the Ben predictably gives that rose to the Queen of the Jungle, the top of the food chain, Olivia.
Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 2.19.37 PM
Fine with me. I’m just ridin’ the rails with my hobo buddies, wearing a tangle of Ziploc bags as underwear, puttin’ on eyeliner with coal from the steam engine. I’m fine. Never been better. I’m free!! It’s you who’s trapped in a cage, Olivia—the cage of feminine beauty standards!

It’s time for the first Rose Ceremony! 28 women, all with the hair and makeup of a daytime Emmy-winning soap opera star, clad in gowns so eye-poppingly glitzy, they’ve gone past impressive and straight to boring. Who will stay and who will go?
Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 2.27.21 PM
Sent home are pretty much all of the blunt-featured women, including Gluten Gal, Pajama Game, and Mini Horse. Chickens is also sent home 😦 But that’s probably for the best since she’s never been away from her chickens for more than 10 days. And as I suspected, the redhead was sent away. She chalks it up to: “He may have not been into redheads. Honestly, some people aren’t.” Girl, you’ll have your day in the sun (but make sure to wear that SPF 50). And when all the redheads go to heaven and everyone else goes to hell and I get to hang out in the waiting area for eternity because I at least tried to make the switch, then Ben will be sorry.

Lace pulls Ben aside to start the premature nagging in the relationship. “You didn’t even look at me once!” she cries, and “If you want me to go home, I’ll just go home,” she mumbles.
Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 2.55.36 PM
Lace is the sort of person who says mean and accusatory things with a smile on her face, which is terrifying.

Well, in addition to Lace, it looks like we’ll have some fun things in store this season. One girl gets a black eye (ostensibly from Lace?), the twins may finally break their bond with each other, the girls cry beautiful tears, Ben cries beautiful tears, there is a lot of contemplative standing near water and views from helicopters, Jubilee gets this quote from Shakespeare wrong:
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Stay tuned—it’s gonna be a good season!

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“At the End of the Day…” : The Bachelorette Season Finale

Ten weeks ago, I set out to write a weekly critical analysis of one of the most time-honored representations of true love our country knows. A perilous journey strewn with shattered dreams, broken hearts, and hot tub infections. A journey that culminates in the image every woman dreams of for herself: being proposed to with a gaudy engagement ring while donning a beautiful gown, a level 5 tan, and professionally done boring soft waves. I’m talking about The Bachelorette.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.57.36 PM
In my quest to provide weekly updates and insights, I ended up recapping roughly only 60% of the show because “at the end of the day,” I had to recap “for the right reasons,” and “my heart was somewhere else.”

My heart was anywhere else. Rewatching entire episodes of this show is exhausting, and just makes me question my life’s worth in general, so I had to take a few weeks off. For my mental health, y’all. Hometowns is a big deal, and I tried my best to engage with it and work up a recap, but this was literally the only note I took:

“Nick has like 17 siblings seemingly ranging from 9-40 years old. Nick’s Mom looks likes an angry, world-weary Toni Collette. Honestly, his whole family looks tired of his shit.”

But I did want to see Kaitlyn’s quest for true love through to the end, and figured it was only right to provide one final recap.

So here it is, folks… the final rose:


We meet Kaitlyn’s family. Maybe we already did. I don’t know, I was really phoning in my last viewing. Anyway, her mom Leslie looks like Joan Collins and her dad Mike looks like a hand puppet.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.17.08 AMHer family’s pretty adorable. They all wear Easter egg colored clothes and pepper their sentences with plenty of “oots” and “aboots,” which is exactly what I want and expect when Canadians are on my TV screen.

I don’t know how to feel about Kaitlyn’s mom at first, with her face full of makeup and very current statement jewelry, but when she talks to Nick, she lays down the law. In so many words, she calls him arrogant and jealous and then asks the crucial questions:

She hasn't even been talking to Nick for a full minute and is already tired of looking at him. Join the club, Leslie.

She hasn’t even been talking to Nick for a full minute and already looks tired of him. Join the club, Leslie.

Homeboy tries to seem sincere, “bashfully” looking away and nervously laughing. In Nick’s case, these are the not signs of a socially anxious or shy person, but rather the signs of a habitual LIAR.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.08.32 AMNick musters up some crocodile tears in expressing his feelings for Kaitlyn and though Leslie seems like a smart cookie, she buys a ticket to the waterworks.

Nick crams in on the couch with Kaitlyn’s family and looks awkward as hell.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 2.19.11 PMHe’s polite enough, but has very little to say about why he’s there. He acts like a 15-year-old who’s being forced to interact with his homecoming date’s family. They’re like, “So, what do you like about our daughter?” and he’s like, “Honestly, I’m just trying to get a little under the bra action.”

Nick cannot maintain eye contact with anyone for more than 6 seconds at a time, but oddly enough, seems to consistently kiss Kaitlyn with his eyes open.

What the hell?! That is some serial killer shit. Run, Kaitlyn, run!

Shawn is leaps and bounds ahead of Nick in terms of behaving like a dignified, grown ass man in front of Kaitlyn’s parents.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.33.23 AMHe strides in with firm handshakes and warm hugs, he gives Kaitlyn’s sister gifts for her kids, he makes EYE CONTACT. Ring them bells, preacher man!

I was worried that Shawn, whose theatricality pales in comparison to Nick’s, wouldn’t make as much of an impression on Kaitlyn’s mother, but because he can use his words to express his feelings, he manages to get Leslie choked up.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.50.21 AMShawn also makes the classy move of bringing Kaitlyn’s parents together to get both of their blessings in proposing to Kaitlyn (I can guarantee you this is not something Nick would ever think to do). And guess what Leslie says to Shawn. Just fucking guess…
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.00.29 PM1,000 PERCENT!!!! WHERE IS JJ WHEN YOU NEED HIM?!?!?!

Side note: My friends and I spotted what appears to be the Loch Ness monster behind Kaitlyn’s dad.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.53.48 AMI know what you’re thinking: “That’s just a rock.” But wait…
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.53.57 AMWhere did it go??

After all the meets n’ greets with her folks, Kaitlyn and Nick enjoy some time on a boat and discuss their future. Marriage shmarriage, babies shmabies! Nick sees himself and Kaitlyn “goin’ on a lotta dates” and “on [his] couch… hangin’ out.”
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.18.52 PMWoah! Watch out, world, Mr. Commitment coming through!

That evening, Nick presents Kaitlyn with a shitty poem he wrote about how physically attracted he is to her. She is way more moved than makes sense.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.25.30 PMKaitlyn then has her last date with Shawn before the final rose ceremony. Even after his stellar job meeting her family, Kaitlyn is distant and awkward with him. She’s of course worried about the impending ceremony, but is also obviously preoccupied with Nick, weighing him against Shawn.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.34.24 PMShe has someone right next to her who actually cares about her beyond wanting to bone her, but Nick’s a real sharmer (someone who’s shitty but also charming), and he’s weaseled his way into her ovaries heart. I’ve had a feeling all along that Shawn would be the winner, but I start to worry that maybe Kaitlyn really will choose Nick… and break up with him after three weeks, let’s be real.

That evening Shawn smooths things over with Kaitlyn by, again, using his words and speaking in complete, genuine sentences about his feelings. You know, rather than constantly kissing her face with his eyes open like a sociopath. He also gives her a memory jar full of photos and momentos of their time together.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.52.03 PMThis clearly took quite a bit more time and effort than writing a three stanza poem on a bar napkin. Just sayin’.

The Lord of the Rings, Neil Lane, pays a visit to both Nick and Shawn, bearing a selection of grossly expensive engagement rings that these ding dongs will never have to pay for. It’s entertaining to watch these guys putz around with jewelry that’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and be like, “This one’s good.”
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.05.26 PMIt’s time for the final rose ceremony. Nick is the first to meet with Kaitlyn. He starts in on a spiel about connection, feelings, and probably kissing her with his eyes open and stuff. He reaches into his pocket and Kaitlyn brings things to a grinding halt, not even letting him open the ring case.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.16.11 PMShe tearfully apologizes and confides that her heart is with someone else. Nick instantly wants to get out of there, and who can blame him? This is the first time I’ve ever felt bad for Nick. He really was going to propose and though it may be more his pride than his heart that’s shattered, it’s painful to watch. She tries to explain everything away and he wants none of it, concluding that what they had must not have been real. He’s kind of right because this a reality show, but poor Kaitlyn really did have feelings for him (or his penis, at the very least). It’s brutal. I dually want her to just let him leave and also want Nick not to be a dismissive dick about everything.

At the end of the day, Nick and his eight bracelets sulk off into the limo.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 2.21.20 PMHe dramatically tosses the ring away and flashes a couple meaningful looks before his fifteen minutes are up. His final lines? “I am the world’s biggest joke.” Wow, sound like his heart was really hurt by the whole ordeal. Don’t worry, I’m sure Nick will pop up in the next season of The Bachelorette and get another chance at love. Or he’ll guest DJ at a few clubs.

Four minutes after Kaitlyn rejects one proposal, Shawn arrives to take his turn at popping the question, you know, as nature intended. His proposal is pretty nice. He’s all smiles and full of promises to make her happy and be her best friend and love her and all that nice shit us ladies want to hear (especially when it’s coming from a slightly wonky version of Ryan Gosling).
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.40.57 PMAnd Kaitlyn holds her face in horror, disgusted that Shawn would dare ask her such a question after a mere ten weeks of dating and, in the grand scheme of things, pretty mild conversation.

JUST KIDDING! Of course, she said yes! In case you haven’t heard, we’re living in a #bachelornation.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.46.13 PMThey’re pretty cute, I won’t lie. But I will say that after getting through my first full season of The Bachelorette, I find this show really problematic.

Dating up to 20 men at once is not a great strategy for finding love and I’d venture to say that group dates don’t seem to yield positive outcomes for anyone. I get that this is entertainment, but the fact that it’s meant to culminate in a proposal is troubling.

I think this show should instead culminate in “How about we spend a little more time together and have real talks, where you see me full on ugly cry? How about we try peeing in front of each other and see how that feels? How about we marathon a Netflix show together and find out if our viewing habits are compatible?” … maybe Nick had a point about hanging out on the couch. I guess what I’m trying to say is I hope for the sake of the bachelors and bachelorettes involved, that their relationships have been established more off camera (and I don’t mean in a sexy way).

Though I’m sure more than a fair number of contestants came for the exposure and the free bar, I hope the ones who decide to tie the knot at the end of 10 weeks have had wonderful realizations and conversations that extended far beyond “I was in an accident once” and “Family matters.” I hope they know each other completely, and I hope, even if they don’t end up getting married, that when they said “Yes,” they really meant it.


BONUS:

I made a photo collage of all the bored looking men in the live studio audience. Actually, there might have been two more guys in attendance.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 2.14.39 PMIt’s been real, everyone. Hope you enjoyed the ride!

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The Bachelorette: Week 7 (In Which Chris Harrison Suggests Banging Everyone to Level the Playing Field)

Alright, I lied when I said I would be giving you weekly recaps. What can I say? I’m just a free spirit, guys. Like Kaitlyn and her sparrow tattoos, I have to go where the wind takes me and follow my heart. So I’ll just give you a brief rundown of Week 6:


Big b-hole Ian leaves. Nick swoops in to console Kaitlyn and look good by comparison. At the following rose ceremony, Kaitlyn sends Justin home, which I think narrows the “fitness professionals” on the show down to just five. Kaitlyn also sends JOSH THE WELDER home because she is a dummy and doesn’t know a good thing when she sees it!

"I gave her my heart, and she gave me a haircut."

“I gave her my heart, she gave me a haircut.”

And who does she dismiss Josh for? Fucking Tanner! Only to eliminate him like a day later. I really am distraught that Josh is gone. Never have I been so indignant on the behalf of a reality show contestant! Josh was robbed. Josh was played. Josh was too honest and good for this dirty game and, probably, for this world. My friend insisted that he may return to our screens as the next Bachelor, but I hope that’s not true, partly because he’s better than this show and partly because I want to take a trip to Idaho and bump into him and just kinda see where that takes us.

What else can I tell you? Everyone goes to Dublin. Kaitlyn’s unreasonably afraid of birds. JJ sets his sights on someone new.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.18.17 AMKaitlyn and Nick try to Irish step dance in a town square and one amazing onlooker makes this face:
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.19.25 AMKaitlyn doesn’t want her date with Nick to end and invites him back to her room. Nick awkwardly leans in for a passionate kiss that facilitates contact with his trousered boner.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.18.47 AMTheir date culminates in some “off camera time,” which I’m quickly learning means “anything under the clothes.” Kaitlyn feels both content with the “night they shared” (or some other dumb euphemism for boning) and concerned that she isn’t being fair to the other bachelors. Throughout the rest of the episode, her seed of guilt snowballs and is obviously gonna crush someone soon.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.56.38 AMPoor Kaitlyn. She wants to make the right choices, but she’s weak-willed. And something about Nick’s asshole head and face just keeps drawing her back in.

Kaitlyn says, “Nick just makes me feel like a woman. A desired woman,” which is gross and sounds like something a middle aged parent would tell their grown child when trying to have a “real” talk about relationships and intimacy. Forever wincing.


Week 7

Shawn B. gets kind of neurotic and won’t leave Kaitlyn the eff alone the entire episode. Apparently he forgot how the show works and keeps demanding to know why Kaitlyn is going on all these dates with all these different guys.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.49.00 AMTurns out his insecurity and frustration stems from Kaitlyn having told him that he “might be the one” during their off camera time. Yeah, Shawn B., but that’s before Nick strolled into town with his snaggletooth and bedroom eyes.

Kaitlyn, like the sparrow tattoo she is, just gets carried away in the moment. She spoke too soon with Fake Ryan Gosling, and she shouldn’t have, but he also shouldn’t have taken it to mean that she would only focus on him. You know what the big take away from all this is? “Off camera time” is the devil. It makes people say and do things they instantly regret. It’s like the reality show version of spring break.

Kaitlyn goes on a weird two-on-one date with JJ and Joe and they have a three-way atop a cliff.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.26.32 AMJust kidding! Though I’m sure JJ would’ve been down.

With a little alone time with Kaitlyn, JJ decides it’s the right moment to confide that the reason he split up with his wife was because he cheated on her. It’s really fascinating watching Kaitlyn try to look understanding while internally being like “Bye.”
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.33.52 AMAnd predictably, she lets him go at the end of the date. Kaitlyn knows she made the right decision, and yes, it’s good that JJ is gone, but let’s not pat her on the back for keeping him around for seven weeks. Kaitlyn and Joe chopper off into the sunset, leaving JJ to gaze out at the sea.

Note to The Bachelorette: Maybe don't leave dejected contestants standing alone at the edge of a cliff.

Note to The Bachelorette: Maybe don’t leave dejected contestants standing alone on the edge of a cliff.

Next is a rose ceremony that gets drawn out for a straight 20 minutes. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just give you the essential information, namely that Shawn B. wore these socks:
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 10.02.21 AMAt the rose ceremony, Tanner is sent home. Because duh. Ben Z. also goes home, because that sweet, big, handsome man was boring as fuq. I feel like he has a bright future ahead of him, though. If True Blood is still a thing, he could totally play a non-speaking hot werewolf  guy. He already has the tribal tats.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 10.08.10 AMHe’s also a strong contender for the next Bachelor. I think “dead mom” and “broad shoulders” pretty much satisfies the criteria.

Kaitlyn and Jared go on a date where they kiss the Blarney Stone, which is a time honored and gross tradition. But let’s be real, Kaitlyn’s probably wearing enough lip gloss that she doesn’t have to worry about any infections passing through (she picked the right show to be on, then, am I right?).
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 10.21.47 AMChris Harrison drops in on Kaitlyn to see where her head’s at. She confides in him what happened with Nick, and that she feels disappointed in herself. Chris Harrison dispenses some problematic advice:
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 10.34.13 AM“You have already had off camera time with some of these men and… I think it’s important to get some of these other relationships up to speed.”

Hold up. Did Chris Harrison just suggest that Kaitlyn bang everyone else to level the playing field?

He adds, “That’s what the Fantasy Suite, that’s what these exotic dates are all about.”

As you may or may not know, the Fantasy Suite appears near the end of the season, and is where the bachelors and bachelorettes go for a night of one-on-one time without the camera crew. It comes not long before the final rose ceremony, which can end in a marriage proposal, so in layman’s terms, the Fantasy Suite is where you try the milk before buying the cow.

Now, I can see where Chris Harrison is coming from. Kaitlyn does “know” Nick in a way she doesn’t know the other guys, so “off camera time” with the other bachelors might be crucial to her decision making. But WHAT THE FUCK?! I find it really weird and gross that Chris Harrison is making any suggestion of how she should date and what she should do with her body.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 10.59.54 AMHe puts it all in the context of the game, that it would be advantageous for her to get to “know” everyone, that the hometown dates are coming up. He keeps himself out of trouble by using all this coded language like “intimacy,” “close” and “off camera,” but it’s like he’s saying, “You’ve made your bed and now you’ve got to fuck in it.”

Admittedly, Kaitlyn does have big decisions to make. She has to narrow her group of six men down to three and then launch straight into overnight and hometown dates. Of course intimacy should factor into her decision making—but I’m sure Kaitlyn knows this being the one who has to make the decisions. Chris Harrison doesn’t have to sit her down and mansplain it to her. Ugh.

Kaitlyn and Chris “Cupcake” fly to the Cliffs of Moher in a helicopter that misspelled Gmail.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 11.29.07 AMThey share a picnic while facing away from the view.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 11.31.06 AMRealizing that it’s coming down to the wire, and that she doesn’t fully feel it with the cupcake man, Kaitlyn tearfully lets him go. Once again, a lone bachelor is left literally on the edge of a cliff to contemplate where he went wrong and why he is alone (this is really unsafe, guys).
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 11.43.18 AMUltimately, while the dentist was a nice guy, Kaitlyn didn’t want him to fill her cavity… I’m sorry.

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