“Tonight, we will have not one, but two beautiful women meeting 25 of the most eligible men in America… will this be awkward and probably a bit painful? Sure.”
This is host Chris Harrison’s surprisingly blunt opener to season 11 of The Bachelorette, one of the jewels in the crown of reality television. Each year the show tells a tale as old as time: a woman with the complexion of a Starbucks Blonde Roast and the personality of a coffee cup sleeve wades through a veritable ocean of personal trainers who love their mothers in hopes to find “the one.”
This season throws us a curveball by kicking off with two prospective bachelorettes. The 20-odd hopeful men must cast their votes and decide who among the ladies will be the bachelorette.
I skipped out on the previous season of The Bachelor where bachelorette contenders Britt Nilsson and Kaitlyn Bristowe were first introduced. In fact, my only exposure to The Bachelor/ette series was season 10 of The ‘ette, where most recent bachelor Chris Soules was pulled from.
Chris is like a walking, talking piece of plywood, so my assumption was that any woman trying to win his love on season 19 of The Bachelor was a dumb dumb. BUT in approaching a brand new season of the series, I have to put aside my preconceived notions and take these hopeful bachelorettes for what they really are (or for what the showrunners make them out to be).
Apparently Kaitlyn Bristowe is “funny, sexy, and sometimes completely inappropriate.” They show clips from her season of The Bachelor where she makes dick jokes and generally seems like a good time gal. She’s got a slight snaggletooth and too many teeth for her mouth, which in my opinion is the mark of a fun woman. She also has an ankle tattoo! Let the games begin!
Britt Nilsson is described as “sincere, emotional, and very loving,” i.e. boring. But she is BEAUTIFUL, if not in a boring way. She has that kind of Disney Channel starlet beauty that we’ve grown all too accustomed to: gigantic eyes, a perfect sheet of silken hair, the silhouette of a bobblehead doll. Compared to firecracker Kaitlyn, she seems like a dull choice to carry a show. But Britt is a beautiful cryer, which is a must for any bachelorette (I made reference to this in my only other online commentary of The Bachelorette).
It’s time to meet the eligible bachelors!
Brady “has melodies inside him. Songs that marry together both pain and joy.” Soulfully sings aggressively mediocre soft rock songs at the piano. Trying to jumpstart his music career through The Bachelorette.
Joshua is another country boy. But he welds! Put him and American Stripper Psycho together and we could have a genderswapped Flashdance! He has fuzzy dice hanging from his rearview mirror 😦 But he did weld a fucking rose for the ladies! A beautiful one at that.
Jared looks like Ashton Kutcher’s evil, Steve Jobs-ier brother. Nicely sculpted eyebrows. Has created a superhero alter ego called “Love Man,” who, in his words, “represents trustworthy and understanding.” He’s obviously not “Sentence Structure Man.”
… I’ll repeat myself: Tony is a HEALER!
Tony keeps talking about how “disconnecting from the world” is great, and how each moment in his life is like a piece of a puzzle that will one day “reveal itself.” The words “connection” and “energy” get tossed around a lot. Tony definitely has followers. And not in a Twitter way.
Before our bachelorettes meet the men for the first time, Chris Harrison takes them aside to address the awkwardness of the situation (after all, this is the first time in Bachelorette history that men have emerged from a limo to greet two women). And how does the show handle this? Why it ups the discomfort, of course! Making the two women stand yards apart so that the men will have to choose who to greet first.
Britt tries to be peaches and cream towards everybody, including her competitor. She smiles and shrugs sweetly at the awkward and haphazard nature of it all.
But Kaitlyn acts somewhat bitchy towards her… and I LIKE IT! While Britt tries so hard to please everybody and seems aware of every blink of her Bambi eyes, Kaitlyn casts some major side eye at her and freely busts out less-than-flattering exasperated expressions.
When the first wave of men emerge from the limo, all eyes are on Britt. Kaitlyn purses her lips in frustration as guys beeline to Britt. One man claims that he liked Kaitlyn but “lost his words” around Britt. Another greets Britt with “Hi, Disney princess,” which is upsetting on many levels.
While Britt tries her darnedest to play the humble “I can’t believe I’m here!” girl-next-door, she can’t resist the urge to throw some subtle shade at Kaitlyn. She says: “I almost feel bad being so excited because Kaitlyn is so nervous. She doesn’t seem quite herself right now. That’s kinda sad.”
I don’t like Britt, let’s just get that out of the way. She seems totally insincere and bland and I just don’t get why she’s here. Well, obviously to further her own career—that’s why anybody goes on these shows—but Britt is just so boring, I don’t see what her possible future in the media could be. I’m guessing her five year plan involves becoming a mommy blogger and developing her own “lifestyle brand.” But I just don’t get that kind of thing. I guess it’s useful or inspirational to other vapid and untalented women who hope to “break through,” but bigger picture: Who really needs that?
What we need is a bachelorette who’s gonna cause some hot tub controversy. A woman with sparrow tattoos who lives every day like it’s happy hour at T.G.I. Friday’s. A woman who can really contribute something to the pop culture trash heap that endlessly fascinates, disgusts, and inspires us.
To clarify, I don’t think Kaitlyn is trashy, and I don’t think mommy bloggers are the worst. But I don’t think we should make role models out of bland, inoffensive women who just want desperately to be everyone’s piece of cake. For better or for worse, we need women on the screen who are willing to take risks and shake up the usual order of things. We need women who will stir the shit and get people talking. Enough basic bitches with perfectly-parted ombre hair. Let’s hear what the jokester with the ill-advised tattoo has to say!
Back to business: Britt meets single father Jonathan, who is the first man of the evening to grab her attention.
“He has a little sparkle in his eye,” Britt says. “There was some little twinkle going on. I just felt something.” Yeah, that was your gaydar pinging.
The men who are now in the house start talking about their impressions of the girls. The consensus seems to be that they’re bowled over by Britt. Thankfully, there is soon a shift in limo exit patterns, and the new crop of guys start to gravitate towards Kaitlyn. One man goes straight for Kaitlyn and doesn’t even try to whisper that he hopes she wins. Kaitlyn shoots Britt a bitchy side smile.
A hockey player greets Kaitlyn with a pun about wanting to “puck” her. She then meets Ol’ Kentucky Eyes who brings her moonshine. Now I see why I identify with Kaitlyn so much. These guys’ attempts at “wooing” her really hit close to home for me.
Both ladies are feeling this personal trainer, Shawn B., who reminds me of a doofier version of Ryan Gosling. But har-de-har-har, he’s here for Kaitlyn!
Kaitlyn, who has emerged from her nervous funk and, let’s be honest, is excited for the dick parade that’s passing through, runs inside to say hi to everyone who’s arrived and remind the previously Britt-mystified men that she’s also a person, and a charming one at that. It’s a power play, for sure, but she’s playing to win, dammit!
Starting to feel the burn of Kaitlyn’s shift in fortune, Britt throws even more subtle shade. She says, “I know [Kaitlyn] wants to win and be bachelorette, but I want to play by the rules and be fair. I just have to play the way I feel is right.” BOOOOO, hush, Britt. (Actually, I totally feel you, Britt. I just don’t want to watch you for the next 10 weeks).
Britt adds: “If you asked me before the limos came, I would have said I think I would be the bachelorette just because of… how good I feel about this. But some of these guys are on team Kaitlyn.” (i.e. “I thought I was the hotter one!)
Tony the Healer arrives and Britt totally buys into his new age spiel. “He seems so sweet. He seems like a really sincere guy,” she says. She would totally join his cult.
We also meet Corey, an investment banker who looks like a brunette Max Headroom. I should point out that in addition to having two personal trainers, the cast also touts two men from the world of finance. One an investment banker, and the other a former investment banker. So we know whose coke addiction is under control and whose isn’t.
A man known as Shawn E. who is an “amateur sex coach” drives onto the premises in a hot tub car. You would think this vehicle would carry its water in some sort of flatbed or something. Nope. The car is just straight up filled with water. And Shawn E. emerges, his suit drenched from the breast pockets down.
This is absolutely one of the more amazing things I’ve seen, but hot-tub-car-sex-coach is immediately one-upped by a man driving a CUPCAKE CAR. I’m not making this up!
Back inside, gay single dad Jonathan contemplates what might happen if he falls for both women: “If we don’t make that genuine connection with one, maybe we have it with the other, or maybe we have it with both, and then we move to Utah or something like that and have a dual wedding!”
Both women come inside to greet the bachelors all together and get in a little one-on-one time. Britt, the future mommy blogger that she is, is hopeful that in her earnest quest for true love, she will be chosen as the bachelorette. She says of Kaitlyn: “We’re just different and maybe that’s something that’s different about us, is what we’re looking for and how serious we are about it.” Subtle shade for days.
Tony the Healer has a sit down with Britt and confides in her. “When you hugged me… I really needed that at that moment.” He came to the competition for Kaitlyn, but Britt’s just one of the universe’s puzzle pieces, you know? And he’s gotta respect that. So he changes his tune and is now gunning for Britt.
Also, I think Tony the Healer was recently punched in the eye. A rogue follower, perhaps?
Chris Harrison asks the men to cast their votes for the bachelorette at a shrine-like altar, where framed portraits of Britt and Kaitlyn hang above carved wooden boxes shrouded in candlelight. This is totally Tony’s scene and he jumps at the chance to be the first to vote. I am not shitting you, Tony lays hands on the boxes and reads their energy before making his decision.
“The energy coming from the chest with Britt’s name on it was pulsating,” says Tony.
Kaitlyn charms her suitors with dirty jokes and plenty of hand touching. Apparently this is a turn-on for men, while I find that a strange man touching my hand elicits a reaction of near sprinting away while threatening, “Back off! I learned about self defense class in middle school! I never took one, but I meant to!”
Britt’s approach during one-on-ones is more blinking her giant wet eyeballs as many times as she can at a potential mate. This also proves effective for her, as many men come away in awe of her beauty, and let’s be real, not much else. I think there’s someone off-screen who wets Britt’s eyeballs between takes because those babies are consistently sparklin’.
Also in the mix is Ryan M., who heckles his competition and takes full advantage of the free bar, which, like, duh, isn’t that point of being on reality TV? He gets pretty hammered and yells “Is this the gay Bachelor?” This moment is meant to show how obnoxious and disrespectful he is, but between Jonathan the gay single dad and American Stripper Psycho, homeboy has a point.
Ryan proves to be an actual asshole when he gets inappropriately handsy with the ladies (but truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure of his dbag status until a few minutes later, when he decided to take a drunken dip wearing a tiny black speedo).
Chris Harrison takes the sloppy Ryan M. aside and suggests he return home. For the first time all night, Ryan is stoic and quietly receptive to the words of another. While the engine of a van awaiting his entrance runs quietly, Mr. M stands still for a few unnerving moments. He reaches into his pocket for something as Chris Harrison looks on nervously.
My gut feeling is that he’ll throw a fast punch at Chris or throw a molotov cocktail at the house! But The Bachelorette isn’t quite at that level of exciting. He just pulls out a hanky and climbs into the van. Lame.
Anyway, votes are cast and the fellas seem decidedly split between the two women. I have a horrible feeling Britt will be chosen and lead us through a season of endlessly talking about the child she sponsors while flipping her hair and frolicking through the autumn leaves in a $500 “casual” sweater. But I also have a suspicion that the show will carry on with two bachelorettes, because, well, why the fuck not? This series is tired and America is ready.
But of course, we won’t find out until the next episode.
I’m team Tony the Healer, tbh. How about you?