Okay, let's talk about the elephant in the room. And no, I don't mean Emily's Dead Husband, or Brad's stupid Past. I'm referring to the fact that Brad is waaay older than most of these women. Brad Womack is 38; the oldest woman chosen for this season, at 32, was crazy Melissa, who went home in week 2. The remaining women's ages are as follows:
Ashley H.: 26
Ashley S.: 26
For those playing along at home, this means that, if Brad were reasonably virile at 14, he could have fathered some of these girls. To put it another way: when Brad was graduating from high school, Lisa was four. Ew.
Speculation on the internets is that this bunch was actually chosen for Chris Lambton, the runner-up from Ali's season and the audience favorite to be the new Bachelor. Chris is only 33. Unfortunately for all of us (but fortunately for Chris' dignity), Chris refused to be drawn into Mike Fleiss' web of lies and deceit, aka this show, and we get Brad Womack the re-tread. And the women get some dude who is, well, old enough to be their father. Although he does have some mighty nice pecs.
The age difference isn't immediately apparent from watching the show. Remember those little graphics that used to appear when each woman showed up on the screen, with her name, age, profession, and hometown? Well, this season the graphic is still there, but the ages have been conveniently left off. Veerrry sneaky. Someone decided to ask Chris Harrison about this, and he responded, in his blog:
"Speaking of age, many of you have asked why we aren’t showing how old the women are this year. I find it interesting their age makes such a difference to you. Not sure why age would make a difference in finding love. There actually is a technical reason the ages aren’t on there this season: We changed the graphics up a bit and they just don’t fit."
Look I fixed it!! Yeah, I'm calling bullshit on this one. So if you're watching the show and you're like - "why do I get the weird feeling that Brad is babysitting??" - well, now you know.
This week I'm drinking a celery martini, because I had a little taste last night and ever since then I've been totally craving one. If a celery martini sounds weird as hell to you, I just have to say - you are right. But it's also delicious. Don't knock it until you've tried it.
3 oz celery and bay leaf infused vodka
.75 oz dry vermouth
Shaken, not stirred. That is quite a bit of booze. Should last me through at least three or four commercial breaks. Don't forget to enjoy your weird-ass vodka drinks responsibly.
In the teasers: Did someone ask for an extra helping of CRAZY? Because this episode is ladling it out. This is gonna be awesome.
Lest you even think about changing the channel, we start with the DRAMA right away. Michelle wakes up with a black eye! Who the hell wakes up with a black eye? Did she punch herself in her sleep? I probably would, if I were Michelle.
Michelle confronts the women and actually says: "I wanna know who kicked my ass in my sleep". Oh, The Bachelor. Just when I thought I'd seen everything. I can never quit you.
Michelle decides that since she woke up with a black eye, she DESERVES a one-on-one date. She WILL get a one-on-one date, and Brad WILL kiss her eye and make it better. She is so creepy and so eerily confident as she says this that I think I actually shuddered. Remember that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ursula rises from the sea and she's all oily and huge and scary and she's all like TREMBLE BEFORE ME PEONS and your six-year-old self just totally lost it? It's like that.
Chris comes in to tell us the rules, which everybody freaking knows already, and he is wearing...a cardigan? What the hell? Did he just come from knocking back a few at the pub with Mr. Rogers? (Yeah yeah, I know he's dead. But Chris is wearing a cardigan. Seriously.)
Chris delivers the first date card and it's for Chantel. Michelle voiceovers that she and Chantel are SO DIFFERENT and if Chantel comes home tonight she will be SO SURPRISED becase how could Brad possibly like them both? Yeah Michelle, because all the people I've ever dated have been EXACTLY THE SAME. It's the same old Bachelor schlock. More sleepytime ass-whuppings, please.
Brad arrives to pick up Chantel and Michelle sees this as a golden opportunity to seize attention for herself. Because, HELLO, black eye!! Brad shifts awkwardly and says - "that's, uh, that's...strange" because what the hell else do you say to someone who just got a black eye in their sleep? Ashley S. voiceovers that she wishes she were the one who gave Michelle the black eye. I love Ashley S. so much.
Suddenly the ladies all run outside because HOLY SHIT A HELICOPTER! This is so amazing!! Wait, aren't they supposed to have seen this show before?
Brad and Chantal get into the helicopter. They have a conversation in the helicopter and it goes like this:
Brad: "Yeah, wow."
They land on...Catalina Island!! Brad has been waiting to take Chantel on a one-on-one for SO LONG, or for at least several days. They are going to put on wet suits and walk on the BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN. Chantel: SHUT UP. It turns out this is a huge problem for Chantel, because she is...scared of water? Scared of deep water? One of those things. Very scared. What the hell is up with these producers? I guess when you fill out the questionnaire to go on the show, they're all like, what is your worst fear? And if your worst fear is, say, being trapped in a cave full of Elvis impersonators...well, that's your one-on-one date. Those sick bastards.
Chantal is terrified to go into the water but she HAS TO DO IT because if she doesn't, Brad will think she's not willing to take chances for him, and she will die alone. I don't have time to point out how twisted this show is, so I guess we'll just move on. We get some underwater shots, complete with Darth Vader breathing and slimy seaweed columns, and...I can hardly blame Chantel. This is pretty creepy. But she's doing it because BRAD IS WORTH IT. She and Brad hold hands and frolick happily on the ocean floor. Happy music. Chantel changes her mind and decides that facing her fears is Amazing. Chantel and Brad try to kiss but they're wearing huge diving helmets, so the front of the helmets just clang together and it is the dumbest thing ever. Chantel's ready to Fall in Love. She could totally see herself being Chantel Womack, which she has already written in her notebook 700 times. Murky water. Slimy seaweed. Ick.
Back at the manse: Michelle STILL HAS A BLACK EYE. At this point, she is not so much an attention whore as an attention black hole, drawing all attention into her dark center, from whence it can never return. The next date card is for: Ashley S., Stacey, Lindsey, Britt, Megan, Allie, Lisa, Ashley H., and Jackie. Michelle voiceovers that if she doesn't get a date this week, she will punch Brad in the face. Michelle has not read "How to Win Friends and Influence People".
Brad and Chantel go to...actually, I don't know where they go, but they wind up at a couch, in front of a fire pit, with a couple of tents in the background. And lots of tiki torches. I guess there was a special at Garden Ridge. Chantel quickly pronounces it to be Amazing and the Most Romantic Date Ever. ( Do I have to finish my martini, or is that only when Chris Harrison says it?) She also says "it's like something out of your wildest dreams", but I don't see Alan Rickman there so I guess she's not talking to me. Chantel was made for this show. She is a fountain of superlatives and drinking-game words. Also, she is afraid of everything. Now she is afraid to open up to Brad because she's been divorced and doesn't want to get hurt. They talk for a while and decide that they have both learned so much, and now they want to find Love and Marriage and the Right Person. Chantel is Falling.
Chantel: I like you a lot.
Brad: I like you a lot, too. No doubt about it. Absolutely, no doubt about it.
For reals. He actually said that. Brad may be a man of a few words, but he is not afraid to say them over and over and over again.
Back at the Manse: Michelle has summoned up a storm, which is waiting to destroy Los Angeles in the event she does not get a date this week. She whines to sweet Ashley S., who always seems to get stuck listening to everyone's problems, that she is NOTHING LIKE Chantal. NOTHING AT ALL. Like, the only similarity between them is the fact that they are both HUMAN BEINGS. Except that Michelle is 400 years old and can set things on fire with her mind. Because of this lack of similarity between herself and Chantal, Michelle can't sleep, can't eat, and is currently experiencing MORE SUFFERING THAN ANYONE ELSE HAS EVER EXPERIENCED, EVER. She asks Ashley S. to leave, so she can cry. Alone. In the rain.
Back in tiki-tent land, Chantel apologizes for slapping Brad. Brad's totally cool with it. He likes the playful vibe between himself and Chantal. It is Real. He gives her the rose just as Michelle's storm rumbles in. They talk for a while and then Brad says, "will you please quit talking and just kiss me?" These are the magic words. It is makeout time. It starts raining and they re-locate to one of the tents. Chantel says "thank you God, for the rain!" and back at the mansion Michelle looks into her crystal ball and seethes.
A Hummer limo comes to pick up the ladies for the group date, and they arrive at the studio of...Dr. Drew!!! Who? Brad explains that they are at the studios of "The Famous Loveline Radio Show", which is almost as famous as "The Band Train". Ashley S. gasps, because I guess she is the only one in this bunch who has actually heard of this show. Brad tells the ladies they can ask Dr. Drew anything they want about luurve, and then talks about how he went to THERAPY and learned to OPEN UP. Drink four times! In one sentence! He thinks this date is a totally awesome idea because it will give the ladies a chance to Open Up in a "Safe Space". Um...wtf?? Yeah, knowing that thousands of strangers are privy to my conversation always makes me feel safe.
Brad meets Dr. Drew and That Other Guy On the Show Who is Not Dr. Drew. He says he's been a huge fan ever since he first heard about this show yesterday. While Brad chit-chats, the ladies wait in a sound-proof room and drink beer. Stacey says that she's nerrvous, by which I think she means "already drunk".
Back at the manse, Michelle complains to Emily (hi, Emily!) about maybe not getting a date. Everything about Michelle is intense: intense hair, intense chin, intense still-kinda-black eye. I want my mommy. Or maybe a beer.
Back at The Famous Loveline Radio Show, Other Guy asks if the girls are all physically attracted to Brad. The girls are all like, omg yes, because how could anyone not be attracted to Brad? Except for that Madison girl, but she was a crazy vampire. Brad says that he's never, ever in his life cheated on someone, and I am just basking in the post-martini glow and in the delicious irony of this. I guess it's not technically cheating if all 14 of your girlfriends know about each other. Dr. Drew asks for a show of hands: who's cheated? He points out that everyone talks about being cheated on, but nobody will admit to having cheated, which is true. There is a Suspenseful Silence and finally Stacey raises her hand. Dr. Drew asks her why she did it, and all the other women pick up rocks to stone her. No, but they do paste some pretty superior looks on their faces.
Stacey's answer is: hey, I was drunk. I was in college. The other girls and Dr. Drew are all judgy mcjudgerseon, but Brad appreciates her having been honest and is glad she Opened Up. Megan wants to know: what's Brad's Type? Brad knows exactly what his type is and that is: he doesn't have a type. He wants to find someone he can Be Himself with. Preferrably someone with dark hair and a nice ass.
Dentist Ashley admits that she is pulling back a little because it's hard to tell how Brad feels. Brad feels this is a good time to issue a dire warning that anyone who does not Put Themselves Out There will be summarily rejected. Then Britt gets a little love from the producers; soft, sappy music plays as she tells Brad, and the thousands of listeners of this show, that she's only ever gotten five or ten minutes with him, and she feels so much pressure to make those 5-10 minutes perfect, and she wants to just Be Herself. Brad wants to Be Himself, too, and Britt has totally said the magic words, and he makes a mental note to make out with her later.
The after-party is at Brad's place. Wait, no rooftop pool? Everybody's chillaxin in the hot tub, and a drunk Stacey drunksteals Brad for a little alone time, which is Ashley H's cue to start FREAKING OUT. More on that later. Then Brad is hanging out with Alli the bootylicious when sweet Ashley S. comes to steal him. Alli is like, whatever bitch, we just sat down, and Ashley says "I'm sorry", in like, the cutest, tiniest voice possible, and Brad can no longer resist. Alli is pissed, naturally, and Ashley tries to give her a hug as she walks away but Alli wants none of it. This show is so weird. Ashley barely has time to tell Brad how insecure she feels before Jackie comes to steal him. Brad, the guy who signed up to be on a show where he dates 30 women simulatenously, still manages to be surprised at being surrounded by all these agressive women. He says he LOVES how eager they are to spend time with him, but he kinda sounds like he's gonna cut someone.
Back at the hot tub of envy and desperation, Ashley H. voiceovers that "I think like, fear and frustration are my two top emotions right now." Most romantic date ever!!
Back at the manse. A date card arrives and fortuntunately for the fate of everyone in the universe, it's for Michelle. Her chin gets even more intense, if that were possible, and she's all like, ladies, I wish you the very best, but I'm gonna win and Brad and I are going to ride off into the sunset and I HOPE YOU ALL DIE.
Aside: I was capturing screenshots and I just realized...Michelle and Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast, have the same chin. Don't believe me? Check this out:
It's THE SAME. I don't know what to make of this. I don't know how Michelle manages to remind me of every Disney villian ever, simultaneously. I'm gonna need time. And a lot more beer.
Back at the hot tub of DRAMAZ, the girls are having a drunken argument about who is more upset about the fact that they're all sharing the same boyfriend. Meanwhile, Brad's hanging out with Britt and she admits that she has a crush on him. Aww. I miss crushes. Although I'm not quite sure why, because when I think "crush", I think "painful, unrequited junior high angst." In Britt's case, things turn out a little better, because the big confession ends with her and Brad sitting on a sofa, sucking face. (Remember when people said "sucking face"?) Also, Britt? It kills me to write this, because I think you are adorable and I love that you write a food blog, but: nobody over the age of 12 should wear heart-shaped hoop earrings. Unless you're a hooker.
We cut back to Ashley H FLIPPING OUT because she DOES NOT WANT TO SHARE. She WILL get the alone time. Dun nuh nuh nuh nuh. Ashley H, you do crazy okay. But I miss Michelle.
Ashley wraps herself in a towel, preparing for her assault on Brad's hillstop stronghold of tonsil hockey. (I can't figure out the weather on this date. Supposedly it's cold, since we see a patio heater going. And Brad's wearing a hoodie. But why are all the women in bathing suits?) She arrives just in time for the end of the make-out session. Say it with me: awkward. Ashley tells Brad how hard it is to watch other women dating her boyfriend.
Brad: But it could be fun, and exciting, right? (Wtf??)
Ashley: For you, yeah, absolutely.
Truest thing ever said on this show, ever. Look, I know the producers are trying to character assasinate Ashley H or whatever, but let's take just a moment and recognize how true this is. The conversation continues: Ashley realizes she signed up for this bullshit, but she still has feelings for Brad and is having trouble with the fact that he's all over the place with all these other chicks. She wants to withdraw a little and protect herself, but Brad won't let her because he's contractually obligated to lead all these women on. Then he decides he's gonna give Ashley H. the rose to reassure her. Or maybe he's not, and the producers just want us to think that because they are manipulative bitches. Whatever.
Cut to them all hanging out in the hot tub, and Brad is getting ready to present The Rose, and Ashley H is like, so awkward! because everyone's staring at Brad like they want to devour him, and Brad's all like, what's awkward? Ashley, I want to know what you think! Which is supposedly thoughtful and caring, but actually isn't at all because it totally puts her on the spot and they all sit there and stare at each other for a few minutes while the hot tub bubbles noisily. Then Brad steals Britt away, and gives her the rose instead, because apparently his love is so fickle that saying the word "awkward" can totally change its course. I'm not sure I've said this before, in so many words, but: Brad is dumb. Even though I know this is all producer machinations: Brad is dumb.
In commercials: Matthew Perry is back. Yeah, I know I already blogged about this, but: sign me up.
The next day, Ashley H is still emotionally distraught, because she's part of a TV show that is specifically designed to make women emotionally distraught, and the other girls are trying to comfort her while Michelle evilly paints her nails. Because it's HER DAY, like I guess on the day when Michelle has a one-on-one date nobody else is allowed to TALK about anything else, and then, to make it even worse, Brad arrives and he wants to talk to Ashley H. He asks Michelle if it's okay, and she says it's fine but she's already murdered them both with her eyes. Brad takes Ashley outside while the other girls try to assure Michelle and her chin that it's still their Special Day.
Brad talks to Ashley H. about how awesome their connection is and how scared he is that he'll lose it. Ashley H. is scared too, but she doesn't know why. Helpful hint: MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE YOUR BOYFRIEND IS DATING 13 OTHER WOMEN. Somehow Brad bullshits Ashley into feeling better about what they have, which is good because Michelle is waiting and her fountain of crazy runneth over.
Back in the living room, Michelle and MichelleChin are frustrated that Ashley H is taking away so much of HER TIME. Chantal awesomely points out that Michelle caused a little scene on the Gustavo date, thereby stealing a lot of time for herself. Did I say anything bad about Chantal before? I take it back. I love Chantal.
Michelle voiceovers that if she doesn't get a rose on her date because of Ashley H's dramatics, she's gonna elbow Ashley in the face. Wouldn't punching be more efficient than elbowing? Also, aren't you going to be on a flight home, if that is the case? Never you mind. Michelle's scary-ass rage will find a away. Here's a picture to haunt your dreams:
Yikes. Brad comes back to get Michelle and even her eyebrows are intense. This is gonna be good. And by good I mean scary. Hold me.
Stay tuned for part 2!