"I miss you already, Madison."
I think I’ve been having too bad an attitude about this season of The Bachelor. I mean, rooting for Brad to repeat what happened in his first effort as the Bachelor and not find a wife on TV? That’s cold, man. It’s like I don’t believe (don’t want to believe? won’t believe?) in TV love, and that’s not right. Who’s to say where, and under what circumstances, people should find love? Why wouldn’t a show like The Bachelor, even with its unreasonably grandiose dates and obvious-if-not-quite-visible, behind-the-scenes’ machinations of its producers, be capable of producing love? Love is mysterious! Love happens how it happens! Why, just the other day, I heard about a couple who found love on TV. They met in the Capitol Records building where they were both hanging around with no discernible purpose when Seal, who also seemed to be just kind of hanging around in the same building, albeit with his band in tow, started playing that romantic song of his (you know, the one that goes, “Bay-bay! Blahblah blahblah…), that melts two reticent hearts into one oozy, goopy one, and the couple wound up bonding while having dinner on the roof, when she told him about how she and her dad* used to love Seal and sing his songs together just like the two of them had just done, and…oh… that was The Bachelor, wasn’t it?
And what kind of a heartless bastard would not give a date rose to this woman who had just told him about her father’s stroke? If anyone could, I’d like to believe it would be Brad, but I have it on good authority that he’s different now. So on to the group date.
Though I’m not much of a Seal fan, I have to tell you, there’s nothing I enjoy more in the world than sitting down to an action/adventure movie, shot on the approximate budget of a segment for a television show, starring some guy and eleven women who are all trying to win his affections on a television show for which they’re filming the group-date segment at the exact same time as they’re making the movie. This thing is post-post-modern to the point of giving out free skull-exploding migraines with every viewing, and we haven’t even mentioned Michelle yet. Okay, well, now we have.
Speaking of skull-exploding migraines, then, the last time we were aware of Michelle the hairstylist, she was up to all the attention-monopolozing shit that only a shiny new potential mate can get away with – constantly pulling him away from the group so that he can reassure her that he thinks the sun rises and sets out of her ass, or in order to have pointless tête a têtes about what he puts in his fridge, or for any number of pouty little huffs about who-the-hell-knows-WHAT. Anyone who’s ever been a shiny new potential mate off whom the luster has worn can tell her that she persists with this sort of behaviour at her peril, but I’d be willing to bet that the Hairdresser is no better at hearing that sort of warning than she is at being a post-post-modern action/adventure star.
But then again, there’s a then again that we need to consider here for a minute, because when Shawntel the Undertaker plants one on Brad at the end of their scene (thus taking the rose!), Michelle is offended, and we hear her saying stuff like, “OUR first kiss isn’t going to be scripted,” and “When I kiss Brad…,” lines which, if you stop to consider them, seem to echo the words of another famously crazy Michelle from about two seasons ago* which, if we were allotting post-post-modern action/adventure star points, would probably be worth something, but then again, that’s not what we’re doing. We’re trying to help Brad fall in love. So never mind. And since I already gave away who got the group date rose, can we now just skip forward to the next solo date? Emily? Yes, soon, but not yet. I want to recount the teary exchange that he and Chantal the Hitter have, about the inherent difficulty of being one among many who are vying for the one’s affections. She tells him, “Every time I feel special (with you), someone else has the same experience.”
Brad answers, “Don’t cry,” which is another way of saying, “Yeah, well,” which is another way of pointing out that we all know that’s a problem for every member of the group and there’s nothing we can, or would, do to change it. Now, on to Emily!
Last we saw Emily, she was clamming up (again) about the little flower she’s got locked in Mimi’s*** attic back home in Southern Belleville USA. I can see the tearful reunion now: “I’ve got good news and bad news, honey-bunny! The good news is, you’ve got a new Daddy! The bad news? We can’t ever let him know that you exist!”
Things don’t get off to a great start on this solo date to a vineyard. To put it as sensitively as possible, Emily can only tell the heartbreaking story of the race car driver who was the love of her life dying in a plane crash, leaving her pregnant and alone, to all the men she’s dated since then, the person making her audition tape, the show’s producers, the other women in the house and last but not least, the entire viewing audience. But not Brad. And so she has virtually nothing to say to him. Ever had a date who wouldn’t talk to you about anything? Don’t you feel like a heel now? The good news is, she eventually did tell him, which was such a giant breakthrough that he had to speak with his therapist the very next day, before he went to the kicking people out party.
The kicking people out party is not without drama. Michelle interrupts some more, but the real excitement comes from Madison when, in her conversation with Brad, she muses that maybe she’ll just leave. She even takes her fangs out to do it – that’s how you know she’s serious. At first you might be tempted to think that it’s because she’s a model and she’s not usually the one in a room of seventeen women who has to compete that hard to keep a guy interested in her and so maybe she just doesn’t see herself as being up to the effort required, or maybe it’s a game that she’s playing in order to drum up a little extra interest from him just before the rose ceremony, but then, when she actually does walk out in the middle of the ceremony it’s pretty clear – she thinks Brad’s a good guy, but she’s not nearly as interested in him, or this process, as others in the group. He makes a little speech about letting guards and walls stand in the way of your happiness, but that’s exactly what Madison didn’t do by walking away. She could have stuck around, let her guard down for the sake of competing for something she didn’t want all that badly, but she was smart enough to recognize how stupid that would be, and brave enough to act in her true best interests. And so now she’s my favourite. Too bad she’s gone.
Remaining: Ashley, Shawntel N., Emily, Michelle, Chantal O., Lisa, Jackie, Ashley H., Marissa, Britt, Alli, Lindsay, Meghan, Stacey.
*Dads! All season long on The Bachelor, everyone will share stories about how they’ve been left emotionally crippled on account of either bad or dead dads. What the?
**Not counting Bachelor Pad, which hopefully traumatized us all sufficiently enough that none of us have any idea what this reference means.
***Some crazy chitlin-circuit name for Grandma.