After what can only be described as a lukewarm bowl of gas station chili for a first episode, The Bachelorette is well and truly back, meaningless and easily avoidable drama, group nudity and all! Lets jump in!
Now I must admit, going into this I didn’t know any of the five love languages that were the subject of Gary Chapman’s 1992 book (presumably?) The only love languages I was previously familiar with were from memes where a guy is sneaking up behind a girl with goosebumps and whispering “bagels” into her ear or something. Anyhow, the first couple of love language challenges (sappy and unfounded words of affirmation to Rapunzel in her tower, and receiving gifts – i.e. frantically try and find something in your suitcase and make up a story about its deep significance to your life) were largely uneventful. The physical touch however? If you thought Clare dissolved like a 12-year old girl at a One Direction concert when Dale got out of the car, just imagine how she reacted when he started pawing all over her in her blindfold! “I feel as though I’m going to have to do the physical touch love language again.” Wait, Clare, you’re telling me you don’t want any more Russian doll gift boxes filled with personally sentimental but ultimately worthless tchotchkes from these random dudes that you just met’s lives? Check mate!
The quality time portion of the love language date was where things started really getting spicy. Clare made a toast to love… or happiness… or Dale’s bulging bicep muscles… or something, and the deafening silence that followed as all the men realized that they had to actually take the initiative with Clare was uncomfortably long and awkward. So much so in fact, that Bennet (Harvard, New York) took Clare aside for the first bite of his big apple, a bite that she promptly spat out in disgust at her treatment by the group, and returned immediately to remedy! I would sooner have caught the eye of the Basilisk from across the bar than Clare after the men were slow on the jump to take her out for some quality time. “Why didn’t those guys get up, if you just want to bro out I can go back home to bed.” Fortunately, Dale came to the rescue and Clare melted, Wicked Witch of the West-style, into another blubbering puddle onto the floor.
I’m a little bit worried for Dale actually… The words: “You scare me because of how I feel about you this early on,” should be sending more red flags flying than a Trump country Cabela’s! I was getting major Isla Fisher Vince Vaughn Wedding Crashers vibes from Clare here (although there was a little more reciprocity from Dale for sure.)
Clare had quite a nice moment with Riley, although they did reveal a lot about their respective ages by choosing Boyz II Men as their high school dance music of choice… In all honesty, the only songs I remember from high school dances are LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know It (for obvious reasons) and Call Me Maybe (both still absolutely slap for the record), but I thought at this stage they had practically renamed the group Boyz II Men II Withering Old Grandfathers they’ve been around so long… Regardless, it wasn’t the End of the Road for Riley, who emerged from his slow dance with a rose for his troubles.
Once Clare lets the righteous indignation, self-love horse out of the stable and starts going on about her self-worth, life experience and unparalleled passion, you know it’s over for the guy who is on the hook at that moment. Clare’s declaration that “I’m a strong ass woman, bring it; bring it to me,” is not in reference to the men bringing thoughtful, probing questions about just how a life spent together would look, but is a proverbial war cry to the four corners of her La Quinta Spa Resort Kingdom demanding that all men come pay fealty to their compliment-deprived queen. Just look at the Brandon situation at the end of the episode… If you come into the snake pit with an inadequate answer to why you’re vying for Clare’s heart (finding love is not a passing response apparently), then expect to get hissed out of there in a heartbeat. Maybe Jimmy G’s doppleganger was too busy studying his 49ers playbook to look up anything about Clare pre-show, but it was a heartwarming moment for anyone who has been cold-called in class without doing any of the assigned reading watching him squirm for a few minutes before being given the chop.
I don’t really want to be banding around the D-word willy nilly here, but Clare certainly does come across as a little desperate… and I know she hasn’t seen My Cousin Vinny, but to quote Marisa Tomei’s iconic character Ms. Mona Lisa Vito, I can’t help but think that her “biological clock is ticking like this” *stomps on the ground multiple times in quick succession* and she is staring nervously at the play clock with 7 seconds left at the goal line wondering if she has time for a quick throw before she sends field goal unit out!
Clare’s date with Jason was intense AF.
Now I get that this is a COVID season, but that doesn’t mean that these dates have to somehow replace and mimic the pain and suffering of the coronavirus. Previous contestants have been on camel treks through the Sahara Desert; have drank champagne in hot tubs overlooking gorgeous mountainous panoramas; or have taken helicopter trips over the Costa Rican jungle to secluded romantic waterfalls. These guys? Nope, on this season you have to dredge the emotional depths of your pre-show life and re-live your most intense and formative experiences in front of an individual you just met, and a crowing 6m strong national television audience…
Writing letters to your younger self is a tough first foray into this season’s individual dates, especially with two characters who clearly carry excess emotional baggage. This is The Bachelorette though, not some Outward Bound trip your parents sent you on because they found the remnants of a spliff 180-yards from your front door and now think that you’re vying for air time in Wiz Khalifa’s Young, Wild and Free music video. Save the letter writing for pubescent pot-smokers and please get back to doing cool, aspirational shit so I can treat my jealousy with another home pour of Oyster Bay Sauvingnon Blanc!
Clare’s letter was actually incredibly powerful, lucid and introspective about her life struggles and battles with adversity… until the last line… when all I could think about was Kimberly Guilfoye’s absolute parody of a Republican National Convention speech when she shrieked, banshee-like, that “the best is yet to come.” I’ll give Clare the benefit of the doubt here and hope she was quoting the Frank Sinatra song, but boy did Kimberly ruin that phrase for me!
The entire dodgeball scene was like a nightmare mashup of ESPN 8 The Ocho meets Naked and Afraid. The relentless stream of ball-related jokes aside, Jay might be the best player to ever lace them up, having overcome a 5-1 deficit to bring it back for the red team in game 1. The scenario was eerily reminiscent of an angry and mean Gordon Pibb against Team Blitzkreig in the ADAA International Dodgeball Competition back in ‘04. Call them the Average Jays why don’t we?
The blue team’s performance was one of the worst I have ever seen… its almost as if they wanted to get their kit off. One line that caught my attention was Clare’s response to the blue team’s strip show… After five sweaty dudes unceremoniously disrobe in front of you, “They showed up, and I appreciated it so much” is a line that you might expect to hear at Chippendale’s after such a performance, but not on the Bachelorette, a forever fountain of fun for all the family! I was certainly not expecting to see that level of nudity, although subsequently making the men walk home naked was an insult to injury move that I’m sure many of the participants could have done without.
Blake Moynes being butt ass naked but keeping his knee brace on (performance over pride) is symptomatic of this paraplegic class of eligible bachelors and while Blake was looking a little defeated after the dodgeball, kudos to him for cleaning himself up, licking his knee and getting back out there. By far the best bit of the entire Blake-hijacks-the-date sequence was his interruption of Jay, who then proceeded to go and get the other lads before showing up again like the younger brother who just got beat up with his big brother and gang
Ultimately Blake got rewarded for his little stunt, which you have to have been expecting unless you’ve lived under a large Bachelor-less rock for your entire life and don’t understand the way in which these producers’ brains work. They wouldn’t have made him, his weird curly beard, and his cute little I-could-literally-Zamboni-anything Canadian accent the centerpiece of the episode finale (other than Clare and Dale’s tonsil hockey… Zamboni that one Blake) if they were about to promptly flick him in the next scene. Usually sliding into the DMs during quarantine isn’t met with such success (just ask Yosef), but it looks like Blake’s outreach to Clare during lockdown might just be paying dividends (until Dale gets back from the bathroom that is) because he left with a rose, much to the chagrin of the rest of the Bachelors!
Looking forward to next week like you read about!