Okay. I’ve been doing paperwork all morning (don’t ask) and I’m right pissed off. Not my usual, smoke-and-a-coffee-and-I’ll-be-okay kind of pissed off, either. I was up all night writing and drinking whiskey, fell asleep on my hardwood floor, and now I’m sore, tired and genuinely irritated by the fact that people still watch reality television.
Yeah, I know – it’s grounds for dismissal from the Union of Funny Guys or whatever to trot out this hoary old chestnut, but I’ve never written about it before, and after last night it’s high time.
I was visiting Adam from Two Assholes last night because his lovely fiancee insists on feeding me once a week to ensure I don’t crumble and die from lack of proper nourishment. We were having a lovely chat and their television was muted, until she looked up at the TV screen and her eyes lit up like a junkie being offered a free hit. The mute came off and the room was filled with the strains of overproduced guitar-and-string ensemble signifying a “back-from-the-commercial” moment on the puzzlingly-popular serial “The Bachelorette”.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time going over what we already know about these shows: foremost being they’re exercises in false advertising – they aren’t real. Let’s just start from that position of strength, all right? The Survivors aren’t surviving shit – if they had to deal with any real adversity I might be inclined to watch the show, but until contestants start getting eaten by tigers, they’re all frauds in my estimation.
If you’re a fat American Idol, you’re not going to win.
And as far as the Bachelorette goes…well, let me try to break it down for you.
Best I can gather, because I don’t watch this kind of pabulum and have no frame of reference, the idea of the show is they find some mildly attractive woman with obvious intimacy issues who becomes the sought-after prize for thirty or so men who look like they spend their free time going to the gym, standing around drinking appletinis at clubs, going back to the gym, looking over their 401k, returning to the gym, and stopping to spend several thousand dollars of their significant salaries at Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein before heading back to the gym. From what I could tell, these guys are physically carbon-copies of one another (immaculately tousled hair, chiseled jawlines, and what a friend of mine likes to call the “whoops, I didn’t realize I was sexy” facial stubble), sporting vocabularies on par with your average six year old (there are modifiers other than “nice” you could ascribe to your girlfriend, boys), with the emotional depth of a houseplant.
And the woman in question? Suffice to say I’ve had enough experience with what my friends refer to as “The Crazy” to call it when I see it, and this girl was a few Wonder Bread slices short of a grilled cheese.
Last night was the season finale. Apparently it was a big enough deal that CTV decided to do one of those “live to air” broadcasts from some Milestones downtown chock to the brim with vapidly adoring female fans and their reluctant boyfriends who were clearly there to take advantage of what free booze they could scare up and to guarantee they’d be getting laid later on that evening (despite the fact their girlfriends would doubtless be fantasizing about whichever Mr. Cleft Chin managed to make it to the end of the product-placement rainbow and score The Crazy’s pot of gold). The overly-exuberant on-site reporter (who was probably better looking than the lady of the hour, truth be told) was doing her best to stir up excitement during the commercial breaks (which came roughly once every six or seven minutes) but only succeeded in stirring the beer and pizza metastasizing in my stomach into a bitter potion of hops, tomato sauce and rage.
But my so-called friends figured they’d make me sit through it, if only to enjoy my steady slide from caustic commentary into full-fledged apoplectic screaming at the television screen.
It didn’t take long.
So the final episode of the season takes a full hour longer to sit through, not because they have a great deal more content to deliver, but because a) the network sells twice as much advertising space when they’re guaranteed the kind of Nielsen rating they generate with a “finale”, and b) the post-production editing of the show was either genuinely god-awful or else perfectly tuned to milk away the precious seconds of my life with drawn-out still shots of lakes at sunset, pans of elaborate hotel lobbies sporting more lit candles than you’d find in a Gregorian monastery, loops of cars driving up to said hotels that rival the slow-motion jump over the fence performed by Matthew Broderick in Ferris Beuler’s Day Off for sheer redundancy, and my absolute favourite: fuzzy flashback montages.
I’d like to go on record stating that I truly, deeply, from the bottom of my black little heart, hate fucking fuzzy flashback montages. Between that and the non-stop expository dialogue coming out of the incessantly chattering talk-holes of the cardboard cutouts they call a cast, I felt like I was being forced to relive every painfully contrived moment of the entire preceding season one agonizing second at a time. Seriously, I know your audience probably has the cultural IQ of a feral child with Down’s Syndrome, but do you really have to answer every off-camera question you’re asked with a recap of the question?
Interviewer: What are you most looking forward to this evening?
The Crazy: What am I most looking forward to this evening? I’m most looking forward to blah-de-blah-de ramble ramble.
Thanks. I couldn’t have extrapolated the nature of his query without you repeating it, verbatim, for my benefit.
Anyway, leaving aside the terrible acting (and don’t kid yourself, it is acting – it has to be – it’s the only way I can sleep at night, because I’ve seen porno flicks with better story and characterization), the big deal in the final episode of this kind of show is, apparently, The Crazy gets a ring. Yeah, this is probably old news to you, but I figured the show would end on a “and they lived happily ever after until the tabloids catch up with them” kind of way, but no – we’re talking bended knee, big old rock (written into the show’s budget I would imagine) and promises of “you and me till we’re dead”. In a culture where half of all marriages end in divorce, what do you reckon the stats are on a marriage that starts with a reality TV dating competition?
Me being the kind of guy I am, I was hoping for some serious heartbreak. The big hook for the finale is the last remaining two of these desperate, pathetic troglodytes get to square off one more time and see which one of them The Crazy doesn’t mind being shackled to until the annulment paperwork goes through. It’s the big cliffhanger from the episode before, because like in Highlander, there can be only one. (Obvious joke: how much cooler would this show become if they were made to sword fight until one of them cut the other one’s perfectly-sculpted head off?)
Of course, this kind of fake suspense can only take you through a few seasons before the jaded Romanesque viewing public requires further titillation, and I think they’re onto season six or seven of this farce, so they have to throw in some kind of plot twist, you know, for interest’s sake.
This time it was the return of some other douchebag she’d sent home a few weeks prior who had flown from Hawaii all the way back to Philly, ostensibly lamenting the loss of The Crazy from his future plans. The show’s producers either saw an opening there, or else the whole thing was planned from the start (likely) so they flew his fool ass all the way back out to Hawaii to profess his undying love to her on national TV – again. The one highlight of the show for me was watching this goofy cat – inexplicably wearing a suit jacket, untucked dress shirt that appeared to be two sizes too big for his underwear-model frame, baggy dress pants and tennis shoes – get bald-faced shut down for a second time on national television.
By The Crazy.
I genuinely hope that was unscripted because I haven’t laughed that hard since I saw Paris Hilton get shoveled into the back of a squad car.
So the show ended with another god-forsaken fuzzy flashback montage of the whole damn series – again – and faded to black on the happy couple embracing in the gathering dusk whilst standing on this extended dock thing that went halfway out into the ocean. I kept hoping Jaws would leap out of the water and take them both down like what happened to Sam Jackson in Deep Blue Sea, but alas, I was disappointed. We were encouraged, before the next ten minute run of commercials, to tune in the following day for their post-game wrap-up, pithily entitled “After the Rose” or something. I spent five full minutes thanking Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and whatever other deity would listen that they weren’t following the show up with what I’m sure will prove to be yet another rehash of the entire season lorded over by that bizarre Ryan-Seacrest-in-ten-years clone they call a host. Seriously, that guy looks like the type who either incites small children to crawl into his panel van with promises of candy and unicorns and trips to Narnia, or else goes door-to-door selling copies of the Book of Morman. I just didn’t have enough beer left to get through something like that.
Then we cut back to Milestones, where masculinity was being systematically destroyed by a group of bow-and-scrapers who took that magical moment in TV history to propose to their girlfriends. I could spend two hours in the shower scrubbing myself like a rape victim and I don’t think I’d get the slime of that display off my skin.
There are two problems with shows like these (actually there are a lot more than two, but being this pissed off is exhausting and I’d like to wrap up). First, couching this kind of unadulterated romanticism in the rhetoric of “reality” television is setting a lot of women up for some serious disappointment later in life. Face facts ladies: chances are your Knight in Shining Armor is not going to come riding up to your Ivory Tower asking for hair care tips anytime soon. Most guys are like me: jaded, bitter, distrustful of women, even more distrustful of their own instincts regarding women, who burp and fart and scratch themselves at somewhat inappropriate times, who revel in their vices and just aren’t willing to play Mind Reading Underwear Model for the rest of their lives. If you can’t get your head around the fact that real men aren’t like the men you see on TV – in fiction – you’re going to end up living in the overgrown house at the end of the street with seventeen cats, giggling at your houseplants all day long. And even if you manage to find one of the very, very few “good” guys who, in addition to being thoughtful and considerate and in touch with their emotions and whatever else Cosmo and Sarah Jessica Parker and The Bachelorette have taught you to expect, under no circumstances will you ever be in a situation where THIRTY of them will make dolts of themselves on national television just to try and win your hand.
The second problem is farther reaching. While you’re holed up on your couch watching this mind-rot crap, there’s a whole world out there passing you by. You must have better things to do. You must. As a culture we need to take a stand against this kind of sub-par entertainment and start boycotting nonsense like this, otherwise it’s never going to go away. Do you really want to be forty-five, dealing with the onset of menopause and lamenting the youth you wasted on one of the aforementioned “most guys”, and still be watching rich, beautiful men demean themselves in hopes of going home with an equally-vacant, rich, beautiful woman? Turn that shit off and go develop some social skills. Maybe then you won’t die miserable and alone.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find something to do to take my mind off the fact that I probably enjoyed the final episode of The Bachelorette more than I’m willing to admit – if only because it gave me an outlet for the mindless rage masking how very, very lonely I am.