Last week I told you I had something special planned for my final episode on this epic, depressing, and often rage-inducing journey through the strange world of reality tv dating shows. One of the frequent complaints I’ve gotten during this whole experiment is I was never watching The Bachelorette in the “right” way; that this wasn’t a show that was meant to be watched with one other person or (more recently) completely by myself and stone cold sober. And I can see the arguments in this; The Bachelorette is an event show. To fully understand both it and the people that watch it season after season, I would have to watch it as such.
So tonight, for our final episode and the conclusion of this saga, I am going to step into the lion’s den. I am attending a Bachelorette watching party hosted by my friend’s wife. It’s going to be a bunch of girls, a bunch of wine, three hours of god awful TV…and me. I have no idea what to expect. I’m entering a strange new world tonight, loyal readers. And there’s no telling what I will be like when I come back. If I come back at all.
I will catalogue my experience here as best I can. God bless you all.
7:30 – I arrive. The Bachelorette has been going on for around 30 minutes already, but as I understand it is customary in these parts to start the show late. This is probably to avoid watching 3 hours worth of stupid Whispers commercials.
I am dressed in the traditional garb of The Bachelorette culture: a black three piece suit. In my hands are one dozen red roses. A peace offering to group of ladies who will be my hosts for the rest of the evening.
7:33 – As I approach the door, fear of the unknown grips me. For a moment I consider turning and fleeing, but I’ve come too far. My resolve steeled, I knock.
7:35 – The door opens and I’m greeted by a friendly face: a young blond woman dressed in a long flowing gown (more traditional garb), her head capped with a jeweled tiara. This is the host of the party. I whisper the password, “Fidelio”. A look of confusion flashes across her face. It is at this moment that I realize that there wasn’t actually a password and I just completely made all this up.
The momentary awkwardness passes and I am invited inside.
7:40 – I enter the main living room and am greeted by the rest of the women. They are all dressed similarly: long fancy gowns and sparkly tiaras. The television is the largest I’ve ever seen and most surfaces of the large room are covered with all sorts of different foods and wines. As I understand it is customary to drink and eat in excess while watching. From the looks of it there will be plenty of opportunities to do both tonight.
7:42 – My host happily accepts the offering of roses. However, there are more of them than I anticipated and I did not have enough flowers for each individual girl. A miscalculation that thankfully does not result in my immediate death.
7:45 – During the initial greetings I cannot help but notice some confused and concerned looks being sent my way, as well as some hushed conversations in the wings. It’s clear that the entire tribe wasn’t made fully aware of my presence here tonight. Despite my appropriate clothing and peace offering, I remain an outsider here. They are unsure of what to make of me, what my presence here means, and what will happen as the night wears on.
7:50 – In an attempt to bridge the cultural gap I happily accept the ritual cup of wine offered and break bread with my new friends. I am happy to see that this eases the tension somewhat.
7:55 – After the meal, the small talk commences. The conversations go incredibly fast and I’m almost positive the women are speaking in some sort of foreign language. I decipher one word in ten. It’s going to be a long night.
8:20 – It’s at this point that I start wondering if they actually get around to watching The Bachelorette at these Bachelorette watching parties.
8:30 – We’re finally watching the show. Except not really. First we’re watching a bunch of people on a stage in a studio watch the show. This doesn’t make any sense.
8:34 – My dreams of a happy polygamous conclusion to the show are almost immediately dashed as they depart Utah for Malibu, California. Before the end of the night one of these guys is getting screwed. Or a new TV deal. Not sure which.
8:37 – The Bachelorette is meeting with her family and telling them she’s in love with two guys. They’re all annoyed with her. Me too, Bachelorette’s family. Me too. She also tells them about the time she banged Old Show Guy because the way to get your family to love your boyfriend is to tell them he ravaged you sexually on national television.
8:38 – My hosts have spent most of the time judging the clothing and hair of everyone. I glance at my trappings, wondering what would be said about them. Nothing good I’m sure. They also haven’t stopped talking since the show began. I wonder how they’re able to tell what’s going on.
8:40 – Old Show Guy is now meeting Bachelorette’s parents. In an attempt to get everyone in the same camera shot without having to do annoying cuts to B cameras all the time, they’ve squeezed everyone onto a very tiny couch. They all look super uncomfortable, especially Old Show Guy. Lazy camera work is the best camera work.
8:43 – Bachelorette Mom is now grilling the shit out of Old Show Guy. Things appear to be going bad for him, so he quickly employes operation “Cry In Front Of The Old Lady”. It worked. Bachelorette Mom loves him now.
Fun Fact: Operation “Cry In Front Of The Old Lady” is how Hitler seized control of Germany*
*This is not actually true.
8:45 – Bachelorette Dad doesn’t give a fuck about any of this. He seems genuinely annoyed to have to be a part of this whole thing. I like him.
8:51 – It’s Crazy Ryan Gosling family visit time. He’s doing a really great job at hiding the fact that he is crazy and is absolutely killing his visit with the family. He’s giving some bullshit speeches and telling some bullshit stories about how he always knew he was gonna end up with The Bachelorette. The tribe of women clearly love this stuff and make the ritual noise of acceptance and approval:
9:02 – The Bachelorette is on her final date with Old Show Guy. He grabbed her butt and none of the women I’m watching with liked this at all. Girls don’t like butt grabs!? My world has been shattered.
9:04 – Old Show Guy talks about how his feelings for The Bachelorette have miraculously not faded over this whole experience. It’s been 2 months. Yes, Old Show Guy, somehow your feelings have lasted the test of time.
9:07 – I am drowning in a sea of estrogen. The ladies have just gone in a circle around the room, asking who everyone thinks is going to end up winning. I think everyone says Crazy Ryan Gosling. Then the question comes to me. Is this a test? Should I give the same answer as an attempt to join the tribe? Or will they see through my ploys of forced acceptance.
I give a sarcastic answer which seems to sate them for now. I just looked death in the eye, loyal readers.
9:14 – Final date with Old Show Guy is over. He gives her frame with some creepy handwritten words and a picture. I’m pretty sure some of what he wrote isn’t even proper English. Nice try. Bachelorette basically says she wants to pick him. I’m sure she’ll change her mind in 24 hours though.
9:18 – Final date with Crazy Ryan Gosling. Instead of having a wonderful romantic time, she’s just talking about how hard this whole thing is for her. This isn’t good for ol’ Crazy Ry.
9:22 – Suddenly, we pause the show. It’s time for the ceremonial Ice Cream Break. These customs are increasingly foreign, but not to be rude I accept the offering. Ironically it is over the iced treat that my hosts have finally started to warm up to me. In a bid of renewed confidence, I attempt to join in on the constant intermixed banter happening all around me.
9:26 – It did not go well. I must choose my words more carefully.
9:36 – Crazy Ryan Gosling gives the Bachelorette a giant jar filled with memories or something. All the women just went insane so I guess this was a good gift. I’m pretty sure that some ABC intern actually put this thing together.
9:40 – Some old guy is coming to each of their doors and giving them giant diamond rings. Apparently, this is Neil Lane. He appears to be some sort of jewel god worshiped by women. If you summon him, he will reward you with fabulous jewelry or possibly kill you.
9:44 – We are starting to approach the end, and the women are getting really nervous. I am nervous too, but only that if things do not go their way, they will take out their rage on the only man currently in the room: Me.
9:49 – We just paused the show for five minutes to discuss the fact that Old Show Guy’s family is at the stupid live event, but Crazy Ryan Gosling’s isn’t and what that means to who’s going to win. Five. Minutes.
9:51 – At last we have reached the end. The first one to get to talk to the Bachelorette is Old Show Guy. The tone in this viewing party has now whipped up to a frenzy. I am scared.
9:55 – Old Show Guy pours his heart out in a proposal speech, but as he is about to pull out the ring gifted by Diamond-Deity Lang, Bachelorette tells him to stop….
Old Show Guy has lost!
Hey ladies, as a general rule, when you’re breaking up with someone, letting them go through their entire proposal speech, breaking their heart, and then making sure that you know how much you still love them is a really stupid fucking idea. I consider sharing this thought with my hosts. After all, we’ve bonded over ice cream. Unfortunately their chatting has switched into overdrive mode and I am unable to get a word in. My thoughts remain my own.
10:00 – Old Show Guy storms off all pissed. This is the second time he’s been the runner up on The Bachelorette. Guys. His mom. Look out Bachelorette. She has a very particular set of skills.
10:03 – It’s Crazy Ryan Gosling’s turn now. His proposal is like he Google searched “romantic proposal speeches”, and decided to combine the top 5 hits together. It’s sappy and terrible so all of the ladies loved it.
10:06 – The Bachelorette says yes. Crazy Ryan Gosling, despite being literally batshit insane has managed to win the show and the heart of the Bachelorette. She is finally able to contractually tell Crazy Ryan Gosling that she loves him. Seriously. This is the first thing she says to him after the engagement. “I’m so happy I’m allowed to tell you I love you now.” Truly, this is the most romantic moment in the history of love.
10:10 – And suddenly it is over. Technically, there was another whole hour after this called “After The Final Rose” where they recap the show we just watched and interview the three final people again. It’s just as boring as the stupid “Men Tell All” episode last week and I don’t feel like writing about it.
Let me summarize it for you:
Crazy Ryan Gosling: I am not crazy.
Old Show Guy: I am mad.
The Bachelorette: I understand that you are mad
Chris Harrison: Tell me more about being mad and crazy.
10:40 – The ritual at and end, the women begin to gather their things. I thank my hosts for a wonderful evening and escape quickly into the warm summer air, acutely aware that my good fortune could still change at any moment. I have survived.
So, gentle readers, this is the end at last. Over the past 10 weeks I’ve taken you all on a journey through my experience with this show. I laughed, I cried, I got really really drunkenly angry that one time. And if I’m being completely honest with myself I had a lot of fun. But most importantly I learned something;
I learned that The Bachelorette is a truly terrible show. It’s fake in the worst possible way. It’s fakeness that is convinced it’s real. Two months, most of which were spent sharing a woman with two dozen other guys is not enough time to build a lasting, meaningful relationship. It’s no wonder most of these relationships fail. They were never real to begin with.
The Bachelorette’s sin is not merely existing. It’s that it has convinced itself that its existence actually serves a real purpose.
I also now understand why all of you love it. After 10 weeks and three hours surrounded by a bunch of girls who have an absolute blast getting to watch the show together, I get it. The great irony of the show is that while it takes itself very seriously, the people who watch it don’t. None of you have any illusions of what the show actually is. From my experience most of you are doing exactly what I am: making fun of it.
So for those of you that get together one night a week to watch some trashy TV and hang out with your friends, enjoy it! I will never watch this show again (probably), but I now understand why you do. Thanks for coming on this weird little journey with me. I hope you guys had fun.