TV Recap: The Bachelor

So remember back in the day when you took your first significant other to meet your folks? It was probably the holidays and you were sooo in looove and just knew that you and Whats-Their-Name would stay together 4-eva.

Then, something happened. It didn't work out. For years afterward you were tortured by family members continuing to ask about Whats-Their-Name, who haunted over your life like the Ghost of Christmas Past. Why, no, Aunt Pam, I haven't spoken to Bob in 5 years, but I'm sure he's doing swell. Yes, Grammy, I know you think Chris was the closest I've ever come to walking down the aisle, but don't hold out hope we'll ever get back together - I'm pretty sure his wife would be opposed. The lesson: Unless down the line it's going to involve some sort of ceremony, stay away from blood relatives.

Brad Womack, Mr. Glutton-For-Punishment, appears to have not gotten the memo.

This episode we were going to watch our bachelor head off to visit his lady loves’ humble abodes. This prompted a start off of some Shirtless Brad b-roll from before the season even started. You know, Shirtless Brad showering, Shirtless Brad cooking, Shirtless Brad packing. Such a shirtless life; now I know how the American Gladiators live.

First stop: Wichita, Kansas. I know nothing of Wichita (or Kansas, for that matter), so rather than just assume its population consisted of more sheep than people, I went to the truest of sources: Wikipedia. Because if something really sucks bigly about Wichita ... heck, Kansans are going to write it there themselves. For example, I learned that the state amphibian is the Barred Tiger Salamander. Who knew? But Wichita itself is the home of nearly 600,000 individuals, and while not holding the largest population, is the actual largest city in the state, and it houses the world’s largest and longest wheat elevator. Truly the stuff of legends. Plus Paul Rudd is from there, so it can’t be half bad, because he rules.

But more about Jenni; is she qualified enough to date our Brad?

She starts off by taking him to the dance studio where she grew up dancing, like, practically every day. She runs through her list like her resume in that link up there does: She won her first competition here! For $50! She danced every day! And she’s a really good dancer! I’d like to pretend that last part didn’t actually come from her mouth, but, yeah, it did. She pretty much just did her usual dance routine and Brad just kind of lost the ability to speak. Can’t you see him now, grasping for vocalization, “Eh, ur, um, ma, gah, uh, toast?”

Brad’s worried his feelings might be fading since they’ve been apart for a week, and then launches into the “Would you move for me?” addendum. Jenni’s answer: No, because I auditioned for the Phoenix Suns dance team. Seeing as how she was already on the team for the 2006-07 season, it probably won’t be too hard making it again. But his feelings fading after a week? Peanut Gallery to my right suspects he’s visited somewhere else first. But since Jenni hadn’t heard from the Suns yet, she said she’d consider it because she really liked Brad … but let’s meet some family members.

The summit took place at Jenni’s mom’s salon, and the whole crew sat down to eat while Brad answered the usual questions about his profession and life goals and so forth. Grandma grilled Brad about his drinking habit, and he swore he was, “The most boring bar guy you’ll ever meet,” which seems a standard answer perfected over the years to mollify drunken women and sober people he hopes to impress. Mom washed Brad’s hair for no apparent reason, and I’m happy to report that I couldn’t find a receding hairline on the guy. Also cute: That the production crew blacked out the shampoo labels and turned all the bottles of product around in the background.

Jenni hides out somewhere with her sister, who producers obviously instructed to ask her if she was falling in love with Brad. And her sister is straightening her hair of all things, like some lady-in-waiting deal. Jenni gave some textbook answer that she thought she was in love with him, and the sister smiled back in a way that recalled the scene in Clueless in which Cher’s dad asks her what she did that day. Cher answers that she broke in her purple clogs and Tai smiles back in that adoring, empty, puppy-like way. Jenni’s sister is her Tai.

It’s a little eerie that Brad looks like an older version of Jenni’s dad, but no time for that, Jenni made the team! Yay? It could mean a year of long distance for the almost couple. But she’s “1 million percent” sure that she wants to be with him. The grandiose statements make me question her sincerity. Plus, you’ve known him for what, 14 days, and you waited what, 8,500 days to meet him in the first place? A few hundred more won’t kill you, darling.

Next up: Sheena’s place!

Wow, do she and Jenni have the same stylist? (Peanut Gallery: “WHO IS DRESSING THEM?!”). I figured I should pay attention to Sheena as well. Apparently her family is pretty well off (her dad does land speculation, and her mom, Beverly -- I felt a connection and automatically assumed we were on a first-name basis -- was a print and runway model. Gotta love the local press!). She went to a prep school and grew up all over Arizona, splitting time between her families’ homes -- as in plural. And her dad is really super proud of her, as is her mom. Cute fam. Wonder what her ex would think.

The pair hangs out on Sheena’s parents’ yacht and Beverly found out that Sheena’s dad and Brad are both Scorpios! She sees a real connection between the two of them. She sees a lot of things it seems. All week we’ve been seeing that THE ONE clip which makes Sheena’s mom look crazy, but after watching the show, there may have been something else going on there. I can’t comment on it, but Sheena’s mom didn’t seem quite as there after the boat ride as before. And it just occurred to me, but if all four of them are on the ship’s deck, who’s driving the thing?

Sheena was a little mortified at her mom’s disclosures, but after a soak in the hot tub, everything was back to good. Insert collective audience sigh.

DeAnna was up next, and something told me this was going to be a fun visit. She’s not an aspiring trophy wife, so she’ll be cognizant for the occasion. It was time for our Big Fat Bachelor Visit.

We’re off to Newnan, Georgia, home of the Corner Tavern and some other places. A basket of peaches on her lap, DeAnna was thrilled to see Brad again. Right off the bat, Brad knew the names of all her family members. And he immediately went into a one-on-one with dad, asking if this could be real for his daughter. Dad responded he thought it would be if she decided it was -- which she was perfectly able to do on her own. After thumbing through a photo album her mother made before she passed away, DeAnna’s family arrived to haze/ouzo/opa the crap out of Brad.

As the family of uncles, aunts and cousins danced with Brad, DeAnna and her family, Brad noted he couldn’t help but feel that they were already married.

Well, our Bettina is a very successful woman. She’s had her share of heartbreak in the past, but you root for her to pull through it, you know? Plus, we’re going to Washington, D.C. There’s no way she actually lives in Washington. She probably lives somewhere near it, like Alexandria. Oh, and I may be from “Washington, D.C.” too, so I may be uh, a little more critical than possible about editing continuity.

But first, whoa, her dad looks like a younger Stephen King. And boy is he skeptical of B-rad. When talking about the importance of education, Brad mentions the D word – he dropped out of school after a year because he knew he wanted to go into business for himself. So, he asks Bettina’s father, why’d you move to D.C.?

“I was offered a professorship,” he replies uncomfortably. Man, it’s going to be a long night! The table conversation was full of awkward, pregnant pauses; really, the ideal way to build a soulmate connection.

Bettina’s dad pulled Bettina out to the pool for a private talk, leaving Brad behind with the women. They did little to mask their contempt for him perhaps making a fool of their daughter/cousin/niece/whatever Bettina is to them. In confessional, step mom even said she didn’t want Bettina with a man who “runs a bunch of bars.” When the dog barked, the mother excused herself in the middle of Brad’s sentence to take the dog out. Oh Shi Tzu.

Out by the pool, Bettina’s father asked why she was doing this for a man with no education who looked bad on paper. But Bettina defended Brad, saying a degree isn’t everything, and even his own daughter didn’t have one. I felt she held her own, but I would have said was this: “Dad, the last time I went into a relationship, I did everything that was expected of me and what everyone wanted me to do, and it didn’t work. Since you raised me to the best of your abilities to make that type of decision, I think you should trust me to do it my way.” I wish she would stop asking permission from people to think for herself. I’m tired of her feeling like she has to prove herself to all men since she couldn’t make it work with hubby No. 1. Her dad needs to get over her ex a lot more than she does.

Later, Bettina tells Brad her doubts based on her parents’ feelings, and he got defensive like she didn’t defend him and was saying these things of her own accord. Maybe he doesn’t look good on paper, but at least I don’t judge others he sneers at her.

Yikes. Peanut Gallery and I predict the end of the line for Bettina.

So we’re going all the way back to Los Angeles for the rose ceremony so one of these women can go all the way back where she just came from. I hope they’re racking up some serious frequent flier miles.

So who’s in?
Sheena Bettina

Whoa, f’real? I can’t believe Sheena isn’t moving on!

Outside, Brad takes Sheena to a bench to explain that while he cares about her, he doesn’t feel that soul mate connection with her. “You deserve a perfect guy, but I’m not that guy,” he says. Which last time I checked, the “It’s not you, it’s me” line mean its still, uh, you. You can’t help but feel for the girl, who is clearly rocking the same dress color and earrings that he gave to her on last episode’s “dream solo date.”

Well, Sheena, I have one thing to say to you: eBay! Woo eBay! Sell those babies and get some cash out of it. Pay some bills, get your rent in check if it isn’t – after all, you’re 23; I empathize.

Next week: What Happens In Cabo…

Oh, wait, that was a Laguna Beach episode. But we’re still going there, and DeAnna puts it all on the line! Bettina confesses her feelings! Jenni tries to tell Brad how she feels! Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

As we part, we’re greeted by our first non-naked/non-drunken video clip during the closing credits, this time with Jenni’s Grandma further grilling Brad. Well done, producers.

So, are you as shocked as I am that Sheena left?

Who do you think had the craziest family?

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