May 18, 2015
Look. No one will ever accuse The Bachelorette of being a particularly progressive series, especially when it comes to gender roles and dynamics. It’s not like we’ve lost some sort of important feminist show; this isn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Xena the Warrior Princess we’re talking about here. But The Bachelorette was as close as we were going to get to an female-empowering narrative from a dating reality show: a woman was placed in charge of her own romantic future, eliminating suitors one-by-one until she was left with the man whom she, and she alone, chose to propose to her. It wasn’t perfect, and the summer series has always been treated as the lesser sibling to the much more regressive Bachelor, but it was somewhat empowering in its own hetero-normative, racially pure kind of way.
And so, of course it couldn’t last. This season, for the first time in the show’s 11-year history, The Producers have chosen two women to potentially be the Bachelorette, Clingy* and Lenny Bruce*. No, there won’t be two simultaneous Bachelorettes, but rather, before the dating can begin, the two women have to compete for the male contestants’ vote to become the Bachelorette. As Chris Harrison explained it during the Bachelor finale, “Twenty-five men get to decide who will make a better wife.” GROSS. NO. GROSS.
I mean, heaven forbid a woman have the slightest bit of power over her own fate, amirite? No, first we need the judgment of 25 men to determine whether or not a woman is worthy of being even considered “wife” material, that’s just the natural state of things. Yes, once the men determine who it is they want to date this season, the show will return to its original form; the Bachelorette will be back in charge, determining who will stay and who goes home. But it’s a shame that we can only get to that place once the menfolk have had their say.
GO AHEAD, HARRISON, EXPLAIN YOURSELF. Chris Harrison starts off the season in a defensive posture. “Yes, controversy, ANGER, but change is never easy! There are two Bachelorettes this season, Clingy and Lenny Bruce, and we’re pitting them against one another in a fight to the death for male attention. BUT WE HAAAAAAD TO, because the men were evenly split between who they wanted to date this season. And so we thought it best to take the power out of the Bachelorette’s hands and place it back where it belonged: with the men.” Which is a fine explanation, as long as next season’s The Bachelor does the same thing and gives the female contestants the power to choose between two potential Bachelors. That will certainly happen next season, right? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander and all that, RIGHT?
Let’s meet the ladies, shall we?
Lenny Bruce made it pretty far with Farmer Teeth last season, and was eliminated in third place, which should have guaranteed her the spot as The Bachelorette until The Producers decided it just wasn’t fair to the male contestants that they not have a say in who they would be dating this season.
Then there’s Clingy:
That’s pretty much all you need to know about her.
Chris Harrison mansplains to us that these ladies, they are different! One tells jokes! The other cries! SO DIFFERENT! NOT INTERCHANGEABLE LADIES!
The ladies put on their fancy dresses and are loaded into their separate limos where they do deep breathing exercises to tamp down their RAGE at being PLACED IN THIS RIDICULOUS, MISOGYNISTIC POSITION IN THE FIRST PLACE, and are driven to the Bachelor McMansion to perform for the men. As they prepare, they say things like, “I don’t like this,” and “I hope Clingy isn’t there,” so I guess they are both just really super excited for this whole “dramatic twist” that The Producers have cooked up! If they’re cool with it, I guess we should be too!
Here are the men who warrant the “Hey, Pay Attention to These Guys Because They Are Either Going to Be in the Final Four or Eliminated Immediately After They Offer Clingy and Lenny Bruce a Ostrich Egg or to Date Rape Them” packages this season:
Johnathan (33, Automotive Spokesman, Detroit): First of all, what is an “automotive spokesman”? Is that a thing? Do cars need spokespeople? But second of all, Jonathan is a single dad of a really cute kid and seems like a nice guy and good father. Which is problematic only because he’s interested in Clingy, and I just don’t think any kid should be subjected to this:
Joe (28, Insurance Agent, Columbia, Kentucky): Joe spends his time posing against picturesque small town buildings with one leg propped up, feeding horses, and talking about how he’s a “Southern Gentleman.” Cleetus here is interested in Lenny Bruce and needs to run a mower over that hair.
Josh (27, Law Student, Chicago): Surprise! He’s actually a stripper. A gross, gross, oily, meat-headed stripper.
Brady (33, Singer-Songwriter, Nashville): “Singer-Songwriter.” Oh brother.
Joshua (31, Industrial Welder, Kuna, Idaho): Just look at what you hath wrought, Farmer Teeth. Another yokel who spends his time posing against picturesque small town buildings with one leg propped up, throwing hay bales, and going on about how he’s just a “Small Town Boy.” Cleetus’ Cousin Merl here is also interested in Lenny Bruce.
Ian (28, Executive Recruiter, Venice Beach): Manages to work into his interview that he went to Princeton, which on the one hand: Hey! he went to Princeton, so he’s not your average dummy! But on the other: Ugh, shut up about Princeton, already. Also he got hit by a car this one time and the doctors said he’d never run again, but then he did run again, so triumph of the human spirit or something. Princeton is into Lenny Bruce.
Jared (26, Restaurant Manager, Warwick, Rhode Island): I don’t even know what this guy said because he looks SO MUCH like my cousin Max that it weirded me out and I stopped listening and started wondering if my cousin would be mad if I stole one of his facebook photos and posted it to show you guys. I think Cousin Max says a bunch of junk about how he’s special because he requires “chemistry” in his relationships unlike every single other person on the planet and then he opens his shirt and declares himself the superhero, “Love Man.”
Nice try, buddy, but you’re going to be called Cousin Max from here on out. AND STOP PUTTING CAPES ON YOUR DOG.
Tony (35, Healer, St. Louis): This guy is a straight-up yoga weirdo who’s “job is healing” and who kisses his houseplants.
Ben (26, Personal Trainer, San Jose, California): He lifts weights and has a dead mother and will date whomever, he’s not picky.
Alright. Cue up the limos.
Limo #1 spits out:
Ben H. (26, Software Salesman, Denver): Goes to Lenny Bruce first, but then says something to Clingy about “sponsoring” children, I don’t know.
Jonathan (see above): Makes a beeline to Clingy, barely acknowledges Lenny Bruce.
Clint (27, Architectural Engineer, Chicago): Greets Clingy first, and is like, “Oh, hey, whateveryournameis” to Lenny Bruce.
Ryan B. (32, Realtor, Wellington, Florida): Calls Clingy a “Disney Princess,” won’t let go of her; ignores Lenny Bruce.
Cousin Max (Jared above): Hugs Clingy first, shows off his stupid “Love Man” T-shirt, nods in Lenny Bruce’s general direction.
Kupah (32, Entrepreneur, Boston): Goes to Clingy first, and there is NO WAY this man is in his 30s. Whatever, Grandpa, you’re not fooling anyone.
Aaaaaaand … Lenny Bruce is already crying about how all the men are going to Clingy first, so congratulations, Producers, your plan worked. 35 minutes into the first episode and we’ve got lady tears.
Limo #2 arrives and out pops:
Brady (See above): Goes to Clingy first; Clingy feels “sad” for Lenny Bruce — but not really, she’s not kidding anyone.
Cory (35, Residential Developer, Pearland): PEARLAND REPRESENT. Goes to Lenny Bruce first, but only to give her a perfunctory hug before heading over to Clingy and telling her she’s beautiful.
Princeton (Ian above): Hugs Lenny Bruce first, and tells her that he was hoping it would be her, making Lenny Bruce feel a little bit better about this whole stupid mess.
JJ (32, Former Investment Banker, Denver): First of all, “former investment banker” is NOT A JOB. I’m a former Marble Slab ice cream scooper, but I don’t go around describing myself that way because that would be stupid. JJ greets Lenny Bruce first and yammers about hockey, before saying he wants to “puck” her, and handing her a hockey puck. GET IT? IT’S A PUN.
Ryan M. (28, Junkyard Specialist, Former Boyfriend of Nurse Nikki, Kansas City, Missouri): Also not a job: “Junkyard Specialist.” How do you specialize in junkyards? What does that even mean? This pile of dumb gets out of the limo and announces, “Hi honeys, I’m home.” I already need a drink. A big drink. He greets Lenny Bruce first, because he’s “obsessed with her.”
Some Guy in a Sweatband (Don’t know, don’t care enough to figure it out): Makes a dumb joke about making a “love-love” match.
Daniel (28, Fashion Designer, Nashville): Dances out of the limo like a spastic marionette, goes to Lenny Bruce first.
Magic Mike (Josh above): This “law student” approaches Lenny Bruce and makes a clever legal pun about her not losing her appeal. Lol, no, he just starts taking off his clothes and makes the ladies touch him which they DO NOT WANT TO DO. Greasy!
Cletus (Joe above): Approaches Lenny Bruce first and offers her a jar of moonshine.
Justin (28, Fitness Trainer, Naperville, Illinois): Arrives with a bunch of balloons, takes a hit of helium, and says “WOW.” Clever. He gives the balloons to Lenny Bruce, and Clingy has a sad.
Tanner (28, Auto Finance Manager, Kansas City, Missouri, Probably Also Dated Nurse Nikki At Some Point): Hugs Clingy first, and offers her a box of tissue.
Lenny Bruce asks Clingy if that’s tissue or soap — you know, on account of the fact that Clingy DOESN’T SHOWER. EVER.
Shawn B. (28, Personal Trainer, Windsor Locks, Connecticut): This Ryan Gosling wannabe brings both ladies in for a hug, and then Clingy goes in for another. Clingy calls him “gold.” But Ryan Gosling tells Lenny Bruce that he’s there for her, and that this is fate and meant to be and everything happens for a reason.
And then Lenny Bruce runs into the house to say hello to all the men, and let them know “they’re killing it.” Clingy declares this NOT FAIR.
Limo #3 (or 4, maybe 5 who even knows) belches out:
David (26, Real Estate Agent, Orlando): Goes to Lenny Bruce first; Clingy seethes.
Corey (30, Investment Banker, New York City): Shows up with a volleyball and explains that while he’s not a farmer, he hopes that Lenny Bruce’s offer to plow his field is still on the table. This makes no sense. This makes no sense! And what does the volleyball have to do with anything?
Droopy Dog (Tony above): Goes to Clingy first and tells her with sincere Droopy Dog eyes that he believes in love, the real kind of love, and he hopes that The Universe provides. He then goes to Lenny Bruce and tells her with sincere Droopy Dog eyes that he believes in love, the real kind of love, and he hopes that The Universe provides.
Inside, the men begin discussing which woman they are most attracted to, which doesn’t skeeve me out in the least, no sir. Meanwhile, ladies and gentleman, we have our Designated First Night Drunk: Ryan M. the “Junkyard Specialist,” or “Human Garbage” as we shall call him from here on out. Human Garbage begins declaring that he’s “all horned up,” will NOT apologize for being awesome, and tells one poor guy, I think the Spazzy Marionette, that he’d “like to take that girl out to a nice steak dinner and never call her again.” The pleasure, I’m certain, would be all hers.
Shawn E. (31, Amateur Sex Coach, Ontario, Canada): As we have already discussed, “Amateur Sex Coach” is not a job. You just like to talk about sex, Ian Ziering lookalike, but that’s not a career. So Ian Ziering pulls up in a car that is, somehow, filled with water (a car pool, get it? I hate my life.), but his moment is ruined by Human Garbage who comes outside and yells, “that car sucks.” Ian Ziering ignores him, and tells the ladies that they will talk inside, so Human Garbage yells, “NO WE WON’T YOU SUCK,” because Human Garbage has the rapier wit of a slow 4th grader who is a disappointment to his entire family.
Chris (28, Dentist, Nashville): The dentist drives up in a motorized cupcake covered in fake candy corn. Way to send mixed messages, dude. But a logistics question: where does one find a motorized cupcake, or a “car pool” for that matter? Did he ship the cupcake out here from Nashville? Or is there a whole novelty vehicle rental operation out in Los Angeles that these two guys found out about?
Cleetus’ Cousin Merl (Joshua above): Greets Lenny Bruce first.
Ben Z. (See above): Greets Clingy first. But nothing of interest is said with either man because Clingy is too busy yammering about not wanting to go home tonight.
And then we’re back to the men talking about the women and which they prefer, with the Car Spokesperson suggesting that maybe they will just have to go to Utah and have a double wedding.
The ladies go into the house and Lenny Bruce greets the men with a knock knock joke:
Lenny Bruce: Knock knock.
Man-Apes: Who’s there?
Lenny Bruce: Two Bachelorettes.
Man-Apes: Two Bachelorettes, who?
Lenny Bruce: THAT’S THE JOKE.
OH BURN. SHE BURNT YOU, PRODUCERS.
Clingy does NOT APPROVE, she is not here for stand up, and to that end Clingy gives some sincere speech about looking for a best friend and a partner and something about adventure and Dear 8 Pound 6 Ounce Newborn Infant Baby Jesus, do not let the men choose Clingy because I can not with her for another 6 or 12 weeks or however long we are in this nightmare together.
Anyway. Justin takes Clingy outside and the first thing he tells her is that he has a son, “Aurelius,” which is so much name for a four-year-old! Too much name, maybe! Meanwhile, Lenny Bruce chats with Princeton who tells her again that he’s there for her, and Ryan B. tells her the interrupting cow knock knock joke. Lenny Bruce is not impress—MOO.
Either Tanner or that Ben H. guy — look, they are all hair and teeth to me at this point — tells Clingy about his “sponsor child” again and then Clingy hears from Car Spokesman about his son, because she apparently looks like mother material to these guys.
Ryan Gosling, meanwhile, declares that it was love at first sight with Lenny Bruce before we are forced to listen to the men TALK EVEN MORE about which woman they are more attracted to, and discuss strategery like that is a thing that they need to worry about.
While Droopy Dog yammers at Clingy about feeling calm around her, that Clint guy offers Lenny Bruce a caricature of Chris Harrison riding a triceratops? For some reason? I mean, I’m not going to say that Chris Harrison riding a triceratops isn’t an awesome idea for a caricature, I’m just not sure what Lenny Bruce is going to do with it, is all.
Then Chris Harrison declares the voting room open, but before he can even finish his instructions, Droopy Dog leaps up to put his rose in Clingy’s box. Wait, that sounded dirty. Then all the men start freaking out about WHO TO VOTE FOR? WHOOOOOO? Clingy worries that she only has 30 seconds with each man to prove she’s wife material and make them “put a rose in [my] box.” Yep, still sounds dirty.
Lenny Bruce chats with Cleetus about being stressed out, and he admits that this whole business is making him uncomfortable, and that moonshine is “his comfort zone.”
Meanwhile, Clingy visits with Cousin Max who tells her that he thinks it’s really cool that she’s “doing the things [she] wants to do, and [she] is not afraid to do it and that’s awesome.” I’m sorry, Cousin Max, but what are you even talking about? What has Clingy done, exactly? Been brave enough to not shower? Been strong enough to choose to sleep in full makeup? Because last I checked she was a model/waitress/professional cryer, which is not exactly “awesome.”
One of the Teeth and Hairs asks Lenny Bruce about her tattoo, and she explains that it is a dove, the only bird who remembers how to fly home. Teeth and Hair the promptly goes inside and votes for Clingy, so I guess he found that answer as silly and cloying as I did.
Inside, Human Garbage begins yelling about this being the “gay Bachelor” and how “this place is dead” and other drunky drunk things. Ian Ziering is NOT HAVING IT, and takes Human Garbage aside to confront him about interrupting his entrance and saying that he sucked. Human Garbage is so blackout drunk, however, that he has no memory of doing any such thing. But that’s not going to stop HUman Garbage from becoming aggressive and retorting, “You DO suck, though…”
Human Garbage’s charm offensive isn’t over, however, and he continues telling everyone how “horned up” he is, before leading Clingy outside to paw at her face and messily slur that everyone is in love with her. He then turns his attentions to Lenny Bruce, and by “turns his attentions to,” I mean grab her lennybruce. She is not amused.
Ben Z. takes Human Garbage aside to scold him for being grabby, and in response, Human Garbage strips down, gets into the pool and yells some more about how he’s “horned up” and that “this place is dead anyway,” because there are literally three sayings on the talking Drunken Human Garbage doll.
But he’s still not done! Human Garbage wanders nakedly into the voting room, knocks one of the ladies’ pictures off the wall, throws a rose at the other and then stumbles out to the living room where he threatens to rape that JJ guy, you know, the guy with the teeth and the hair. JJ asks him why “rape is his go-to word,” which is a good point! But it’s a point lost on Human Garbage in his current state, who merely replies that JJ “sucks,” the third saying on the Drunken Human Garbage doll.
And with that, the giant security guy informs Human Garbage that Chris Harrison wants to speak to him. “Chris Hansen?” Human Garbage mumbleasks. Oh, honey, if Chris Hansen is looking for you, you’ve got bigger problems than not being able to hold your Fireball shots.
Chris Harrison informs Human Garbage that he is clearly “not here for the right reasons,” and loads him up into the drunk tank. Human Garbage will have to go be horned up somewhere else.
Chris Harrison explains the situation to the other men so they could get back to the business of talking about which of the women they are more attracted to. Tanner, the one who shaded Clingy with the tissue box, tries to give her, as he puts it, “her due diligence” (not what that means, but do go on) and give her a chance to charm him, but she’s not having it. Meanwhile the guy, you know, the one with the hair and the teeth, tells Lenny Bruce that she’s awesome and confident. I think he was Dr. Cupcake? Sure, let’s just say it was Dr. Cupcake.
And then everyone votes and everyone talks about their votes, so much voting I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE VOTING.
Ryan Gosling and Lenny Bruce chat, and she now declares it love at first sight, so if she is chosen to do this thing, I think we already have a winner. Elsewhere, Clingy and that songwriter guy chat and she announces that she HAS to be the Bachelorette because she DESERVES to be the Bachelorette.
Finally, Chris Harrison announces that the final rose has been cast, and they are now going to count up the votes to determine who will be the next Bachelorette. Not that we’re going to find out in this episode, don’t be ridiculous. No, instead, the last ten minutes are spent with the Man-Apes talking about how stressed out the ladies must be, and with the ladies pacing around on the driveway talking about how stressed out they are. “It would be a shame for this to be the beginning of the end,” Clingy assures us, even though I’m pretty sure for whomever is going home, this will be the end of the end.
TO BE CONTINUED. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Mad Max: Fury Road again, roll around in actual feminist empowerment and try to wash off the stench of all this misogyny.
*We call Kaitlyn “Lenny Bruce” around here on account of all the dirty jokes she cracked in the first episode of last season’s The Bachelor, and Britt is “Clingy” because of the way she leeched onto Farmer Teeth last season and refused to let go. And now you know.
The Bachelorette airs on ABC on Mondays at 8 p.m. but will move to 7 p.m. on Monday, June 1.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.