Week 2: 'Have Your Cheese and Eat It Too'
|Aug 21, 2018||Public post|
“This is just the nature of the game we play. You have to kind of…move with the cheese, bro.”
As I watched Kenny and Eric talk through an extensive analogy about lab rats at the end of Bachelor in Paradise's second week — the figurative rats' desire for cheese versus their rat-instinct for complacency; their willingness to seek out the cheese they so crave versus their predisposition to wait for the cheese to come to them — the feeling that washed over me was surely akin to that of a late-in-life beauty queen, asked back to judge the pageant over which she once reigned supreme, looking on in horror as she realizes that, while in some ways she is a foundational part of these happenings, in other ways…
Where once I made the extended, difficult-to-follow cheese metaphors around these Bachelor in Paradise parts, Kenny and Eric just swooped in and started doing it bigger, better, and from inside the house. What's next? Will Kenny and Eric start screen-grabbing their own blurry images? Will they start going on seemingly off-topic rants about their childhoods, incorporating nostalgia in order to force a false sense of recognition amongst their readers, eventually coming back around to sort of make a Bachelor-related point? Will they spend the hour after they watch every BiP episode drafting emails to the ACLU to please do something about Chris???
No, probably not. See, the thing about analogies, metaphors, similes, or any other literary device that utilizes something the reader or listener already understands, and uses it to explain something they don’t yet understand…is that it’s easy. It's a shortcut. That's why I use them so often — because I'm incredibly lazy! When I was in college I used to get in my car, turn the ignition, put this two-ton machine in gear, and drive 50 yards from one end of my apartment complex's parking lot to the other just to get me that much closer to class.
However, I have to assume that the men of Bachelor in Paradise speak exclusively in analogies not because it’s easier to explain their point, but because they have banana peels for brains and think that they’re tricking us with their wordplay. They assume that if they hide it behind an itty bitty idiom, we won’t notice that they’re using women as props to bolster their own giant egos :)
This obviously does not apply to Eric and Kenny, who by all accounts are kind-hearted, open-minded princes just trying to figure out the ecosystem into which they’ve been thrust via a rather complex rat-to-cheese comparison. No, I’m speaking pretty exclusively about Chris who is, of course, my mortal enemy. If I have to hear that sentient red flag say that Colton is treating Tia like a doll on a shelf, or that Colton is keeping Tia in his back pocket, or that Colton wants to have his Tia and eat her too one more time…
No. No! I won't resort to semi-violent metaphors that indicate a deep desire to knock Chris back to "The One Where Eddie Moves In," where his hairline belongs. I won't! I will simply ask: is this doll-on-a-shelf analogy a very common one among 20-something men? Is it like how every dude who played lacrosse in high school innately knows they have to start stanning Mark Cuban as soon as they declare their business major? Do they also know that when they grow up they will have to start using this doll analogy when it becomes clear to them that a woman they're attracted to is, in fact, more attracted to someone else?
Without consulting each other, every man, boy, and man-boy on this beach seems to agree that Tia is being treated like a doll on a shelf, and it's just pretty rich that Chris would act like the fragility of Tia's delicate female emotions would not be able to recognize that she's being toyed with when his emotional resolve is feebler than your grandmother's entire display case of collectible Madame Alexanders.
If I might deploy a metaphor here: drama may be the momentum that keeps this Bachelor in Paradise wheel moving. But insecurity — insecurity is the entire axis upon which this hopeless hamster wheel spins. Not just for Chris (who I will briefly settle down about), but for everyone trapped inside this Paradise of their own making. The first episode of week 2 is made up entirely of churning, bubbling, building insecurity until it finally boils over into glorious action in the second episode. Whether that means romantic backstabs due to a sudden spike in rose-fueled confidence, or bumping around like a bunch of PacMan ghosts waiting to see if the newest arrival will hijack their ticket to next week, everyone is losing it.
Poor Caroline came in more nervous than Chris Harrison when asked to express human emotion before he has time to consult his Excel spreadsheet, and while I felt for her, I also very much appreciated her inadvertent rollout of the BiP thesis statement: “Today, every insecurity that I ever had about myself was brought to light."
Welcome to Paradise, where a nice, beautiful, successful lady can be stricken with insecurity because she has one chance at staying on vacation with her friends, and that chance just met the Ms. Pac-Man of his dreams who the producers have been patiently waiting to deploy for this exact moment of emotional deterioration. This place is a psychological warzone.
I love it.
THERE ARE NO WRONG REASONS IN PARADISE
We open on Chris and his cronies, Nick (who is also the worst) and Jordan (who you can tell wanted to be a part of the shit-talking, but not the actual confrontation by the way he gingerly sits off to the side), sitting Colton down to fuss at him: "We've been bombarded with this whole Tia situation today."
What in the royal hell is this royal-we Chris is using?! Whomst has been bombarded, Chris? Colton and Tia have been on a date all day, making out, and tricking themselves into thinking they’re okay with their current situation. What Chris means to says is, I've been walking around this beach all day, fuming that Tia doesn’t like me as much as she likes you, and my solution to make her like me is to tell you that you can't like her anymore!!! Colton informs Chris that he's been honest with Tia about wanting to explore his option in Paradise, and that she is one of those options. Is that a great thing to tell another person that you allegedly care about? No. But it is well within Colton's right to want to explore his options, and tell Tia as much so that she may choose to explore her options as well?
Sure, whatever, I don’t know these people. But Chris, knowing deep down that Tia has no real interest in him on account of his bad personality, literally whines back to Colton:
He is the most embarrassing person in the world, and I'm including myself in that count, a person who used to drive her whole ass car 50 yards to save one minute of walk-time. Colton responds, correctly, "What do you mean, 'you can't do that'? This is Paradise, bro!" Chris, a real stickler for unwritten rules and for people doing what he wants or else he'll pitch a fit, seems to be under the impression that he is deserving of any woman he wants because he is in Paradise for The Right Reasons. And therefore, anyone there for The Wrong Reasons is inferior to him. But What Chris seems not to realize is…
There are no Wrong Reasons in Paradise. This is a bacchanal of tacos and over-the-pants-daybed-hand-jobs (OTPDBHJs for future reference). Sure, you can go on hoping for "that Carly and Evan experience" — which, might I remind you, is the fairy tale love story of wearing a woman down with such tremendous dedication that she finally takes pity and kisses you while you recover from an ailment, and realizes, sure…I could love this guy — but it’s a little more casual than all that.
Colton absolutely roasts Chis to a crisp when he says, "I understand you guys gotta play these rose games, but I'm here to figure out connections." Bachelor in Paradise is not The Bachelor(ette), Chris is not the Bachelor police, and Colton owes Tia very little except honesty. After that, only Tia can get herself past Colton…
Or, uh, not past Colton.
(S)ELF ON THE SHELF
To her credit, Tia really does her damndest to put herself first. Before the rose ceremony, Tia talks to Colton one more time to get a final ruling on that clarity she's been looking for. She tells him that part of her thinks Colton feels like he has her, and can just call on her whenever he’s ready. Colton tells her he doesn’t want her to have to witness it, but he came here to take chances and "figure out what I want, be open, and talk to other people."
Tia has — what we call in the business — had it. She tells the camera that she’s spent her whole life waiting on a man to decide he wants her (whole life, Tia?? kindergarten, Tia?!), and that he’s willing to fight for her: "And I cannot be the one fighting and waiting on anymore." She tells Colton she can't keep herself in this situation if she's not his first choice, then briefly dabbles in threatening him that he won't get a rose if he doesn't commit to her right then and there (listen, it's a journey), and finally tells him she doesn't want him to say something he doesn’t mean. But she also can't give him her rose; she wants someone who can commit to her 100 percent…
Unfortunately, there are plenty of dummies who will commit to someone… you have to be a little more specific than that, Tia! What about — and I’m just spit-balling here — I want someone to commit to me who doesn’t also have very obviously deep-seated issues with women and entitlement? Just a thought. Because when Tia meets back up with Chris, he gives her every clichéd spiel in the world about how she deserves to be treated like a queen, and how he goes after what the wants, and how he's willing to fight for her, and — okay, real quick: can we talk about this constant harping on a willingness to fight for someone?
In the context of doing the hard work to keep a long-term relationship going, sure, I get that — fight for the relationship. But Tia thinking Colton is unwilling to fight for her is…just Colton not liking her as much or as readily as she likes him. There's not really anything for him to fight in order to be more interested in her (unless she means his own emotional well-being). And as for Chris' lying ass, what is he fighting for? They just hang out on the beach together and go on pre-planned dates! This is all very simple. There is no fighting, except the fights he picks needlessly!
But Chris assures Tia that he will fight for her, and he will put her first, and Tia says she's been talking all day about needing a man who knows what he wants, and "it's so surreal to actually hear it."
Oh, see, Tia… it seems surreal because the things that you've been so insistent that you want and need have all culminated here in Chris. And now you're having to reckon with the fact that maybe you don't want what you think you want…because, again, it has resulted in Chris. But hey, let's save that li'l existential crisis for the end of this four-hour event. Something to look forward to…
A NATIONAL TRAGEDY
Before we get to the Rose Ceremony and what can only be classified as a brief shared psychosis by the Bachelor in Paradise women (like when that whole Australian family went collectively bananas, flushed their phones, and disappeared, because only folie à deux could explain letting Wills go before, well, any of the other men)… there are a few random moments I must point out.
First, as Kevin is getting to know Astrid because Krystal fully ditched him after a successful date with Kenny, he asks Astrid if "there are any other guys in [her] life." And Astrid, with no laughter to suggest she's teasing, or vocal fluctuation to indicate her meaning, responds:
This is exactly how she says it, and this is exactly how it is closed-captioned: "No, just my mom's dog, stepdad."
Let's workshop this a little bit. I see our options thusly:
Astrid's mom has a male dog named Stepdad.
Astrid is incredibly dehumanizing toward her mom’s husband who she calls Stepdad.
Astrid's mom has a male dog and a male husband who is Astrid's stepdad.
Astrid's mom has a male dog, and Astrid's dad has a husband who is Astrid's stepdad.
Only one of these options allows for a reality in which Astrid is not calling her mom's dog a "man in her life," so I'd say all in all, this is a pretty bleak remark from Astrid…
But Kevin loves it. He is looking to get in on that dog/stepdad/Kevin trifecta, and he's already taken himself off the market by the time the new women arrive the next day.
Next is one particular line from the only man on this beach less aware of how he is perceived than Chris. Nick's only chance at a rose is Chelsea, which is not so much of a chance, as it is a sentence that Nick says out loud sometimes. Nick reminds us that they had a "phenomenal connection on day one," and we get a glorious flashback to Nick manically scissoring his own fingers together, telling Chelsea — who appears to be playing dead while Nick talks at her — that he has "like, a weird attraction to you."
I truly cannot understand why everyone on this show is so insistent upon letting people know that they have a "weird attraction" to them, or that they're "not someone they'd usually go for." It generally seems to be intended as a compliment, but it always sounds more like, Theoretically, I find you unattractive, so I don't know if it's pheromones or what, but SOMETHING is overriding this otherwise HIGHLY unappealing face of yours!
It is not weird that you're attracted to Chelsea, Nick — she's very attractive. You know what is weird? When, back in the present day, Nick tells Chelsea that he finds Bachelor in Paradise more stressful than his real job as an attorney…
And then attempts to convince her of how serious he is about this process by saying: "I'm not here to chase fucking roses — I'm here for a partner in crime."
Reader, I died. In Nick's supplement-addled head, the most earnest, passionate, winning argument he can make (again, he is an attorney), is that he is on this television show to Find! His! Partner! In! Crime!
As I am to understand it from Bachelor in Paradise, the type of woman most men are looking for is a "good girl" (#BARF) who is also willing to commit crime with them. Men, women, couples, and singles, this is my call for change: Please stop saying partner-in-crime. Enough is enough. Having fun together is not a crime — taking spontaneous trips to Amsterdam, or getting Taco Bell after a long week of healthy eating, or brewing your own kombucha or whatever is not criminal. It’s just fun!
Plus, we can all see where seeking out a "partner in crime" gets you…
Okay, finally on to the roses: Krystal picks Kenny, and Kendall picks Joe, and Annaliese picks Jordan, and oh who cares because all that matters is Bibiana throws a curve ball and picks Colton when she should have picked Wills.
Look at this fearful stare Bibiana gives off in the wings before she picks up that rose and tell me someone didn't threaten to withhold her peanut butter allotment if she didn't pick Colton. That Wills and Nick would ever be put on the same level in any way is highly unsettling, but it quickly becomes clear why it was worth it to starve out Bibiana in the name of keeping Colton around…
"I'LL TELL GARRETT YOU SAID HI!"
The Bachelor producers have flown Becca in on the finest Spirit Airlines red eye with four connections, and still she comes in absolutely glowing to rub her happiness in all these rejects' faces, and wreak absolute psychological warfare on Colton, who was recently in love with Becca and has had no closure.
This is…not the best look on Becca, who has always seemed pretty malleable to the producers, and is now like, Oh sure, I'll definitely go hunt Colton down to talk to him without his permission! In the end though, I think Becca is just an alarmingly level-headed and self-assured person herself, and kind of assumes everyone is exactly like her…
But everyone is not. Watching Colton be stricken with the fact he's not over his breakup with Becca like he thought he was is legitimately heartbreaking. He tells David through sobs, "I'm supposed to be perfect, like this is supposed to be easy … And right now I can't — I'm falling apart." This unfortunate situation does have the unexpected benefit of making Colton seem more trustworthy, because I never believed that he was as into Becca as he acted, but this kind of emotion would be difficult to fake.
And I guess the evil producers' evil plan had a non-evil upside, which is that after talking with Becca, Colton actually does get some closure. While all the guys are down on the beach sure that Colton should go home because he's not ready to find love again, Becca is telling him that she went into her own experience heartbroken too. But she knew what she wanted, and she was still able to push through and find it. And all the sobs, all the small mental breakdowns, all the doll-on-a-shelf analogies are worth it to see Chris' face when Colton comes back and says he's not leaving.
"Being a virgin is an emotional type of thing,” Chris says to the camera. “So I feel like Colton will be his own demise. The Goose is not concerned at all." Whereas I am concerned about the cost of the reconstructive surgery I'm going to have to have to get if I ever want to get my eyes rolled back to the front of my head…
Hey look out for that moving van
Driving down our streets
You better lock up your man
Before he meets the new girl in town
Now that the Power of the Rose™ has switched to the men, the producers are shoveling in new fertile women like they're preparing for a Handmaid's-Tale-type scenario, which y'know, I do believe the apocalypse will start Right Here On ABC, so it's never too early to be vigilant.
From the moment Annaliese says she “respects” Jordan, you know she will be the primary victim of this lady-deluge. You can get a kick out of Jordan, sure; you could laugh at Jordan, or perhaps occasionally laugh with Jordan; you could even find Jordan attractive if maybe you had some sort of selective-hearing capability. But to respect Jordan? Seems like the ravings of someone who's lost touch with reality.
Annaliese is the number one purveyor of the "Carly-and-Evan/Jade-and-Tanner" narrative. At one point, while David is actively trying to sabotage Jordan's relationship — which is just a thing he openly and shamelessly does now — Annaliese casually tells David, "Yeah, I want to be engaged at the end of this."
Listen, I understand that a few people have come out of this show engaged, but a lot of people have cycled through it. To come in expecting to be engaged at the end is a little…well, I guess maybe that's someone outlandish enough to be with Jordan. And while Jordan is into Annaliese, and they do have a connection that basically boils down to her telling him she likes to refinish furniture, and him responding, "I'm obsessed with people who are good with their hands" in a way that is somehow completely devoid of sexual innuendo…Annaliese was never going to be any match for Jenna in Jordan's eyes.
I have long said that Jordan is only truly capable of being attracted to himself, but I never even considered, that if you brought in a woman who looks and acts exactly like him (or a man, or anyone — I cannot see Jordan limiting himself when it comes to…himself), that woman could be his perfect match.
When Jenna walks in, Jordan looks stricken. Like he never expected to be truly attracted to another human, and here he is, showing interest in pressing his face up against something that is not a mirror, a still body of water, or a particularly shiny piece of aluminum foil. Watching Jordan be sexual with another human is not a pleasant experience for me — it's just unnerving, like when you suddenly encounter an Irish Wolfhound being walked in the city, and remember that you live in a world where dogs can be as tall as you. However, the instant connection between Jordan and Jenna is really something to behold.
Mostly, they both say insane stuff, and it doesn’t faze either one of them because this is just their normal:
Jenna: "I need someone independent, someone that maybe understands the brows and the power that they have."
Jordan: "We're on the same page.
Truly, it is a match made in Heaven [ed. note: if Heaven was a nightclub in Night At the Roxbury]. Meanwhile, Annaliese is gushing to everyone who will listen about how Jordan treats her so well, and she's always wanted someone who adored, and — uh oh, Jenna is asking Jordan on her date, he's saying yes without so much a glance behind him, and they head to the beach where they stone-cold fall in love, and Jenna gets the full black box treatment.
To Jordan's credit, he is completely honest with Annaliese about his feelings when he gets back. To Jordan’s detriment, he is Jordan, so that involves him telling Annaliese over and over how amazing his date with Jenna was, how rare their connection is, and how, "it's gonna be hard for me to catch us up to what happened today because it was nuts." Annaliese is upset about it, but she also very sweetly says, "I look at Jenna and Jordan, and that's exactly what I want — someone to walk in here and we're just glued together." Annaliese. Babe. You dodged a bullet here. Get it all out of your system and go say whatsup to Eric.
Or to Kenny, who is also getting the straightforward treatment from Krystal, although hers is handled with much more grace than Jordan's. She tells Kenny that she knows she's risking going home, but she wants to be honest with him and tell him to keep his options open because she's keeping hers open. Which is all well and good, but it's time to start locking down some spares, because more women are rolling in…
Caroline comes in absolutely panicked, telling everyone she encounters how nervous she is. She makes Joe look like James Dean, and she also makes Joe wait on a daybed while she deploys a panic-bathroom-break. Ultimately, she calms down around John, so even though she usually dates jocks and Canadians, she asks John out on her date, and it is nice to see this hot nerd getting his due. Their date is nice, but they mostly talk about the normal "this is what I'm looking for in a relationship" fare. Nothing at all like what comes next for John…
A JUBILANT RETURN
I HAD NO IDEA JUBILEE WAS COMING BACK! If I had, I would have been shipping this union from the beginning. Jubilee comes in looking gorgeous in my own personal textile weakness — tie-dye — saying she like smart, nerdy guys. And there stands John: smart, nerdy, and as an added bonus: hot, nice, and just the right amount of still available. While John is politely warning Caroline that there were noticeable cartoon birds and budding flora in the air when he met Jubilee, the woman herself approaches to ask John out.
Caroline's horror-movie-style panic sets in again when John and Jubilee head out on their date, and though she probably won't die from nervous urination, she has good reason to be concerned about not getting John's rose…
On their date, John and Jubilee talk about feeling alienated as minorities on their respective Bachelor(ette) seasons; John and Jubilee talk about their passion for string instruments; John and Jubilee talk about the difference between the hardware that she works on in the military and the software he works on a developer. "John," she says in awe: "What are you doing here?" Oh my, it is a moment. I'm concerned that there wasn't a lot of John-and-Jubilee action in the this-season-on, but I'm also excited to root for their child on American Idol one day.
ROAST GOOSE — IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER TONIGHT
As the women officially hit the panic-mode button back at the beach, Kenny and Eric begin workshopping their rats-to-cheese analogy. Basically, Kenny tells an always enthusiastic Eric that when a lab rat gets used to eating cheese in a certain spot, and then that cheese is moved, they respond in two different ways: they either go find the cheese (cut to Jenna mounting Jordan), or they wait for the cheese to come back (cut to Annaliese blinking forlornly). "Why do people think the cheese will come back?" Eric asks without an ounce of insincerity in his voice. "Because people are afraid to move," Kenny tells him.
“Damn, that’s deep,” says Eric.
But given that this little adaptability experiment hinges on the cheese being moved in the first place, it seems the wisest course of action might simply be to keep closer tabs on one’s cheese…
ESPECIALLY WHEN THAT CHEESE IS ACTUALLY A RAT! Okay, this has gotten away from me but, bottom line: Chris told Tia eeeeverything she wanted to hear after she finally gave up on Colton; he told her he would fight for her (???) and always put her first; he later assured her there was no reason to feel insecure. And then the second another woman showed interest in him, this numbnuts nearly swallows his own tongue trying to say, "I mean, I'm definitely not in a relationship at all" as quickly as he possibly can.
Watching Chris be sexual with a woman is not akin to running into a large dog on your evening stroll; that is simply startling, not horrifying. No, watching Chris use his throatiest voice to tell Krystal, "I don’t think I've ever kissed a blonde … I want to make you the first" is like that scene in Game of Thrones where they strap a bucket full of rats to Gendry's stomach and then start heating up the bucket so that the rats will burrow into his torso for escape (no cheese-motivation necessary). It is pure torture.
But nothing could have prepared me for the anguish of having to hear Chris brag about it to Jordan the next morning. "You want to hear my line," he says with all the swagger of high school sophomore who just got his first grope in on the three-seater at the back of the band camp bus: "I was like, honestly, I never kissed a blonde girl…I wanna give you the title."
That line was terrible going down, but it was so, so much worse coming back up.
If you can make Jordan look at you like this, you know it’s bad. Proving that he truly is clueless, Chris tells the camera, "I like [Tia] a lot — I'm willing to fight for her. But I'm in Paradise. I'm going to leave her open as an option."
I'm going…to leave her…open…as an option. Exactly what he’s been raging at Colton about. Can this dude hear himself? Well it doesn’t matter, because he's about to hear about himself. Colton knows that Chris kissed Krystal, so he tells Tia, saying Chris won’t be man enough to tell her himself. It doesn’t matter if Colton's intentions in telling Tia are totally selfless or not, because Chris is the best thing that ever happened to Tia and Colton — he makes these two seem like mature, emotionally stable little saints.
Chris and Jordan do some weird bit talking about all the women Chris is going to entertain tonight, painting Tia as the ex who will waiting for him at the door, and Bibiana somehow as…carrot cake? Anyway, while that's happening, Tia is boiling up a dinner plan of her own:
If there's someone in your life who enjoys The Bachelor franchise, television criticism, extended analogies, or anything within that Venn diagram, feel free to forward this letter to them, or you can give them the gift of workday procrastination with the gift-subscription button below. See you later this week for The Feast. Finish him, Tia.