Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ben & Jordan Watch Bachelor Pad: Finale

The bonds of brotherhood between Ben Morse and Jordan Geary were forged during their time as students at Connecticut College, where they spent four years losing at intramural sports (except softball in 2004!), forming their own fraternity because the school wouldn’t let them, making student films one professor called “unfortunate” and regularly beating their friend Dan Hartnett in Goldeneye.

Today, they live 20 minutes apart in New Jersey with their respective lovely wives, sharing passions for miniature golf, diner cuisine and the music of Motley Crue. They also both watched and blogged about Games of Thrones this past season to the thrill of perhaps a dozen.

For years Jordan has been trying to sell Ben, who has never watched an episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, to watch Bachelor Pad. Despite their youthful enjoyment of reality romance classics like Temptation Island and Paradise Hotel, Ben was skeptical, but decided to go for it.

Bear wit to their wit, wisdom and frequent allusions to Mark L. Wahlberg as they try and bring some much needed dignity to these people’s search for love/money/fame/a place to crash for a few weeks.


Bachelor Pad Episode 8: Finale

Jordan: The thing I love about Bachelor Pad is they don’t even bother with playing out the final episode at the house. They just chuck everyone into a studio audience full of housewives…the reality show equivalent of throwing them to the wolves. Already housewives are shaking their head at the mere mention of Chris. I’m anticipating lots and lots of head shakes in this finale.

Ben: And what I love is how over the past eight weeks you have continually referred to the entire viewing audience of Bachelor Pad to “housewives."

And yeah, them being in a studio right off the bat rather than at the house caught me by surprise, but I dig it. I don’t need 20 minute packing montages set to Sarah McLaughlin and the three way “We’re awesome!” slow-mo high five between Chris, Nick and Sarah while Chris Harrison collected Rachel’s tears in a bloodstone-adorned goblet in the background to end episode 7 was an appropriate sendoff for the house anyhow.

Jordan: Chris Harrison introduces everyone in a smarmy way, making it seem like one happy family…in no way hinting at the pile of drama and sadness that will greet them in this final episode. While watching The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad is fun, it’s this final episode that really does it for me every time. It’s just so, so fun to watch these people tear each other apart while Chris Harrison cackles maniacally in the background.

Ben: Thank you for coming clean about watching the other non-Bachelor Pad shows after swearing to me you didn’t before we started this. It only took two months, but I’m proud of you.

Jordan: I must mention that I love that they introduce the one guy as “SWAT”. He has no name.

Ben: To be fair, his name is Chris, and they’ve already got two of those, so since he’s not a soulless, vacuous soldier of evil with a knack for hosting or a half-asleep douche bag who can’t spell “heart,” he gets the short straw.

Jordan: The contestants watch the recaps. You can see form their wide grins and laughter that they don’t mind having their images dragged through the mud and have absolutely no shame for anything they have done. I love them.

Ben: They showed Ed through 75% of this sequence, which was absolutely the right call. It was interesting how they completely glossed over the early drama with the twins, and by “interesting” I mean they found out they were on Jersey Shore. I was surprised they were at this taping, but I guess not having them there would have just drawn more attention.

Actually, the real notable exclusion was Reid, since his weirdness and inept plotting fueled the first three or four episodes, and then they never got into his stuff with Ed later, but it’s a spoil of riches I suppose.

Jordan: We learn Kalon and Lindzi are still together. Lindzi calls Kalon “sweet”, and somehow Erica Rose is the wise one who tells Lindzi to “be careful.” Erica Rose then bravely calls Kalon out for being out on a date at a movie with another woman. My one regret this season was that we weren’t treated to more of the kooky craziness that is Erica Rose. But alas, this was such a spectacular season that even her antics were lost in the shuffle.

Ben: You have to figure Lindzi knew what she was getting with Kalon, no matter how nice he was in the week they spent together—yeah, I’m going there early and often, get ready—but who knows.

A little Erica Rose went a long way. She didn’t need to be on any longer than she was.

Jordan: Next Michael comes to speak with Chris Harrison. Michael does his likeable “I can’t believe I made it past the first or second week” shtick, and then we are treated to a montage of him ripping Rachel’s heart out of her chest. It’s like a Mortal Kombat-esque rip of the heart as he says he has no intention of dating her out of the house. Then, elsewhere in the montage he is exposed as a bit of a dark puppet master, with evil sounding music underscoring it. By the way, an angel gets its wings every time Michael says, “This is a little bit devilish,” which is very ironic.

Ben: This was a bit of a testament to how much of this show is shaped by editing, as obviously if that clip where Michael told Erica he had no intention of dating Rachel post-show had aired during the actual season, his image would have irrevocably altered, but they saved it for here.

Jordan: The montage ends and IMMEDIATELY Michael goes into damage control saying he apologizes for his actions to Erica Rose. Michael then says he didn’t want to be with Rachel and his eyebrows extend wayyyyyyyy above his head as he tries very hard to do the “Hey, guys! I’m just an honest guy over here” look. Jaclyn tears into him and the audience housewives react by shaking their head yet again, which is like getting the guillotine on this show. On a side note, “Housewife head shakes” is also the first single off of Ben and my new album.

Ben: THE BULK OF THIS AUDIENCE IS IN THEIR EARLY TWENTIES! COME BACK FROM PLEASANTVILLE!

Yeah…Michael looked pretty bad coming out of this, no two ways about it. I still think he was wonderfully entertaining and charismatic during his stint on the show, but his “nice guy” image is pretty well-shattered. I’m not saying he’s a monster, and again, there really is no telling how much editing played a role here, but at the end of the day, that clip at the wax museum where he point blank tells Rachel not to worry about falling in love with him is pretty damning. I would have had more respect for him if he had copped here to playing the game not unlike Kalon did at pretty much every opportunity, but that he tried to weasel his way out of it and still come off smelling like roses made him seem like a weasel.

That said I would still love his new album for Christmas. I will listen to it while I work out, both physically and emotionally.

Jordan: Jaclyn gets a montage, which signifies she has made it into the hallowed pantheon of popular Bachelor Pad contestants and will likely be on future seasons. After she watches, fiery Jaclyn and her ugly mug lash out at anything and everyone, especially Rachel. She is entertaining, but the sorest loser I have ever seen and there are MANY sore losers on reality shows. Thus, in conclusion, she has come a long way since her days at Ben’s sister’s high school, but “long way” probably means “less respected” now that I think about it.

Ben: We both went to that high school, mister, and I’m pretty sure she’s maintained an even keel as far as both self-respect and that she receives from her peers.

There was no more laughable bit this entire episode than Jaclyn making the absurd statement that she was the “true puppet master” of the house. Her most strategic move was continuing to sleep with Ed after he gave his masterful “For the good of our team” speech. I’m pretty sure she would be outsmarted by actual puppets. Or Muppets.

Jordan: Next is Blakeley’s montage o’ crying/freaking out. In the montage, Tony does the “what has two thumbs, an incredibly hot girl by his side, and feels like he just won Bachelor Pad? THIS GUY!” Anyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for this incredibly stupid joke, so Tony just won me over big time. Way to go out on a high note, Tony.

Ben: As the person who introduced you to that joke, I could not be more ashamed and embarrassed. As the person who introduced me to that joke, Alex Verdaguer just had a vein in his head burst somewhere (don’t worry, he’s fine, he does CrossFit).

Jordan: Blakeley, Jaclyn, and Native American Pocahontas headdress-wearer Jamie start arguing. It’s very fun to watch, with Blakeley and Jaclyn coming off as cold bitches, while Jamie comes off as a social awkward mental patient. Chris Harrison watches them fight, rubs his hands together, and subsequently laughs over their smoldering corpses. Their hate gives him strength.

Ben: What impressed me about Jamie is the amount of effort she puts into looking terrible. She’s a very pretty girl, and an ugly dress or hideous earrings alone would not be enough to fight against nature, so she brings out the kind of gold chain head adornment the love child of Cleopatra and James Brown would say “too much” to and complements that with what appear to be rhinestone tear drop facial tattoos. That is effort.

Jordan: Blakeley starts crying about how in love with Tony she is. Chris Harrison keeps hinting at something, which makes it sound like a Tony proposal is waiting in the wings.

Ben: I liked how when Blakeley questioned why she didn’t notice Tony during the first half of the season, he did this pantomime of how he was watching her from behind fences and around corners, like the creepiest stalker who ever stalked. Superfan Donna took a break from not saying anything to think he’s a weirdo.

Jordan: They even continue talking to Blakeley after the commercial break. My wife observes, “Tony looks a lot better when he is not beet red and sweating all over himself.” This lack of sweat leads me to believe they are going to announce they are engaged even more. Tony then…pulls the rug under me by saying, “We are moving in together!” Typical Tony…underperforming at every turn.

Ben: Tony’s son breathes a sigh of relief.

Jordan: Wait…he may be proposing as I write this. Tony is once again sweating and stammering. Blakeley is wigging out. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. HE’S DOING IT! HE PROPOSED! HE DID IT! HE DID IT! DOWN GOES FRAZIER! DOWN GOES FRAZIER! DOWN GOES FRAZIER! (sorry I default to Howard Cosell calling that famous Muhammad Ali fight whenever I get excited).

Ben: Tony’s son watches whatever was left of his childhood innocence burn on a pyre ignited by Chris Harrison.

Seriously, how lucky is this kid to not only get to watch his dad come off as a pervy loser on national television, but as bonus get a stepmom who spent the four days before her and his old man’s three day courtship pining over another guy and threatening to donkey punch multiple people in the throat? At age 13, Chris Harrison shows up to collect this kid to “fulfill his dark destiny,” just you wait.

And c’mon, man, at least Google how to spell Muhammad Ali’s name correctly!

Jordan: Now that is over with, let’s see the four remaining contestants! Nick enters, tan as Djimon Hounsou.

Ben: AMAZING REFERENCE!

Jordan: Rachel enters looking as gaunt and weathered as the tree that threw apples at Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Chris enters sneering with that familiar “I’m hot shit” expression. Sarah enters with a grin and hyper, hyper, crazy eyes. Aw, the gang hasn’t changed one bit.

Ben: You know how when they do the finales of Survivor—or at least did the two seasons I watched—it’s crazy because you get to see how all the contestants look when they’re not malnourished and living in the sun 24/7? Obviously for the most part that wasn’t the case here since Bachelor Pad lasted two weeks and they were all living in a mansion, but I swear, Chris looks like he somehow got access to a razor for the first time since the show started and ate enough to put on about five pounds of weight in his face between last week’s episode and this one.

Jordan: Rachel starts by looking at Michael, saying “there is some relationship stuff that needs to be discussed.” Chris Harrison jumps right in and says, “SAY IT!” Mark L. Wahlberg would be proud of Chris Harrison’s Satanic eagerness to create conflict. He has learned from the master.

Rachel says directly to Michael that he essentially is a cockface who slept with her and abandoned her. Michael’s eyebrows raise to the height of the Empire State Building with mock eagerness and says he is sorry but he just wasn’t in love. Nick sits there awkwardly, staring at the floor. I feel bad for him, not even getting two seconds of screen time on his own damn final episode. I want him to just team up with Chris Harrison and just take the money on an epic buddy trip to Vegas while these people argue over their petty romances.

Ben: I’d rather he team up with one of the other contestants who hasn’t gotten to say a word this entire reunion, like maybe Ryan, whose sole moment on the episode came from Jamie sneeringly noting how she didn’t want to partner with him and everybody else laughing like he wasn’t in the room.

Jordan: Rachel continues to drag Michael down, housewives in the audience shaking their heads so much their heads are just spinning like The Exorcist. Rachel breaks into tears. Nick stares his only friends in the studio, his shoelaces.

Nick then speaks! He speaks! He says he wanted to fly under the radar, and he actually needs the money so he didn’t want to get involved with any drama or anything stupid. The obvious segue way buzzwords of “drama” and “stupid” brings the attention on to Chris. Chris then uses the opportunity to apologize for all of his bad behavior on the show, the same thing chipmunk-voiced Casey did last season of Bachelor Pad (right down to the same “my father said that’s not how he raised me” line). Ugh, I can’t stand this guy…even his apologies are strategic and contrived.

Ben: Yeah, again, he could take a cue from Kalon, who lied as much as he ever did, but would admit it as soon as it was strategically safe to do so, and not apologize because it’s part of the fucking game. I get that Chris wants to win the quarter million here, but dude, even though you’re dealing with a group that would likely lose a spelling bee to a studio audience at a Barney taping, they’re not going to forget you were an utter turdbag like three weeks ago just because your dad took you out behind the woodshed.

Incidentally, there was a small part of me that hoped at this point Chris would win and then smarmily reveal his parents had been dead for years.

Jordan: It’s question time! Time to have everyone shred each other! Rachel apologizes to Jaclyn, causing one more disgusting bitter beer face out of Jaclyn (we knew there would be one). Chris then says he regrets nothing in regards to Blakeley, obviously showing his regretful speech earlier was fake. He then starts shouting at Jamie that he is sorry, getting visibly angry at her. Lastly, Chris says, “don’t vote for me…vote for Sarah” in one last horrendously pathetic attempt for votes. Rachel and Nick should kiss Chris right now for the grave he is digging himself.

Ben: I loved how superfan Paige, who got voted out the first week, tried to interject herself into the argument at one point only for Jamie and Jaclyn to shoot daggers from their eyes at her. I also liked how Bing Crosby made a cameo to compliment Chris on playing the game because he’s a deranged lunatic who sees people as chess pieces and has never experienced true emotion.

Jordan: Time to vote!

Ben: How excited was Chris Harrison to bust out that “Remember twins, as always, your vote counts as one” line? How long did it take for the twins to realize where they were?

Jordan: The final tally? 50,000 votes for Nick and Rachel, and 3 votes for Chris and Sarah from the crazy/game obsessed people in the house (Kalon, Erica Rose, and Bing Crosby). Jaclyn casts the winning vote to Rachel and Nick, and all is happy in the world. Yay! Rainbows and sunshine!

...I can’t believe it will end this way. Every season of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette end in some sort of awkwardly entertaining heartbreak or anger, and Bachelor Pad was way too atypically happy an ending last year. Nay, on the hell on earth that is Bachelor Pad, where only sadness and despair prosper, there is still hope for an entertainingly devastating ending! BWAHAHAHAH! I now realize I may have painted myself into a corner with that last sentence, setting up for a letdown if this ends happily. Shit.

The awesomely evil twist from last season comes with the “relationship test,” with the winning duo electing to either keep or share the money with each other. I am so, so hoping Nick fucks over Rachel here as it would be the coolest thing in history. I can’t imagine Rachel saying “Keep”…so I’m depending on Nick to go berserk and just swing his tan dong in the faces of everything television holds sacred. Do it, Nick. Do it. Do it!!

Ben: One, I think you’re elevating Bachelor Pad waaaaaay above its place in the annals of pop culture with that “everything television holds sacred” line. Two, how much time do you think they spent filming those cutaways of Nick and Rachel doing Thinker poses in their deliberation rooms? Three, could Jaclyn and company have been any bitchier to SWAT when he suggested Nick should keep the money and they tore into how he “doesn’t understand” because he wasn’t there long enough to form “real” relationships like they were over their two weeks?

Jordan: While the duo vote in their sound-proof booths, everyone in the cast bashes Nick, saying he has to realize he rode everyone’s coattails to get where he got. Absolutely no credit to him for actually staying drama-free and off of the cameras for his own benefit. DON’T LISTEN TO THE HEATHENS, NICK! KEEP THE MONEY! TURN TO THE DARKSIDE!

Ben: Again, Jaclyn was the loudest voice here, proving herself an even bigger sore loser and also smart as hell because she is going to be on this show for the next ten seasons if she so desires.

Jordan: Here we go. Chris Harrison, stoke the flames of evil with your mind.

Rachel reveals her card first: She chooses…SHARE! Big whoop. She smiles, pleased and smelling that sweet money coming to her. Chris Harrison is visibly displeased at the show ending this way again.

Ben: She could not have been more condescending with her “I suffered so much to get here…oh yeah, and I had a partner too” speech. She may as well have patted Nick on the head and given him a biscuit.

Jordan: Nick, take this home. TAKE IT!!!

Nick’s turn to reveal his card. Here we go.

Wait. Waitwaitwait. Something is happening. What I am seeing as I write this may stand as one of the greatest speeches in the history of television. Nick is detailing how no one in the entire game wanted to be with him. No one believed in him. They all mocked him, behind his back and to his face. Rachel, above all, didn’t ever want to be on a team with him. She kept saying she wanted be with Michael instead of him, right down to the final competition. Nick says he did this, from day one, by himself. And then….oh my GODDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!! NICK KEEPS THE MONEY! HE KEEPS THE MOTHERFUCKING MONEY! AAAAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!! Nick says to all of the contestants that they all wanted all of the money, he just stood up and took it. GENIUS! SHEER GENIUS! Kalon and Chris even applaud and congratulate Nick, saying he deserved it. I am FLOORED. I am completely and utterly floored. The audience loves it, I love it, I am SURE Ben loves it. BEST ENDING EVER!

Ben: Indeed, this was perhaps the greatest ending to a reality TV show I have ever witnessed.

You may remember early on in this blog, I talked about how on shows like these I either pull for the nicest possible people or the worst. Once upon a time I loved the ending of Survivor season two where nice guy Colby sacrificed his chance at winning to do the right thing. This was leagues better because Nick basically gave a full-on super villain speech, but he was also 100% right about each and every point and was completely justified in his behavior and decision. The traditional paradigm would say he’s a gigantic cock for doing this to poor Rachel, but you can see how the audience fucking LOVED him for it. He basically shattered reality TV, and again, his speech was AMAZING.

Two quick non-Nick points:

First, that almost immediately after Nick announced his decision, SWAT fucking ran up to give him a hug. After the shit that Jaclyn and friends had given that dude a few minutes earlier, I felt GREAT about that.

Second, as much as Nick deserves credit for being the greatest man alive here, my absolute favorite moment of the entire season and perhaps in reality TV history came when after his spiel Jaclyn and Rachel were bitching about how he didn’t “deserve” this and fucking Kalon shot them right the hell down with the classic “None of us DESERVE anything! Do you understand what that word means? We’re lucky to have the privilege of being on this show!” PREACH ON, BROTHER KALON.

I now revise my earlier request for a Nick-Ryan buddy movie to a Nick-Kalon bad cop-worse cop show with SWAT as the rookie on the force and Ed as the drunken commish.

Jordan: Weirdly, after many Rachel tears and Chris Harrison smiling wider than any human possibly can smile, Nick just stands up and walks off of the stage before Chris Harrison is even done talking. The cast is floored, not believing what they are seeing. Rachel chases after Nick and starts screaming at him. Nick calmly stands up for himself, saying he did what any rational person in a house full of people who didn’t care if he lived or died would do…all amidst Rachel calling him pathetic. Nick then leaves, gets in a limo, and the show closes with the best line possible. Nick, smiling to the camera: “B.P.3…ANYTHING GOES!!” WOOO HOOOO! I am still FLOORED! It is 1am as I write this and I KNOW I won’t be able to sleep tonight. My adrenaline is off the charts!!!! NICK!!!! YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!

Ben: I like to imagine the police finding the park across the street from you transformed into a hot sludge fundae and being baffled as to why.

I do feel bad for Rachel. Her life is awful. She got dumped, she lost a friend, she got dumped again (more or less), she regained that friend (who is awful) then she lost a quarter (or I guess an eighth) of a million dollars. She had every right to be upset and manic. On the bright side, I would hazard she will definitely be an upcoming Bachelorette if ABC likes money.

But everything Nick did was so very right. The foundation of reality television has always been people lying, whether it’s to form alliances during the show, or to come off as characters afterward. Near as I can tell, Nick was himself all through the show, then gave convention the finger in the end, not caring how he’ll be perceived by the fans because he “turned” on these jerks he spent a couple weeks with and taking the money.

The beautiful, beautiful irony was that the fans loved him more than they ever would have had he shared the money. It brought a tear to my eye.

Jordan: The show ends in the most magnificent way possible, with a montage of people throughout the course of the show saying bad stuff behind Nick’s back, making fun of him. He showed them all. And now he is $250,000 richer. God bless him. I am so, so happy right now. Every time I watched a reality show, I would always be confused by the people on the show who felt so “connected to each other” even after only knowing each other for a week or less. Nick just showed me that if you need the money enough, you can stay focused enough to put aside public expectations for what you privately think is right. He is a strong man. A strong, sun burnt, “dying of skin cancer as I write this” man.

Ben: If I can maintain the enthusiasm, I’m going to try and put together my own “montage” of all the insults we levied Nick’s way while we were writing these.

Jordan: And thus we come to the close another chapter of Bachelor Pad, and I have to say it has been an immense pleasure writing with my best bud Mr. Benjamin Morse. The list of lessons we learned from this season are long, but the chief one I learned was this: The next time you see someone pass you on the street with an immense, painful sunburn…do not laugh at them. With the help of one Chris Harrison, that same sunburned person could one day gain the power to ensnare your soul and steal all of your money. Laugh at their sunburn and THEN push them down a manhole. Protect yourselves, people.

Ben: Only the strong survive.

This was an unexpected delight and I am forever grateful you basically forced me to watch and blog about it with you. I feel enriched. I also feel we are far more suited to writing about reality dating shows than stuff than epic drama that gets nominated for Emmys, so there’s one more lesson learned. And I would not have wanted to learn it with anybody else, pal.

Jordan: Goodnight, one and all, and see you for B.P.4!!!!

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