It was a very Bachelorific week in my world. In addition to my usual Flare recap, I taped Huffington Post's Here to Make Friends podcast with Emma Gray and Claire Fallon. It was a total hoot and I now have girl crushes on both of them.
Also, The Bachelor aside, for those of you who don't know, I've been moonlighting as a dating columnist for Flare. (I love writing them and I don't know how I got so lucky.) If you or anyone you know has a relationship question you want my (sometimes brutally) honest opinion on, send it over to: firstname.lastname@example.org!
We discussed this briefly in the podcast, so when I found a great example I had to include it. The topic was the "Bachelor cadence", as cleverly dubbed by Claire, which is when the emphasis in the sentence sounds a bit off. It's clearly in response to a producer's question, and in my opinion ends up sounding incredibly unconvincing. Case in point, Ben's conviction that Las Vegas is a great place to fall in love...
I always find it funny when the girls make it seem (or are made to make it seem) like Ben is at all responsible for the grand romantic gestures in this show. While it's a nice thought in theory, a team of people that does not include Ben deserves credit for orchestrating things like the following...
Along the same vein, in the ARIA HOTEL AND RESORT, WINK WINK, the women credit Ben for their swanky digs...
I do feel that of late there is a sense of the contestants being a bit more "game" to play by the rules, as demonstrated above. Yes, the lead can be credited for giving you this experience to the extent where he's liked you enough to keep you around for it. But on my season, we were all well aware that Juan Pablo was not personally responsible for flying us to and putting us up in South Korea and New Zealand. And I was very careful to never sound like I felt that way.
But as this show and the meaning (and benefits) of being on it evolve, I think contestants are more willing to say what's expected of them, even if they don't necessarily feel that way. There are advantages to sticking around an extra episode or two, far beyond the "finding love" aspect that was once the main selling point (up there with it being a once-in-a-lifetime experience). This amazes me. My season was only two years ago, but the show has changed a LOT since then. (When we filmed, for me Instagram was still just an up-and-coming thing. I never once connected the dots until airing was already underway.) I'm starting to think Instagram and the power to monetize social media has completely taken this show—and the way its contestants behave, emote, and possibly allow themselves to feel—to a whole new level.
We also discussed this on the podcast (sorry, there will likely be several references to it!): It's not like the women sit around looking at the window, searching for helicopters and watching each other's one-on-ones. The room often has three or more cameramen (and women!) in it, so when a camera is focusing on something happening outside (or, say, on a biplane flying overhead), it's safe for the girls to assume something's up.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you probably know by now that I'm a huge Final Fantasy and Zelda fan. The cameras tipping you off on what to look at reminds me so much of RPGs in general, where things or people you encounter nudge you in your next direction. I know that's a totally bizarre analogy but hopefully it won't alienate you too badly. ;)
For Jojo's date, the girls watch the helicopter land and basically blow the couple away. Note the girls' proximity to the window...
Now note Lauren H and Rachel's laughter and how some girls are sitting...
... and how the shot of the twins up against the window makes it seem like the laughter clip wasn't spliced from a completely different moment. Why they felt the need to make it seem like the girls laughed at—or even saw—them getting blown away, I don't know and suppose I never will.
I hadn't intended to go too in-depth on this Group Date because I've talked about it both in my Flare recap and on the podcast, so in addition to just being sick of talking about it, in all honesty, it truly upsets me. (I take this show more to heart than I should, apparently.) However, watching it back, I couldn't stop myself from capturing a bunch of .GIFs. This is why recapping always ends up taking so much more time and energy than I mean for it to. I simply can't stop myself.
Read between the lines and watch Olivia's expressions before and after her talent show act. Notice the strained smiles...
... the nerves, the discomfort, the moments where she lets down the façade...
There's no point in analyzing it because I've already made clear my opinions on how and why Olivia would come up with and choose to go through with something that obviously makes her so uncomfortable.
I have some feminism food for thought: Had Olivia not been awkward or nervous on stage and had she actually knocked her number out of the park, what would have happened? It's safe to say she wouldn't have ended up crying afterwards. But I wonder, had she owned what she was doing (not to sound all "YOU GO GIRL" about it, but you know what I mean), how would the tone have changed? After her performance, she thinks she doesn't come off as "marriage material"...
Why is that? (This is not a rhetorical question. I truly look forward to your thoughts.) Was it the fact that she performed poorly (big deal—did you see some of those acts?) or was it the fact that she was scantily clad? I strongly suspect it's the latter. But in all seriousness, was Olivia's outfit any more scandalous than, say, Caila's?
Caila, meanwhile, is getting a strong "marriage material" edit. So I have to wonder, just what was so awful about Olivia's performance? She's not wearing much, but girls are seen on this show in the same amount of fabric (or less) all the time. So, I guess it's the combination of her outfit and the fact that she didn't perform with confidence. But... for her to be considered less like marriage material by anyone—especially herself—for doing something that proved she's not afraid to make an ass of herself seems, well, wrong. Imagine if she'd performed really well and in doing so clearly took herself seriously. Would that constitute "marriage material"? Or is the only way to win to have performed either well or goofily, been fully clothed, and not taken oneself seriously. Thoughts?
On a lighter note, there's good news for all you ladies out there, including myself. In the evening, Caila redefines what it means to be considered a "sex panther"...
According to Ben's requirements, I, and likely many, many of you, have been raging sex panthers for many years now. YES!
One more word about Olivia and then I'm done, I swear. We catch a glimpse of a completely rational, reasonable, and fair Olivia immediately after her first chat with Ben during the cocktail party...
She doesn't really sound like a nutjob who plans on sabotaging other girls' time to feel better about her connection, does she? Methinks she hadn't had a chat with her producer yet. Sigh.
I'm dying to move on from this seemingly never-ending Group Date, but the conversation had between Lauren B and Ben had to be mentioned...
Lauren: Yeah, of course.
Ben: Don't... Why?
Lauren: I'm living with amazing women and I'm like, 'Why would he like me out of all of these girls', you know what I'm saying? I don't know, part of me is very realistic and I just think that there's no way you'd fall for someone, like, on a first date.
Ben: No shot, right?
Lauren: (smiling) No one falls for someone, hanging out, like, one time.
Ben: (smiling) No.
THIS. This conversation is what makes me believe that it's just maybe possible for people to find lasting love on this show. How Lauren B's "Why Me?" mentality isn't everyone's default mentality is beyond me. And the fact that, despite their undeniable connection, she still thinks critically about the odds that he'll choose her, makes her the most relatable contestant I can remember.
A wedding gown arrives for Becca and the marriage jokes ensue. We get a rare glimpse of Haley's deadpan humor and it makes me sad that we won't see more of her...
Jubilee saves everyone an extra few minutes of ITM time by cutting to the chase...
... because, lest you've forgotten: BECCA'S A VIRGIN, you guys. Let's see how big a deal can be made of it a second time around.
Ben officiating the weddings is actually super cute, and he manages to sprinkle some of his fantastic sense of humor in there:
The above speaks to me. I'm not into weddings fraught with nerves or seriousness. I want my wedding to basically be a big, relaxed party full of good humor and good food.
In the evening portion of the date, Ben continues to talk circles around Farmer Chris' even most eloquent moments, making Becca, who was so apprehensive last season, weak in the knees: "At the core of everything, it's your belief, it's your faith, it's your morals, it's your values, it's a commitment to God. It also in my mind relates back to marriage. You're pretty good at making commitments, which is something I'm very attracted to."
I rarely touch on religion here, but to me one's faith and one's morals are separate things, and frankly, how the two became intertwined to ever mean the same thing is something I cannot understand. (I'm not saying Ben thinks they're one and the same. I'm just venting.) I think you can be a devout person and have awful morals, just as you may not believe in anything yet be a decent, upstanding citizen, with the shades in between being innumerable. (The two examples I just linked out to are of course extreme cases.) I tend to believe that at their cores, humans are inherently good, and one's religious views—for better or for worse—are the result of environment, influence, and circumstance. Okay, rant over. If nothing else, you learned a bit about me and my viewpoint.
Becca is clearly moved by Ben's assessment of her and in her ITM, states: "He is amazing. I almost started crying because, like, I've never had a guy make me feel so confident and reassured in who I am. I've been missing that." There's no denying that Becca is WAY deeper in than this time a year ago.
THE TWINS' TWO-ON-ONE
Hoo boy, this episode just never ends. In the interest of finishing this recap in time, I'm going to have to gloss over this date. Thankfully, I've already expressed my thoughts on it. In a nutshell, I felt this moment was the predominant reason the twins were cast (beyond the obvious novelty factor), to ultimately pit the sisters against each other. Let's be honest, it wasn't necessary to for Ben to eliminate one to be able to focus on the other. That makes no sense. They're separate human beings and each can be regarded as a romantic interest whether or not the other is there. But I digress. Since when does anything about this show make sense?
My personal highlight of this date were the fact that Haley clearly either still has a boyfriend...
... is recently broken up (despite saying it was "from a long time ago"), or is simply not over said boyfriend...
It's very funny to me in any scenario.
Oh, and Haley also said it best with:
Haley, we hardly knew thee!
If you read last week's recap since Wednesday, you'll know I was required to take down what I posted that Olivia had told me. Honestly, it got me really down and I had a hard time motivating myself to write this one at all. First, I know this blog isn't saving lives or anything, but I do try to do good with it. I try to get my readers to watch the show differently and wonder about what's behind that fourth wall. Above all, I want viewers to not hate any contestant. I'm aware that I can be critical of contestants, but I always base it on what I see that can't be edited beyond recognition. Rather, if you insist on hate-watching a contestant, remain objective enough to know that what you see of them has likely turned them into a caricature and in no way represents who they are.
I guess what I'm saying is, since Wednesday, I've felt a suffocating sense of "What's the point?" So few people will ever even read what I write here—a fraction of a fraction of all the viewers of this show—and it's been two years since my own season. Yet, I still can't share something from behind the curtain, that, in my humble opinion, might do the slightest bit of good in changing the way viewers see someone they currently "love to hate."
For that reason, I have nothing to say about the Rose Ceremony. Correction: I have plenty to say about it, but I'm not allowed to, and in my down state I don't have the energy to dissect it. The entire Rose Ceremony revolves around Olivia and her many transgressions, and for me to dispute each one just feels like a waste of time. Olivia will continue to get the awful edit she's been getting, in small part because she deserves it for being impressionable, in small part because she's not a social creature, and in large part because it's the role she's been assigned. It's hard to picture her "winning" at this point since Ben is clearly not as into her as he is all 5 women who've had one-on-ones. At Women Tell All, she'll sit in the hot seat and defend herself. Hopefully, what she says there will redeem her. The producers may manage to convince her to do Bachelor in Paradise (a credit unto itself to their powers of persuasion), another shot at redemption (as successfully proven by JJ Lane), but there are no guarantees. Above all, nothing can undo the damage this show has done to her image, at least not for the near future.
I'll just say this: I know that conversations are not what they seem. I know that girls appear angry about things when in fact they got over it quickly. I know that a mumbled remark that appeared to be in response to something else... well, wasn't. Cryptic, I know.
As always, for my first impressions and top 4 picks, head over to my Flare recap.
Amanda is fast establishing herself as this season's most consistently best-dressed lady. Her embellished cardigan during the Group Date didn't get nearly enough airtime...
Amanda has a knack for making obviously glam items seem casual and effortless. This is the sort of item I would hem and haw over how to wear, most likely opting to put it on for a dressy occasion. But Amanda manages to wear it by day and never looks overdressed, just incredibly chic. Her exact cardigan is by Ecote and is tragically sold out (HERE), but I've found two solid dupes. The first is a Kate Moss x Topshop number (pictured) which is also sold out but still available on eBay HERE, and the second is a Trina Turk mesh and gold sequin jacket (on sale!), available HERE.
Emily was last week's Best Dressed and her Group Date outfit, too, didn't get nearly enough camera time...
This. I'm ALL about this outfit. This is very much the kind of ensemble I would wear on any given day. Low maintenance yet stylish and not frumpy. Best of all, it's comfortable. Emily's ombré sweater is by Pacsun (their L.A. Hearts line), but is sold out. The most similar alternatives I could find were a Michael Stars ombré pullover, available HERE, and this Urban CoCo ombré sweater, HERE. Her faux leather "Backstage" leggings are by Gypsy Warrior and sell HERE. (My personal favorite faux leather leggings, however, are Aritzia's Daria leggings—the same ones Kaitlyn Bristowe made famous—and sell HERE.)
My Best Dressed this week is Jojo with her one-on-one evening outfit...
I'm a sucker for jumpsuits because the silhouette is automatically modern. Her jumpsuit is undeniably sexy but still ladylike and, best of all, interesting. I love the high neckline and how the exposed midriff is swaddled in lace. The flared leg also keeps things from looking too catsuit-like. A top to bottom win. Jojo's Nightcap "Dixie" Lace Jumpsuit is sold out in black (HERE), but their "Heidi" jumpsuit is similar and sells HERE. Jojo's jumpsuit also comes in white—which is totally unexpected and which I happen to love—and is still available (HERE), and there's a navy one on eBay right now (HERE). There's also a somewhat similar (but equally interesting) option for only $26 selling on good ol' ASOS, HERE.
Once again, nothing stood out as awful this week. We-ell, that's not exactly true. There was ONE outfit that did stand out, but it felt mean to single it out with no other mention of the person, so I kiboshed it. I hate forcing this section, so no Worst Dressed this week!
Until next week, fellow pandas!