Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reality Stars vs. Movie Stars (Bachelor 12 round of 6)

While much has been made of Shayne Lamas being an actress, there are actually two actresses on the show and both happen to be in the final four. Noelle Drake is officially listed as a “photographer” from Colorado, but she’s already been featured on several non-reality series including an episode of House. In past seasons young women who appeared on the show and who turned out to be actresses were accused of having ulterior motives for being a bachelorette. For Matt Grant though, being an actress is right up there with packing hundreds of dollars of makeup along just in case you need to touch up between falls on the snowboarding run.

It’s fascinating to me that Shayne Lamas and Noelle Drake appear to evoke two different conceptions of actress. Shayne appears to be very much out of the Cristina Applegate school. Sitcom or Soap Opera perfect, cute, bubbly, not a lot of dramatic range. I could see her playing someone’s annoying sister or a not too dependable best friend. She’s blonde, perky, fussy about clothes and makeup.

This is impression only, but I was struck on Noelle Drake’s one on one ice skating date by the way she evoked the old movie star notion of actress. She came across as a tv presence who could really be made to look both glamourous and mysterious. I mean old school actress is something like Elizabeth Taylor’s turn in a Place in the Sun or say Ava Gardner in Mogambo. Their appeal was sort of luminous and layered.

Ironically, Shayne Lamas’s blood line includes two women from the old school. Her grandmother Arlene Dahl even dated JFK at one point (very different from dating Bill Clinton). Her step-Grandmother Esther Williams was the Million Dollar Mermaid. Yeah, I know there’s now the story about how Esther Williams fell out of love with Jeff Chandler because it turned out that he was a cross dresser, but that’s old time Hollywood. In the words of Gloria Swanson’s character in Sunset Boulevard, “I’m still big, it’s the movies that got small.”

Anyway, the footage from Noelle Drake’s time with Matt was very reminiscent of the romances in the old movies. They share a moment of shared hardship that reflects their character, facial reconstruction. Somehwere near the end, Noelle reveals to the Bachelor that she’s only brought one other young man home and this part isn’t a game.

So what do I make of Matt Grant being so smitten with Shayne and the cutesie snuggly always lying down conversations vs. the more smoldering appeal of Noelle? Is this guy nuts? Maybe the short answer is that he’s English. They like Benny Hill. The screencappers are pretty much insisting that Noelle is the next one out, but if this one did blossom it would be a terrific story arc. (very much an old time Hollywood plotline. the real movie star shows up unexpectedly)

I am still mystified as to why they’re showing so much chemistry between Matt and Amanda Rantuccio but also so little footage. When she drags him away for private time in the pool at Sun Valley, she has her legs intertwined in his, her eyes sort of dance, as she teases him about her parents living in a double wide trailer and stewing up opossum. The guy seems to be big on having a sense of humor. Chelsea has it. Amanda has it (apparently so do Amanda’s mom and dad). Robin Canfield and Marshana Ritchie definitely didn’t have senses of humor (at least based on the edit). Shayne might be a humor match for Matt, but it seems like the stuff that should be funny is also real. As in, yes it’s hilarious that she has multiple suitcases of shoes, does the spray tanner, and brings a parka full of makeup on the ski date, but she also really is doing all that stuff. Just a word of warning from someone who’s been there (to be clear I’m not referring to Mrs. Chancelucky), all that kooky quirky stuff might be fun for a while but it changes in a hurry once you start living with it.

Both my wife and daughter are down on this season of the Bachelor, so much so that they refused to watch last night. In my daughter’s words, “This season is boring.”

My wife just found the whole Marshana vs. the world confrontation distasteful though not boring. I personally thought Marshana’s story arc was pretty fascinating. I thought she was hilarious in that ski run at the end. The self-designed costumes were awesomely awful. After being a genie and an East Indian princess, last night she appeared to settle for being the lost member of the Supremes then tripped on her way out. My big complaint isn’t what happened with Marshana, it’s more that we tv viewers got so little insight into why she is who she is.

First she wasn’t Miss New York (Miss America or Miss Universe), she was Miss New York Earth. Miss Earth promotes environmental awareness. Second I did want to know some about how Marshana grew up. Okay, I’ll go there. Did she grow up ghetto? Is she some middle class kid who went to a boarding school who is putting on being Brooklyn?
What the hell was she like in her regular life? I didn’t think the match would work, but I really wanted to see that home visit. I do think if she were Jenny from the Block, some of the misunderstandings and her struggles with feeling left out become way more sympathetic. Of course, she could well have been yet another actress placed in the house to stir things up. That said, I still have to say that her endzone dance when Noelle got the private date instead of Robin was pretty weird regardless of socio-economic factors.
Still, I never had a clue as to why she wanted Matt so badly. She really did say, I did all this stuff that he likes and I hated every moment of it….Shouldn’t that have been a clue?

Did he lead Robin Canfield on? I tend to think the best way to read Matt Grant is by the way he kisses. Last week, Holly Durst got the peck. Same thing with Robin. In any case, he’s offering plenty of opportunities to read his feelings via those kisses. My take is that it was all the one on one timeus interruptus. Guys just hate that.
From a tv standpoint, it was a great exit particularly the choice to do it in French after working so hard pre-rose to establish how down with being British she was. Everyone knows that the British would prefer not to speak French and of course Robin would know that. Anyway, imagine for a minute that you’re really dating someone like Robin. Every time she has a doubt about what’s going on emotionally, she steps right up and asks about it. I’ve never known any guy who really wanted that. Look, sometimes when it comes to relationships men just like to slide a bit. They don’t want to play “What’s this mean, what did that mean? So….tell me where things stand now…”

Did she get that she wasn’t trying to date Doctor Phil?

Honestly, I haven’t figured out the Chelsea thing. It’s fine that she’s not into public displays of affection, but you’re telling me that this guy would be comfortable with that?
Btw, if you don’t like holding hands, why would you ask the guy to arm wrestle the moment you met him? I do love Chelsea’s whole swaggery walk and I did sort of like the way she confronted Marshana though I’m not sure about doing it in front of the other ladies and three national tv cameras. It did seem that someone did need to be real about the fact that Marshana seemed to be suffering in every activity. I thought walking away was a good choice too. I am, however, not so sure about writing up her own fantasy suite card for Matt.

Some of the sleuthers are insisting that if it’s not Shayne, then Chelsea’s the winner. I dunno, that’s almost the reverse from what I’d want to see in the name of really good reality tv (Noelle and Amanda are way more interesting), but then I’m not Matt. Chelsea does deserve points for hugging Marshana after the rose rejection thing.

I do disagree with my daughter about this installment being boring. I think from 9 on down, Matt showed pretty good judgment in weeding out the psychos. In fact, the eliminations have been so obvious the last two weeks it hasn’t felt like he’s actually having to “pick” anyone. I assume that changes in the next two weeks.

Obviously, I’m not a Shayne fan, but I certainly understand the attraction and she’s getting her moments. For one, she was the one who tried to calm Marshana down. Amanda may have wisely stayed out of it, but Shayne actually seems emotionally constructive and courageous with the other ladies. Anyway, she projects shallow yet there are signs of depth and substance that come through (we’re talking in tv terms here).

The attraction with the other three does in fact seem both very real and very distinct in each case. There are even signs that Matt’s tried to talk to the ladies and that it even matters (unlike Brad or Andy). Anyway, the choice is actually kind of interesting. He likes Chelsea’s physicality and Amanda’s humor certainly comes across. The whole “You are dangerous” (shades of that homo-erotic thing between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in Top Gun) with Noelle actually played pretty well. Chelsea and Noelle also seem to be playing the “keep something in reserve” bit a la Tessa Horst. Then there’s this whole “You’re so exotic” to me thing going on with Shayne.

They haven’t built the relationships much with the other three ladies, but if some actual feelings/sparks make it on camera in the last three episodes with them (that is what makes the show work with viewers, it just can’t necessarily be made to happen) then it gets pretty interesting. It would also help if Matt actually opened up a bit. So far about all I know is that he likes to make a joke now and then and says “Brilliant” a lot. If he has any real feelings, fears, quirks of his own the producers need to get them across soon. Otherwise, this has all just been a product placement for Shayne Lamas’s acting career.

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At 4/16/2008 12:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thoughts!

At 4/16/2008 01:06:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks anonymous

At 4/17/2008 03:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally know Marshana...she's a dear friend of mine and I have known her since she was three years old.

All of us who know her, friends and Family alike are very proud of her. Being that you are the ONLY one of the bloggers out here...yes I do read them, it's exciting to hear others opinions of someone you actually know. But as I was saying being that you are the only one of the bloggers who actually are curious about what she is like, I will give you this insight.

Marshana did grow up in The Bedford Stuyvesant Neighborhood of Brooklyn. Yes, Bed-Stuy is a rough neighborhood, but she was never a rough girl. She and all of her siblings went to a Private Elementary School...this is where I met her.

Marshana has always been a determined and focused young lady. She was the first member of her family to earn a college degree. She's just always gone after what she wanted. I'm so proud to have known her through the years.

Last time I spoke to Marshana she had just gotten back from filming the show...she was doing well, living in Park Slope Brooklyn...a very trendy and Posh neighborhood.

Really, I was shocked to see her on The Bachelor...but that's just Marshana...always just doing what she wants no matter what people say.

She mention that there was a cultural divide between herself and the other girls in the house. I got the feeling from her that the others never saw her lasting as long as she did. I guess they just did not get her.

Personally, after watching the show...I think Marshana getting the rose on the two on one date instead of Holly scared the mess out of the girls in the house. They just knew that she was going home. My opinion is that they would talk to her, and be around her but they would NEVER accept her as way were those white women ever going to accept the possibility that Matt could be into her more than Holly or any one of them.

Either way I know that her family and classmates are all so proud of her. She held her own. I bet you any amount of money, if you took one white girl, and placed her in a situation with 24 Black women, and she was there dating a black would she feel? Would she feel comfortable and accepted, or isolated and alone?

Truth be told there is more diversity on Flavor of Love than on this show...though I am glad Marshana did not do that.

This is America...and race is still an issue. Everything is not race related or racially motivated, yes I will admit to that. But for people like myself and Marshana it's hard sometimes living in a world where you start out not having a lot....doing all that you can to get by. But we pulled ourselves up, got educations and made it out of the 'hood...but one just does not forget their humble beginnings.

All I know is that Marshana is a better person than I...I never would have put myself out there like that.

But to answer your questions...she's a great, genuine, honest, tell it like it is, straight no chaser kind of girl. Since I've known her she's been heavy into charity, volunteering, and things like that...just a good person.

Hope this Helps...

Friend of Marshana

At 4/17/2008 04:33:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Friend of Marshana,

Many thanks for your answer to my question. My wife and I aren't the same race, so I do sort of know the feeling. I also spent a Thanksgiving in Bedford Stuyvesant when I was about 14. I was at a boarding school and the only person who invited me home was one of the scholarship kids from there. I still remember being on the subway from Penn Station and at some point there were no more white people on the train. It was a great experience and I'll always remember my friend Michael for bringing me home when I otherwise would have had to stay at school more or less by myself.

It does sound like Marshana got the proverbial bad edit. I think the sad thing is that "reality" tv often works much better when the producers decide to be "real" rather than trump up arguments or take things out of context.
I think some of the more interesting interaction probably did get left out and the way a bright black woman among 20 white bachelorettes and a beyond white bachelor managed to stay on the show as long as she did might have been really fascinating tv. Instead they made her look like a volatile drama queen.
You could pick up a little bit of it when Robin went "What do you know about how Matt lives..." which began the argument....but they never let Marshana explain herself or tell much about who she was outside of the show.

Anyway, I hope Marshana is doing well and that this is yet another reminder that objects and people on tv are never exactly what they appear to be. Thanks for the insight into the real Marshana.

At 4/17/2008 08:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Friend of Marshana here. I just read what you wrote in response to my comment. I've only been reading you blog since Marshana has been on The Bachelor...there's a lot I did not know about you.

So you're half of an interracial you understand the dynamic. I also appreciate your sharing of your trip to Bed-Stuy as a 14 year old. Your friend Michael made an impression on you...that's great. I myself have not done the interracial thing but I know Marshana has. SOmehow growing up we always knew she would end up with a white guy.

Growing up in Elementary and Junior High...even when I'd see her thoughout our high school years (we went to separate high schools)...she was different than the rest of us. While we were listening rap, Tupac and Biggie Smalls...Marshana was listening to Z100, REM, U2, and was all about Nirvana. She made her own clothes..marched the beat of her drum. Yes, we teased her then, called her a white girl and an oreo...but secretly we all envied her. We wished we had that courage.

By the time we were in college, every time I'd see her over holiday break or whatver she was still Marshana ever changing but always the same. I'll never forget when she brought her first SERIOUS boyfriend home, a guy she met in college, a white guy. No one was shocked, we all saw it coming. But I tried to talk her out of it. Pleaded with her to just stick to our own, why set yourself up like that. I couldn't see why she was intentionally making her life harder, were there no good black men?

A couple of years later, I see her while on break for college, not only is she with the same guy, but engaged to him! Boy was she serious. They stayed together 5 years I think...before they called off the wedding & went their separate ways.

Since then I haven't heard a word out of her mouth about any guy she was serious with...sure I guess there have been a few guys...but nothing to level of what I saw her with before.

Then behold I hear she's on the Bachelor. I just knew she was asking for trouble. To put it out there on National TV. Instantly I knew she'd be the only black girl, and that folks would hang her out to dry. She's always been such a straight shooter, honest, and just bold...I knew folks would take these great characteristics and make them seem like bitchiness.

Either way I'm proud that she did it, again I don't have the courage. From what I know Marshana has been out on dates with mes from every race...she's truly an equal opportunity dater, it just seems her heart always falls for the white guy.

Other than all that, I know she's into her pageantry. was not shocked by that, she was always interested in those sorts of things. She's always been charitable...and a pioneer for environmental causes. She always sang in school and in the Choir. Marshana is really well rounded and even though we did tease her growing up, we are all proud of who she is and we admire her. The very things we teased her about are what makes her unique, special and an inspiration to the rest of us.

Hope this sheds some light,

Friend of Marshana

At 4/17/2008 10:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been a fan of Noelle's from the start. She has been presented as a quiet and sweet girl. I don't know her in real life, but I would assume that she really is. There are so many big personalities in these shows that the sweet quiet girls get drowned out. I've been glad to see that Noelle has made the cuts, even when she thought she was on the outs.

I liked her even more after the 1x1 date. I even said out loud to my wife that Noelle is "cute as a button." She's strikes me as the kind of person I would hang out with in real life.

I will say that I don't know how to add up the pieces between photographer and budding actress. I don't know the timeline of the filming, but the House episode was in Nov 2007 and that music video was in Dec 2007.

Maybe she fell into acting all of the sudden? She does have a certain look about her.

I can tell you that Loveland is not very big. It is my favorite place to ski for that reason -- it's small and not overrun. Or it was the last time I went skiing (a long time ago).

Maybe she moved West for bigger opportunities. Maybe she went to school out there and stayed.

What I do know is that I am captivated, and would love to see Noelle and Meeps in the final 2. If Noelle "lost" I would also love to see her as a Bachelorette.

At 4/18/2008 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Marshana's Friend,
thanks for your further comments and insight into the real Marshana. At some level, we don't have a lot of choice about who were attracted to. It sounds like Marshana's been very brave to just date and listen to who and what she actually likes.

I looked back at various things I'd said about Marshana and confess that I hadn't been terribly positive (the producers gave her a very negative edit). Again, I think the "reality" would have been way more interesting than reality tv.

Suppose there really were a conversation with her about why would a bright young woman from Bedford Stuyvesant want to date some British guy who can't dance :}
The simple answer on Matt's side is that he seems to be attracted to what's exotic to him. On Marshana's side, the answer would have been fascinating.

I often dated and eventually married someone who was white, because I grew up in the suburbs and went to private schools that were almost exclusively white. I had more in common with them than I did with most women who looked like me.

I am sort of rooting for Noelle, even though I've been told that it's a doomed cause. She struck me as normal, sane, yet intriguing in what little time she's had on camera.

At 4/18/2008 12:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I also saw on the FORT blog that it looks like Noelle doesn't make it past this week. That's a bummer. Something happened with this round of the bachelor and me. It started out as a show that I sort of watched with my wife and has become something that I am actually interested in. I am genuinely curious about Noelle, for example, because she does seem SO normal. That makes me feel like some kind of freak, I must say.

I also think this Matt guy is a decent guy, and I like him. He is a goofball, and not afraid to let it show. He's also not too cerebral about the whole thing.

Anyway, thank you for your blog. It's good to have an outlet.


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