Tuesday, March 03, 2009

An Emotional Freak Show (Bachelor 13 final 2)

For the last two months, Mrs. Chancelucky and I had a standing date to watch the final episode of this season of the Bachelor together. I had told her that was the one thing I wanted to do on March 2 and couldn’t imagine watching it with anyone else. It was especially important to me because it was our daughter who had gotten us to watch the show in the first place. It’s just that when I got the remote control last night, something had changed. I just didn’t feel the same way about the show that we’d loved for so many seasons. What was I supposed to do, keep watching the show out of some sense of obligation even though my heart was telling me otherwise? Instead of watching the Bachelor, I decided to watch a new ABC show called the “Sociopath.”

The premiere was three hours long and I’d have to say for the first hour or so it looked and felt a lot like the Bachelor. The lead looked something like Jason Mesnick. There was even a bit where Deanna Pappas appeared. Supposedly, she flew all the way to New Zealand to ask the guy for another chance. The Jason character says, “No, I’m in love with two other women even though I proposed to you and pledged my undying love less than six months ago.”

Deanna says, “Hey, no biggie. In the meantime, don’t pick excitement over the things you really value and want in life.”

The Jason character says, “Sure, thanks for the advice,” then says something off camera about ‘Whoa, that Deanna sure packed on a few pounds. Was I lucky! Now I got me an actual Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader for a couple months, then it’s on to Walk of Shame girl.’
Up to this point, the Sociopath looked like your basic dating show. They had Melissa recapitulate all the things the Jason Mesnick character had done with other ladies on the Bachelor. First he tackles Ty on the beach a la Stephanie and Sophie. They then climb rocks just like he did with Naomi Crespo. A bit later they jump off a boat into ice cold water almost as if he were bungee jumping with Ms. Let’s Dot It Again. Along the way, Melissa was a bit too good at bonding with Ty. She even had a sheep joke ready when Jason supposedly surprised them with a lamb on the putting green. Given the state of Jason Mesnick’s reputation now, I’m wondering if he brought the lamb to her to introduce her to his other child. There’s a rumor that if the Sociopath does well in the ratings next season, they’re going to have the next one try to seduce a fourteen year old girl. Actually the producers are torn between fourteen year old girl or boy and some of the team wants the kid to be developmentally-delayed as well. Melissa meets the family and they all seem to like her except for the fact that they ask her fifty or sixty times about the fact that Melisssa’s family wouldn’t cooperate with those nice producers for the hometown date and they then have Dad remind everyone that Jason got to ask Deanna Pappas’s father for his blessing all of four months ago just for good measure. At one point with the family Ty says “Where’s Melissa?” then we get to see Ty and the Victim wrestling on the grass. I think this was the show’s foreshadow that the result was going to be something like professional wrestling.

Even the last chance date appeared to go rather well except for the fact that Melissa didn’t get to give Jason one of those fake gifts that some production assistant actually made to share as their special memory from the show.

To be honest if they were going to turn the Bachelor into the Sociopath, it would have been much better TV to have Melissa and Stephanie switch places. Instead of hurting this bubbly, sweet, but very young woman, they could have done a number on national TV to a widow who had lost her husband in a “tragic” plane crash and had been inspired by Jason’s appearance on Deanna’s season to slip her forehead into the dating world. On top of that, they could have gratuitously involved yet another small child in the whole thing. Clearly, this wasn’t scripted, because I’m sure that Mike Fleiss, the producer of both the Bachelor and the Sociopath, would have gone there if he were calling all the shots. On the other hand, they might have done just as well to pull Jillian’s mother into something like this as a way to test how complete her recovery is from that depression thing. Now that, would have been great Reality TV! Could you imagine Jillian’s mom pulling a Joaquin Phoenix on the After the Final Rose 2 complete with gum and beard. Well, the good news is that they still have another chance to do that one. That Fleiss is a clever guy you know.

Had this been a dating show, I imagine they would have shown a much more likeable Molly. It wasn’t like Ty rejected her, in fact she clearly developed a rapport with the kid (at least on camera) even though she didn’t have the same kid skill set as Melissa. A lot of the visit consisted of Jason telling Ty to run after Molly or hand her a shell wedding ring on the beach. During her chat with Jason’s brothers, who don’t look quite as hot as Jason, Molly comes off sounding like Natalie Getz when she confesses, “I’m ready to give up the partying. I definitely went through a period where I partied really hard.”

One of Jason’s brother spills some sugar on the table and Molly pulls out a straw, snorts it up, then announces, “Yeah, I’m ready to settle down with that kid of his as long as it fits in with my career.”

Now that she’s with the rest of Jason’s family, Ty seems to disappear. In the meantime, Molly sidles up to Jason’s Mother and says repeatedly “Your son is the best, Your son is the best” then winks and says something about a a message board. Ty’s grandmother though doesn’t wink back and that was one of my signs that this wasn’t the Bachelor. Instead, the family gushes about how much Molly appears to be in love with Jason except for that career thing. I was also expecting Reality Steve and his dog Maddy to make some sort of cameo appearance here, but not such luck.

On Molly’s final chance date, they do this weird symbolic thing with umbrellas in the wind then Molly gets nearly naked to give Jason a massage and some other form of persuasion, after which she shares this gift she either made for him in seventh grade or that some production assistant helped her with. In fact, it looks remarkably like the scrapbook that Jesse gave Deanna. We learn that Molly has exceptionally good handwriting (that’s part of the passion apparently). It’s not nearly as good as the game that Jason supposedly made for Deanna. I hear that when it snowed in Breckenridge, Jesse and Deanna would break out Jason’s board game, play for several hours, and Deanna then started to get this feeling that maybe she’d made a mistake. Mostly though, we get this image of that final chance thing that Molly either raped the guy or aggressively seduced him. Last week, Jason assured us that they only kissed in the tent and conversed. That’s the hard thing to find credible. Is there any evidence that Jason or Molly could actually sustain a conversation for three hours?

At this point, Mrs. Chancelucky still thinks that we’re watching the Bachelor, that show where they talk about romance all the time and everyone who makes it to the final two or so is classy and gracious or at least tries to be. She starts telling me how nice she thinks this Melissa is even though she’d rooted for Jillian. I break the news to her that this isn’t really the Bachelor, but she doesn’t quite believe me yet. We watch Jason dump Molly and she’s like the worst sport of all time. She says nothing about Melissa. At one point, she informs the Bachelor that he really needs someone who deserves him, implying that Melissa doesn’t. She also can’t believe this is happening. Much to her credit, she gets in the limo and manages to follow her Dad’s advice and holds back the tears.

The final rose with Melissa would have been one of the better Bachelor endings. Jason tells us how sure he is of his choice. Once Melissa realizes that she’s getting the ring, she starts squealing. Jason gets on his knees again (apparently he really likes doing this). Melissa gets on her knees with him. We hear her saying something about “Melissa Mesnick”. Ty sees them and comes running towards them and Melissa tackles the kid (like Dad did on the beach). They all jump in the pool together and announce that they’re going to begin their lives now. We almost forget that five minutes ago, Jason had complained for the fifteenth time that he’d actually fallen in love with two women and seemed to be crying in agony about dumping Molly.

Of course, there’s Bachelor precedent for what happened next. Charley decided to date both Sarah Brice and Krisily Kennedy despite the fact that no one seriously believed that he was all that into Krisily. In fact, many people thought he had better chemistry with Krisily’s grandmother who came back in a future season as Jenni Croft's grandmother. Reality Steve was about to expose that casting ploy, so they told America that Jenni’s Grandmother died between the home visit and the after the final rose show. After Lorenzo’s season, he quietly dumped Jen Who and then openly dated the star of his season, Sadie the Virgin. The show’s producers got talked out of showing whether or not ole Lorenzo managed to get her to give it up. There were also any number of Bachelors and Bachelorettes who broke up prior to the After the Final Rose. For some odd reason, not a single one of those couples had to show their break up on television. In addition, Brad Womack (Mrs. Chancelucky is now the chair of the Brad Womack for President club) is remembered as the guy who refused to give a final rose. Jen, of course, did the same thing a few months earlier, but because no one liked her the second time through Bachelor fans refuse to give her credit for bringing “Just Say No” to Bachelor America. As I understand it, Jason was just following the rules. It’s just that those rules didn’t exist in any of the sixteen prior seasons of the show.

Despite Melissa’s choruses of “I’m always the dumpee” and Jason’s refrain that he’s in love with two women (proposing to one of them at random always solves that problem) the Sociopath doesn’t really kick into gear until After the Final Rose. You remember how slick Jason was with Deanna’s family? They say the best salesmen will absolutely convince you that he’s your best friend in the world until you sign on the dotted line and the guy collects his commission. The next day you’ll come back and find the same guy being your next door neighbors best friend forever. Something’s gone wrong. This isn’t Single Dad Jason, it’s Willy Loman and this is some sort of bizarre remake of Death of a Salesman.

It’s like Jason bought dog shampoo on the home shopping network, signed this hot new band featuring Bob Guiney, or opened up the lastest edition of Girls Gone Wild Magazine, and he insists that the sheen of romance wore off just weeks later. Of course, nothing specific has happened. Melissa’s still Melissa. It’s just that the magic isn’t there anymore and when Marriage and Family Counselor, Chris Harrison, presses a bit we learn that Mr. Sincerity, Jason Mesnick, just can’t stop thinking about Molly Malaney.

Had this been the Bachelor, I figure there would have been three satisfying endings at this point.

1) Melissa’s Dad finally appears with Tara Huckabee’s father’s assault rifle. The show does compete for ratings with 24 after all.

2) Chris Harrison finally decides to give up his role of never seeming to judge the Bachelor and announces an intervention. Jason’s family, Deanna, Jillian, and Byron Velvick all show up to help get Jason into treatment. “No son, you can’t be engaged to three different women in less than a year. You remember talking about how painful that divorce was with Hillary? You remember saying that family and marriage can’t be taken lightly? Do you remember Ty?”

Deanna tells Jason that he’s channeling Ross Gellar who kept getting married and engaged on friends while the real life Jennifer Aniston got married, divorced, engaged, engaged, serious about this singer guy, not really serious….”Jason, that was just a tv show. You know what, we can’t even make guest appearances on the thing. Jesse told me a couple months ago that they cancelled it. The stuff they show on tv now is just reruns. By the way, what was that tall tower thing in Seattle called again?”

Byron tells him, “There are plenty of fish in the sea, you don’t have to propose to all of them.”

3) Jason reveals that he used to date Bevin Powers and that not only was she one of his bridesmaids, but they broke up both their first marriages and then signed up with Mike Fleiss to do more of the same. Inbreeding is just never a good thing, even on reality television.

Sadly, none of those things happen. Melissa comes out. While she doesn’t act like she’s on the best of terms with the Sociopath, she does seem surprised that it’s happening here. Her best line is “you bastard.” Somehow, the whole Ty thing isn’t part of the picture so much now. She does make the minor point that if you get engaged to someone, you might try a little longer than six weeks before you decide to date someone else. All in all, she’s dignified, sensible, and appropriately angry. All through this, Jason is talking about following his heart, like if it’s in your heart to shoot up a playground full of school children that would make it okay.

Throughout, we try to hear a single specific story about any real problem that couple who jumped in the pool might have had in the six weeks, including two weeks of Holiday time, that followed. Did Melissa slap Ty? Did she seem too disappointed when she learned that Jason doesn’t fly around in blimps and have his own sail boat? Did one of them turn out to be an alcoholic or that Jason had two other wives in other states? Did she make him watch the Crying Game like four times in a row before they had a serious talk about other parts of her body she had reduced? Those are events that might make you change your mind in six weeks.

At this point, so many of the choices just aren’t good. If Jason was talking to Molly the whole time, he’s sleazy. If they didn’t have contact, he’s crazy. If the producers made him do this, he’s a wimp. If it was all his idea, he’s well….he’s a sociopath, an individual with a desperate need for attention and affection who has no sense of right and wrong. In any case, all the things that made Jason Mesnick an appealing Bachelor have now been undone. This was supposed to be the guy who cared about other people. The whole single dad thing, is that he gave up the chance to be fun and exciting aka following his heart, because he honored his responsibilities. There was also the small matter that Melissa pointed out that she wanted to be engaged and married to the right guy just once. Jason got torn apart by Jimmy Kimmel. Let me repeat that, Jimmy Kimmel.

Let me mention another set of choices. I didn’t watch the Bachelor to be shocked or to see real people get hurt. I also don’t necessarily enjoy seeing shows where regular people get exposed as shallow or insincere. That’s what game shows are for. In the context of the Bachelor, it’s sort of funny, but I’ve never thought of it as the point. I want to be entertained and it’s the stories and characters that get developed who entertain me. Sometimes that’s the product of judicious editing and scripting, sometimes these things even appear to happen naturally on the show. Still, the bottom line is “Was it entertaining?”

Last night was unquestionably very watchable. There had been so much hype about the various twists and exactly who was right about the various twists, who didn’t want to watch the thing? Clearly, Reality Steve is winning that one right now. Now that the Bachelor has become the Sociopath, I’m wondering who would want to watch this again? We’ve seen the man behind the curtain now and Mike Fleiss is yet another Sociopath. Socio is just not a path I want to walk on again. No, it wasn't fun to watch Jason make out with Molly fifteen minutes after breaking an engagement with someone else. There's no trick ending that can fix all this, at least I can't think of one.

I don’t claim to know Jason Mesnick, Molly Malaney, or Melissa Rycroft (ever noticed all those M’s?) as anything other than tv characters. To me characters belong in a story and I watch television for the stories. This wasn’t a story, it was an emotional freak show, a tour through the DSM IV. At a time when so much of the news is so bad, I was looking to this show for a little escape not some reminder that America is headed to bankruptcy in more senses than one.
Chris Harrison's blog

Buddy TV Bachelor page



At 3/03/2009 06:45:00 PM, Blogger Captain Barbarossa said...

Appropriate, ironic, and rather brilliant. Mine was just an angry rant and street mugging. But I feel better anyway.

Bravo, Chance

At 3/03/2009 07:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear CL,

Thanks again for your terrific blog this season. I have really looked forward to reading after every episode.

What a train wreck; I feel dirty, deluded, and disappointed.

I'm sad to say your multiple choice for Jason may be a "select as many as apply..."

If Jason was talking to Molly the whole time, he’s sleazy. If they didn’t have contact, he’s crazy. If the producers made him do this, he’s a wimp. If it was all his idea, he’s well….he’s a sociopath, an individual with a desperate need for attention and affection who has no sense of right and wrong.

Cheers to you and Mrs. CL... and maybe we will meet again on Jillian's season (still trying to decide whether I will watch; love Jillian, but not feeling any affection for the show).

All the best, Sue

At 3/03/2009 11:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really great recap and very aptly titled! Fleiss managed to top himself yet again by bringing us a cheesefest of a soap opera come to life. Halfway through Jason's 'break-up' with Molly in the finale, I expected MacDonald Carey to announce that 'these are the days of our lives.' It was THAT cheesy, especially Jason's incessant blubbering after she left, as well as on ATFR. I so agree that there's something just not right about what Jason did no matter how he tries to slice and dice it. For many, he went from hero to zero in just a few short months. Now THAT is 'amazing'! Till next season...

At 3/04/2009 09:23:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

yours was very funny and it made me feel better too.

I'll probably watch some of Jillian's season. Right now, I just don't think I'm going to blog it.
Thanks for reading and commenting this season.

Thanks. ATFR2 was truly dull. I was actually shocked by the reaction of the other Bachelorettes and most of the audience. How the heck did the show do that?

No one objects to someone following his heart. Sure, he should have broken up with Melissa if it wasn't working and after he had tried....You do however wait more than fifteen minutes before starting the next relationship.

At 3/04/2009 02:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too was surprised and disappointed at the other Bachelorettes' reaction to what Jason did, though I'll give Erica credit for her more different, non-robotic response. Maybe they were just trying to remain PC so they could stay on Jason's good side (that is, if he ever had one). At least the one male member in the audience who spoke up made some coherent sense.

At 3/04/2009 03:33:00 PM, Blogger Noelle Dunlap said...

Well said and insightful.

At 3/04/2009 04:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have book marked you! You are spot on!

At 3/04/2009 07:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last comment, then I'm done with Jason because that man, mouse or whatever he is isn't worth any more of my time. Like last season's 'shocker' with DeAnna choosing Jesse, once again we've been put into shock mode with the outcome. Somewhere, once again, Fleiss is probably sinisterly laughing to himself and thinking, 'Gotcha!'

At 3/05/2009 01:13:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I wasn't sure what that was all about. Stephanie really took me by surprise. It was like they recruited the audience from a Malaney family reunion or something.

thanks for the kind comment. To be honest, I was a little startled to see your name come up here, then realized that you're not that "Noelle" :}


I did do one more post about where they'll wind up if they keep going in this direction with the show.

At 3/05/2009 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

CL, I've really enjoyed your blog. Nobody is brighter or more funny. You bring joy into a lot of lives, despite having so little to work with this year. I hope you will be back.

At 3/05/2009 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...


Many thanks. I wouldn't do a season like this one again.(given the choice). I'll likely watch some of Jillian's season and if it seems as if they're back to a "formula" thatI'm more comfortable with I'll post again.

I have fun doing this, it's just when they slip over into hurting people unnecessarily (I do think that happened this year....if those are Melissa's e-mails to Jason) just for ratings. It's not whether he was forced to break up with Melissa as much as the way it was handled/presented to sensationalize the event.

At 3/10/2009 10:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot-on, Chance.

At 3/10/2009 11:01:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks, MBS.

At 3/13/2009 07:31:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


I don't watch The Bachelor/ette, but when all the brouhaha broke out about Jason and Molly or Melissa, or whoever got dissed, I knew that you would slice it and dice it and give me the recap I needed.

Thanks for your insight and for taking the time to break it down. But mostly thanks for saving me from having to watch the series. I suppose I could've checked with TWOP, but you get right to the point.

An "Emotional Freak Show", indeed!


At 3/14/2009 09:40:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Very nice to hear from you. I'm so used to talking about more serious things with you.

Who knows whose fault the ending fo the BAchelor was, but it was something out of Jerry Springer.

At 6/29/2010 03:29:00 PM, Anonymous viagra online said...

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