Sometimes life is full of disappointment, and The Bachelor delivered this week.
It all started when I decided that some informed research was necessary before I could effectively comment on this week’s episode. I never thought I would find myself doing a Google search for “Pinata related deaths”, but what is even stranger is that it came up on the predictive text, meaning I am not the first.
My findings were disturbing. DISTURBING, I tell you, especially when one reads the horrific (HORRIFIC, I tell you) statistics provided by www.downwithpinatas.com which really has a thing against papier mache donkeys. Apparently, the piñata is the major cause of gang related violence in Los Angeles because more than 60% of gang members were exposed to piñata violence in their childhoods. Really? That low? Anyway, it would seem that the frustration of not being the one to crack open the shell manifests itself in later life through car theft and driveway shootings, Well, if piñata inadequacy is some sort of trigger for homicidal tendencies later in life, then that guy who topped Carl Williams in prison with a bit of an exercise bike must have been mad about piñatas as a kiddy.* Just saying…
But there’s more. Each year, 36 000 violent acts against animals have been attributed to exposure to the piñata. Cats are the most prolific victims (though how you can attribute cats getting their just desserts for their indifference to the hand that feeds them to some cartoon character constructed out of newsprint and glue is beyond me) followed by tropical birds. Well…if you are going to suspend a cage from the ceiling like that, and stick something wonderfully colourful in it, what kid wouldn’t assume that if they smack the shit out of it with a golf club that its guts will shower down in a magic rainbow of confectionery?
So anyway, for the past couple of weeks “The Bachelor” trailers have been taunting us with separate images of someone attempting to deconstruct a piñata, and then another of one of the blondes sporting a black eye and making litigious threats against one of the other girls. I put two and two together and came up with a “piñata bikini party turns massacre” scenario, and felt I could not go into a commentary of it sans research. (Don’t worry. I too am confused as to why I occasionally revert to my high school French when I am trying to sound S.M.A.R.T.Y.P.A.N.T.S)
Well, the opening scenes are disappointing. Instead of wielding sticks, two of the girls are having a good old bitch about a third, presumably Olivia with her forty thousand dollars’ worth of dresses and her “Ben’s already mine” attitude. Olivia, for her part, is sitting on a couch in another part of the mansion performing a magic trick: rubbing three girls the wrong way without even touching them.
It’s not long before Chris arrives to drop a bomb – Lauren is the first girl to get an individual date this week with Ben. And she’s so-so-so-so-so excited. Ben takes her to an airport where he has a bi-plane ride lined up. Lauren is confused. She’s been in plenty of planes before in her job as flight attendant, but this one doesn’t seem to have room for the drinks trolley. This scares her. But in no time they are airborne and Ben comforts her and reaches over to kiss her and cops a mouthful of hair and microphone. Note to self, Ben: if you are going to insist on taking long-haired girls in convertibles and bi-planes, it might be worth your while to carry a few scrunchies in your pocket.
After a quick fly over the mansion to ruffle a few feathers, they land in the middle of a field where he has set up a hot tub. He must have picked this up at “Manky Hot Tubs R Us” in the last episode. This kind of means that Lauren B is sitting in a mix of Caila’s DNA and Kevin Hart’s pubic hair. How romantic.
Over dinner, Lauren tells an engaging anecdote about her father’s lawn mowing skills. Ben wonders why no-one has ever snapped her up before. Ben responds with the story about his father’s triple by-pass, and Lauren does her best to look interested. Then Ben produces a rose and asks her if she will accept it and she says yes because it reminds her of her father’s manicured lawns. After dinner, the barn doors swing open and Ben has organised Lauren’s doppelganger to serenade them and there is some of that awkward standing-swaying that is supposed to pass for dancing when you are really feeling incredibly self-conscious and you don’t know where to look, especially when you glance sideways and you are looking at yourself.
The next day dawns and Ben has taken the all the girls on a group date, except for the decidedly un-jubilant Jubilee and a couple of miscellaneous others who must be in the bowels of the mansion somewhere washing up wine glasses. Leah, the master of the simile, catches on that they are going to the Los Angeles Coliseum. “I’m so excited that I can’t even stand my excitement!”
Jami, the bartender, is also excited. And if the date doesn’t work out, maybe she can land herself a gig tending bar at one of the vendor stands at the stadium.
So Ben says that he has organised this date to see how well the girls work as a team, what values and attitudes they bring to the table. Oh really? Not anything to do with lycra pants and crop tops then? My mistake. Of course, the girls are abominable soccer players, but they are pretty good at bouncing balls off their boobs. All that is missing is the Benny Hill theme.
Back at the mansion, Jubilee and JoJo have got the real sooks going on. Jubilee wants to really stick out from the other girls. You do already, Jubilee. After all you are the only one who is… an army veteran. And your finger nails are pretty unforgettable as well. Jubilee has figured out that Ben goes for a certain type. The “nice, always happy girls”. You, never know, Jubilee. This could all be a front to disguise his desire for petulant, self-pitying whiners. But, even JoJo has lost interest.
At the Coliseum, Chris has arrived to announce some sort of fight to the death where the winning team gets an after party with Ben. There is a lot of talk from the girls about killing and bloodshed, but disappointingly the only injury occurs when Rachel gives herself an atomic lycra wedgy and rolls around on the ground for a bit.
It’s not a total bust though, because Olivia and Lace both end up at the after party… and there is plenty of champagne. But it’s Amber that dominates, because she has learnt a new word. She literally has. And her goal tonight is to literally get some one-on-one time with Ben, but Olivia literally grabs Ben away and the other girls literally sit on the couch and bitch about her.
Jami, the snake in the grass, goes and tells Olivia about how ugly the other girls think her toes are. “The girls literally think your toes are gross. Literally.”
Amber finally gets Ben by himself and spends all of it reminding him that she has already been rejected on another season of The Bachelor. The tactic works, because he gives her the rose, if for no other reason than to shut her up.
Olivia is not worried about the rose setback because Ben pushes off on her knee to stand up, and that’s a sign. Yep. That he’s noticed those weird, manly toes of yours and it’s a sure bet he won’t over balance.
Jubilee, in the meantime, has scored herself an individual date and narrowly avoids a slap down from all the rest of them after she jumps on the couch, executes a triple backward somersault and slices off a couple of stray limbs with those pointy nails.
But it does not start well. Jubilee starts their date by telling Ben that he is twenty-minutes late, and there is much shocked gaping from the rest of the girls. Then she offers her date to the highest bidder because she is afraid of helicopters. (God help her…she was only nineteen…) Never heard of post-traumatic shock then, Ben? The girls are dumbstruck in their certainty that Jubilee has just done her dash.
The Black Hawk downs at a health retreat high on a hill, where Ben has laid out some canapes. Now, although there have been a lot of dinners in this series, to this point I have never actually seen any food pass a girl’s lips. Jubilee looks like she has forgotten how to eat and has to follow Ben’s lead about how to gnaw on a piece of smoked salmon. Then Ben makes her taste caviar. Jubilee DOES NOT LIKE IT. She pulls a face like Ben has ejaculated in her mouth, before spitting two hundred dollars’ worth of fish eggs into a serviette.
Ben asks Jubilee if she is adventurous. She says she is, but not with food. Ben makes a mental note to call Chris to cancel the 9 ½ Weeks themed evening he had planned. Instead, it’s off to Ben’s fall-back position of the hot tub. Luckily, the health club has one, so he was able to travel light. Instead of sitting back and relaxing, Jubilee makes risqué and borderline racist banter with Ben. She’s glad that he laughed at it because she has observed that he only laughs uncomfortably. Ben responds by laughing uncomfortably, then dragging her dangerously close to the edge of the infinity pool where he gazes into the distance wondering whether drowning himself or throwing himself over the edge is the best way to end this date.
Instead, it’s off to dinner in a church, where Ben serves up a dinner of communion wafers and red wine – more suited to Jubilee’s adventurous palate. Over the meal, which neither of them eats, Ben asks her to open up about her horrendous childhood in Haiti, so she tells him about how all her family died and she’s the last of her bloodline. Ben holds her hand – carefully to avoid slicing an artery – and gives her one of those roses in a way that seems less about seeing her as a prospective wife and more about apologising for chopper trauma, near-choking her on fish ovum and then making her relive her tormented childhood.
It’s the next morning and having left her filet de boeuf untouched at last night’s dinner, Jubilee shoves her snout deep into a bag of Cheezels – she got her rose, so now she can let herself go. The day passes quickly and before we know it, it’s cocktail party time.
The mood is already sombre because of Jubilee’s rose, when Ben comes in and announces that two people close to him have been killed in a plane crash. Bummer of an ice-breaker, Ben. No worries, Olivia does a community service by taking Ben off for a chat, and all the other girls instantly forget about Ben’s tragedy and remember what an ugly-toed bitch Olivia is.
What happens next would have to be the best, yet shallowest and most thoughtless conversation ever. Ben, expecting at very least a sympathy cuddle, has to listen to Olivia tell him how she has to be strong when people are mean about her cankles. “I know what sadness feels like Ben,” sobs Olivia. “What a curse it is to be born with thick calves! My only choice was to become a news anchor so I could spend my life behind a desk!” Sniffle, sniffle, sob, sob, cry.
Luckily, single mum Amanda comes to Ben’s rescue and offers him a shoulder to cry on. But not for long.
Inside, Jubilee is starting to remember some bloke from her military past named Major Meltdown. Somehow she has managed to set up a massage table and has secreted Ben away to rub him down. Lace et al are NOT happy. Whatever job Jubilee performed in the armed services, it was not in military intelligence. She walks straight into an ambush that ends up in the bathroom with rose bearers, and potential wives, Amber and Jubilee, badmouthing each other, right in front of the poor grieving bloke they are trying to impress.
Just when Ben thinks it can’t get any worse, enter Lace. Remarkably, although it starts off as another one of her “poor me’ speeches, she does the one thing that can cheer up Ben. She tells him she is going to leave voluntarily. Ben’s relief is palpable. He’s just halved his alcohol bill.
But Lace’s leaving does not calm the girls. This just makes them more nervous, especially Olivia. She watches as one girl after another gets a rose. “What does this mean? What does this mean?” she asks herself. It means they are safe, Olivia, and you’re not.
The tension mounts, but in the end Olivia gets the final rose, sending home Jami the bartender and Shushanna, the girl who spoke Russian in episode one, English in episode two and not a word of anything in episode three.
Olivia thinks that being left until last is a great sign. It’s true. Ben has sent a clear message to Olivia: if your man’s feeling down, there’s probably only one thing below your waist that he thinks might comfort him, and it isn’t your leg to foot transition zone.
But there’s a greater message here, and it comes from me. Look, Bachelor producers. I’ve had a busy week. I had scant time to be doing the extensive research into Mexican party games. Your trailers tempted me with violence and mayhem. Sure, you gave me the anticipated servings of pouting and bitching and backstabbing.
But where was my effing piñata?
The Bachelor US, Tuesday 8:30 pm, 9 Life (Channel 94)
*I advise not to search Google images for “Carl Williams piñata”