Lowbrow Highlights: Showdown in the Badlands on ‘The Bachelor’

ABC

This week, every show on the Lowbrow Highlights’ roster played to its strengths and delivered exactly what we expect from it. The Challenge debuted an intensified competitiveness that forced me to unveil the season’s first power rankings. Vanderpump Rules featured two of the most questionable fashion decisions I have ever seen on a show that could be renamed Questionable Fashion Decisions without anyone noticing. Real World brought us rage-passion for protein. And The Bachelor did what The Bachelor does best: It made us all feel a little better about ourselves because at least we aren’t as delusional as the contestants are. Let’s start with them, shall we?

The Bachelor Badlands Breakdown

The other girls don’t like Kelsey, and Kelsey has an explanation for this: “I get it. I am blessed with eloquence, and I’m articulate, and I use a lot of big words because I’m smart.” Kelsey’s keen intelligence tells her that the other girls don’t like her because she is smart, not because, you know, she may or may not have faked a life-or-death emergency right before the most recent rose ceremony.

In case you forgot, last time we saw Kelsey she was, of course, writhing on the floor screaming in the middle of a “panic attack,” and the medic was about to call 911:

KelseyAttack2ABC

Miraculously, once she heard that Chris was en route to check on her, her health took a turn for the better and she started laughing about the brownies she’d eaten. Now, Kelsey isn’t the first person to eat brownies, have a panic attack, and then need medical attention … but I don’t think they serve those kinds of brownies on The Bachelor. When she had calmed down a bit, she couldn’t help herself from muttering to the medic, “I am going to get a rose tonight for sure.” And when she was reintroduced to the general population that is the dozen lunatics with whom she’s sharing a boyfriend, she had downgraded her episode from “panic attack” to “fainting.” Fainting involves losing consciousness, falling to the ground, and then coming to and being all, “That was weird, last thing I remember someone told me they were bringing back Temptation Island and then everything went black.” Fainting doesn’t involve screaming, crying, and telling everyone that will listen that you are having a panic attack.

Kelsey’s bullshit dramatics were enough to get her a rose at the ceremony, but not enough to land her a one-on-one date once the Bach squad had relocated to South Dakota. Nor was she on the group date. Kelsey was going head-to-head on a dreaded two-on-one date that guarantees one of the two women will return to dating dudes who don’t make out with other women in front of them. Her competition? The sexually aggressive, virgin, Aeon Flux–eyed, insane Ashley I. This would be a battle of heavyweight crazies.

The date was a trip to the Badlands, which sounds cool and everything but basically translates into “we are going to drop the three of you off in the middle of a barren wasteland, give you a futon, and then film you fighting.” Ashley I., the virgin with the belly ring of magical gifting powers, was the first to be brought behind a mound of barren Badland by Chris so they could sit on a towel and talk. It took Ashley about two sentences before she unleashed her snitchy, bitchy sneak attack on Kelsey, telling Chris, “All of us have really gotten close, and she is the one that hasn’t jelled. She is, like, very strategic about her moves, and I talked to a lot of girls yesterday and we just think she is fake.”

Chris, having the social tact of a wrench, immediately told Kelsey what Ashley said about her and then just kind of left the two of them to, you know, sit on the futon and work it out. I am not sure whether the producers told him to do this or he was just hungry and figured that he and the winner would dine on the corpse of the loser, or he just had to pee or whatever, but he left the two of them there and Kelsey just stared at Ashley with this look:

BadlandsShowdownABC

Ashley could feel the eye-lasers, but did her best to avoid them. She sipped her wine. She adjusted her magical, wish-granting belly button ring. She was about to get up and leave when Kelsey blurted, “I know what you did.” What happened next was unexpected. They didn’t argue, they didn’t pull each other’s hair, and they didn’t run to Chris for damage control. They compared their master’s degrees. No joke. Eventually Ashley was first to run to Chris for damage control, and let’s just say that didn’t go very well.

When the Bachelor is about to break up with a girl, you can tell early on in the conversation that it is headed in that direction. It usually starts with him complimenting the girl in a soft tone, telling her how “amazing” she is and how “strong their connection is” before launching into his excuse for sending her home. Saying “I am sending you home because I don’t want to spend my life with someone that is fucking crazy” is generally frowned upon by the at-home audience. The excuse that Chris gave Ashley was telling:

Chris’s Excuse for Sending Ashley Home: “I feel in my gut, in my heart, and knowing the lifestyle that I live … I don’t think I can give you the lifestyle that you really want.”

Translation: “You want to be Kardashian-famous, you can’t dress, there is no chance you are going to live with me in Iowa, and plus, who really wants to marry a virgin?”

How did Ashley respond?

AshleyCryingABC Ashley I. didn’t respond by telling Chris how the lifestyle that she really wants is one full of love and that is all that matters and he is totally wrong about her, she just took the opportunity to throw Britt under the bus: “Oh, wait, so you think Britt wants the lifestyle, like, seriously? You think Britt, like, she fits that lifestyle more than me?” Well done, Ashley. I look forward to you falling in love with the first guy who kisses you on Bachelor in Paradise, him kissing someone else, and then you wading into the waters attempting to turn yourself into a mermaid and find a handsome sailor.

After disposing of Ashley I., Farmer Chris wandered back to the futon on the other side of the barren hill to join Kelsey. He first delivered the news that he had sent Ashley home, but something wasn’t right. He was using a hushed tone. Then he started complimenting her. Did he call her “amazing”? Then it happened. He did the “I really care about you. I care about you so much I am going to grab your face with both of my hands while I deliver this message” thing: 

ByeKelseyABC

Chris’s Excuse for Sending Kelsey Home: “I just don’t know if it is there between us. I just feel like now, in this situation, and the circumstances we’re in, I just feel the best thing I can do is be honest with you. And I hate putting anyone through this any longer than they have to be. And I feel like you deserve someone who is 110 percent in, and I feel like I know I can’t be that for you. I’m sorry. I hope the best for you, and I know you are going to find that.”

Translation: “I am not into you, and beyond that, you kind of freak me out.”

Next thing you knew, Chris was flying off in a helicopter, leaving these two women to fend for themselves in a landscape as barren and depressing as their love lives: 

AshleyHelicopterABC

Wait, there is another helicopter for these two chicks, right? 

HelicopterWideABC

Right?

Bruno From Real World Is the Hangriest

Last week, Bruno from Real World went full-on Hulk Smash Rage Monster on Violetta, calling her the worst names he could think of, punching holes in the wall, and smashing furniture, all because she kept telling him “byeeeeeeeeeeeeee.” Now, to be fair, Violetta’s “byeeeeeeeeeeeee” is pretty annoying, but if there had been any question whether Bruno was prone to overreacting, it was answered this week in the aftermath of Burgergate. Bruno woke up and put together his burger strategy for that day: “I love burgers. I need it. That is my source of protein. I need to put some size back on and get in the gym. My plan is to eat three now and eat one later.”

He grilled four burgers, all for himself, ATE THREE BURGERS IN ONE SITTING, wrapped the other one, and then headed out to the gym to put on some size.  When he returned to find that the final burger — the burger icing on the burger cake — was missing, he lost his mind, smashed stuff, and screamed at everyone. And in case you thought this was an isolated incident and perhaps the pressures of being on the show are forcing him to act this way, think again: “I got in an argument with my brother and we haven’t talked for two and a half years. And it was about food.”

Lessons: Don’t tell Bruno “byeeeeeeeeeee,” and don’t stand between Bruno and his burgers.

This Is Your Wedding. What the Fuck Are You Wearing?

I first started to get concerned about Shay and Scheana’s fashion at their nuptials on Vanderpump Rules when Shay showed up to his rehearsal dinner wearing this: 

ShayRehearsalBravo

An Old Navy button-up at your wedding rehearsal? Really, dude? Exposed black tee underneath? Couldn’t put a suit on? Couldn’t throw a blazer over that? Couldn’t at least button one more button on your big day? I was worried about Shay’s look on his wedding day, but he was actually pretty well put together. His wife, however… oh god, look at this: 

ScheanaWeddingBravo

Your wedding dress should not look like swimwear. Also, it should not look like underwear. Also also, it should not look like a roll of paper towels. Her explanation for this monstrosity was something along the lines of “I love crop tops, so I had my wedding dress designed as a crop top.” Her wedding dress was basically designed by an Xzibit meme.

The Challenge Midseason Power Ranking:

Since The Challenge is America’s fifth major sport, it only seems right that we treat it as such and cover it with the same tired, clichéd concepts we use when covering the other major sports. Ladies and gentlemen: the Challenge: Battle of the Exes 2 Power Rankings. Below is a list of the couples still on the show ranked from most likely to win the season to least: 

  1. Bananas and Nany: What is that? Bananas and Nany were eliminated? Think again. These two will tear up the losers’ bracket, and I don’t see a team that will beat them. I can’t wait to see Wes’s face when they reintroduce Bananas into the fray right before the final. Wes seems to have matured a lot this season, but he has one good freakout in him, and nothing will bring that on with more force than realizing he has to go toe-to-toe with the Banana Man with everything at stake.
  2. Theresa and Wes: I actually think that Wes and Theresa have a much better chance of winning than Bananas and Nany because of Theresa’s athleticism, but, you know, Johnny Bananas.
  3. Leroy and Nia: Leroy proved he had the strength it takes to bring this team a Challenge championship last week when he dominated the dome. Nia proved she had the crazy it takes to bring this team a Challenge championship last week when she, you know:

  1. Jordan and Sarah: Sarah puked on this week’s puzzle challenge, which wasn’t a good sign for their potential performance in a final. A worse sign for their potential performance in a final? The entire time Sarah was puking, Jordan was yelling at her.
  2.  Zach and Jonna: OK, now we are getting to the couples who have no shot at winning. Jonna simply does not contribute to this team. Asking Zach to carry her through a final challenge is like asking LeBron to win the NBA championship with a roster that consists of himself and the NBC figure skating broadcast team.
  3. Johnny and Averey: These two fascinate me. Can we get a 30 for 30 on what happened to their relationship in Boston? Why is she still there? Why won’t she admit she cheated on him? Who is her new boyfriend? Why doesn’t Johnny admit that he still cares about her? How come Nia and Averey seem cool when they, you know, tried to kill each other?
  4. Adam and Brittany: Of all the shows that they are allowing to feed talent into The Challenge, how did they decide on Are You the One? Especially when Bunim/Murray also produces Bad Girls Club? Why isn’t Tanisha on this Challenge season? For real, though.
  5. Jay and Jenna: Jay and Nicole from Real World: Skeletons have the exact same personality. Jenna and a turkey sandwich have the exact same personality.

The Ballad of Britt

Every season, there is a girl The Bach takes a liking to who the other girls resent and turn on. This season that girl is Britt. A couple of facts about Britt: She doesn’t shower, she sleeps in her makeup, and said makeup covers more of her body than her actual clothes:

BalconyABCIt is obvious that Chris fancies her, because he is not bashful about the ol’ PDAs, even in front of the other girls. I have never dated 20 women at the same time on national television before, but I imagine if I did I would be a little careful about when and where I suck face with them. Not only does Chris give zero fucks about where he makes out with her, on the group date this week he straight up took her away for over an hour to a concert, gave her a rose, and made out with her right there onstage: 

BigandRichKissABC

Throughout the episode, Britt looked like a front-runner for the final rose, until they showed the “Next time on.” In next week’s double dose of The Bach, we get to visit Chris’s hometown of Arlington, Iowa. This season, it has been made very clear that Chris’s hometown will also be the hometown of whomever he selects. I always found that odd. Never once has he dropped a “Love is the most important thing in life, and if love takes me away from Iowa, then so be it.” The teaser promised us that we see “a side of Britt we have never seen before” (without makeup?), then we hear a woman commenting on what a small town Arlington is, and then we see Britt make this face:

BrittFaceABC

My theory: She never wanted to be with Chris. Deep down, she wanted one thing … to be the Bachelorette. Sorry, Britt. The Bachelorette needs to not be insane and, you know, to shower. 

Tony Stumbles, Mumbles, and Fumbles Around So Much No One Notices Anymore

Tony on Real World is starting to enter that “Is he ever NOT drunk?” zone. Look at the GIF below:

He isn’t even the focus of the shot. He stumbles around the house in a stupor so much that the cameramen don’t even bother to capture it anymore. Oh yeah, this week, he and Madison decided to become a couple. If they are still a couple by the end of next episode, I will drink a cup of Zach’s sweat. 

Shout-out to Mt. Rushmore

Seriously, how fucking cool is this? America is the best:

MtRushmoreABC If you look hard enough you can see Kelsey and Ashley I. foraging for food in those bushes at the bottom after being abandoned by The Bach.

That is it for this week. Make sure to check this column next week to say good-bye to another season of Vandy, break down Britt’s breakdown, and see if I have to drink a cup of Zach sweat. Regardless of what happens on that TV show, you know I am never drinking sweat, right? Enjoy your weekend!

Filed Under: Reality TV, Lowbrow Highlights, The Bachelor, The Challenge, Johnny Bananas, The Real World: Skeletons

David Jacoby is an ESPN producer who somehow became a writer and editor for Grantland.

Archive @ djacoby

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