Grantland Reality Fantasy League: Kissing Cousins, Ladybit Care, and an Existential Crisis on Basketball Wives

Courtesy of VH1 Basketball Wives

There were heated arguments about vaginas on Basketball Wives, Dolly Parton schooled the Bachelorette, and one of the bachelors copped to having relations … with his cousins. Yes, “cousins.” Plural. But none of this matters for the moment because the interwebs have blessed us with what may or may not be the cast list for the next season of The Challenge. Some highlights:

  • Alton: Alton is one of the greatest athletes in the history of our species. The most shocking thing about his casting is that it means he won’t be able to represent our country in the London Olympics. I thought he was a shoo-in for at least a dozen events.
  • Trishelle: Things Trishelle has done in her life: appeared on Real World, become a professional wrestler, posed for Playboy, dated The Miz, played in Lingerie Bowl III, and starred in a movie titled Ninja Cheerleaders. Um, yeah.
  • Isaac: Isaac is entertaining, relatable, good-natured, and hilarious. (Please note: He may not actually be any of these things — my judgment is just blinded by my man-crush.)
  • Jemmye: Jemmye is the one from the second New Orleans season with the drinking problem, the arrest record and, ya know, the vagina tattoo.
  • Rajon Rondo: Celtics fans have to be very concerned about Rondo participating in The Challenge AND the Eastern Conference Finals. No idea how he is going to pull it off.

With four cast members from eight seasons of Real World, it looks like The Challenge is setting up a “Battle of the Seasons” format. I couldn’t care less. As long as they give my alcopsychoholics plenty to drink and they argue about everything, it should work itself out. I am officially more excited for the next Challenge than I am the upcoming NFL season.

Fine, at least until the first Tim Tebow start.


Evelyn (Basketball Wives, Schell), 30 points: The Evelyn-Jennifer beef has been the narrative thread of this entire season. The feud has led to tears (5 points), flying flower pots, purses wielded like billy clubs, and strong accusations of not being “about this life.” As the season winds down, the feud has evolved into something, well, weird. After a couple of insults about Jennifer’s makeup line being inferior to Evelyn’s (20 points), this week’s argument (5 points) turned on — and I can’t believe I am writing this — vaginal care:

Jennifer: “I didn’t have sex with Eric for three years. I am not ashamed of anything that I have done.”
Evelyn: “And I don’t really care that you didn’t have sex with Eric for three years, but at the same time don’t bleeping make me look a certain way because I ended up with who I ended up with.”
Jennifer: “You do what you do … ”
Evelyn: “When those are the same type of mother-bleepers that you still like and that you still bleep with. And you bleep now. And you were bleeping three years ago when you were bleeping Eric.”
Jennifer: “You do what you gotta do and I’ll do what I gotta do. I don’t care. Like, I am not worried about your vagina. Why are you worried about mine, like, I don’t care.”
Evelyn: “Actually, you’re not, ’cause dude in Vegas you bleeped him with no bleeping condom.”

This hurtful televised airing of dirty laundry and emotional unraveling of a 14-year friendship isn’t fun to watch at all. It’s all a little too real. The oddest part is that it all stems from Jennifer questioning the intentions of Evelyn’s fiancé, Chad Ochocinco. I mean, who would ever question the commitment and character of a man who changed his name to the Spanish translation of his jersey number and sleeps under a fish tank/headboard? The nerve.

Alessandro (The Bachelorette, Kang), 20 points: This entire season of The Bachelorette is about the fact that Emily the Mom is a mom. Seriously, every conversation, every interview, every date always comes back to the fact that Emily is not just looking for a husband but for a father for her daughter. The bros are forced to bake cookies in aprons, hula-hoop with toddlers, sing with the Muppets, you name it. This season essentially is HBO’s Hard Knocks if you replace “football” with “parenting” and “likable but hardass Head Coach” with “chick named Emily who looks like Jessica Simpson back when 14-year-old boys used to obsess over Jessica Simpson.” Most of the bros are hip to this act and pretend that they’re regular Mr. Moms — even though they live in houses with milk crates and refrigerator boxes as furniture.

But then there is Alessandro. Gloriously oblivious Alessandro.

Alessandro: “I am willing to take that compromise as part of my life. If I wasn’t willing to do this, I wouldn’t be here, honestly.”
Emily the Mom: “But what is going to change?”
Alessandro: “Like I said, the whole compromise thing. I am willing to do that … ”
Emily the Mom: “What would you be compromising? Compromising what?”
Alessandro: “Compromising me as a dad as the chief in the family.”
Emily the Mom: “And … but … you see that as a compromise? You don’t see that as an honor?”
Alessandro: “But don’t you think that — ah … ah … I see it as a compromise that is what marriage is about. I think you don’t understand where I’m coming from.”

Emily the Mom was not impressed with this display and sent Alessandro packing (20 points). I thought I had seen the last of our new Brazilian pal until they showed a little bonus scene of Alessandro being grilled by Emily the Mom’s goon squad of moms — a scene that shed some light on the life of Alessandro the “Gypsy King”:

Mom Squad Member: “Do you like kids? Do you want kids?”
Alessandro: “Yeah yeah, back home I had this long relationship with this girl, she’s my cousin. Not, I mean, we’re third cousins. But anyway, she got married last fall but I still thought about her.”
Mom Squad Member: “Have you ever cheated on a girl?”
Alessandro: “Once, but only ’cause … ”
Mom Squad Member: “It was your cousin.”
Alessandro: “Yeah.”
Mom Squad Member: “Have you ever had a one-night stand?”
Alessandro: “Yeah.”

In my opinion, Alessandro’s commitment to family should be celebrated. Emily and the Mom Squad did not share my opinion. I am so bothered by the fact that Alessandro will no longer be part of my week that I have decided to dedicate this week’s GRTFL Top Five to him. This week’s GRTFL Top Five is the Top Five Most Troubling Aspects of Alessandro’s “Kissing Cousins” Confessions, listed from “my, that is odd” to “we should send this dude to NASA for testing”:

5.“It Is Cool Because She Is My Third Cousin”
No, Alessandro, no it is not.
4. You Cheated On Her BECAUSE She Was Your Cousin?
How is the fact that she is your cousin the reason that you cheated on her? If she wasn’t your cousin, would you have been faithful? Are there separate rules for incestuous relationships?
3. “She Got Married Last Fall But I Still Thought About Her”

Alessandro, if you are still “thinking” about a married cousin of yours, keep those thoughts to yourself. Trust me.
2. I Think He Is Talking About Two Different Cousins
Read it again. One he had a long relationship with, and one that he cheated on. Again, his commitment to family should be celebrated.
1. He Didn’t Answer ANY of the Questions
The question was, “Do you want kids?” not, “Have you ever been in a sexual relationship with someone in your family?” Why are you offering up this information unprompted?

I will miss you, Alessandro, I will miss you like you miss your married ex-girlfriend/cousin.
Tony (The Bachelorette, Connor), 20 points: Tony thought that he could work his son as a tool to demonstrate what a caring, sensitive, responsible father he is. Solid strategy. So he gets on the phone, does some baby-talking to the little fella, and then breaks down in sobs when he hangs up because he just misses him so much (20 points). Looked good on paper:

How he thought Emily the Mom would react: “Wow, you must really love your son Tony. This type of emotional connection and dedication to family is exactly what I am looking for here on this journey. [They always call it a “journey” on this show.] You are exactly the type of man that I have been looking for. Why don’t we just skip the whole process of narrowing the field, getting engaged, and getting married, and go right to the consummation. Nothing gets me hot like a caring father.”

How Emily the Mom reacted: “You know what? I’m not picking you anyway so you might as well leave.”

Okay, I paraphrased a bit, but that’s what she meant.

Arie (The Bachelorette, Simmons), 10 points: In real life, after a good first date you go home, give yourself a little high-five, call you best buddy, and say, “I really like this person! They’ve seen Trapped in the Closet 16 times, they smell great, and they don’t like tomatoes — I think there is some potential here, and I can’t wait to find out what they’re like in bed.” On The Bachelorette, after a good first date Arie says, “Emily has exceeded my expectations by, you know, 1,000 percent. I can’t believe the connection that we built today and the way that it is going. I can see myself someday getting down on one knee.”

Slow down, turbo! You had a good date and a couple snogs (10 points), but YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS WOMAN. However, there is some truth to what Arie said, because as I watched this segment I found myself feeling something toward a woman I never have before, I felt a connection to someone, I felt like I was watching my soul mate on the screen … and my soul mate was country legend Dolly Parton.

Now, I know this will come as a shock to you, but I have not had that much exposure to Dolly Parton in my day. Sure, I knew who she was, listened to “Jolene” a few times, and had seen signs for Dollywood — but I had no idea she was such a down-ass bitch. Dolly not only sang like an angel, but she was wise without being condescending, listened and was considerate, was serious but had a sense of humor. She was everything that you could ever ask for in a lady! I think I fell in love with Dolly Parton this week on The Bachelorette.

Sorry, I know I’m about 40 years late to the party.

Chris (The Bachelorette, House), 5 points: All right, Bachelorette fans, time to play another game of “Would You Date a Dude Who … ?”

Would You Date a Dude Who … after the first kiss (5 points) said, “kissing Emily was like the greatest thing I have ever experienced in my life”?

Or …

Would You Date a Dude Who … after the first date said, “This has to be the top moment of my life. I can see myself falling in love with Emily”?

Yeah, I understand there is something romantic about saying a kiss was “the greatest thing I have ever experienced in my life” and a date was “the top moment of my life.” But there’s also something creepy and desperate about it. The creepy and desperate outweighs the romantic. By a lot. Trust me.

Jennifer (Basketball Wives, House), 5 points: Jennifer had her commitment to “this life” and care of her ladybits questioned this season (5 points), and it has taken a toll. So much so that it looks like she won’t be back next season. Which is too bad, because I really thought she would be the first human to ever get stilettoed to death on national TV.

Sean (The Bachelorette, Connor), 5 points: I touched on it briefly before, but one of the segments this week was Emily’s goon squad of moms giving the boys the ol’ once-over to see if they are worthy of her hand in marriage. The ladies were particularly fond of the blondie Sean (who later scored 5 kissing points), saying, “Sean is like a genetic gift to the world.” This normally would be a huge compliment, but by this point in the show each member of Emily the Mom’s goon squad was on her fifth or six cup of lean. A screwed-up freestyle session was about to break out at any point. Moms in Charlotte really get it in! (If you are unfamiliar with lean, it is a popular, intoxicating drink consisting of prescription cough syrup, and is also the reason you can’t understand Lil Wayne when he talks and why he hasn’t stopped smiling since 2007.)

Tami (Basketball Wives, Simmons), 5 points: Tami revealed that she “decided to move my family back to Los Angeles so I can get involved and be more hands-on with my daughters’ career.” I’m sure the same daughters that are embarrassed by her behavior on the show are really excited that she is going to be hands-on in their careers because, you know, freestyling over them in YouTube videos wasn’t hands-on enough.

Shaunie (Basketball Wives, Lisanti), -10 points: Shaunie — whose production company produces Basketball Wives — seems to be feeling a little guilty about the success of her show. On the one hand, it’s a cultural phenomenon that has brought her fame and fortune. On the other, it’s the evil byproduct of our society’s insatiable desire to watch women throw things at each other and is cultivating a generation that sees flying wine bottles and swinging purses as an acceptable methods of conflict resolution. In a sneaky way to acknowledge this problem in the show itself, she turned to her pastor for advice (-10 points):

Shaunie: “I know women aren’t always going to get along, but this has just become crazy.”
Pastor: “What fuels the arguments?”
Shaunie: “Anything from past relationships to “you said/she said.” It is a lot of that now. A lot of “you said/she saids.” Two of them have been friends for 14 years … ”
Pastor: “Fourteen-year friendship?”
Shaunie: “Yes.”
Pastor: “That’s bananas.”
Shaunie: “And they can’t stand each other and I feel horrible. I feel worse than they do — it’s like they can totally brush off the hands and move on. I am not perfect, people can make me mad and rub me the wrong way, but I am not going to fight you. I am not going to sit up and go at a cussin’ match with you. It is really not that serious.”
Pastor: “Is it worth you walking away from?”
Shaunie: “I have really strongly considered walking away from it. Do I walk away and love the ladies from a distance, because I feel like there is nothing else that I can do? At this point I can no longer defend it, I can no longer stand by it. I am going to a business meeting and I am wondering in the back of my head, I am wondering what they really think of me.”
Pastor: “Is that right?”
Shaunie: “Especially if it is a black woman or man I always, in the back of my mind, I wonder if she thinks, like, I am like [the people on the show] … ?”
Pastor: “Does it matter what they think?”
Shaunie: “It probably doesn’t, but it does to me. I just did it yesterday. The whole time I was like, “I wonder if she thinks that I am just a ghetto hot mess?”
Pastor: “Are you willing to lose your friendships with those women?”
Shaunie: “I don’t want to lose my friendship with any of them, but what this has created altogether, this a mess.”

Shaunie has realized that she is Victor Frankenstein. She has created a monster that she can no longer control. Like Victor, she even created a second monster (Basketball Wives L.A.) with similar results. The symbiotic, mutually dependent, abusive relationship between the creator and its monstrous creation has led Shaunie to a place where she no longer sees the difference between herself and the monster. She IS what she has created. She IS a Basketball Wife and she IS the very thing that she fears is destroying her life. She has been driven mad and will soon be discovered dog sledding around the North Pole in search of her monster, never realizing that it is inside of her.

That, or she just needed an excuse to recast the show to inject new drama. Tough call.

Filed Under: Reality TV Fantasy League, Basketball Wives, Reality TV, The Challenge, The End of American Civilization, The Bachelorette

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

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