Grantland Reality Fantasy League: The Dangers of a Girlfriend-Back-Home Sneak Attack

ABC The Bachelorette

Full disclosure, I planned on skipping the GRTFL this week because I was occupied, but when you have a week with a murder-for-hire plot on Real World and the Glenn Close–ian bunny-boiling of Brandon on The Bachelorette, it was clear this was not the week to leave GRTFLers without a breakdown. So, I enlisted the help of GRTFL Super-Scorer Caitlin Mangum to recap the highs of this week in lows. I have wanted to do this in the past but was hesitant because I knew once she was given the chance she would become the Brady to my Bledsoe. I was right. Let’s get to Caitlin’s write-up. — Jacoby

Brian (Bachelorette, House), 105 points:

GRTFL Super-Scorer Caitlin: I didn’t even know Brian’s name until this episode, but that won’t stop me from writing roughly 5,000 words about what happened this week.

As Desiree is sitting in her Bachelorette Mansion writing in the journal given to her by Zak “The Naked One” W., she receives a call from Chris Harrison, who informs her in his best Adam West Batman voice that one of the contestants has a Real World–patented GBH (girlfriend back home).

“I don’t want him to get away with this.”

Now, having a GBH isn’t new to The Bachelorette. When former Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky discovered that Justin “Rated R” The Wrestler had a GBH, she chased him around the hotel for a solid 20 minutes while he tried to hobble away with a cast on. Still, this season’s was different. We had seen in the season trailer that the GBH was making an in-person appearance, so naturally I pulled out the popcorn and readied myself for the fireworks.

Desiree drives down to the Bachelor Mansion and pulls Brian outside to have a conversation about his GBH. Instead of just dropping the bomb immediately, though, Des does her best Chris Hansen To Catch a Predator impression, probing Brian with questions like “I want to know if your conversations are sincere” and saying that she just wants to make sure people are there for the right reasons before giving them a one-on-one date.

Brian responds by talking about how he and his ex had a rocky relationship (no pun intended — you’ll see why), but that there was still a friendship.  That’s when Desiree goes for the Jerry Springer.

“Do you know how she felt about it? Because she is actually here.”

With that, Stephanie strolls in, hair and makeup professionally done, wearing leather pants and her best “I’m on my way to sell real estate” blazer. But it’s not all roller skates and balloons for the former Playboy Playmate of the Month, who goes full-on batshit crazy on him (5 points). Let’s break down the confrontation:

Stephanie: “I tried to break up with you a day before you left to come on the show. You told me you just needed time by yourself to get things sorted out. Here I just thought you were doing something good for yourself. I had no idea that you were here.”

OK, let me get this straight. You’re still dating, even though you tried to break up with him and were not planning on seeing each other again until May 10 (which also happened to be the last day of filming)? There’s no cell phone use for the contestants. I’m no relationship expert, but I’m pretty sure if you’re dating someone that you have to actually talk. Point: Brian.

Stephanie: “You told me you were going to California for a business meeting. You invited me to come out here with you knowing I couldn’t come.”

I’d love to know what kind of business trip is supposed to last three months. Still, Point: Stephanie.

Stephanie: “Don’t you care about Donovan, my son that you’ve been a role model to?”

Oh, good move, Stephanie. Using your kid to your advantage like Ben did in the first episode. I’m pretty sure that’s why Jacoby went out and got himself one of them. Point: Stephanie.

Stephanie: “I found out that you’ve been seeing six, seven other girls.”

I find this hard to believe given that Stephanie has enough crazy to field a football team of girls. Point: Brian.

Brian: “You threw rocks at my face.”

Stephanie: “I did throw rocks at you, because you’re a jerk.”

Stephanie fights like a first-grade bully on the playground. This is also (un)surprisingly not the only reference to domestic violence this episode. Point: Brian.

Just when I think that Brian has come off looking pretty good, Stephanie goes for the jugular, claiming that she and Brian slept together two days before he came on the show, to which Brian responds simply, “We did.”

All the points: Stephanie.

Jacoby, I’m conflicted. Is Brian just the victim of a crazy ex who was unjustly kicked off (100 points)? Is he truly a “lying, cheating, deceitful pig,” or was this a clever ruse to capitalize on the un-cancellation of Bachelor Pad?

I was grappling with my thoughts on this whole thing (i.e., Googling them) when I stumbled across this gem from ABC’s most-hated blogger, Reality Steve, who claims that not only did Stephanie date another former Bachelorette contestant, but also that Stephanie and Brian have been seen all over Maryland very much together in recent weeks.

Please make some sense of this.

Brandon (Bachelorette, Simmons), 65 points:

Caitlin: So Brandon went full-blown Fatal Attraction this week. After crying because he could relate to Brian’s Crazy GBH (20 points and first red flag) and how his mother’s boyfriends used to abandon him, he then decided to tell Desiree that he was falling in love with her even though he admits that they never really talk (20 points and second red flag). Unsurprisingly, Desiree sends him packing, capping off his epic performance in the GRTFL.

In fact, it was so epic that this week’s GRTFL Top Five is the Top Five Craziest Quotes From Brandon on The Bachelorette, listed from “Oh, that’s kind of sweet” to “How many bodies are in your freezer?”

5. While awkwardly spying on Chris and Desiree from the roof during their one-on-one time: “When I looked over and saw them dancing and kissing, I was very jealous. I would have loved to have been able to dance with her just one-on-one and just be, you know, her and I.”
Smother Level: Jessica from Real World

4. “Every single time we hang out and do these dates, they’re like the best days of my life.”
Smother Level: Mark Wahlberg in Fear

3. “This week really is messing me up. To hear that Brian left a single mom behind and kind of just disappeared, I know what that’s like. I’ve had a lot of men come into my life as father figures, I’ve fallen in love with them, and then they’re just gone. [Starts sobbing.] That really sucked. I need to spend time with Des and I need to talk to her because I don’t want to lose her. I don’t want to fall in love and lose it again. I just don’t want anyone to leave me anymore.”
Smother Level: Pepé Le Pew

2. “To be honest, I am falling in love with you, and we barely talk as it is. It’s really hard, but I think about you all day long, and I’ll tell you a secret. [Leans in and kisses Desiree (5 points) while she’s laughing under her breath.]
Smother Level: Van Gogh’s ear in the mail

1. After not receiving a rose: “I can’t even cry. I’m just … out of tears.” (20 points and giant blimp-sized red flag)
Smother Level: Miss Piggy

Brandon, I speak for everyone at the GRTFL when I say that you will be missed.

Brooks (Bachelorette, Lisanti), 5 points:

Caitlin: One of the group dates this week involved outfitting the guys in sweatbands, splitting them into two teams, and having them go head-to-head for a dodgeball competition. But first, the guys were schooled by members of the National Dodgeball League, which has to be the GRTFL Questionable Moment of the Week:

Wait, there’s a National Dodgeball League? Did it form before or after the movie Dodgeball? Were those select members of the National Dodgeball League or was that the whole league? Where can I go to watch a dodgeball match? Do they call them matches or games? Do I have to buy a ticket or do they give them away for free? Where’d I put that free burrito coupon I got last week? Are sweatbands a required component of the uniform? Why hasn’t sweatband technology improved since 1972? Is there a dodgeball combine? What constitutes a good dodgeball player? Can women play in the National Dodgeball League? Why don’t we have collegiate dodgeball? I’m pretty confident I could have gotten a full ride to at least a D-III school for dodgeball.

After getting some instruction, the bachelors were split into red and blue teams to play for extra time with Des. While it was no Muay Thai boxing from Ashley’s season, things got a little (I repeat, a little) intense, and Brooks Who I’m Not Convinced Isn’t Mike Miller Because I’ve Never Seen Them In The Same Room Together broke his finger while diving for a ball. Well, Brooks acted like he had his arm gnawed off by a pit bull, clenching his teeth and writhing on the court in pain. After being whisked off to the hospital, the fallen teammate described his experience:

I just broke my finger playing dodgeball. They had to realign it, and in doing so, I passed out. My body felt really light, and there’s all these doctors around, and I had like oxygen in my nose, and stuff was all hooked up to me. It’s one of the more painful feelings that I’ve had in my life.

After Brooks’s near-death experience, he returns for the cocktail part of the group date still wearing his red team dodgeball uniform (sweatband and all) and proceeds to hold his arm in the air for the remainder of the date like if he let go his hand would fall off and roll away. Bold strategy, Cotton, and it pays off, earning him a sympathy kiss from Des (5 points).

Brooks, you have long hair. I expected you to be tougher. You think Steven Seagal or Shawn Michaels could pull off that hair if they couldn’t murder people with only a Q-tip and a bag of Fritos? I think not.

Jacoby: Grandma was back for this episode of The Bachelorette. Like, I don’t know, the whole human species, she didn’t find The Bachelorette half as interesting as The Bachelor. When she saw the guys trying to dodgeball their way into Des’s heart she blurted, “This is like when guys used to ride horses and use lances to get their girls. I thought we had advanced as a society, guess not.” As I write this she is on the couch and The Bachelorette is on the TV. She’s passed out cold. Let’s be honest, my pod partner Juliet is the only person who prefers The Bachelorette to The Bachelor.

The Real Brad (Bachelorette, Simmons), 0 points:

Caitlin: I call all of the guys on the show Brad since the producers only decided to cast dudes who look alike and who have names that start with the letter “B.” Well, the only guy on the show actually named Brad revealed that he had a restraining order sought against him by the mother of his baby because, you know, the third date is a good time to reveal any prior felonies.

This didn’t seem to faze our Bachelorette, who still gave him a rose. Why did she keep Brad and send home Dan, the seemingly normal beverage sales guy? I like beverages a lot more than I like federal prison.

Jacoby: No matter how good the excuse is that they give, never date someone with a restraining order. Unless they are a nine or better. Then, by all means …

Marlon (Real World, Connor), 5 points:

Caitlin: It took until the Real World finale for him to reveal his true identity, but it appears as though Marlon is the Messiah. No, seriously. Stick with me …

After last week’s attempted murder by blow dryer dies down, Nia turns her attention (read: psychotic anger) back to Jordan and devises to take him down with the help of her enforcer/personal trainer Dom, who was one of the scariest people I’ve ever seen on television.

Nia and Dom decide that Marlon’s rap performance is the perfect time to make their strike (10 points for plugging a singing, modeling, or acting career), but right before Marlon goes onstage to perform, he has this to say to Dom: “I’m just saying, black man to black man, it ain’t going to work out for you or her … period. She has a future. She has a bright future. You’ve got a great company going.”

Wait, what? What does this mean? Are Nia and Dom dating? What is this “it” that isn’t going to work out? What does this have to do with Jordan? Is Marlon speaking in tongues? Let’s see what happens next.

After the rap performance (20 points for singing a song in front of two or more people), Dom gives Marlon a hug, tells him “God bless,” and leaves. HE JUST LEAVES? What happened to putting Jordan in a body bag? Well, this happened:

“Yesterday I wanted to kill him. I really wanted to put a hole in his head. I wanted to stomp his teeth out. I wanted to break his neck. I wanted him to never forget me, but it was like I got touched last night. I think it was your boy Marlon. He approached me and was like, ‘Look, man. Let it go,’ and I smelled God in him.”

After converting Dom, Marlon turns his attention toward Nia and expresses his disappointment in her, causing Nia to cry (yes, Hurricane Nia can feel) and apologize to Jordan for everything.

I don’t understand what happened. Did Marlon turn water into wine? Which miracle did he perform to convince them? And you’re telling me he did all this while performing non-court-ordered volunteer work (-25 points) and using the phrase “Dem bitches all thirsty and junk” without me hating him for it?

I’m officially converted to the Church of Marlon.

Jacoby: I’m going the other way. Dom is not the scariest man I have ever seen on television. Dom actually seems super chill. He’s not a gangster hell-bent on vengeance, he is a personal trainer hell-bent on toning your thighs. Any man that knows 27 different ways to do crunches is not going to punch you in the face unless it is part of his CrossFit routine.

Kasey (Bachelorette, Connor), 5 points:

Caitlin: #badtiming. For his date with Des, Kasey The Hashtag Guy had to wear spandex capris and perform glorified ballet while dangling off the side of an office building in the middle of downtown L.A. I can’t decide if it was less fun to watch or to participate in. Everyone lost. As if that weren’t enough, later that night, a hurricane not named Nia rolled in, and they spent the rest of the date talking about the wind while planters tipped over and plates broke around them. You know what’s really awesome television? Two people talking about the weather.

Then came the Turban Kiss (5 points).

Desiree summed the whole thing up best: “This is really a disastrous date.”

Chris (Bachelorette, Kang), 5 points:

Caitlin: Chris, one of the only guys whose name doesn’t start with a “B” and yet I still have no idea who he is, made his mark this week by sneaking Des up to the roof for their one-on-one time during the dodgeball group date. It obviously worked because he received a rose, and, per usual, was rewarded with some bad dancing and awkward making out (5 points) to a band no one has ever heard of. Hey, ABC, how about you put some of that rappelling-off-huge-buildings budget toward getting bands people actually know?

I like Chris. He seems normal and realistic about this whole experience, which probably means he’s a serial killer.

Jacoby, why do they keep doing this band performance thing?

Jacoby: There is NOTHING worse than these performances. I mean, what do you do when some F-list musician is performing just for you on a first date? The resulting white-guy sway-dancing is so cringey I don’t even want to talk about it. One episode I just want the Bachelor to say, “You know what? Don’t bother singing, you will still get your money and everything but there’s actually nothing I want to do less right now than dance to a song I have never heard before with a woman I have never danced with before on national television.” The dancing always ends up looking like the “first dance” at weddings when you can tell the couple went to a class and prepared a few steps. Even writing about it makes me want to swallow my own eyeballs so I never have to witness it again.

Ben (Bachelorette, Jacoby), 15 points:

Caitlin: The rest of the bros don’t like Ben, a.k.a. Tate Donovan’s Evil Tank Top–Wearing Twin. To piss off his housemates, Ben, a.k.a. Tate Donovan’s Evil Tank Top–Wearing Twin, donned his best schmedium Hanes and intercepted Desiree’s baby-blue Bentley when she arrived at the Bachelor Mansion. You see, Desiree decided to forgo a cocktail party that night in exchange for a pool party so she could rank the guys in order by number of visible abs … I mean, so she could get to know them more in a relaxed setting. Ben couldn’t wait for his turn on the Des merry-go-round and instead asked her to go for a little joyride while the guys back at the house were left to wonder what was holding up their Bachelorette.

When they return, Ben makes Desiree promise to keep their little jaunt a secret. He almost would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for their driveway makeout session (5 points). Afterward at the pool party, some of the guys tried to pick a fight with Ben, a.k.a. Tate Donovan’s Evil Tank Top–Wearing Twin, but he’s completely unfazed. “It’s called The Bachelorette for a reason. It’s not called Let’s Make Friends.” (10 points)

Ben appears to be a textbook Bachelor-franchise example of the person in the house no one likes but has the Bachelor or Bachelorette under some sort of primal voodoo love spell (see: Vienna, Courtney “I don’t like wearing clothes” Robertson, and GBH Bentley). Jacoby, why don’t the new contestants study the Bachelor playbook? Don’t pick the person in the house who makes everyone rather have a root canal than go on a group date with. Desiree has to see this coming, right? I mean, the man wears fitted black tank tops, after all. Right, Jacoby?

(P.S. For the record, I’m still on Team Ben.)

Jacoby: First off, I am wearing a fitted black tank top as I write this, so take that for what it’s worth. Second, Ben’s tank top was a special cut:

This particular brand of tank was made popular by 50 Cent back when he was, you know, a good rapper. When you’re a rapper who’s been shot nine times and lived, you can pull off that tank top; when you’re Ben on The Bachelorette, it looks like a sports bra for your moobs.

Jordan and Anastasia (Real World, Simmons and Jacoby, respectively), -25 points:

Caitlin: Jordan and Ana volunteered at a homeless shelter this week (-25 points). Why? Because Marlon the Messiah told them to.

Juan Pablo, Bryden, James (Bachelorette, Lisanti, House, and Connor, respectively), 5 points:

Caitlin: The week’s second group date was one giant extended trailer for The Lone Ranger,* yet it was still the most fun date this week.

(*The Lone Ranger is a Disney movie. Disney owns Grantland. But you knew that already.)

When the guys showed up, Desiree was dressed in a costume you would wear for one of those amusement park photo shoots, and she informed them that they would be getting lessons from the stunt coordinator from the movie.

Juan Pablo came out with a group date early lead. Although he was the only one who could pull off the V-neck, he was also the only one on the date not wearing a V-neck. Instead, he decided to woo America’s Latest Sweetheart by opting for the baseball tee (fitted, of course). Then, Juan Pablo used his knowledge of the Spanish language to crush the other guys in the cowboy competition, winning the ultimate prize — sitting on a hay bale and watching The Lone Ranger in full costume. During the movie, Des leaned in for the kiss (5 points), because women will kiss anything with an accent.

But Bryden got on base later in the inning. Not only did he correct his weird frontal bangs, he also got Desiree to make the first move again (5 points). He explained: “When we kiss, it’s … uh … [roughly eight-second pause] … it’s awesome [in 12-year-old-boy-discovering-the-Victoria’s Secret-catalogue voice].”

Finally, James rounded out the date by pulling the sympathy card at the perfect time, yielding him both a kiss (5 points) and the group date rose. Future contestants, take note: choosing when to reveal your sob story is a delicate balance. Too early and the pity wears off and you get sent home à la Brandon, but too late and you may lose your opportunity to capitalize.

Jacoby: That’s it, that dude does have weird frontal bangs.

I could never put my finger on it. Thanks, Caitlin The Super-Scorer!

Nia (Real World, House), 40 points:

Caitlin: As I sit and reflect on the season that was Real World: Hurricane Nia, I’m left wondering just who Nia really is. Is she the bra-only-wearing, blow-dryer-wielding, athlete-dating, left-hook-landing (5 + 25 points) badass that she claims to be, or is she really just emotionally damaged after being wronged by a guy in her past, which she shared with Jordan this week? All I know is Hurricane Nia cried twice (5 + 5 points) this week, and I’m left questioning everything I thought I knew to be certain.

Averey (Real World, Jacoby), 35 points:

Caitlin: The aftermath of last week’s double homicide attempt led to more physical fighting (25 points) with Nia, causing Johnny and Averey to go into a hotel and become non-factors in the final episode. Averey did manage to shed a couple of tears (5 + 5 points) and let us know that she was officially moving to Massachusetts. How long before they end up on Couples Therapy like Juliet’s favorite Real World couple, Heather Marter and Dustin Zito?

I’ll go ahead and set the over/under at 3.5 months.

Jacoby: OK, I’ve told you before that I’m switching fields on Johnny and His Way Too Hot For Him Girlfriend Averey. I’m all in on this relationship. When I heard that she was moving to Massachusetts to be with him, I was overjoyed. Long live my fellow overachieving Massholes. However, I had no idea HE LIVED WITH HIS MOM! This is my questionable moment of the week:

Does she rent a place and he lives with his mom? Do they really eat meals at his mom’s house like they showed in the clip? WHY DOESN’T HE MOVE IN WITH AVEREY? Why don’t they ever name the restaurant where he’s a cook? If he is a cook, why is his mom cooking for him? Why is Averey dating him in the first place? Will Daisy be the ring bearer or the flower girl at the wedding?

Shout-out to Johnny. I look forward to him losing his mind and getting his face eaten by CT on a future Challenge.

Jessica (Real World, Kang), 25 points:

Caitlin: Jessica earned 25 points this week for singing onstage with Marlon during his rap performance and crying when she left, but I couldn’t care less. She’s the worst. All I care about is that Jessica is finally off my television. Well, at least for a few weeks before The Challenge starts.

Jacoby: Next week I’m doing a Challenge preview. It might be 20,000 words.

Filed Under: Reality TV, Reality TV Fantasy League, The Bachelorette

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

Archive @ djacoby

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