This is it. This is the week. This is the week the GRTFL has been waiting for. Honestly, I’m frazzled. I feel inadequate, stifled by the pressure to do it justice. In the nearly three years I’ve been writing this column, there’s never been a week of television as inspiring, as controversial, and as straight-up weird as February 24-28, 2014. The Bachelor filicided the shit out of Juan Pablo, the Real World Mystery Fetus situation was solved, and Cliff Robinson appeared in a Survivor season in which the tribes are divided by “brains,” “beauty,” and “brawn.” It’s too much.
The only way to appropriately construct a column aiming to capture the rapture that was this week of reality TV is to start with the most shocking, controversial, and appalling event that transpired. Nikki’s outfit:
WHAT THE FUCK IS SHE WEARING? In what section of a clothing store did she purchase such items? Do they even sell that stuff in clothing stores? I swear to God, if I were planning to marry a woman and she arrived for a date wearing this, it would be the end of those marriage plans. Isn’t there someone on the production staff who consults with the contestants about attire? Wasn’t there a mirror in Nikki’s hotel room? There should be an oral history, a 30 for 30 short, and a feature-length scripted film about this outfit’s origin. It looks like Nikki stole the top from an American Girl doll and the pants from a capoeira instructor. I don’t know what human logic leads to this outfit. Well, actually, I do. I think the logic is: “Men like boobs, so I will show mine.” That’s a flawed strategy when dealing with most men, but probably a good one when dealing with Juan Pablo.
But this is just a digression, because all of that occurred before the Juan Pablocalypse.
Andi (The Bachelor, ALL THE POINTS FOREVER AND EVER)
Everyone who follows this ridiculous television franchise was excited about the Juan Pablo era. He was the first minority Bachelor, he was handsome, he was smiley, and he was a doting dad; he checked all the Bachelor boxes. In the beginning, he was also comfortable around all of the women, and he seemed engaged in the process and generally happy. As the episodes progressed, however, it became clear that he either didn’t have much command of the English language, was kind of dumb, or both. He spent most of his time on the show paired off with a woman, simultaneously kissing her and stroking her face. So much kissing and face stroking.
A few weeks ago, in the present day but as the show was still airing, he made some extremely questionable comments about gay people. Then, on the show, he nonsensically slut-shamed Clare after their alleged Vietnamese ocean coitus. As we viewers learned more about Juan Pablo, we learned that there really wasn’t more to learn about Juan Pablo. He was simply a handsome fella with vacant eyes who constantly alternated between telling women “It’s OK,” “Trust me,” “I like that,” and “Look at me.” He filled time on dates with face strokes and “besitos” instead of conversation of any substance. We took it all in, and we turned on him.
This week, however, the show turned on him. The editors and producers left in a bunch of curious sound bites that felt out of place and only made sense later as things unfolded. For example, Juan Pablo offered at least seven or eight hundred reminders there would be no cameras in the fantasy suite, creepily explaining to Clare: “This is the only time we can be alone, this is the only time we won’t have cameras, it is the only time we can spend many hours together. You know?” Normally at this stage, they edit the show so the Bachelor seems like a tortured hero simultaneously in love with three women at the same time; this season, they edited the show to make Juan Pablo seem like a maniac focused on bedding three women at the same time. The show kept subtly encouraging viewers to turn on Juan Pablo. It didn’t make any sense. Why would the showrunners not want the audience to be sympathetic to the protagonist?
It made plenty of sense once Andi ushered in the Juan Pablocalypse. Andi’s date started off fine: a little staged beach soccer, a couple face-stroking makeout sessions, a visit to a waterfall in one of her patented one-pieces (her one-piece game is on point), and a trip to the fantasy suite. Andi was all smiles:
Following a commercial break and a statement from Juany Pabs about what a great time he had on the overnight date, Andi brought on the Juan Pablocalypse: “Waking up in the morning, I couldn’t wait to get out of the fantasy suite. I thought I was falling in love because I had genuine feelings for Juan Pablo, but the fantasy suite turned into a nightmare. I saw a side to him I didn’t really like. The whole night was just a disaster. I hope he did not think that went well. I really hope he did not think that was a good date.”
Wait, what? You mean to tell me Juan Pablo isn’t the man all mothers wish their daughters would bring home? We viewers all had suspicions about Juany Pabs, but blindly bought into him as the aspirational husband. But we’d never seen an attack like this before, and it was just the warning shot. She quickly followed up with more: “I just kind of started to realize that every time I started to talk about feelings or whatever, talk about something from my past or whatever, it was always him starting to tell his own story. It was stories about him, and not once did he ever ask anything about me. I just started to realize that he didn’t care about who I was, and what I thought, and want I want in life. I mean, I just didn’t see someone that cared for me. Not only the fact that he didn’t ask me any questions about myself, but some of the things he said, the amount of stories that I heard about Miami, the name-dropping. And then when he said that he had an overnight with Clare, I was like, Seriously, are you kidding me?”
Andi is our new leader. She’s overthrown the Juan Pablo dictatorship by exposing him for what he is: a self-involved, insensitive, face-stroking name-dropper. The name-dropping thing is really interesting. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT NAMES HE WAS DROPPING AND WHAT STORIES HE WAS TELLING. To be honest, I’m a little shocked he even has the mental capability to tell a story that doesn’t involve asking people to trust him and/or look at him.
Sharleen the Sugar Pill blazed the trail toward the Juan Pablocalypse, and Andi tore through it in a dozer with a backhoe. Andi is a hero, Andi is Kanye, Andi is a goddess, Andi is magic, Andi is omnipotent. Andi is the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess. We must all now bow down to Andi the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess:
Andi the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess’s takedown of Juany Pabs was not complete, though. She needed to face the Name-Dropper, to hear the “Look at me”s and the “It’s OK”s one more time to prove he was powerless over her. She arrived at the showdown in the ensemble intended to be her “Don’t you want to get engaged to this?” outfit but repurposed into her “You will never have this because I am a Magical Kanye Goddess” outfit. It worked for her:
True to form, Juan Pablo had no idea what was happening. Andi led off by telling him how great she’d felt about him and how giddy and excited she’d been about those feelings. She then pivoted: “I did a lot of thinking, and the biggest thought for me was that I realized that I wasn’t in love with you.” She immediately looked at him, this time without his prompting; she was searching for some sort of recognition, some sadness, some emotion, some regret. She saw none. Dead-eyed, he responded: “That’s fine. It’s OK. If it is meant to be, it is meant to be; if it is not meant to be, it is not meant to be.”
Well, it was not OK. Andi the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess had heard “It’s OK” one time too many. Juan Pablo was not properly respecting the time and emotions of Andi the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess, and Andi the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess doesn’t take that shit. “Your response is, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK.’ … Everything is always, ‘It’s OK’ and I want to DIE if I hear ‘It’s OK’ again. I can’t handle it.”
Juan Pablo still had no idea what was happening. As Andi deftly fired criticism with laser accuracy and crushing force about his lack of interest in her feelings and his general insensitivity toward women, he retreated into a shell of dismissal and denial. His “If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be” and “What do you want me to do?” defense angered the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess even more and forced her to deploy the best “What the fuck are you even talking about?” faces she could muster:
Just when it seemed like Andi was finally relenting, Juan Pablo accidentally let one more “It’s OK” slip. Andi shredded him: “Don’t say ‘It’s OK’ ever again. It’s bad. It’s annoying.” With that, Andi slew Juan Pablo. Standing on the edge of her Goddess cliff, presiding over the sea while holding Juan Pablo’s decapitated head high, Andi the Heroic Magical Omnipotent Kanye Goddess screamed: “No, Juan Pablo, IT IS NOT OK!”
Then, on the way to the airport, she summed up the whole experience with one more Andi face:
Unpopular Opinion Alert! My Defense of Juan Pablo
Listen. It’s not Juan Pablo’s fault. The thing is, Juan Pablo never has any idea what’s happening. I don’t even think he knows he’s on a TV show. I think the producers told him he was so famous that he needed round-the-clock security. They told him the microphone is a tracking device and the camera ops are trained guards with high-powered weapons. He has no idea what’s going on around him. He doesn’t view The Bachelor as a place where one man finds love; he views it as place where one man gets to date a bunch of women at the same time. He’s basically Kim Jong-un–ing his way around the world, on ABC’s dime. The producers drugged poor Juan Pablo with fame and women.
Ever think about how he’s so much better on group dates than one-on-one dates? Remember when he cried because he had to let two girls go at one rose ceremony? Remember how devastated he was when he realized his harem had dwindled to six? I don’t think he understands the format of the experience. I think he views each rose ceremony as punishment for LOSING every week. I wish they’d had cameras on him when the first episode debuted and he realized he’d been filming a TV show all along. I’m sure he freaked the fuck out for five minutes before going to the bathroom, looking in the mirror and mumbling to himself: “Look at me. Look at me. It’s OK. It’s OK. Look at me. Look at me. It’s OK. It’s OK. Look at me. Look at me. It’s OK. It’s OK. Look at me. Look at me. It’s OK. It’s OK.”
So What the Hell Happens Now?
At the rose ceremony, when Nikki and Clare realized that Kanye Andi had brought on the Juan Pablocalypse, there must have been a big part of them that was excited about the decreased competition and a little part of them that was like, “There must be a reason why the two smartest women on this show wanted nothing to do with this dude.” Then again, it’s hard to accuse anyone who wears that American Girl Capoeira Instructor outfit of overthinking anything. So, what happens next?
Methinks this season could end without an engagement. There’s a part of me that actually believes the bit about Juan Pablo not understanding the format and thinking he’ll ask both women to marry him. Why not? It might be illegal to marry two women at once, but it’s not illegal to be engaged to two women at once. Mostly, I think Juan Pablo and Clare will get engaged, but I don’t see the relationship progressing past the After the Final Rose special. It’s taken everything in my power not to go to www.realitysteve.com to read all the spoilers. Don’t click that link if you don’t want to know who Juan Pablo picks, who our next president is going to be, or what you’re going to eat for breakfast on Sunday.
Lauren (Real World: Ex-Plosion, 154 points)
Last week, Lauren learned she was pregnant, and I theorized that she was constructing a world in which Cory might be the father. Turns out, that’s exactly what the editors were doing:
Cory and Lauren had only had sex once since she arrived at the house, two days prior to this exchange. I’m not a fertility expert, but I’m pretty sure two days after coitus is too soon to spring the old Walgreens baby booby trap.
This all left Cory in a tough spot. On the one hand, he was upset that the girl he’s been dating and sleeping with on and off since the seventh grade was carrying another man’s baby; on the other, he was upset that the girl he’s been dating and sleeping with on and off since the seventh grade was carrying another man’s baby and dealing with it all on national TV. As the pregnant ex-girlfriend with whom he’s still sleeping was crying and pleading for him to support her, Cory responded with a curt “I can’t.”
The entire house, including pregnant Lauren, went out to the club later in the episode, and Cory proceeded to hit on women in front of the pregnant ex-girlfriend with whom he’s still sleeping. That went over as well as you’d imagine, and before long, we had angry, pregnant crying all up in the club.
In Cory’s defense, by the end of the episode, he realized (with an assist from Tom) that the right thing to do was to help Lauren through this tough patch in her life. He took her to dinner and told her he’d be there.
This topic is bumming out the whole column, can we move on?
Raquel the Real World Producer (Real World: Ex-Plosion, 23 points)
Shout-out to Raquel. Not only is this far and away the best-produced and -edited Real World season in a decade, but Raquel had the line of the night. When she was holding court like Raekwon the Chef on the staircase with Cory and Lauren, she did her best to encourage Lauren to stay on the show and deal with the pregnancy:
Raquel: “You can take care of and go through what you need to go through right here.“
Lauren: “On national TV?”
Raquel: “On the Real World. This is real life.”
No one will ever top David from Seattle’s “THIS IS THE REALEST THING YOU GOT!” speech, but Raquel kept that spirit alive.
Uncle Cliffy (Survivor, 37 points)
When you hear Cliff Robinson — yes, THAT Cliff Robinson — is going to be on Survivor, you file it away and move on with your life. Then you see Cliff Robinson — yes, THAT Cliff Robinson — on Survivor, and you are all, “HOLY SHIT, Uncle Cliffy is on Survivor!” Not only is he on Survivor, he’s also charming, engaging, and seems to be enjoying Survivor.
When we learned the tribes were going to be broken up into brains, brawn, and beauty … wait. You know what? Before we get back to Uncle Cliffy, I feel the GRTFL Top Five coming on. This week’s GRTFL Top Five is the Top Five Takeaways from the first episode of Survivor, listed in order of importance from “Why even bother listing that?” to “I will never see this season the same way again.”
5. Why throw out the rice? Just why? I understand you’re upset, but what’s the point of starving your tribe? Let’s say you get voted out: What’s the point of leaving your former tribe without food? And let’s say you don’t get voted out, which is what wound up happening for the rice-throwing J’Tia: You’re just starving yourself.
4. Marlins president David Samson can’t win baseball games, or Survivor. He came in cocky and was the first one voted out.
3. DON’T TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE VOTING FOR THEM! If this is the “brains” tribe, then why are they publicly revealing votes before Tribal Council?
2. There is nothing more annoying than people who consider themselves smart or beautiful. If you ever find yourself seriously talking about how smart or good-looking you are — just know that whoever you’re talking to hates you.
1. They should have made them guess which tribe they were in. I would have loved that. And not just once they were standing together on the mats at the beach and it was totally obvious. Imagine that you were cast, and you found out the tribes were being split up into brains, brawn, and beauty. Which tribe do you think you’d be on?
OK, back to Uncle Cliffy. He just seems like a dope dude to have around. He smiles a lot and made a Wu-Tang reference, and when you need someone to help tip the water out of the boat, he comes in REAL handy:
Also, he dropped this gem about his playing days: “I always played for bread and meat. If I don’t win, I don’t eat.” Bad news, Uncle Cliffy: On this show, you will neither win nor eat. I hope you make the jury, though. And I hope you packed a headband.
Vanderpump Rules: Secrets Revealed and Shahs of Sunset Reunion Part 2 (0 points)
The three shows above amounted to almost eight hours of programming, but that didn’t stop us at GRTFL Headquarters from lapping up the final drops of drama juice from the Vanderpump and Shahs reunions. Both shows had phenomenal finishes. The Vanderpump Rules bonus show, titled Secret Revealed, ended with a wink toward a Stassi spinoff (YES!), while the Shahs of Sunset reunion ended with Mike and Reza hugging it out. Both instances brought hope to our species.
This column is also going to end graciously, and just as it started, WITH NIKKI’S OUTFIT:
Enjoy your weekend.