Last week, I wrote that this season of “The Bachelorette” is lackluster. This week, the show took place in Atlantic City. So just let that soak in for a minute.
Really, guys? This is all you’ve got for us? Usually we’re in the Swiss Alps at this point. Instead, we get AC? Land of run-down carnival rides and out-of-place-looking casinos? Even Des could barely muster any excitement upon arriving in Jersey. Actually, scratch that: Des is never excited. About anything.
But even for her! Even for her, this was bad. Upon arrival, she wandered the local boardwalk in her peacoat, taking in the sights: A slow-moving Ferris wheel. A rusty pier. Yummy!
To make matters worse, she selected Brad as her first date. You know, Brad: The guy who possibly morphed from a Ken Doll into a human — sans for his past involving a domestic violence charge. That’s right, in case that morsel of information slipped by you earlier in this tantalizing season of “The Bachelorette,” Brad was once charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend, although the case was reportedly dropped. (ABC knew about the issue before casting him, and Buzzfeed has an interview with Brad discussing the situation here.)
Not that Des seemed all that concerned about Brad’s past as the two rode the Slingshot and then visited a candy factory. There, the couple snuck around unsupervised, picking chocolate-covered pretzels off a conveyor belt. Super-sanitary.
Anyway. Brad has the personality of a brick. The most interesting thing about him is that his kid’s name is Maddox. And his name is Brad. So he’s like Brad Pitt! Except not at all.
The date went so poorly that Des forced Brad to climb a rather tall-looking lighthouse and told him she didn’t want to give him a rose while he was still winded from walking up all the steps.
“I want a love that can light the darkness,” she lamented as he descended. It was symbolic, because she was in a lighthouse.
As a producer subsequently removed Brad’s bag from the hotel, the guys looked on in glee. “And we’re down to 12!” one exclaimed. Oh, 12? Only a dozen left? This is great! Everything is going to go so quickly from here on out, and it won’t be painful at all.
Group date time! Yes, we had reached the portion in the episode where the men were forced to perform an activity that required them to be scantily clad. This time? A Mr. America beauty pageant.
Miss America 2013, Mallory Hytes Hagan, met the group in a full denim bodysuit to give them the rundown: They were going to have to showcase a “talent,” answer a lame question about relationships and then only the hottest guys would be put in Speedos.
Recovered from his broken-finger fiasco, Brooks was so distracted by Des that he could barely focus on the exciting competition.
“She’s like a mythical creature,” he said of the Bach. “She’s like a unicorn. She shows up every once in a while.”
Which makes sense, since unicorns don’t exist and never show up anywhere, ever.
But back to the competish. The men were provided with a pageant coach who was super fabulous named Christopher Dean, who referred to everything embarrassing the men chose to do as a “strong choice.” Chris putting on high heels? Strong choice. Mikey performing a “dance” routine straight out of “Magic Mike”? Especially strong.
Anyway, Kasey won. He tap danced. And when asked if he considers himself a giver or a taker in a relationship, he said he was a giver, because relationships only work when both people are givers. Touché, my friend.
Still, I didn’t feel that Des was really taken with Kasey — or any of the dudes, really — until James’ date. Des chose the Jersey native to fly in a helicopter with her and a Red Cross representative, surveying the damage from Hurricane Sandy. The footage was sobering: Buildings were leveled, and the Seaside Heights roller-coaster — where Snooki has drunkenly screamed from on high — stood eerily in the middle of ocean water.
It was clear early on in the date that the serious nature of the day was bringing James and Des closer together. They started holding hands while in the helicopter and stayed close to one another as they went to meet Jan and Manny, an older couple whose home had been gutted during the hurricane.
I have mixed feelings about the amount of time the show spent on Jan and Manny. On one hand, they were adorbs and seemed genuinely excited to meet Des and her random dude o’ the day. But their segments also felt kind of exploitative, too? Like, ooh, look at this poor old couple who have never been in a limousine before!
Des can make them happier than they’ve ever been by letting them go all of an hour away to Seaside, where they get to eat dinner inside an empty House of Blues.
Also, it’s depressing that the show has such a poor track record of forming successful relationships that they have now brought in people to serve as real-world mentors.
Weirdly, Jan and Manny did seem to actually influence the young lovebirds. I’m not sure if she was just wasted from all that beer and pizza, but Des seemed genuinely into James as they sat at a local bar. She was rambling and talking over James in a natural way, saying things like “I can live on an island with someone I love and be so happy.”
After James revealed he once cheated on a girlfriend of 5½ years, Des even shared that she herself had once been cheated on.
And when Darius Rucker — yes, of Hootie & the Blowfish — performed for both couples, Des couldn’t keep her hands off James. Dude is going far. Trust this.
I’m glad Des is finally starting to have feelings for someone, but also very sad because it is James, who lists his favorite author as Dr. Seuss.
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