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Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelor” (Camping, Not Glamping)

January 27, 2015

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photo via @BachelorABC (the caption read: “One of these virginities will be taken tonight.” Brilliant.)

The fourth episode of ABC’s “The Bachelor”¬†featured more Emmy-worthy editing, from the tiny violins playing over Ashley “Kardashian’s”s tragic princess soliloquy to the close-up shots of her weave to the sad, foreboding music behind Jillian’s tasteless “Who Would You Rather” inquiry. That said, we would revoke all Emmys for the misleading season teaser they made a few weeks ago which suggested premature pre-fantasy-suite humping happened in a tent. Lying liars!

While the catty interpersonal drama we’ve come to love and expect is a little lacking this season, and Prince Farming’s personality is nowhere to be found, we can still glean some important life lessons about love and dating from “The Bachelor”:

  1. It’s 2014. Can we please dispense with the retro myth that virginity = value? Just because you’ve never experienced the presence of a penis in your vagina does not make you “marriage material.” (And while we’re at it, let’s dispense with that old-fashioned “marriage material” term, too!) Respect given should not ebb and flow in relation to the number of partners a person has had. (Chris: “It makes me respect her more.” Say wha?!) Are you in touch with your sexuality and enjoy sex with open and honest communication? Great! Are you abstaining until you’ve found the right person? Great! But please don’t whip out your V-card and flash it around like it’s a Black Amex.
  2. Lipstick, concealer, bronzer, and contour makeup have no place on a camping date. It’s okay to get glammed up for special occasions (though we’d reconsider the fake, tarantula-leg eyelashes), but a quick run to the corner store to pick up croissants and the Sunday New York Times for you and your lovie should not require three and a half hours of prep in front of the vanity.
  3. Little girls under the age of six can get away with calling themselves “Disney Princesses” — just barely. But if you are an adult woman, you should not consider yourself a princess, expect to be treated like one, or refer to yourself as such in public with zero shame. This is the real world, not Far Far Away; you are a grownup, not a spoiled brat. Self-infantilization is not attractive.
  4. Before this becomes the official Poop on Ashley I. Parade, let’s switch gears: It’s your life and your body, do with it what you want — but when revealing past personal choices, consider the nude modeling slightly more potentially scandalous than the called-off engagement.
  5. It is a HUGE red flag when you gently ask the person you’re dating a legitimate, challenging question and they become so enraged that they cannot form a complete sentence — indeed, they cannot even finish a single sentence. (Verbatim: “I guess, ah, I see two sides, like, a, Kaitlyn has a lot of different facets that are, not, and I don’t, those aren’t, I see the Kaitlyn that’s just, you know what I mean? I mean obviously, I mean if you like her or dislike her, I don’t see, I don’t look at Kaitlyn like being some really, I mean I’m not rewarding inappropriate behavior, you know, by giving roses to people that are, and I, if you view it as that, um…”) When the expression on your date’s confused face reads “Can’t talk, must punch,” it’s probably a good idea to back up slowly and then briskly walk away.
Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.”¬†

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Top 10 Love Lessons from “The Bachelor” (Wedding “Crashers” Episode)

January 20, 2015

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photo via ABC’s The Bachelor

Last night’s third episode of ABC’s “The Bachelor”¬†continued the season’s new style of embracing the humor along with the histrionics (often via some heavy-handed editing at the women’s expense). For examples of this trend, see Ellen DeGeneres’s recent season recap:

Is Chris Soules so boring that the producers’ only recourse is to turn the show into an ongoing bloopers reel? Probably. Is it kind of uncool of them to caricature the women’s poor drunken choices, their fashion faux pas, and their mental instability with clever camera work and cruel cuts. Um, yeah. Is it still incredibly entertaining and addictive and we’ll never be shamed into not watching? Of course! As always, we’ve sacrificed our own brain cells for your benefit. Behold, the best¬†dating advice “The Bachelor” can give!:

  1. It may be trendy, but clown-color lipstick is not a good choice if you’re hoping for a late-date make-out sesh. We’re all for men wearing make-up, but it’s got to be their own choice.
  2. You don’t have to pretend to be the “cool girl”, as defined by Gillian Flynn in “Gone Girl,” in order to get the guy: “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she‚Äôs hosting the world‚Äôs biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don‚Äôt mind, I‚Äôm the Cool Girl… Men actually think this girl exists.” We were reminded of this passage when Kaitlin said she wouldn’t mind if Chris slept with all the women in the fantasy suites, even if Kaitlin and he ended up engaged, because it was all “part of the process.” Yeah, right.
  3. When pursuing a romantic interest, do not bring along a funnier, more interesting person as your wingman/wingwoman (that goes double if said wingperson is a famous celebrity, triple if they’re a famous celebrity comedian). They will upstage you while underscoring your flaws.
  4. Ass crack should not be a fashion accessory, ever.
  5. Five words you should never say on a first or second date: “Let’s pretend it’s our wedding.” Similarly, avoid cheesy pick up lines and canned prefaces to first kisses, e.g. “You’re a man and I’m a woman, so I just wanted to take advantage…” (You may also want to avoid ¬†the phrase, “Salty and warm, that’s not stuff I like in my mouth.” Then again, asserting that upfront may be a good thing, depending on how you roll.)
  6. Not rushing into things, saving something for later, and leaving something to the imagination are all legitimate dating strategies (and not only when you’re one of 18 people trying to play one-on-one tonsil hockey with the same person). We’re not suggesting you play games, we’re just saying the beginning of a relationship is one of the most fun parts — why not draw it out and make it last?
  7. Never underestimate the transformative power of knowing how to dance, even if it’s only the “Shopping Cart” and the “Fishing Rod.” Prince Farming got 80% more attractive once he exhibited his moves on the dance floor of the wedding he “crashed” with his date. It’s called rhythm — get some.
  8. While we would caution against employing a Kardashian look, we must insist unequivocally that you never publicly admit that you actually have “a Kardashian look” that you sometimes employ.
  9. While we understand there’s no time like the present, we question the wisdom of dropping the details of a personal tragedy to the object of your affection in the middle of an event like a fun, flirty, boozy pool party…while dressed in wet bathing suits. (Don’t even get us started on wisdom of wearing a foreheadband.)
  10. In the immortal words of Rosy Grier, it’s alright to cry (see below) — for instance, over the tragic suicide of your husband and baby’s father. However, it is NOT alright to cry because someone won’t get out of a hot tub.
Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.”¬†

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Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelor” (Prince Farming’s First Dates)

January 13, 2015

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photo via ABC’s The Bachelor

Last night’s second episode of ABC’s “The Bachelor”¬†proved to be quite entertaining, despite Prince Farming having the personality of a soybean. The producers seemed to pepper the episode with the kind of zany, kooky, funny stuff usually reserved for the closing credits — in order to make up for Chris Soules’s snooze-inducing flat affect, perhaps? Hey, we’ll take it, since the bloopers reel they play at each finale is the highlight of every season! ¬†Of course, between the wise cracks and the drunken twerking, there were still plenty of¬†love lessons to be learned!:

  1. On “The Bachelor,” as in life, there are no hard and fast dating rules. If you change your mind about someone or want to give them a second chance, that’s fine — in fact, it’s open-minded, open-hearted and quite generous. Just be sure you’re not leading them on. If you know, deep down, there’s no hope for a future relationship, quash it quickly, as Chris did with Kimberly (a.k.a. Oliver, as in “Please sir, may I have some more?”)
  2. Do not humiliate your date by parading her around town like a sex doll. For example, making her walk in public places (that aren’t the beach or the pool) wearing only a bikini — in the freezing cold, no less — while you enjoy the benefits of full length shorts and a hoodie during your stroll is Uncool with a capital U. Equal opportunity objectification, people! (And are bikini bottoms really the appropriate attire for riding on tractors and sitting on hay bales? Wethinks Prince Farmer would say no, so he should have advocated for the dignity and comfort of his dates as an expert in this field, no pun intended, and just as a decent human being.)
  3. Don’t kiss and tell (we’re looking at you, Mackenzie) — at least to people who fall into one or more of the following categories: near strangers, singles, the recently broken-hearted, people interested in the same person you just swapped spit with. Otherwise, you come across as, at best, insensitive and, at worst, mean-spirited (or else just totally clueless).
  4. We don’t care whether you’re drunk or stupid, it’s not okay to put other women down in order to try to elevate yourself into a higher dating bracket. It never works; in fact, it always backfires. No matter how pretty, in shape, or hair free you are, you will come across as a bad person. And nobody wants to date a bad person. Cheap shots — whether we’re talking personal digs or alcohol (ahem, Jordan) — are never a good idea (even though they, admittedly, make for great TV).
  5. Just because someone isn’t into you, doesn’t mean you’re unworthy of love. It just means you didn’t quite click. Buck up, cowgirl. You’re still so young! You’ve got plenty of time to sow your wild oats. Eventually you’ll find a farmer made just for you whom you can sow some serious cereal grains with.
Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.”¬†

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What Did You Think of Jeremy Renner’s “Globes” Joke?

January 12, 2015

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screen shot from the Golden Globes on NBC

J. Lo wore one of her, shall we say, memorable numbers to the 2015 Golden Globes, the kind of outfit that draws the unblinking stare of even the gayest gay man like greedy raiders of a lost ark. So when she and Jeremy Renner were about to announce the winner for Best TK, and Lopez said “I’ve got the nails” (meaning the long fingernails to best open the card with the winner’s name), Renner quipped, “You’ve got the globes, too.” So, what do you think? Poll below the Vine.




Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelor” (Prince Farming’s Season Premiere)

January 6, 2015

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photo via ABC’s The Bachelor

It’s been a long, grueling wait, but last night we finally got our fix with the live season premiere of ABC’s “The Bachelor”! This season features “Prince Farming” and Bachelorette runner-up, Chris Soules — a guy who’s so deep in the Iowa boondocks, the closest Starbucks is over an hour away! Absolutely bone-chilling. But somehow, the producers were able to find not 20, not 25, but 30 brave women willing to marry him and move there, basically sight (and site) unseen. Let the dating mistakes begin, be made, and be learned from!:

  1. Never admit in public, let alone to your date, that as an adult you shamelessly live with your mother, don’t know how to cook for yourself, and are effing crazy. In fact, forget about admitting such things, don’t DO such things in the first place if you want to be even remotely dateable. (Ahem, Amanda.)
  2. Baby Voice + Vocal Fry = an incredibly short shelf life for any potential relationship. Even if this is how you talk naturally (and we are NOT convinced that this sound occurs spontaneously in nature), you must take measures to correct this unholy mutation: vocal coaching, vocal chord surgery, testosterone treatments, etc. (You know who you are.)
  3. Using gimmicks on a first date to make yourself memorable often seems desperate and pathetic, rather than creative and quirky. Don’t try so hard to separate yourself from the pack, just be your sincere, genuine self. If a situation naturally arises for you to demonstrate your singing ability, your breakdancing skills, or your cadaver tissue excavation, great! But don’t force it. Quick rule of thumb: if you require props for first dates, you’re doing it wrong. Exception to the rule: small, heartfelt tokens may — we said, may — endear your date to you, but the bigger the prop or the more performative it makes you, the worse off you’re going to be perceived by said date (and the rest of the nation, if they happen to be watching).
  4. We’ve said it a thousand times before, we’ll say it again: Alcoholically speaking, pace yourself on a date! A drink or two — or even three when the date lasts until the freakin’ sun comes up — is fine to calm your nerves, slightly loosen inhibitions and give yourself a little liquid confidence. But please don’t get sloshed on your dates. It’s not safe: you could get sexually assaulted, you could fall from a high height, you could embarrass yourself on national television, you could suffer the wrath of 29 judgy women all vying for the attention of the man you’re dating who will happily and publicly flatten your character with a steamroller!
  5. The limit on dirty jokes you can tell on a first date is ONE. Even then, we highly recommend testing the waters first before you drop the bomb, i.e. don’t let it be the very¬†first thing out of your potty mouth. We’re all for a good crotch joke, but knowing when, where and how often is key. As with alcohol and first-date tongue, moderation rules.

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Poll: Is Ben Affleck More or Less Attractive After His Appearance on “Real Time”?

October 8, 2014

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Okay, we know this is a stretch for a sex & relationships website, but we just are having so much fun reading all the debates over last week’s episode of Real Time, in which host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris, a “new atheist” author, clashed with actor Ben Affleck over whether it’s appropriate to criticize the ideology of Islam, or whether that smacks of racism and xenophobia. There have basically been two camps of response: “Ben Affleck for president!” and “Aw man, now I’m not going to get to see Gone Girl because I don’t want to support this bloviating idiot.” Watch the clip below, if you haven’t already, and let us know where you fall.


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The Revolution Will Be Televised: 15 Great Recent Feminist Shows

September 24, 2014

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Netflix’s “Happy Valley”

“The Golden Girls” was a historic show: four central characters, all female and all over the age of 60! Of course, back in the ’80s, it was an aberration: throughout television history, female actors have been in supporting roles mostly, with an emphasis on their youth and beauty. Sex and the City was a 90s update on that original foursome, with a chokehold on traditional beauty and Hollywood glam, but a lighter grip on our youth obsession, and a revolutionary embrace of female sexuality and all its complications. Showtime’s The L Word seemed to pick up where SATC left off, doubling down on the glam factor and the sex, but doubling the female cast size, as well as upping the diversity in terms of race and sexual orientation. Still, the television landscape was mostly dominated by dudes.

Now, a decade after SATC’s final episode aired, with a lot of “female-focused” trash in between — Desperate Housewives and The Real Housewives franchise do not serve the cause — television is experiencing something of a feminist revolution, with more and more quality roles for women that revel in their imperfections, explore their contradictions, and — perhaps most importantly — don’t always revolve around men. These past few years have seen a welcome trend in award-worthy (and award-winning) female-driven shows that aren’t afraid to portray women as ugly, whether inside or out. Thanks to the freedom and risk-taking that Netflix and cable channels have offered producers, the old notion that female-focused narratives have too limited an appeal has been blown out of the water.

Let’s hope the deluge of decent shows continues! The below series in our top 15 have all premiered sometime in the last three years, with many of them still in production and/or available on demand. We’ve left off many of the network shows that could be considered feminist — The Good Wife, Scandal, etc — but that aren’t necessarily groundbreaking since they often have a gloss that feels fairly unrealistic, dumbed down, or at least cliche. What we’re focusing on here is the cream of the crop in terms of feminist advancement, TV-wise:

The Ensembles

1. Orange Is the New Black¬†(2013, ongoing) — Has there ever been a show with this many women in it? A show that has a ratio of female-to-male characters at about 10 to 1? That’s so comfortable showing female diversity, in looks, body size, race, age and sexual orientation? It’s a boob-tube miracle! Thank you, memoirist Piper Kerman, developer Jenji Kohan, and Netflix!

2. American Horror Story: Coven¬†(2013) — The third season of FX’s horror anthology is more slick and stylistic than OITNB, but the main characters are also all female — some big, some small, some white, some black, some young, some old, and even one with a genetic disorder — with just a handful of men in supporting roles. ¬†These witches are powerful, sexually assertive, and oftentimes sadistic — not stereotypical feminine qualities.

3. Girls¬†(2012, ongoing) — The 21st century’s SATC on HBO, with four equally unlikeable yet oddly compelling female leads. Writer, director, producer, star (and probably caterer, too) Lena Dunham and her exhibitionistic tendencies have done more for female body confidence than all the Dove campaigns combined!

The Leads

4. Happy Valley¬†(2014) – This new BBC import by Netflix has the biggest baddass on TV since Walter White: both “Heisenberg” and Happy Valley’s “Catherine Cawood” are middle-aged, world-weary yet strong-willed and obsessive, reckless and resilient, with unexpected reserves of bravery. Except in her case, she’s on the right side of the law as a morally stable police sergeant (played impeccably by Sarah Lancashire). Fortunately for viewers, the camera isn’t afraid of the lines on Lancashire’s amazingly expressive face.

5. The Honorable Woman (2014, ongoing) – The Sundance Channel series from the U.K., starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as a Baroness and¬†Anglo-Israeli businesswoman, is incredibly timely and incredibly smart. Gyllenhaal is one hundred percent committed to her career — it’s more of a calling than a day job — and she kicks some serious ass along the way. There is no female eye candy on this show — all the women have their own motives and desires, and these desires are more along the lines of ¬†”peace in the Middle East” than “shoe shopping.” The show is complicated and sometimes hard to follow, but it’s a pleasant treat to feel like maybe you’re not quite smart enough for a television show.

6. Homeland (2011, ongoing) – This Showtime series follows one CIA agent’s major role in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Talk about a flawed character! She’s got bipolar disorder, terrible taste in men, and pretty bad roots. Claire Danes is in the lead, so you know there’s no “pretty” crying on this show — just like in real life.

7. The Killing (2011 – 2014) – As we’ve written before, if you can get past the fact that the entire series revolves around the brutal murders of pretty young girls, this show¬†totally counts: the main character, homicide detective Sarah Linden¬†(Mireille Enos), is a strong, tough, independent woman who is sexual without being sexualized, realistically styled with sensible shoes and sweaters, and pretty bad at parenting. That her awesome male police partner doesn’t participate in macho posturing (and is unapologetically vegan!) is icing on the cake.

8. The Fall¬†(2013, ongoing) – Gillian Anderson plays a badass senior police officer (are you seeing a pattern here?) on this Netflix show, another BBC import. She’s a woman who knows what she wants and ruthlessly goes after it, whether that’s a serial killer (played by Christian Grey!)¬†or casual, no-strings attached sex.

The Comedians (Not Comediennes)

9. Inside Amy Schumer¬†(2013, ongoing) — She is unafraid to address the most embarrassing, unflattering, and horrifying aspects of being a woman in the most hilarious, un-pc, and feminist ways.

10. Broad City¬†(2014, ongoing) — Weird, random tales about two under-acheiving, disheveled, stoner dudes…and they’re female! After all, it’s approved and produced by “mighty girl” Amy Poehler.

11. Garfunkel & Oats¬†(2014) — Since we did our Anal Airlines bit 10 years ago, there will always be a special place in our hearts for two adorkable women who sweetly profess, without shame,¬†the benefits of anal sex.

The Great Equalizers

12. The Leftovers¬†(2014, ongoing) – While the main protagonist is male, this HBO show based on Tom Perrotta’s intriguing novel is full of interesting female characters who are damaged, dangerous and refreshingly not dolled-up. It’s missing the gratuitous T&A that HBO often feels compelled to cram into its shows to satisfying the paying straight male audience.

13. The Returned¬†(2013, ongoing) – Another Netflix import, this time from France, about a town whose dead inhabitants mysteriously come back to life. ¬†This haunting show follows a series of characters — some male, some female, all complex and all realistically portrayed.

14. Top of the Lake (2103) – If it’s a miniseries made by Jane Campion, you know it’s going to be a feminist heavy hitter. With rich roles for both women and men, including Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss as the lead detective investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old and Holly Hunter as the spiritual leader of a compound of middle-aged women looking to rediscover themselves. (Rarely on TV do you see naked women who don’t have perky breasts and slim physiques — Campion dares to go there.)

15. Masters of Sex (2013, ongoing) – This critically acclaimed Showtime show was developed by a woman who assembled a majority-female writing cast (in the telly biz, that’s¬†rarer than a white rhino!). At the start of MoS’s second season this summer, Time magazine called it the most feminist show on television, in part because of its self-imposed rule that the¬†sex scenes on this show couldn‚Äôt just be about sex, they had to be completely connected to story. Take a tip, HBO!

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The Bachelorette: What Happens in the Fantasy Suite Stays in the Fantasy Suite?

July 29, 2014

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screen shot of ABC’s “After the Final Rose”

Last night’s “After the Final Rose” was the most dramatic ever! Not because the Bachelorette (Andi Dorfman) got engaged to a guy (Josh “I Can’t Put My Arms Down” Murray) after only knowing him for two and a half months and only going on, like, three dates — max — with him. Not even because she slept with both of the two finalists (Josh and Nick “My Neck Is Always Cold” Viall) a week before announcing which one she’d chosen. It was the most dramatic ever because somebody (Nick) admitted to said sex on live TV!

Nick:¬†Knowing how in love with you I was, if you weren’t in love with me, I’m just not sure why, why you made love with me?….I didn’t have any expectations about that night, but to me, that night, that was like fiance√©-type of stuff. That meant so much to me. And I told you that. It meant the world to me.

You know it’s serious when you can hear a rose petal drop on a set with a live studio audience.

It’s an unspoken rule that what happens in the fantasy suites stays in the fantasy suites. It’s the one time the contestants can be alone together, away from the cameras, without microphones or their last few shreds of inhibition. Sex is had and it’s hinted at coyly by producers, but it’s not usually spoken of explicitly, especially not during the post-game “A.F.R.” when the focus is supposed to be on true wuv and mawwiage (and in the loser’s case, total devastating heartbreak).

Andi, with her facial expression set to Defcon 4 Frown, was not pleased with Nick spilling the beans:

That’s below the belt. I think that’s something that should be private.

It’s tempting to get on board the Andi Bus Tour through Indignation Town. After all, what happens in the fantasy suite stays in the fantasy suite. Like Andi said, that’s private. It’s not gentlemanly to kiss and tell. It’s pathetic for a grown man to cry because he didn’t get the final rose. Don’t try to slut-shame Andi because you’re bitter.¬†You, Sir Scarf, just proved to the world why Andi didn’t choose you!

These are sentiments that have been expressed all over the Interweb and the Twittersphere since the show aired. They are even sentiments that we were inclined to embrace in our wine-and-chocolate-covered-strawberries-induced haze last night. But in the sobering light of day, we’ve popped two aspirin, washed the dirty wine glasses, and tried to get a little more Jack Handy about this whole most dramatic finale ever! thing.

If this had been “The Bachelor” instead of “The Bachelorette,” and a woman had gone on national television to ask why he had schtupped her if he didn’t love her, wouldn’t the rallying cry heard round the world have been “You go, girl!”? Isn’t that exactly what happened last season when runner-up Claire, regaining some viewer goodwill, said of Bachelor Juan Pablo, “Don’t tell me you love fucking me [and then not propose]“? And weren’t we all giddy when Andi herself pulled back the curtain of last season’s private fantasy suite to reveal what a self-centered pig JP was?

There’s something disingenuous about using the “privacy card” when you’ve signed up to be on a reality show about love (and — let’s admit it — sex). There’s something disingenuous about having sex with a person whom you know is in love with you (and whom you let believe you love right back, contract or not), and then dumping them and subsequently defending your actions by saying, “Your take on [what the relationship/sex meant] might have been somewhat different than mine.” There’s something disingenuous about answering the question, “You knew I loved you, so why did you make love with me if you didn’t love me back?” with the answer, “That’s exactly why I didn’t make you go through the rose ceremony.” There’s something disingenuous about saying that your intense feelings for this guy (while you dated, kissed and fucked him) were real, when you just admitted that you were in love with someone else the whole entire time, a person you planned on getting engaged to and having a monogamous relationship with for the rest of eternity!

People are joking about how Nick is a creepy stalker who needs a restraining order. But if we believe he was truly in love with Andi — and from the footage we’ve all seen, there’s really no reason not to — then why wouldn’t he do everything he could to see her again, to get some real answers, some closure? If she had refused all his requests to talk privately beforehand, then why shouldn’t he ask her, during the one chance he got, how she could have had sex with him if she didn’t love him?¬†And why wouldn’t he be nervous and awkward and uncomfortable finally facing her? ¬†Forget the fact that there were millions of people watching: it’s hard to confront someone you love who doesn’t love you back. How about a little more sympathy for the guy who got his heart pummeled? (We gave it to Claire, and she wasn’t even very likable!) As a straight man, Nick should be commended for being willing to be so emotionally vulnerable in public, and for expressing the idea that sex can mean something. Being in touch with your emotions and believing that sex is sacred are not the domains solely of women.

As sex writers, we are all for open relationships, as long as everyone involved is well informed about the situation. We’re all for women sleeping with whomever they want without being publicly shamed for it, as long as they’re honest with their partners. In all our advice writing, we encourage (read: demand) that people treat their sex partners with respect, open communication, and forthrightness — no matter their gender. That’s basic human decency.

Of course, decency is not a commodity television usually trades in. It’s a testament to the perverse power of reality TV that anyone thinks Nick should have acted any differently or that Andi acted nobly. We recently listened to a “This American Life” episode about one of the most popular reality shows ever in Japan which capitalized on the real suffering of one individual who was basically stripped, starved, tortured, and humiliated for viewers’ entertainment — it was hard to listen to and we kept asking, somewhat self-righteously, “How could people watch this, laugh at this, enjoy this?” Which of course begs the question, “How can you watch a show that purposely orchestrates people’s heartbreak, especially if you’ve ever had your own heart broken?”

Which is not to say we’re not going to watch “The Bachelor/ette” anymore (let’s not go crazy). But maybe we’ll try to watch it with a little less disdain and a little more empathy from now on.

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An Audience Member at “The Men Tell All” Tells All

July 22, 2014

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Our friend Laurie Sandell is not only a celebrity interviewer for women’s magazines like In Style, Glamour and Marie Claire, she is also a Bachelor Nation superfan. She started a private Facebook group for her likeminded friends (like us) called “Monday Night You-Know-What Discussion Group.” ¬†She once bagged the White Rhino of Ben’s season of¬†The Bachelor, a random run-in¬†with show-villain and now tell-all author of “I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends,” Courtney Robertson¬†(Laurie was bold enough to ask for a pic together and got one!). Her superfandom reached its zenith last night: she was in the studio audience of “The Men Tell All”! And now she’s here to tell us all about it:

How did you score tickets to “The Men Tell All”?
One of my friends knows one of the show’s producers. ¬†As soon as I found this out, I immediately called in the most important favor I could imagine ever asking of him.

Where were you seated?
In the front row directly behind [host] Chris Harrison and the hot seat. It was just a fluke we got those seats: I brought a friend [another fellow superfan] and we were one of the last people called into the theater. They needed a party of two for the front row and we fit the bill.

What’s the difference between seeing it in person and seeing it on TV?
Surprisingly, it was eeerily similarly because the set was so utterly familiar, like we had teleported through our TV into the studio. Everything looked exactly the same: the lighting, the flowers, the candles, and, of course, the roses.

Are the guys better (or worse) looking in person?
So much better looking in person. We were actually floored by how good-looking they were. They were shorter than we expected, however ‚ÄĒ at least some of them were. They were all very comfortable and charismatic on stage. Clearly they had been in front of cameras for months. None of them seemed shy or embarrassed to be there.

Were there any surprises with the guys?
I have to admit, I have been a little bit lax in my viewing this season: I have an infant, so I’ve been watching with one eye, so I didn’t know exactly who the guys were. So when they came out, I was like “That guy is cute.” But he turned out to be the potentially racist one, so I quickly changed my crush.

To whom?
Ron was very charming and super cute.

What was Chris Harrison like?
He’s more sarcastic and hilarious than he is on the show. On the show he has to appeal to a mainstream American audience, but in reality he’s very wry and quick-witted, so that surprised me a bit.

And what was Andi like?
Very likable. And so much more beautiful in person ‚ÄĒ she truly is stunningly gorgoeus, as good-looking as any A-list celelbrity. Articulate and very put together. She came across as genuine.

How long did it take?
Eight hours.

What?!? Really? Start to finish?
Really, eight hours.¬†When we first got there, we were in a holding room while the producers were making sure everyone was there. They gave us sandwiches. Then they ushered us into the studio and we spent the first two hours watching the fantasy suites episode — they tape “The Men Tell All” before the fantasy suites episode airs so we got to see it before anyone else. After that, each segment took a long time to shoot because they film more than they air, and there were breaks between each segment for leg-stretching and bathroom runs.

How were the bathrooms?
Luxury trailers set up like nice hotel restrooms. An entire trailer was one bathroom.

What was the audience like?
I was looking around at my fellow audience members, like, “Who are these people? How did they get here?” There were a lot of jewel-toned tops.¬†It really did look exactly like the audience you see on TV. They’re a combination of people like me who are friends of friends, people who had won charity contests, randos off the street, and people associated with the show. For instance, there was a guy there — and there are hardly any guys in the audience — so I asked him how he got there and he said he provides the limos for the show.¬†But¬†I have to say, everybody in that audience was a superfan — there was not one jaded person in the room.¬†I’ve been in the studio audience of “Dancing with the Stars” — I was there to interview Lisa Vanderpump — and I was seated next to another interviewer who was totally bored. At the “Men Tell All”, everyone — and I mean everyone — was into it, laughing it up.

Did you practice your reaction faces beforehand?
My friend and I were cracking up practicing our faces beforehand, but when the show started, we were so caught up in it, we really were making crazy expressions. Afterwards, we were actually afraid we might look really ugly because we hadn’t practiced looking pretty while looking surprised!

Did they use any of your reaction shots?
Umm, nothing BUT shots of us! We were practically in every frame! [See below, Laurie is the one in blue, with dark brown glossy bangs.] There were no super surprised reaction shots but we did tsk tsk when Chris Harrison talked about Marquel getting kicked off. ¬†At one point, Chris ¬†brought up a rumor that Andi was pregnant, but I misheard and thought she was about to announce that she actually was preggers, so¬†I whipped my head around to my friend and gasped louder than I’ve ever gasped in my life. ¬†Fortunately they didn’t use that.

What was the most surprising thing about the experience?
It was more intimate than I thought it would be. There’s nowhere to hide. You really are a part of the show.¬†And the guys were very close to the audience. They were only a few feet away.¬†They were milling about afterwards and we could have interacted with them, but there were a lot of producers around and I think it would have been unseemly to try to talk to them.

Any other dirt you can give us?
There are a ton of funny things that I’d like to share but they might really break the fourth wall and I had to sign an extremely steep confidentially agreement that no amount of fundraisers would ever help me recoup.

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What We THINK Will Happen on The Bachelorette Tonight

July 20, 2014

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Unfortunately neither of us is able to watch the “Men Tell All” episode of “The Bachelorette” tonight — starring Andi and all the men she has spurned so far. So we won’t be able to bring your our usual tart wrap-up and love lessons tomorrow. Instead, here’s what we imagine might happen on tonight’s episode…

1. Marcus will cry (again) and then admit that the only thing that got him through being dumped by Andi was moving to Vegas and becoming a male stripper.

2. Chris will tell Andi that he never actually had feelings for her, either — he was really just looking for an extra player for hide and seek in the corn fields of Iowa. He may also ask her to play one more game of hide and seek in the studio audience.

3. Andrew the rogue contestant will storm the stage and demand to show off his recently waxed chest. Andi will cry and stamp her feet and ask why no one takes this charade seriously?!

4. The men will perform a unique striptease-meets-mime dance. Andi will nod seriously.

5. Host Chris will take a lie detector test, just as the contestants have been forced to do, and will admit that this entire show is a farce. And then he will perform a striptease.

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