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Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelorette (Andi, “The Journey So Far”)*

June 10, 2014


  1. If you’re going to talk politics on a date, then the only appropriate response to the topic of Benghazi is “Bring it on!”
  2. It’s gauche to ask your date about the ancient indiscretions of their partner, especially if said date was the Secretary of God Damn State.
  3. If you’re going to tell your date how dead broke you once were, don’t talk about having to somehow finance your houses (plural) back then. Be sensitive to the genuine financial hardships your date might have experienced in the past or may be experiencing right now.
  4. The discussion of scrunchies has no place on a date, whether you’re running for President of the United States or not.
  5. While on a date, don’t try to disguise your age, especially not with a schmear of Vaseline over the camera lens. Be proud of your extensive journalistic experience and own your wrinkles.
*This week’s “Bachelorette” show was a one-hour recap of the season so far that made room for Diane Sawyer’s exclusive ABC News interview with Hillary Clinton which aired on Monday night. 


Why Lo Won’t Watch “Game of Thrones” Anymore

June 9, 2014


Lo wanted to pen a smart, thoughtful piece on all the serious, misogynistic, pro-rapey problems with “Game of Thrones” that have made it unwatchable for her, but after reading Bethany Jones’ piece ‘Game of Thrones,’ Sex and HBO: Where Did It Go Wrong For TV’s Sexual Pioneers? over at Indewire’s “/bent” blog last week, there was no point: Jones nails it. At three pages, it’s a tome of an internet article, but it’s so worth it! The piece is funny, erudite, well-researched, and spot on. It should be required reading for any GOT fan.

Here’s one small taste, in which she uses one of our favorite philosophical party tricks to expose just how fucked-up the “sex” scenes in Game of Rapes, er, Thrones are:

So let’s imagine another scenario. Let’s imagine that in the background of most episodes of “Game of Thrones” we saw dark-skinned semi-naked people casually or brutally humiliated because of their race: lynchings, gratuitous beatings, n-words thrown about, all the horrible theatre of race-hate, say. Imagine that the incidental exposition scenes of “Game of Thrones” didn’t take place in a brothel but in a slave market, for no real reason. And in a slave market where the slaves showed signs of contentment and arousal at the point of sale. Imagine that in the background of incidental scenes of “Game of Thrones” we saw dark-skinned people being tarred and feathered, or whipped, or branded, just incidentally. And imagine that the camera dwelt lingeringly on the small physical details of these acts, just for the hell of it. And then, as a finishing touch, imagine that all of this was done spuriously, as a departure from the source material and for no meaningful narrative gain, but just to spice up the action, to show some pecs and tits, to give an impression of grittiness, to get some people off. Imagine a non-white person was subjected to the most violent instance of racial hatred, and then appeared to forget about it in the following episode. Imagine if having resisted being beaten, and imagine whilst saying ‘no, no’ to their abuser, they shifted their body in an ambiguous way, a way that could have been interpreted as inviting further punishment but could also have been seen as self-protection. Imagine if this meant we were told it was no longer an instance of racial hatred but a mutually consenting act.  Imagine we were asked to forget all we know about the historical and contemporary power dynamics that structure and inform racial violence.

Would you think that was ok, HBO? And how many people would think that was ok?

If you read only this, then you are doing yourself a disservice: you’ll miss the exact moment Jones declares that HBO jumped the sex shark, how ill-informed about and indifferent to rape the director of one now-infamous GOT rape scene (pictured above) is, and how a 1976 BBC production featuring a young, mad, sadistic king who trusses up a naked woman and kills her (sound familiar?)  is less sexist than this “modern” HBO show. This is the stuff brilliant PhD dissertations are made of — except, lucky for us, Jones gets to use phrases like “frathouse flatulent ether” here. Sanity is coming!



Top 10 Love Lessons from The Bachelorette (Andi, Ep 3 & 4)

June 3, 2014

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photo courtesy of ABC/David Moir

  1. On a date, do not go on and on about what a nerd you were in high school — that’s a story best told after they’ve fallen in love with the totally rad person you are today.
  2. That said, do wear cool, memorable pants.
  3. Never underestimate the power of unexpected flowers and a sweet note.
  4. Never airbrush on a six-pack (we’re pretty sure the producers insisted on “enhancing” Marcus’s).
  5. If you have something on your mind that’s bothering you, you owe it to your date to let them know so they don’t take it personally. No need to go into great detail, just give them a heads up that you’re having an off day.
  6. Men, follow the example of this season’s group of bachelors: they’re affectionate (not just with Andi but with each other), they talk about their emotions easily, they’re not afraid to cry, etc. After all, it’s alright to cry, crying gets the sad out of you…
  7. “Not everything happens for a reason.” Finally someone said it! Thank you, Marcus!
  8. If your natural serious face makes you look like you’re smelling something really bad, you might want to work on some alternative expression with practice in a mirror.
  9. If you don’t feel chemistry with each other, don’t try to force something that’s not there. Just walk away from the relationship with grace and dignity.
  10. If someone you dated very briefly dies, don’t go on and on about how hard it is for you.


Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelorette” (Andi, Ep 2)

May 27, 2014


photo courtesy of ABC/Todd Wawrychuk

  1. Don’t let your snowboard instructor (ballroom dance instructor, pottery instructor, etc) touch your date more than you.
  2. Don’t show your date your anus on your second date, whether accidentally or not.
  3. You can ask your date “What’s the worst thing about your parents?” as long as A) you’re not wasted, B) you’re not being filmed, and C) you seriously want to know and it wasn’t just the first question that popped into your drunk head.
  4. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: don’t get blotto on an early date. That said, in the same vein, don’t be such an uptight wet-noodle that you poop all over the party when someone who’s had a stressful day (becoming a professional stripper competing with some of the most ripped torsos in America on national television) overindulges at said soiree (where he’s being plied with drinks and underfed while continuing to compete with these Adonises) — you don’t have to give a bro a rose, but give a bro a break.
  5. Date Fashion-Don’ts: A) Don’t get dressed up fancy when the majority of people where you’re going will be wearing sleeveless tees, camo shorts and sneaks. B) Don’t wear anything you don’t feel comfortable in. Case in point: Andi was walking around with shoulders hunched up like Quasimodo in an attempt to avoid a wardrobe malfunction at her rose-ceremony cocktail party. And finally C) Don’t over-mix-and-match. For example, you can mismatch your shirt and tie, and you can mismatch your shirt and socks, but you can’t mismatch all three (that’s overkill, Marquel).


Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelorette (Andi, Ep 1)

May 20, 2014

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photo courtesy of ABC/Rick Rowell

  1. When on a date, follow the same rule of the writer: show, don’t tell. Do not say “I have a lot to offer” as your opening gambit. Prove it by being charming, smart, funny, compassionate and so on.
  2. Do not refer to your date as “ma’am” at any point, even if you’re just trying to be polite (we’re talking to you, “Yes ma’am” Marquel).
  3. Don’t have a type. As Andi wisely noted, she’s always been attracted to a particular type of guy but she’s still single, so it’s probably time to mix things up. Keeping an open mind when it comes to dating will only increase your chances of finding love.
  4. Know when to stop drinking on a first date. Did you notice all the guys drinking tea and coffee by the end of the evening? Now that’s refreshing.
  5. If you have to explain your name by saying “It’s ‘anal’ with an ‘m’,” have your name legally changed (we’re talking to you, Emil).


@Midnight’s #FilthyCelebrities Hashtag War

March 14, 2014


Our favorite show (besides “True Detective,” and the second season of “House of Cards,” and “The Bachelor,” duh) is @Midnight hosted by the adorable Chris Hardwick (of “Shipmates” fame!). It’s a late night Comedy Central game show wherein three comedians (different each night) compete to make the funniest jokes about that day’s Internet “news,” memes and viral videos. Our favorite segment — “#Hashtag Wars” — is a play-along-on-Twitter game where you come up with funny-clever responses to that night’s given hashtag: recent hashtags have included #BadSciFi (“Alien Vs. To Catch A Predator”), #SpringBreakBooks (“A Clockwork Orange Spray Tan”), and #RuinABand (“Faith No S’mores”) — the show features the winning submission on the next night’s show.

The featured hashtag this past Wednesday night/Thursday morning’s show was #FilthyCelebrities (host’s examples were “Bryan Cram-some-in” and “B.J. Novak”). So, since we were actually up for once and watching live (instead of watching it on TiVo like a full week later), and since we ostensibly write about filthy stuff, we submitted a few. Okay, we tweet-arrhea-ed a whole slew of submissions, which we think might have broken the Internets, since our tweets didn’t show up in the feed (only on our account page). Needless to say, we didn’t win. @Rich_Fulcher’s “James ‘Get In My Van’ der Beek” won. We think @ryanmaglunob — who submitted “Larry the Kegel Guy” — was robbed. Below, please to enjoy our first (and failed) attempts at battling in a Hashtag War:






















In Defense of Juan Pablo

March 11, 2014


screenshot from ABC’s “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose”

After spending all season ripping apart Juan Pablo for his sexist paternalism, his homophobia, his hypocrisy, and his all around smarminess, we’re going to do something we never thought we’d do: defend him.

Hear us out.

When Andi, one of the women in Juan Pablo’s final three, spoke up about the nightmarish reality of the fantasy suite, we commended her. She pulled back the curtain of the show to reveal what a sham it is. World travel, exotic locales, novel date activities, and heavy mood lighting do not a relationship make; they — and the cameras — don’t create an environment to truly get to know someone intimately. Andi didn’t realize this until she and Juan Pablo finally had a chance to be alone, away from the cameras, and truly be themselves. Previous Bachelors have been better at keeping up the charade in the camera-free fantasy suite, but not Juan Pablo — his insensitivity and narcissism couldn’t be contained. Andi saw his true colors and, for the first time in Bachelor history, painted a brutal picture of the Bachelor — the man and the show — with them.

Now, with his appearance on “After the Final Rose”, Juan Pablo has done the same: revealing himself to be even more of an dick than we imagined, yes, but also highlighting the utter preposterousness of the show’s set up.

Juan Pablo refused to play the producers’ game; he refused to follow “The Bachelor” script — the script which dictates that when the Bachelor chooses someone to be with at the end of the show, he must publicly declare his undying love…for a woman whom he’s essentially just met. If he won’t propose marriage (god, how annoying and selfish!), he’ll at the very least state clearly and unequivocally, “I love her.” It’s an essential part of the pretend fairy tale the producers are peddling: this show is about finding true love and we’ll all be damned if someone doesn’t find it by the end!

We lost count of how many times Chris Harrison asked Juan Pablo if he was in love, asked him to say he was in love. Harrison even went so far as to say Juan Pablo was in love, but was just refusing to let us all enjoy it vicariously: “This is what we all signed up to watch, and that’s what you signed up to show.”

But Juan Pablo wouldn’t budge — because he’s obviously not in love. At least not yet. And can we blame him, bastard or not? After only two months on the show with Nikki, and several more spent apart from her in hiding, he — like most sane people — need more time to make any grand statements or big moves, especially when he apparently takes marriage very seriously (he didn’t even marry the mother of his child) and doesn’t consider divorce an option. They — yes, JP and Nurse “I’m in Love” Nikki — need time in the real world to figure out how they actually feel about each other, as evidenced by the fact that the majority of Bachelor couples don’t ultimately end up together for the long haul. Juan Pablo said, “We’re starting our relationship.” The key word being starting.

But Nikki said it best (which is not surprising, considering Juan Pablo’s strained English and his proclivity for sticking his foot in his mouth): “I’m not going to force it,” she said. “I’m happy and I know he is too. That should matter more [than the words]…There’s people that have sat up here before and said they’re in love and everyone wants to believe it but they don’t because it’s just not there…Falling in love in a few months and, not only that, but the fact that they were dating other people the whole time, it’s just not exactly realistic…This is a real relationship to us, we’re taking this very seriously.”

To which Juan Pablo added, in a rare moment of eloquence, “I’m sorry the show didn’t end up the way you guys wanted it to but I just have to be honest.”

The couple also refused to reveal their future plans — or even if they had any future plans at all — saying they preferred to keep their relationship private, or at least as private as possible in a post-Bachelor world. This, of course, spurred the ire of Harrison along with Bachelor poster children/good citizens Sean and Catherine: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” said Catherine. She meant that he should be more grateful to the show for the opportunity to find someone he cares about by spilling his guts (though it sounded an awful lot like she was admitting the show is more about making money and publicity for participants than it is about actually fostering true love). But Juan Pablo, having held up the letter of the producers’ laws the entire show, went rogue last night and ignored the spirit of those laws by keeping his innermost thoughts and feelings to himself, proving better than any prepackaged happy ending that these are real live human beings (however flawed) and not the producers’ puppets or our playthings.

Last night’s treatment of Juan Pablo seemed to suggest that in the world of the Bachelor, it’s better to end up alone than with someone whom you’re enjoying dating and getting to know — that’s just so realistic, so logical, so anti-climactic, so real. Everything “The Bachelor” isn’t.



Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelor Finale (Juan Pablo)

March 11, 2014

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photo courtesy of ABC/Rick Rowell

  1. When your partner’s family tells you he’s rude, he makes his mama cry, he won’t stick around when things get hard, he’s not an easy guy, he’s self-centered, he’s a know-it-all, he’s simple, he watches TV all day, and there will be lots of fighting, dump him.
  2. When your partner’s dad is more affectionate, more complimentary, and quicker to say “I love you” than your partner, dump him.
  3. When someone says “I love you” don’t respond with “Thank you” or a high-pitched, mildly frightened “Woooh!”
  4. Don’t mention the possibility of having children together if you’re not serious about the relationship. And don’t mention a ring if you’re not going to use it — it’s not a god-damned dangling carrot!
  5. When someone uses the phrase “It is what it is” to describe their relationship with you, dump him. In fact, if someone you’re dating uses the phrase “It is what it is” to describe anything, dump him.

The moral of this season of “The Bachelor”? DON’T DATE JUAN PABLO!



Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, The Women Tell All)

March 4, 2014


photo courtesy of ABC/Rick Rowell

  1. Ladies, never say you “think too much.” Serious reflection, internal debate, philosophical pondering — these are all good things in a woman, in a romantic partner, in a human being (even if they may seem surprising to Juan Pablo).
  2. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to non-exclusive relationships — anyone you’re dating should be made aware of the fact that you’re seeing other people. That said, do so delicately and with restraint — they don’t need to hear the details of your other relationships or be made to feel like one of many.
  3. It takes a real narcissist to look back on past relationships (whether those relationships occurred simultaneously or not) and profess “no regrets.” Really? Not a single, itty-bitty one? How about a little self reflection, humility and personal improvement by honestly admitting, even if it’s just to yourself, how you could have been a better partner. We’re sure you can think of something.
  4. The only way to deal with an ex who’s been hurt by you is with contrition. Don’t go on the offensive (and we mean that in both senses of the word).
  5. As an adult, you should be able to defend your position on gay marriage — or any other big political issue — in 60 seconds to your date. If you can’t, then it might be time for a little soul searching.


The Bachelor’s Big Reveal: Juan Pablo & the Fantasy Suite Charade

February 26, 2014


photo courtesy of ABC/Guy D’Alema

Many episodes of The Bachelor of have been touted as “the most dramatic ever!” — last night’s truly was.

It has been a long-time coming: 18 seasons to be exact (and that’s not even counting all the spin-offs). But after yesterday’s fantasy suite episode of The Bachelor with Juan Pablo, the veils have finally dropped, exposing the show as the anti-fairy-tale it actually is.

Cynics and smart people have known all along it was a sham, but the producers have always taken great pains to perpetuate the fairy-tale myth. For instance, every bachelor follows the script which dictates that he have no clue who he’s going to choose until he wakes up on the morning of the final rose ceremony with sudden, miraculous clarity about his “one true love.” No conversations about religion or politics are ever aired (do they even take place?), because matters of the heart are supposed to transcend that. And the vast majority of the women the producers usually pick are not career-driven realists — they’re romantics with more traditional “family values” who feel like they’re old maids at 26 because they haven’t found “The One” yet.

But last night, the producers had to let all that go when one woman refused to play along: Andi, our hero.

Cracks in the facade began appearing earlier this season, when Juan Pablo’s flaws couldn’t be contained. First, while Juan Pablo was doing publicity events in real time between episodes #2 and 3, he went rogue, making homophobic statements during an interview: “…there’s this thing about gay people… it seems to me, and I don’t know if I’m mistaken or not… but they’re more ‘pervert’ in a sense. And to me the show would be too strong… too hard to watch [with a gay bachelor].” Those comments began chipping away at his Prince Charming exterior. He was being honest, but that’s something the producers don’t let bachelors get away with on the show, at least not while it’s in mid-season. Left to his own devices, Juan Pablo’s small-mindedness became abundantly clear before they’d even gotten out of the United States to more exotic date locales!

Next, came the slut shaming. The combination of bikinis, cocktails, competition, hot tubs and epic make-out sessions that stand-in for actual getting-to-know-you conversation led one contestant, Clare, to break protocol and actually make a move: she snuck out at 4am, knocked on his door, and invited him for a romp in the sea. Juan Pablo happily — and quickly — obliged (he couldn’t get his swimsuit on or his tongue out fast enough). The two engaged in some more make-out time – unscheduled and unsanctioned make-out time — in the rough ocean waves (which in our expert opinion involved major frottage, maybe some handwork, but most likely not penile penetration, despite the editors best efforts to make viewers think otherwise). And with that, Clare seemed like she had secured her position as the front runner.


That is, until the next day. Clare knew what she wanted and she went for it, so she had to be punished  – it didn’t fit The Bachelor script, nor did it fit Juan Pablo’s macho notion of how good girls behave. Even though he willingly and wholeheartedly participated, he realized he had been out-manned, so she needed to be taken down a peg. He gave her a paternalistic talking to, explaining it was wrong of her to do what she did, using the lame, made-up excuse of needing to set a good example for his daughter — a need he failed to honor in every subsequent episode by engaging in more bathing suit make-out sessions with at least 5 other women…by dating 7, 10, 15 women at a time…indeed by just being on this show (if we’re using the excuse he gave Clare as the measuring stick).

Other glitches in the Bachelor matrix presented themselves: Juan Pablo’s inability to deal with women’s emotions (“Don’t cry”, “Stop crying,” etc); his need to control them (“Look at me [when I'm talking to you]” in combo with his patented chin lift); his preference for kisses over conversation (something all bachelors could be accused of, thanks to the producers heavy hand in editing, but Juan Pablo takes the cake, and we’re guessing without that much help from them); his really poor timing in letting women go (he may not have known it was Cassandra’s birthday when he dumped her, but he knew he was going to dump Renee right after meeting her son — no way would he raise another man’s child); and the fact that before last night, one contestant (Sharleen) had already voluntarily bailed — an inexplicably rare occurrence in the warped world of The Bachelor.


But the last veil dropped last night, when “the fantasy suite turned into a nightmare,” as Andi put it. Like Sharleen (the other sharp, career-driven woman on the show), assistant district attorney Andi had had reservations about this “process” and JP all along, feeling uncomfortable with having to wait such an unnaturally long time for one-on-one encounters with someone she’s supposedly dating (a totally legitimate and understandable reaction that sane people who’ve seen this show wonder why more contestants don’t seem to have and express more often). When Andi brought JP home to meet her family, her father and sister openly expressed reservations. Even the language she chose to describe her feelings at that point reflected, perhaps inadvertently, her ambivalence: I think I feel like I could almost be kind of close to something akin to love (we’ve paraphrased for dramatic effect). It was as if, having come so far in the show and having enjoyed the world travel and having succumbed to the pressure of the cameras, she felt obligated to pretend to feel something she didn’t. It’s a phenomenon that happens to all the women (even within the first episode, when some women start making premature statements about the potential for love and marriage and kids with someone they just met!) — but with Andi, we could tell she didn’t believe it, and it was obvious that deep down, she could tell too.

So when Andi and Juan Pablo got to their fantasy suite — which is presented as a sex den by the producers but is probably more often a safe place for participants to let their guards down, be their truer selves, and get to the heart of important matters for the first time — the harsh reality of Juan Pablo (and the show itself) became clear. Without a thrilling activity (like bungee jumping or waterfall climbing), without an amazing view, without the cameras and microphones, and without sex, the two of them had a chance to talk, really talk. And Juan Pablo couldn’t deliver. Not because English is his second language, but because he is a sexist man who views women through a retro lens: they are sex objects, wives, and mothers, not independent individuals on equal par with men who might have their own ideas and opinions and careers. Women should be seen, not necessarily heard. They should bend to the light of the man. And their greatest goal should be to get married, have children, and support their husband. It’s the kind of world view that someone who’s arrogant enough to be The Bachelor and date this many people all at once in this manner would, unsurprisingly, have. And it’s the kind of world view that the set up of this show perpetuates. (The Bachelorette series tries but fails to even this effed-up playing field — there’s a reason there’ve been half as many episodes of The Bachelorette as The Bachelor).

Most of the women on this show are happy in this traditional role — at least while the mesmerizing cameras are rolling. Never before has someone rejected the script so wholeheartedly, nor brutally taken down a Bachelor mid-season. (Even revolutionary Sharleen’s adios was dampened by her tears, her lust and her lack of conviction.) But after spending real genuine quality time with Juan Pablo alone, Andi couldn’t stay silent: she had to tell the producers, Juan Pablo himself , and the world what a joke it all was:

The fantasy suite turned into a nightmare. I saw a side to him that I didn’t really like, and the whole night was just a disaster. I hope he did not think that went well. I really hope he did not think that that was a good date….Every time I started to talk about feelings or started to talk about, you know, something from my past or whatever, it was always him that started telling his own story. It was all stories about him, and not once did he really ask anything about me….I just started to realize that he didn’t really care about who I was, and what I thought, and what I want in life….It blew my mind that he thought that was okay to talk about [Clare's overnight date]….There’s just no filter with him…He thinks that he can say whatever he wants to say, and that everyone’s gonna laugh and still fall in love with him…but, you know, it gets to a point where it’s just offensive.

When she confronted Juan Pablo in broad daylight and in front of the cameras about the previous night, she asked him if he had any idea what religion she practices, what her politics are, how she intends to raise her children (he didn’t), revealing that it’s not just that the producers choose not to highlight these conversations, but that they don’t happen — at least not with Juan Pablo (and chances are, not with many other Bachelor-types as well). As with Sharleen, Juan Pablo didn’t fight for Andi, didn’t express regret or remorse, didn’t try to make amends — he simply shrugged his shoulders and dusted off his hands. After all, he doesn’t have to listen to the opinions of an uppity woman; he’s got plenty of other women to choose from — and not just the two remaining contestants, but all the idiot women who will line up after the show to get a piece of this celebrity frog, warts and all.

Andi’s unconventional departure from The Bachelor (with THE best in-car post-breakup confessional) was the equivalent of a Super-Bowl-sized home team win a long-time coming for all the progressive feminists who watch this show like a car crash. Hopefully, the producers will see that a more honest, more realistic portrayal, not only of the messiness of relationships, but of the strength and independence of different kinds of smart women — rather than the candy-coated charade of The Bachelor‘s Barbies & Kens — is what truly makes for the most dramatic episodes ever.