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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.


Top 5 Love Lessons from the Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Hometown Dates)

February 25, 2014


photo courtesy of ABC/Guy D’Alema

  1. Dudes: No sleeveless tees over long-sleeved ones (even if they’re attached and it’s supposed to be a “look”). In fact, better yet: No sleeveless tees, period.
  2. If one of the parents of your date asks for either a private dance performance or a private dance lesson from you, quickly but tactfully get your date back by your side to immediately dilute the creepy factor (just as JP did with Andi’s mom).
  3. It’s 2014. You don’t need to ask anyone’s father’s permission to propose marriage. But if you insist on asking for a blessing (or the more confrontational “Would you welcome me into this family?”), then ask both parents, not just the dad. (This applies to any ladies considering proposing as well.)
  4. Renee’s mom said it best: “We can love our pets; but you need to be in love with the [person] you want to be with.” Make sure you don’t just have a “pet,” or that you are the “pet.”
  5. Don’t meet the child of your date unless you’re sure you see a future together. And certainly don’t meet the child of your date the day before you dump them!


Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Ep 7)

February 18, 2014


photo courtesy of ABC/Michael Fullana

  1. If you’re looking for an “intellectual connection” with a potential mate (like Sharleen), don’t go on “The Bachelor.”
  2. If your date makes you wish you were a little dumber (like JP makes Sharleen wish she were), then that is a clear sign this relationship should be kept squarely in the booty call zone — a marriage of intellectual equals just ain’t in the cards. After all, the ideal relationships exist when both parties think the other one is by far the smarter of the two. (By the way, Sharleen, nice subtle dig on the brain capacity of all the other ladies vying for JP’s affections — zing!)
  3. If you’re going to check out someone’s rack, be subtle about it (see Juan Pablo at the very end his date with Sharleen — at minute 26 on TiVo — for what NOT to do).
  4. Calling someone your “boyfriend” doesn’t make it so (Nilki).
  5. If you dump someone, don’t let them make you feel better about it. You can outwardly feel bad about it, but don’t play the hurt victim who needs to be taken care of and told how wonderful you are by the person you just dumped (Chelsea). This is a time to be gentle with their feelings, buoy their spirits with compliments, be self-deprecating about what a jerk you are — don’t let the dumpee take on that role (even though it makes them seem — and probably feel — like a much better person than you). We originally wrote this rule with Chelsea (as the dumpee) in mind, but suppose it could apply to Sharleen (as the dumper) too.


Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Ep 6)

February 11, 2014


screenshot from ABC’s The Bachelor

  1. Everyone has their patented move (e.g. gently curling your date’s hair behind their ear). Just make sure your move doesn’t become an automatic, robotic gesture when a) you’ve run out of things to say, b) you’re not interested in the words coming out of your date’s mouth, and/or c) you’ve taken a paternalistic view of your dates and are treating them like children whose hairdos — indeed whose whole beings! — need to be tamed.
  2. We said it once, we’ll say it again: If you’re going to explicitly lay down ground rules and set up boundaries about the way you date — which we are all for (yay, open and honest communication!) — then you’ve got to follow and respect them consistently. Don’t break the rules when it’s convenient for you. For example: there is NO moral difference (at least from where we’re watching) between getting all hot and heavy in your bathing suits in the ocean and getting all hot and heavy in your bathing suits in a waterfall. Same diff.
  3. If you’re going to dump someone, do it before a major event, like a holiday (Xmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day) or a 22nd birthday. Don’t wait until right after, and certainly don’t do it on the day of!
  4. Using the sad story of your abandonment issues (perhaps created by an alcoholic, absentee father, let’s say) as a thinly veiled plea for another date will always backfire.
  5. Don’t steal other people’s partners (or their column ideas: a week and a half after @BachelorTV liked our Tweet about one of our Top 5 Love Lesson columns, they penned their own 5 — count ‘em, five! — tips gleaned from watching called “Love Advice from the Bachelor,” including our tip about being honest about your desires. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but payment would feel pretty good too).


Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Ep 5)

February 4, 2014


screenshot from ABC’s The Bachelor

  1. Your date being interested in hearing about your career is not “AMAZING!”, it does not make him an extraordinary human being with mystical qualities that make him the perfect guy for you. Asking you about your job and him actually listening to the answer should be the bare minimum for any date. It’s not proof that you should immediately marry him, it’s just the foundation for possibly agreeing to a second date.
  2. Headbands (the kind that go across your forehead) = don’t.
  3. If you’re going to explicitly lay down ground rules and set up boundaries about the way you date — which we are all for (yay, open and honest communication!) — then you’ve got to follow and respect them consistently. Don’t break the rules when it’s convenient for you, while expecting your partners to follow them 24/7 to the letter. And while we’re at it, don’t paternalistically decide what’s best for your date, when you hypocritically turn around and do the opposite: your date is an adult, she can make her own decisions (like deciding when and where and with whom she’s ready to make out).
  4. If you do something on a date willingly and wholeheartedly that you later regret, don’t blame your date. You can gently admit that you think it might not have been a good idea to do whatever you did, that you think it was a mistake on your part, but remember that it takes two to tango: you could have used better judgment in the moment. Don’t make the other person feel like a predator, the lone gunman, a skanky ho, when in fact you couldn’t get your swimsuit on and your tongue out quickly enough.
  5. When you’ve hurt someone’s feelings and they are crying, please don’t tell them to stop crying. Especially not over and over and over again. Even though they may be acting like a child, they are not a child, so don’t talk to them like one (again with the paternalism). You must acknowledge their feelings and accept that this is the way they are expressing themselves. It may not be the way you express yourself, it may not make you feel comfortable, but you’ve made your water bed and now you’ve got to lie in it.


Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Ep 4)

January 28, 2014


photo courtesy of ABC/Christopher Jue

  1. When your date confides in you about their terrible, deadbeat, alcoholic father who abandoned them, do NOT respond with, “Wow, that must have been so difficult for your father.” The appropriate response is, “Wow, that must have been so difficult for your YOU.”
  2. Don’t tell your date what you think they want to hear — be honest about your thoughts, opinions, desires, and doubts (like Opera Singer/Child-Hater Sharleen).
  3. Similarly, desperation and over-enthusiasm will not work in your favor. Be cool, calm, collected and — while we’re at it — cautious and maybe even a little coy (again, like Can-I-Even-Be-Bothered-To-Be-Here Sharleen).
  4. On a date, don’t be a narc and whine about your fellow human beings. Narcs never get the rose. (Ahn-nyoung, Elise.)
  5. If you’re interested in kissing your date, don’t lead with “Do you know what happened earlier? I threw up in my mouth a little, but then I swallowed it.” (Somehow this worked for Claire, but it will NOT work for you.)

Finally, not a tip, but an observation: Kelly the “Dog Lover” should get her own Bachelor spin-off show, maybe an online series doing post-show commentary, because that woman has the best one-liners and zingers of the season. (On Claire making a big deal about eating a little tiny piece of South Korean octopus: “I know she’s swallowed bigger than that”; while doing an impersonation of Claire eating said octopus: “Oh my god, this is the most I’ve eaten in two weeks!”) Seriously, she’s making “The Bachelor” bearable this year.


Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Ep 3)

January 21, 2014


photo courtesy of ABC/Rick Rowell

  1. Date location don’ts: cold and dirty city harbors (that you intend to swim in), sport stadium hot dog kitchens (that you intend to make out in), and bungee-jumping bridges next to busy 8-lane freeways.
  2. If you put just the tip in, it doesn’t count. We’re of course talking about putting just the tip of your shoe into the air off the bungee-jumping platform. (Is this season one big metaphor for date rape or what?)
  3. Makeup is fun and glamorous and, often times, pure magic. But it is NOT a necessity. A relationship in which you cannot let your partner see you “without your face on” is not one built on honesty or openness.
  4. Don’t take dating advice from your mom. Even if she’s dead.
  5. If you are a single dad dating 25 women at the same time, making out with many of them in a single group date, and frolicking around with them in their skimpy bathing suits at a pool party — all on national television — then you probably shouldn’t judge the appropriateness of other adults’ love lives. Homophobia and hypocrisy ain’t sexy.