For The Baltimore Sun
9:16 AM EDT, June 18, 2013
Hello Rose Lovers and welcome to Week 4 of "The Bachelorette." It’s time for the 13 remaining guys to pack their bags, grab their passports and head to the first stop on their journey around the world. Exactly which exotic, romantic location will be their first stop? Japan? Aruba? Hawaii? No! They are headed to Atlantic City. Yes, you heard me, Atlantic City. Maybe Chris Christie is a fan and wants to prove that the relationships created on "The Bachelorette" are #strongerthanthestorm.
The men feign excitement about going to AC and Kasey exclaims “It’s like Las Vegas on the ocean,” which is an insult to Las Vegas. Clearly, Kasey hasn’t been to Atlantic City, and neither has Des because she refers to it as “a beautiful city.” After the guys settle in at the Revel, the first date card arrives. Despite Chris’s “hoping, hoping, hoping, hoping and hoping” to get the date, the one-on-one date goes to baby mama abuser Brad. The card reads “Let Our Love Shine Through.”
Brad’s One on One
Des and Brad’s date could be summed up in one word: PAINFUL. The date starts with our couple walking along the deserted, depressing Atlantic City boardwalk. They ride the steel ball of death and the merry-go-round, then eat taffy and smear chocolate covered pretzels on each other while violating numerous health codes. They stumble across a beautifully carved sand castle sculpture on the beach and talk about what sort of girl Brad likes to date. His answer is, “someone who is a good mom.” What does that mean, Brad? What exactly makes someone a good mom? Someone who remembers to feed the kids? Because I am a good mom, and I often forget to feed my kids. Sometimes I forget where I left them, especially the little one. I can’t even remember her name most of the time. On another note, Zak W. stalks the date from the 44th floor of the Revel and comments that Brad is a nice guy, but is too reserved for Des. I’m getting tired of looking at Zak’s face.
As if spending a winter day on the Atlantic City boardwalk isn’t depressing enough, dinner takes an awkward turn when Des and Brad sit in silence and eat their meals at the Absecon Lighthouse. When have we ever seen anyone on a date on "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette" actually eat their meal? The date is so bad that at one point, both Des and Brad start to chug their wine. In a desperate attempt to get away from the rose that is staring at them, Des suggests they hike to the top of the lighthouse. After schlepping up more stairs than it takes to get to the torch of the Statue of Liberty, Des catches her breath, turns to Brad and tells him that there is no chemistry between them. Did she really need to drag him to the top of the lighthouse to tell him that?
While Brad is taking the solo walk of shame down the lighthouse stairs he just schlepped up, a producer reaches into the hotel room at the Revel, grabs Brad’s bag and whisks it away to the land of other rejected suitor’s suitcases. Brad cries as he realizes he couldn’t “light the darkness” for Des, but instead must return home to face the domestic-violence charges brought against him by his ex. Des watches from the top of the lighthouse as Brad is taken away in a taxi.
Mr. America Group Date
Back at the Revel, the group-date card arrives and reads, “I am looking for my Mr. Right.” Brooks, Bryden, Zak W., Kasey, Drew, Juan Pablo, Michael, Chris, Zack K., Ben and Mikey T. are on the group date, which means that James gets the last one-on-one date.
The guys arrive at Boardwalk Hall and are so happy to see Des! Brooks thinks Des is a mystical creature, like a unicorn. Real men don’t use the words “mystical” or “unicorn.”
Chris Harrison introduces the guys to Miss America, Mallory Hagan, and tells them that in honor of the Miss America pageant returning to Atlantic City next year, the 11 of them will compete in a Mr. America contest. Mallory is going to work with the men to help get them ready, but the real gem is that world famous pageant coach Christopher Dean, fresh off a stint on "Toddlers and Tierras," is also here to help. Our resident gossip girl, Michael G., admits that he has often dreamed of becoming Mr. America and now he has a chance to make his dreams come true. This is a man who works as a federal prosecutor and represents the United States of America! Someone please call the Bar Association.
The fun starts when the guys choose their talent from a few random yard-sale accessories on the “Talent Table.” Juan Pablo picks up a baton, expertly twirls it AND winks! Zak W. grabs a guitar -- after declaring he can’t sing or play guitar. Ben grabs some streamers and Chris grabs a pair of high-heel shoes. The men look so ridiculous that Drew declares it “a hodgepodge of tomfoolery.” He should be sent home just for saying “hodgepodge” and “tomfoolery.” Brooks grabs one white glove and a ukulele and doesn’t know whether he is Michael Jackson or Tiny Tim.
In addition to the talent portion of our show, there will be an interview segment. Mallory practices with Michael and asks him to answer the question, “What is the biggest problem in America today.” Michael is dumbfounded and has no answer. I have a few answers for what is the biggest problem in America today:
No Mr. America pageant would be complete without a swimsuit competition, and the guys are randomly assigned swimsuits. Some are too big, some are too small and none are just right.
Chris Harrison announces that the judges for this pathetic exploitation are Miss America Mallory, the Mayor of Atlantic City and Des herself. The mayor is probably thinking, “first Hurricane Irene, then Hurricane Sandy and now this s*** storm.”
After the live Atlantic City audience is gathered to watch this debacle, the shameless display of desperation begins. A live audience in AC in March consists of one security guard, two homeless people keeping warm, a bus full of senior citizens from the Elks Club who have been dragged away from the slot machines and whoever else could be scraped off the boardwalk.
The pageant begins with the interview portion of the competition. Kasey goes first and I don’t know what he said, and I don’t care. Zak W. talks about being fire and fueling a woman’s fire. Brooks is a lion and thinks he is king of the jungle. Chris wants to go out to dinner more than twice a week. Juan Pablo’s ideal woman would “first, love my daughter" (you have a daughter?) "and be a good dancer.” He is a sexy dog, that Juan Pablo. Mikey T. wants women to know that despite his solid exterior, he is more than a meathead.
It is now time for the talent competition, and I use the word talent loosely. Kasey makes up a story about tap dancing and stomps his feet in an attempt to tap dance. #youarenotthetapdancekid. Mikey, who doesn’t want to be seen as a piece of meat, takes off his shirt and does handstand push-ups. Brooks, who doesn’t have any pecs whatsoever, makes the best use of his ukulele by singing a song and smashing the ukulele, Pete Townshend-style. Chris teeters out on stage in his high-heel shoes and shorts and swings hula-hoops around his arms. Bryden comes out wearing nothing but black shorts and a black tie and performs pelvic thrusts in the mayor’s face. Zak W. writes Des a little ditty and sings and plays the guitar. He was correct earlier when he said he couldn’t sing or play guitar.
It’s the moment Mikey T. has been waiting for: the swimsuit competition. After Drew parades his finely cut body across the stage, Mikey T. comes out, shakes his man boobs, flexes a few times and acts very meathead-like. Zak W. is next, in a teeny tiny red mankini. Then comes Brooks in a floral bathing suit. He parades his pre-pubescent teenage boy body across the stage and attempts to do some sexy bathing-suit-model moves. It wasn’t sexy. Please send out Juan Pablo: we could use a little Latin sexy right about now to erase the image of Brooks rubbing his butt.
The pageant is finally over and the judges tally the scores. The guys line up across the stage and hold hands while they wait for the results. Please stop -- there is something very wrong with 11 allegedly straight, half-naked men holding hands. The results are in: 2nd runner up is Brooks, 1st runner up is Zak W. and the winner is Kasey, who gets a sash and a fuzzy crown.
Back at the Revel, the post-pageant party continues at the pool. Chris wants to show Des that he has a serious side and reads her some poetry he wrote for her. Des loves it and they make out in the pool.
Meanwhile, over on the couches, the guys start with their favorite pastime: hating on Ben. Ben has the nerve to go over to Des, sit on the side of the pool and have a conversation with her. Can you believe it! He actually sat down and talked to her. Bryden, the newest member of the “I hate Ben” club, muses that Ben is not a nice person, and “I don’t even want to look at him.” Brooks whines that Ben and Des sat too close to him. Bryden and Brooks need to go outside for a little while and have a good cry in private.
Zak W. wants to finish singing the song he wrote at the pageant, which sounds more like a stolen Black Crows song than a Zak W. original. Des looks bored and annoyed through the whole thing. Des smells the desperation coming from Zak W. and he gets the group-date rose.
While the 10 guys on the group date are making fools of themselves, James is prepping for his date with Des by taking a bubble bath and eating chocolate-covered strawberries in the tub. After taking a nice soak, he wraps himself in a fluffy white robe. Just as he is about to curl up on the couch and read the latest Danielle Steel story, there is a knock at the door. James opens the door to find a random coffee table in the hallway with a note that reads “Can Our Love Weather The Storm.”
In the most unromantic date in the history of "The Bachelorette," James and Des are swept away in a Red Cross helicopter to view the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. They fly over Seaside Heights and look horrified as they see the destruction. James says he feels a bond with Des after sharing that experience. My recollection of living through Hurricane Sandy didn’t involve bonding- I remember losing power, transformers exploding like blue-green fireworks across the sky, power wires down for weeks, trees crashing through my friend’s houses and long gas lines at 2 a.m. There was nothing romantic or bonding about Hurricane Sandy.
While Des and James are walking through Seaside Heights, they are introduced to Jan and Manny, a sweet couple who lost their home during the storm. Jan cries while she recalls spending their 38th anniversary in a Red Cross shelter. Dry those tears, Jan, because Des is about to rock your world with an offer you can’t refuse! Des tells Jan and Manny that they can take her and James’s date in Atlantic City, and she and James will hang in Seaside and eat pizza. It’s not going to help rebuild their house, but at least Des and James feel good about themselves. I’m sure Jan and Manny were bummed that they weren’t going to jump off the side of a yacht in Anguilla, but they make the best of dinner at the Revel. Hopefully, Jan and Manny will head to the fantasy suite, while in Seaside Heights, Ronnie and Sammie Sweetheart will go to the smush room.
While Jan and Manny eat dinner and thumb through their restored wedding album in Atlantic City, James is spilling his guts to Des about cheating on his girlfriend in college. Dude, it was 10 years ago; we don’t care. He promises he won’t do it again. That’s enough for Des, and Ronnie...I mean James, gets the rose. But not before Jan and Manny and Des and James are treated to a private concert by Darius Rucker (and just where are the Blowfish?)
This episode can’t end fast enough for me, but Michael G. doesn’t feel the same way. Michael, who is sporting a thumb injury from all the crocheting he did last week, wrote Des an acrostic poem. Des says “You are so funny,” which means, “you will be going home soon.” Michael gets a kiss and a false sense of confidence. I hope his thumb heals soon because Ben could use some mittens.
Bryden is having some doubts and tells the guys he might not accept a rose if he is offered one. The guys offer a lot of support and basically say, “See ya -- don’t let the Revel door hit you on the butt on the way out.”
Finally, the longest, most boring episode of "The Bachelorette" to date is over, and roses go to Chris, Brooks, Juan Pablo, Drew, Michael, Ben, Kasey, Bryden and Mikey T.
Zack is sent down the long Revel escalator of shame, squeezes out a few tears and goes home.
Next week: sausages and Germany. Or sausages in Germany. Or maybe both!
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