Confession: I have a dark history with the international embarrassment known as American reality TV. And I’m owning it. Leaning in, so to speak. So for those who followed years ago, Being Catty, my Bachelor/Bachelorette blog, is back from its long nap. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about…Guys: The Bachelorette starts this week. Stick with me, here.
By way of explanation to international readers, Americans have an unusually high percentage of the population that just wants to be on TV. Entertainment businesspeople capitalize on that population by casting them in shows that the rest of us gleefully watch. It’s a win-win-win.
- Producers get a cast willing to work for free.
- People who want to be on TV get to be on TV.
- People who love to watch and talk about other people (the class to which I belong) get a free pass to ditch all those good manners Mom taught you and gleefully watch and talk about other people.
The reality shows I’m focused on here are what I call social science shows, which is my way of elevating the genre. You give people an interpersonal goal and put them in front of a camera. Enter The Bachelor, the original romance experiment, where twenty-odd women vie for the affection of one man, getting whittled down in heartbreak week by week until just one remains. Its spinoff, The Bachelorette, with the scenario reversed, is my hands-down favorite. Testosterone and tears. There’s nothing better.
If you aren’t already, you should watch the show. You’ll hate yourself. But you can’t look away. It’ll let you be part of the cultural conversation, and men, I’m talking to you, too. This is no longer just a women’s show. It’s a party show, with crowds getting together to watch on Monday nights and people using it as a conversation starter the rest of the week.
On opening night this week we get to meet THIRTY-ONE men, each of whom have always been the best-looking guy in any room and will claim to have had a hard time finding a lasting relationship. Those problems may have to do with a certain level of narcissism, but it’s the narcissism that allows them to conclude that the logical solution to their problem is to compete with thirty other pieces of man-candy for one fabulous woman, rather than just let your sister set you up. So bring on the narcissists!
Note: “claim to have had a hard time.” A sizeable number really just want to be on TV, a despicable category of person who will be accused of not being there “for the right reason.” And in the presence of so many testosterone supplements, protein shakes, and other alpha males, confusion will reign over whether one’s desire to move forward is based on genuine romantic connection or is just, well, to beat the other dudes. Our heroine must find and eliminate these unsuitable characters, but not too soon. We need them to entertain us first.
So, let’s do her a favor. And I’ll do you a favor, as well, in case you don’t have a chance to watch the show this week and meet the full panel. Thirty-one men introduced themselves tonight to Rachel, this season’s Bachelorette, and I’ll introduce them to you here. And to the baggage they’re proclaiming publicly in their bios. Ladies and gentlemen, your red flag roundup:
This is Rachel. She’s a 32-year-old lawyer, with a terrific sense of humor (a vastly undervalued resource in Bachelorettes). According to the bio, “Winning in court has never been a problem, but finding love is a case that unfortunately remains open.” She’ll be better than the bio. I’m VERY enthusiastic about this casting decision. And now, her many candidate boyfriends, who are fortunately listed in alphabetical order so I can screen-capture a block of them at once.
Adam identifies his most embarrassing moment as when he told his mom he was going to be on the Bachelorette, which signals reasonable connection to reality. Of course, then he went on to say the most “romantic” present he ever received was a threesome, so…RED FLAG
Alex is an “information systems supervisor,” which could mean he’s the guy who answers the phone in tech support, not the one who comes to fix your computer. He identifies his three worst attributes as “selfish, unemotional, unapologetic,” and worse, his favorite “artist” is The Rock. Ouch. Maybe not a full red flag, but…perhaps not Rachel’s caliber. YELLOW FLAG
Anthony is an education software manager. I like that. He’s also one inch taller than the last two (he’s 6’3”). I’m VERY pumped that he went to Indonesia to teach English on a spur-of-the-moment basis. He also got a Fulbright grant to teach in Ivory Coast. I may have just fallen in love with Anthony myself. However, he does describe himself as “the laid back one that turns into the party starter as the night goes on,” which just gets more and more puzzling the longer you think about it. I’ll let it go. GREEN FLAG for sure. And going onto my checkered flag list.
Blake E. is an “aspiring drummer.” Need I go further? RED FLAG. But this is too good not to! He identifies his three worst attributes as “sensitivity, procrastination, and patience.” Stop. Think…and…oh, forget it. Also, the movie he would like to see right now is “the new 50 Shades of Gray movie because I love taboo sexy stuff.” Yup, that’s what he said, right there. “Taboo sexy stuff.” You know, like a grownup.
Blake K. will just be known as “the better Blake.” He is a U.S. Marine veteran, loves his mother, misses his deceased father, has no tattoos…just a nice GREEN FLAG kinda guy.
Brady, my chosen captain of the High Hair Club, is a model. He lists moving to Milan for two months as the “most outrageous thing” he’s ever done. I assume he did it for a gig. I’m not impressed. Plus the hair. RED FLAG.
Bryan is a chiropractor with a math problem. Asked to identify his THREE best qualities he says, “Affectionate/passionate, personable/charming/funny, kind/good heart.” YELLOW FLAG (Note: Bryan got the first impression rose, i.e., “target on his back,” for “connecting” with Rachel like no one else. This does not change my flag assignment.)
Bryce is a firefighter who thinks quite highly of himself. He says he’s a “laid back shot of gasoline when the fire starts to die.” That the most outrageous thing he’s ever done is a “High speed pursuit on a motorcycle. Saved someone’s life. Outrageous is relative.” Guhk. What’s that in my throat? No, wait, there’s more. Says he could see himself being Matthew McConaughey. Says he’s looking for a “smile that insults the sun” in the woman of his dreams. He would like to be a professional Instagrammer. I may need to borrow extra RED FLAGs to wave enough around this guy. Stay away. Seriously.
Dean is a “startup recruiter,” which is worrisome. He recruits startups? He recruits innocent, desperate people to go to work for risky startups? However, he misses his dead mother, which is always a guaranteed pass for a few weeks. YELLOWISH-GREEN FLAG.
DeMario is an executive recruiter. He’s just…fine. Trying hard to be a Fun Guy on paper. GREEN FLAG
Diggy is “trying to recover from all day drinking” as he writes, and says the most outrageous thing he’s ever done is go to Cancun on spring break and participate in a sexual positions contest. He’s thirty-freaking-one years old. Stop. RED FLAG.
Eric is a personal trainer and is nice. Middle of the pack. GREEN FLAG.
Fred is not actually anybody’s dad. Don’t be fooled by the picture. He has two graduate degrees, and he a little bit won me over when he said he’d be Ellen DeGeneres if he could be anybody, because she loves what she does and makes people’s days brighter. Win. GREEN FLAG, waved enthusiastically.
Grant is an emergency medicine physician, which shows a respectable level of adulting. I’m a bit concerned, however, by the level of self-aware manipulativeness revealed in, “I like being the center of attention while appearing to maintain a humble outlook on it. This allows for others to envy and respect you more.” YELLOW FLAG.
Iggy (this is a different person from Diggy) is a consulting firm CEO. This could also mean unemployed. However, Friday Night Lights is one of his favorite movies and I’m going to give him a GREEN FLAG just for that.
Jack Stone is a lawyer. He skydived in the Alps. He admires his mom. Given that he is the only Jack in the pool, I’m not sure why he has to go by “Jack Stone,” unless you always have to say the whole thing, and he would very much like you to also say, “international man of mystery.” RED FLAG.
Jamey, when asked where he wants to be in 5 years, says he doesn’t want to make plans for his life. His ideal mate should look like a model. He also says he wants to spend a day with someone “less fortunate than me, so I can…(wait for it–help them? learn something?, no…) appreciate my life more.” Jamey, be sure to tell that person your intention: “Hi. You seem poor and not well fed. I want to spend a day with you so I can feel better about myself? K?” I like the look of him and hate to say it, but FLAMING RED FLAGS.
Jedidiah with the chipper smile is an ER physician. He has a wolf tattoo. We’re done. RED FLAG.
Jonathan’s profession is listed as “tickle monster.” The crew is having fun with him. However, he is otherwise unremarkable, so I guess they had to come up with something. YELLOW FLAG.
Josiah is a prosecuting attorney. There will be some bonding over legal shop-talk. Sounds like he has an awesome father and he knows it, so I’m giving him a GREEN FLAG without reading any further. (In his opening segment on the show, the producers did the unspeakably awful job of leading with the suicide of his brother, and posed him UNDER THE TREE from which he cut his brother down. Please, please, don’t touch on this tragedy for any more entertainment. There’s a line. You’re over it.)
Kenny is a professional wrestler. Huh. The most romantic present he’s ever given is Edible Arrangements. But I like the look of him, so I’ll elevate to YELLOW FLAG.
Kyle is a marketing contestant. He eats gluten-mostly-free though he doesn’t know what it is or what it means. These people make me crazy. RED FLAG.
Lee is a singer-songwriter. I think I want him gone because he’ll sing cringe-worthy songs. I’ll just RED FLAG him for that. However, he says his mother grew up in the Depression, so I kinda want a hometown date just to see the superhuman woman born in the 1920s who gave birth in 1987. Revised: GREEN FLAG. But…that hair. Okay, YELLOW FLAG.
Lucas has “Whaboom” in the occupation line. He has an ant farm. HAS. As in, now. His ideal mate looks like a Disney cartoon princess. RED FLAG.
Matt is a construction sales rep. And a keeper. Loves his parents, volunteers to coach basketball, hates Tinder. GREEN FLAG, with CHECKERED FLAG within reach.
Michael is a former pro basketball player, who played in Europe. Defines himself as the laid back one, who doesn’t need to be the center of attention. If it’s true, he’s the first of his kind on the show. I’m hopeful. GREEN FLAG.
Milton is a hotel recreation supervisor, and is the first contestant I’ve ever seen admit that what he wants to get out of the show is “Discovered. Everyone tells me I’m made for TV/movies. I would like to break into writing or acting.” Because those are basically the same. EYEROLL. RED FLAG.
Mohit says he’s going to dress up as gluten for Halloween, which would frighten Kyle if he knew what gluten was and delights me to no end. He acknowledges that when you marry the person, you marry the family. I’m not holding out a lot of hope for Mohit, but I like him. Go for it, Rachel. GREEN FLAG.
Peter is a business owner. He’s nice. No screaming problems. No screaming greatness. He’s fine. GREEN FLAG.
Rob is a law student. Life partner as professional mentor = bad idea. But I really like his bio, and he seems to have a great Zen mentality that would keep it from being a problem. I’m going for it. GREEN FLAG.
Will is a sales manager. He wants teleportation as his superpower because he loves to travel but hates the waiting. He is my spirit animal. GREEN FLAG.
Spoiler: Leaving tonight, best I could figure as I was watching on antenna-based TV WITHOUT being able to back up and confirm: Mohit, Rob, Michael, Milton, Kyle, Jedidiah, Grant, Bryan, and Blake K (“better Blake”). I reserve the right to edit this list if it turns out to be wrong. I cannot, however, redeem Rachel from some of the obvious mistakes/producer picks she made.