The Bachelorette will slowly rot your brain.
I know because I almost started this recap with the line "And then there were two." I have only an early cup of coffee and a conveniently timed clap of thunder to thank for the sudden clarity that invaded the reality television-induced cliché-fog and allowed me to yank back my hands before the thing came shooting out of my fingers.
This is what happens when you spend nine weeks in a caricature romance. When you spend a concentrated two hours every week wallowing in this stuff, it leaves residue. As I pour another cup of coffee, for instance, I hear orchestral music coming from the cluttered basement of my mind. A soft voice speaks: "This cup used to be empty, but now it's full. It's like love." See? Look in horror at what Emily's search for true love hath wrought.
Last night, we joined Emily and her dwindling male harem in Curacao, where she has apparently been wandering the beaches, pondering her future and seeing which name would look best drawn in the sand next to hers.
Much of the beginning of the episode was spent recalling how Emily got here with each of the three remaining men: Sean, Jef and Arie (who bears a striking resemblance to this artist's rendering of the protagonist from Fifty Shades of Grey, brought to my attention by a SouthComm colleague who can reveal his or her identity if he or she wishes to do so.) Once we got caught up on each relationship — kissing, laughing, "we're taking a helicopter!", kissing, now we're in love — Emily went on dates with all three.
At this point in the show, all the dates pretty much look the same. Beautiful people on beautiful beaches beautifully saying certain things to one another, all before one of them finds out that things aren't so certain. There was, at least, one notable thing about this week's dates. Emily, citing her role as a mother and a role model, decided not to stay the night with any of the guys in the "Fantasy Suite." If you're new, the Fantasy Suite is a luxurious suite offered to contestants at this point of every season, so that they may dispense with the televised foreplay and spend the night together, away from the cameras. I cringe even typing the words Fantasy Suite. It's a term that should never be used to describe anything, except for my home when I'm making a joke met with deserved silence.
Normally, the Bachelorette (or Bachelor, as the case may be) happily accepts the opportunity to (we presume) sleep with three people in three nights, as a way to decide which one to send home. Meritocracy for the win, am I right? But Emily deserves some credit, I suppose, for drawing a line somewhere in this debauched saga. Sean accepted the offer — he just wanted to stay up all night and talk — but was gently shown out by Emily after some hot tub necking. Jef, winning points for making the "right choice" before he found out there was only one choice, told Emily he wouldn't feel right about an overnight stay, because Emily's daughter Ricki would see the episode one day. Arie was not even given the option of going back to the suite at all. He's too hot, Emily reasoned, and the temptation would have been too great. Indeed.
Eventually, Sean was left standing without a rose, leaving Jef and Arie as the final two. Emily felt bad about this and, obviously, so did Sean. I did not feel bad for either of them. My sympathy for contestants on television dating shows is about the same as the sympathy I feel for people who get attacked by their pet chimpanzees. At a certain point, if you didn't see this coming, you're inviting it. If you or I set about dating 15 people at one time, we'd have a few bad days. If you invite a wild monkey into your home and try to make it wear a hat, it might rip off one of your limbs. If Emily were to get attacked by a chimpanzee while filming The Bachelorette, however, she would have my deepest sympathies.