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WEEK ONE, EPISODE ONE:

What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? I have so many questions about our purpose on this earth, and I know I have a limited amount of time to figure it out. I worry about how I spend my days while I’m here. Should I be reading Proust? Or should I spend it watching a bunch of drunken morons fuck and fight in Mexico? This is my first Bachelor in Paradise, and I’m here for the right reasons: because they’re paying me to recap it.

“Hi, I’m Chris Harrison.”

Obviously now that Chris is divorced he is the ultimate wildcard to find love in paradise.

The show gives us an overwhelming series of interviews and reminders of the Bachelor(ette) losers who will be competing (?) for love in Mexico, starting with the perpetually on the verge of tears Ashley I. “You may remember me as the Kardashian wannabe,” she actually says. But, TWIST! Ashley I. has a slutty sister! They both call her the slutty sister, and Ashley I. stuffs her in a suitcase. Her name is Lauren. You won’t need to remember it for long, honestly.

Jared: my notes just say: “MY HEART HAS BEEN BROKEN, MY HEART, MY HEAAARRRTT.”

We then get to Ashley S., who was extended her invitation to join the show by THAT WILDCARD, CHRIS HARRISON because she is so wacky! By “wacky,” they mean she seems generally good natured and sweet and it sometimes takes her a minute to understand the overwhelming cynicism of the Bachelor world. “I went on this season of The Bachelor to find love and ended up finding a pomegranate.” At least it wasn’t herpes? There’s a whole sequence of her chasing scared-looking barnyard animals. “My dad always told me to try boys on like shoes.”

The nice thing about Ashley S. is all you really have to do is transcribe shit she says and hey! Comedy!

Tanner has dad bod and a cat. SCORE. Also he does drag??

Then we get to Jade, last seen being tossed out by Chris Soules, the Bachelor farmer, for posing in Playboy, because you just have to look like a Playboy model on this show, and god help you if you actually appear in its pages. She seemed genuine and Chris is a douche for dumping her. NOT COOL. Jade immediately activates my sad embarrassed cringe gene by asking, wistfully, “Maybe in three weeks I will be engaged?” Oh, boy.

Jillian is getting fake boobs to go with her big butt! Congrats, Jillian. She refers to the show as a “man buffet.” Okay, I like her.

Dan is from Desiree’s season. Thank god this show basically recaps its own previous seasons, because I don’t know who Desiree or Dan are at all.

Juelia makes her kid look at the pictures of the dudes coming to paradise and asks which ones the kid likes. Is this child abuse?

The next one, Disney Princess Tenley, says that the guy on her season picked Vienna, then Tenley dated a dude named Kipton for five years and then they broke up, and I’m confused about these white people and their names. Her ex — whose name is Kipton, just a reminder — is now expecting a baby with his new girlfriend.

Scientifically speaking, going on a reality show while on the rebound is totally the recipe for love and life success. She looks into the camera with that particular type of Xanax-induced semi-calm while basically saying her ex’s new girlfriend is having her baby.

Now we’re ready to find love in Paradise! The show must’ve gotten tired of those intro sequences because that’s not even why we’re here, y’all. Jade is the first to arrive. Why are we here, Jade?

“I’m just hoping I can stay away from the drama and find real love.” OH COME ON JADE.

At a certain point, Jared winds up being the only guy there with three of the women, and they look like they might eat him. Then the sisters get there! Chris pretends to be surprised about Lauren. Like, “OH WOW WHAT A CRAZY TWIST YOU EVEN FOOLED ME.” Face facts, Harrison, you’re not an actor, you’re a couples counselor for extremely difficult, vain, pathological weirdos. Bless you. The people who’ve arrived so far have great reactions to the sisters that range from “who?” to “why?”

Among the people who didn’t get intro sequences, there’s Mikey T.—the T stands for testosterone, notes Carly, who is also here because, although I don’t like her much, she gives good talking head patter. Jonathan has some great things to say about having sex with sisters, and virgins, and basically keeps it very classy, nice work, very good. Mikey T. basically drags Lauren into the ocean and Juelia is like “Oh, you can go into the ocean?” Yes, Juelia.

Kirk, a ginger, immediately hits it off with Carly I guess, but I’m more amused by his reaction to the bartender knowing his name, “Do they study photos…? I like that guy!” This is how I would react to a bartender in paradise who keeps the drinks coming and knows my name, so good job, Kirk.

Jillian shows up in a bathing suit with her new boobs, congrats. Carly makes stinkface and I remember they didn’t get along, so I’m excited for drama (spoiler alert, we don’t get any. It’s very hard for me). Carly calls all the guys “good options.”

AND THEN…JJ shows up. IN PINK PANTS. People are like “oh, hey, he’s a douche.” He is a douche! It’s fun that everyone mostly knows each other from TV.

And then the last person to arrive (“You mean today?” “Yes…not ever…” Harrison is smiling so big) is ASHLEY S. My notes just say yay. She immediately whispers reverently “Is that a cage?” and takes off to look at the parrots directly behind Harrison, telling him she has some, except then she says she doesn’t. She is magical.

Now that everyone is here, Harrison shows up to explain THE RULES. Dudes hand out roses to THE LAYDEEZ this week, and then next week the laydeez will hand out the roses. Harrison explains that if one sister gets a rose, they both get to stay. Tenley feels this is unfair, because shut up, Tenley.

Now it’s time for the surprise wedding, which is 100% total bullshit, and smarter people than me have articulated why. Everyone’s afraid of a surprise rose ceremony which is why everyone is shocked, SHOCKED it’s a wedding because no one expects a Spanish inquisition or a Bachelor wedding, but Tenley figures it out because good job, Tenley, I guess.

Lacy and Marcus are getting married! Much like Ashley I., however, is a virgin, I am a virgin to the Bachelor in Paradise portion of the franchise, so I don’t know who anyone is. Lacey and Marcus seem very pretty and tanned. Lacy’s dress is fighting the good fight to hold in her assets. The wedding is pretty generic, as befits a totally fake TV wedding.

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Of course, they have handwritten vows and I check instagram a bit while they read them because ugh. Lacy reads her “handwritten” vows like a robot, and the whole thing is officiated by Chris Harrison. Ashley I. cries. We keep cutting to an older lady who I assume is Lacy’s mom. She blinks and grimaces a lot.

Once it’s all over: “Was that a fake wedding?” you might be asking yourself. WITHOUT A DOUBT, MY FRIENDS.

Anyway, this is all meant to be a reminder to the Paradisians that they are here for LOVE, the MOST IMPORTANT THING, and not to get drunk and fight, even though they are being fed booze and pitted against each other. Juelia catches the bouquet, because traditions are meaningless. Bachelor in Paradise is openly mocking these desperate drunken messes of human beings, and yet also indulging in the “for the right reasons” yadda yadda rhetoric that is such bullshit but you can’t look away. It’s a patented combination of sincerity and lies, and yet I still tuned in.

ANYWAY, YOUR JOURNEY BEGINS HERE, says Universal Life Minister Chris Harrison.

It’s the first night, and EVERY GUY LIKES JADE. Good! Kirk naively says that it’s “fun guys and fun girls, so we’re going to have a good time, there’s no question!”

Cut to Lauren crying.

Mikey T. tries to figure out what’s wrong with her but you can’t really solve a problem like the sisters. Lauren says she is over everyone on Bachelor in Paradise, and for some reason Ashley I. is judging her for being dramatic and crying a lot which seems like a classic case of the pot and the kettle appearing on a reality show together. Lauren is upset that Juelia and Tenley are “like, old.” Lauren had my heart earlier for referring to “wrong reasons people” with air quotes, but NOW SHE HAS LOST MY LOVE. So Lauren is going to bed in her bikini, like you do.

Mostly unfazed, Ashley I. goes on about how much she likes Jared, and in every monologue she makes about how much she likes him she keeps referencing his looks, and I’m kind of worried she wants to make a skin suit out of him. Bolstering my theory, she is suddenly sitting next to him, staring at him awkwardly, not saying anything.

THE NEXT DAY…Ashley I. gets a date card. JJ doesn’t like Ashley I., but he wants the date. Ashley I. has to “get dirty with” a man, so she consults Lauren, which is worse than useless, because her advice is “pretend to be someone else.” Ashley I. starts crying while talking to the camera, of course.

Ashley S. bonds with a bird that tries to kiss her. She is rescued by Dan, who also likes birds. Meanwhile, Jared and Ashley I. discuss Kaitlyn and sorry, I don’t care.

How is this episode still happening??

There’s another date card, and it goes to Jade! Jade wants to pick Jared but picks Tanner since Jared was just on a date. Lauren tells Ashley I. her “lower half is slackin’,” which, just, would be the point where I would punch her, sister or no. Anyway, Jade and Tanner are cute. Tanner is EVEN OK with her SUPER SLUTTY PLAYBOY PAST, YOU GUYS! The show makes sure to let us know this is deeply magnanimous of him. Meanwhile, Ashley S. is getting taken away in an ambulance, and Dan goes with her! Meanwhile Tanner and Jade make out and get in a river in the dark. I would personally not go into a river in the dark. That’s just me. Maybe I am not open to paradise? Maybe I am not open to LOVE?

One episode down and I’m starting to worry that it’s going to give me an aneurysm. The trademark combo of naïve optimism for love despite the contrived circumstances, while also clinging to overt insane hookup sexuality AND double standards for female sexuality is a lot of whiplash and I might die.

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