Love Lessons from ‘The Bachelorette’: You Can’t Fake Passion, But You Can Fake Tears

Fiji Time! Not only is Fiji my favorite kind of bottled water, it’s my favorite location on The Bachelorette so far, because it means we’re down to three guys, which means this season is almost over. Ashley gives the obligatory Fiji Tourism Voiceover Ad at the beginning of the episode, followed by the inevitable recap of the whole season. You know, these episodes would only be 20 minutes long if you took out all the parts where they recap a) previous episodes and b) current episodes.

If you love someone, you get the producers to pay for you to stalk her.

Ashley is hanging out in her little cabin in the sky. We see a guy in flip-flops (hey, I think those are Rainbows!) start walking up to the house. The editing is spooky and mysterious and rainy! We don’t see the guy’s face, but he seems to have blond hair. Well, Constantine and Beneff are brunet and JP is bald, so … it’s Ryan. Remember, the annoying dude who made squintyface and tried to squeeze out tears when Ashley sent him home? The one who tried to talk about water heaters on their date? He’s back, and he’s auditioning for The Bachelor. Ryan voiceovers that he and Ashley had a connection and that he will regret it forever if he doesn’t see her one more time and browbeat her about whether she felt anything for him. Uh, I think sending you home kind of indicated she didn’t like you, Ryan, but you’re doing a great job reading your monologue off the TelePromTer. Ashley squeals loudly when she sees Ryan and starts talking like she’s on Clarissa Explains It All. She’s nice and tells Ryan it’s great to see him, but her body language says otherwise. Ryan’s talking a mile a minute, yet he hasn’t said a single “um” or “like,” which only adds to the feeling that he’s reading off a script. He says he called Chris Harrison, which is possible but the idea of Chris’ phone blowing up all the time with calls from erstwhile booted Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants trying to get more camera time sounds like he needs some major overtime pay. After he makes his speech and I stare at Ashley’s giant earrings, he says she should think about her response. “The book’s not closed” is evidently the new “dot dot dot.”

Ashley admits that she thought about Ryan after he left, but that she’s trying to focus on the present right now. Speaking of the right now, she has a date with Beneff.

Making out with a dentist is healthy for you.

Ashley and Beneff are going on a boat. (Cue I’M ON A BOAT! song, which this show would never be self-aware enough to use.) They’re drinking something out of giant pineapples. They then rehash the hometown date again. Do the producers of this show think we all have that Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates amnesia thing and don’t remember any of the previous episodes? Beneff says that his mom and sister gave off good vibes and liked how happy and open Beneff was after the hometown date. Then some other stuff happens but I don’t notice because Beneff is shirtless. Ashley voiceovers that she feels like she has known Beneff forever and she can be herself around him. Cue the making out and Ashley straddling Beneff on a boat. My friend watches this show with her mom, and it’s super awkward when the sexytimes start. Ashley looks in Beneff’s mouth and makes like the second reference of the entire season to her dental career, and I briefly remember when Ashley was just a nice girl on The Bachelor who was a normal, well-adjusted dental student.

Snorkeling! Ashley’s description of the underwater sights sounds like a “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” essay that I had to write one year in elementary school. Ben voiceovers that the day was “hysterically perfect” and that he’s “beaming.” Beneff is so freaking adorable. That night they sit down on a dinner on the beach, and Beneff pulls out Ashley’s chair for her. Beneff voiceovers that tonight he is going to tell Ashley that he loves her, and it’s nervewracking but he’s looking forward to it. In a little speech to Ashley, he tells her the day was perfect and gave him “a sense of clarity.” Beneff asks Ashley how she’s feeling, and she says they have a lot of great things between them and that she loves being with him and spending time with him. “I feel committed to you at this point,” he says. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” He adds that two months ago when the “journey” (sigh) started he was closed off, but now he feels open and his feelings are growing and he’s “on the way to the whole ‘I love you’ thing.” I think Ashley’s crying. Wait, what the fuck was that Ryan segment about? I keep forgetting that that actually happened.

Ashley hands Beneff a card, which is the invitation to the Fantasy Suite. If you’ve seen this show before, you know how it works, but if you haven’t let me break it down for you: the Fantasy Suite is a hotel room, and they’re supposed to fuck in it, but they’re not supposed to talk about fucking or even about “making love,” and the whole thing is weird camera angles and lighting and omigodtheirparentsarewatchingthis and it just makes me really uncomfortable to watch what might be somebody’s foreplay. Mercifully, they cut to commercial.

Houses and people are not the same thing.

Constantine’s date is next. He sees that they’re getting on a helicopter and totally dorks out. Ashley keeps using the word “comfortable” and she’s clearly one of those girls who thinks “Midnight Train to Georgia” is romantic and not depressing. She and Constantine are cute in the helicopter, and the editing is supposed to make us think that they’re piloting it themselves or something because the theme of the show is OMGCOUPLE, not OMGCOUPLEPLUSPILOT. They both keep talking about the water and how beautiful it is. He says “Can you imagine how beautiful that is?” and I want to say “She saw how beautiful it was on her date with Beneff, sucker.”

Constantine dorks out so much that I start wondering if he’s being paid a fee every time he uses the word “awesome.” It’s nice to see him so relaxed, compared to Beneff who always reads as a little tentative to me. I guess some people are just more comfortable being on camera than others. [Side note: Ryan has apparently been chilling on Fiji for a couple of days while he waits for Ashley to get back to him about that whole declaration of like thing. He's walking along the beach trying to look pensive. Cut to Ashley having a blast with Constantine and not giving a shit about Ryan and his attempt to get picked for The Bachelor.] Now back on the ground, Constantine and Ashley encounter a waterfall and “decide” “spontaneously” to jump. Constantine is wearing boat shoes, which I find hilarious for some reason. Ashley says she’s still trying to figure stuff out and asks Constantine how he felt about the hometown date. Seriously, the amount of exposition on this show is paralyzing. Ashley says that Constantine’s parents told her that he looked at 108 houses before he bought one, and she thinks that is symbolic of his approach to dating. “Houses are houses and people are people,” he says hilariously. I guess he never saw that movie Life as a House. Ashley says that Constantine puts time and effort into his life, and she admires that, but the format of the show doesn’t give people a ton of time to sit and labor over decisions. Ashley voiceovers that she has a hard time reading Constantine and figuring out what he’s thinking.

They go for dinner on the beach and drink some wine – they both comment that it’s very grapefruity. Constantine says that he has been learning about wine from Beneff, and a million slashfics were born. Ashley asks how Constantine feels about the fact that his friend is also dating the same girl as him, and Constantine diplomatically says that he wants his friends to be happy and that if Ashley and Beneff were really in love with each other he would step aside and not get in their way. Ashley uses this as an excuse to launch into a tangent about how Constantine gives her mixed signals and she has trouble figuring out what he’s thinking. Constantine admits that he’s kind of uncomfortable with the format of the show and with not having enough time to think about the decision, but I kind of think he’s breaking up with her. “This fancy suite – I know what it means and what it implies,” he says, and he says that he doesn’t want to show disrespect for Ashley by accepting the Fantasy Suite offer and not being 100 percent sincere about her. Ashley says that she appreciates his honesty and that “I guess this is goodbye.” HARSH. The scene ends with Ashley, alone, holding the Fantasy Suite invite card.

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    • Eileen

      I don’t watch this show (or basically any reality tv, so that’s kind of a standing starter with me), but I love that you made a reference to “Midnight Train to Georgia” and the fact that it’s depressing. My mom and my old roommate swear it’s romantic and that I would understand if I were in love, but I have my doubts.

    • Bree

      I agree. JP should win so that Beneff can call me ;)