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The Bachelorette: Emily and the Package Deal 2 (or, technically, 3)

It always takes me an episode or two to remember why this show is ingenious:

The Bachelorette is a poem of gestures - facial expressions, physical proximity, symbolic language. It ritualizes the modern dating experience by codifying speech and actions.

The editing is sinuous...static interviews given in locationless, timeless voids inform our perceptions of the "real-time" clips of interaction. Eye contact conveys connection. Seating arrangements imply intimacy and attraction. Lip licking, eye rolling, fidgeting and preening are captured and repeated to create character profiles.

Most significantly, The Bachelorette is about emotional economics - I like you this much, you give me a kiss, let me go a little farther. Compared to discount bin bikini-calendar dreck like Temptation Island, this show is the Pride and Prejudice of the reality genre.

We join Emily and the suitors in Episode 3 (I'll be more timely next round)...(no I won't)

The field is predictable: the single dads (Doug, Tony), the cute guys (Chris, Ryan), the cool guy (Jef), and a dark horse (Kalon). There are a few exotic choices (Alejandro, Alessandro), and the guy who's overcome a health-related obstacle (Charlie).  There's a race car driver (Arie), which stirs up Emily's tragic past, but is still "pretty hot."

Tension among the suitors stems from two sources: Kalon's alienating of the rest of the field, and varying levels of sensitivity vis a vis forced fatherhood. Territoriality starts to weave into the suitors' narratives.

First date - "love is a slow climb" - is with Chris: He's "the luckiest man in the world," she thinks he's "really cute." The point of the date? Emily gets scared...can Chris comfort and command her?  Emily wants a man that will "stay by [her] side when the going gets tough." Of course Chris passes the test! Chris is polite enough not to seize his first opportunity at arm's length from the girl to kiss her...but at the end of the date, they kiss...lightly. She "could fall head over heels in love with Chris," he "can see [himself] falling in love with Emily." Sigh.

Group date - "let's play" - is at the park. The twist? The girlfriends get to meet the guys! Oooooh. Time to "grill'em!" The girlfriends look amused, the guys avoid direct eye contact. To add a little spice to the "interviews," girlfriend Wendy tries to take Sean home. And the double twist? The kids arrive! While the guys "walk the walk," the girlfriends deliver their verdicts: Sean, Doug or Ryan.
The party component gives Sean his first face time, impresses Emily with his family-first focus, and wins the rose. Doug shares his sob story...and Emily is moved to tears. Tony and Emily connect as his fatherly fortitude falters...but she sends him home in a pity move that solidifies "that Emily takes this really seriously."

Second single date - "love is a wild ride" is with Arie. And they're off to Dollywood - outside of Arie's "comfort zone." Surprise, surprise! Dolly arrives! Emily "could die!" And after a little ditty, Dolly pulls Emily aside for some "girl talk." Emily is told (again) that she "deserves" true love because of her tragic past.
(probably the most charming part of the episode -- in an aside -- is Emily's admiration for Dolly's asskicking independence)
At dinner, Emily toys a bit but gives up the rose, and says, "I know I think you might kind of like me" (is that a sentence?). And Arie thinks "this rose symbolizes the start of something great." She's so into him, in fact, she "doesn't want to screw it up."

In the rose ceremony party, Kalon gets his first face time, and Emily goes straight for the guts - can he handle the package deal? Kalon's response fails to impress. The egg guy gets crushed, but finally loses the schtick. Alessandro gets the same "are you father material" question...and fails miserably by calling little Ricki "a compromise," prompting Emily's anger and a premature exit. Arie comes in for some timely compassion...and the suitors are offended by his comforting kisses. Sean's back on the scene with exactly the right phrase at exactly the right time, and gets a kiss for his trouble. Before the roses are handed out, Emily is "confident that the man [she's] sposed to spend [her] life with is in the room." Awww.

In the rose ceremony, Emily lets Ryan & Kaylon sweat - leaving them til the 4th to last and 2nd to last roses, respectively. Predictably, she selects Nate over Stevie at the final rose -- Stevie was a sweetie, but Nate's so much cuter!

til next time

(last episode)

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