Nice guys, bad boys, and a parade of toxic masculinity: The Bachelorette Episode Two
The latest installment of The Bachelorette continues to showcase what one contestant calls a “parade of losers.” This episode seemed to carry out a kind of autopsy on American masculinity. What works on women? What doesn’t? Who stays? Who dies? The Superfan and the Hipster were cut loose. So was a third standard-issue white guy, distinguished only by his resemblance to the Singer-Songwriter who got to stay. Each of the departed seemed shell-shocked at the news, rather than blissed out at having just dodged several bullets.
The thrust of reality television lives in its editing.
The genre creates its story arc from the beats of melodrama. Classic Hollywood melodrama was famous for drawing attention to its artifice—to its performance. Think of Lana Turner crying or consider Lauren Bacall bracing for heartbreak. It was all about the glitz and glamour of a good fake. The Bachelorette is well-versed in such tropes, and the show revels in its pretend world, in the ways it imitates real life without ever really getting close.
What’s the Perfect First Date? How about a Fire Rescue?
Shortly before the first group date, the bachelors jolt at the sound of explosions and race to their mansion’s driveway. Though it is not Fury Road, the producers have lit a limousine on fire and the imagery works. We are in an apocalypse of sorts.
JoJo appears in fire gear wielding a shamelessly phallic water hose aimed at the engulfed limo. Next, she skedaddles with ten men to the set of Backdraft or Towering Inferno, take your pick. The men don Fireman outfits and endure a series of gauntlets (i.e. hose pulls and axe chops.) The prize is some extra time with JoJo.
The actual real life Fireman wins, adding an air of legitimacy to the proceedings. It was the only outcome that could have saved him from national embarrassment, not to mention years of ribbing from co-workers. He scoops JoJo up in his arms. “Just like a movie,” one of the men exclaims.
How Do You Get a Rose? Try Collapsing in Weakness
JoJo is particularly taken with Wells, a man who failed miserably at the fire competition. He performed like a regular guy. He collapsed under the weight of the fire gear, the pressure, and the searing heat. Someone had to call a medic. His breakdown gave JoJo a chance to sidle up and get to know him. Later, the much-coveted date rose went to Wells as a kind of amulet against the presumed failures of normalcy.
Again, the inscrutable JoJo goes against type. It’s as if she recognizes the statistical unlikelihood of needing a mate who can rescue her from a fire. She prefers someone she can talk to.
What happens when You Call a Woman “Naggy?” (Hint: She Likes You)
Despite the small victory for Wells and men of his ilk, the episode belongs to Chad. Chad is obsessed with “honesty.” As he defines it, it seems to mean rude, boorish, unfiltered and brash. For instance, he tells JoJo she’s “naggy.”
Chad’s persona marks a tripartite hybrid who is Trump-like narcissist, steroid gobbler and cave boy. Though Chad chains himself to his own luggage and then performs several chin-ups, his more impressive feat is convincing JoJ that he is a paragon of honesty. Chad claims the other men are “performers” and “actors,” while he is a “man.”
It’s an interesting set-up, seeing as Chad seems to be acting out all the stereotypes of toxic masculinity. He’s your basic bad boy—as if that were pure and unassailable. Yet JoJo falls for it.
Don’t forget, this is the same woman who went for the human-like qualities of the weakling Wells. Then she cried when the Singer-Songwriter (whose name is actually James Taylor) read her a clunky love note. Then she gave the date rose to James Taylor, instead of to Chad. In this desperate moment, the camera photographs Chad in a black, jagged shadow. A darkness matched by his shirt, and presumably, his heart.
Chad is, in fact, not mysterious, though he calls himself, “un-figure-out-able.” Does a bad boy have a complicated psychology? JoJo wonders why Chad is “over-compensating?” Indeed, he is obsessed with the other men, the “losers” and the “kids,” condemning one of them for being short. The editors have a great time with that remark, punctuating it with a visual of the Marine, reportedly 5’7″, situated in a gigantic trick chair so as to appear even smaller.
Chad is an advocate for such politics—the kind where might makes right. And The Bachelorette is the perfect outlet for such retrograde ideas, dealing as it does in the myth that romance requires battles. So far though, JoJo wants to resist stereotypes, longing as she does for men who are natural, or who, like Wells, probably can’t lift her.
What Happens if You’re a Nice Guy?
The history of marriage is one of a fiscal transaction. So it makes sense that The Bachelorette should deal in competitions and “power rankings.” At one point, a sports announcer refers to JoJo as “merchandise.” The men are likewise objectified, no one more than Chad, resident villain, known by the other dudes as an unparalleled “meathead,” “the highest level of d-bag,” and resident “superdouche.” Further, Chad uses the final cocktail party to down an “I.V. of meats.” We watch him feast on slices of roast beef as if supping at some tavern in King’s Landing, in an era before utensils. Someone even quips “winter is coming.”
Chad seems to think the elusive honesty that everyone seeks is found in simple things like protein shakes, wings, work-outs and other ways to remain invulnerable.
However, JoJo offers some small stab in the opposite direction. She seems to have a thing for nice guys. She’s attracted to Chad, but also to Wells’ frailty, James’ sheepishness, and Christian’s vulnerability. Christian doesn’t figure much into things until he pulls JoJo aside and yanks at his self-made rip-away suit. Soon he stands before her. All a-giggle, nude, but for a speedo. He’s no Magic Mike, but somehow, it works. The man gets a rose, a ticket to stay.
Source: 30dB.com – Chad and Bachelorette
Looks like the Chadster is a douche after all, at least according to social media. Ok, he’s not 100% negative but 80% negative the day after Episode 2 puts him in the company of some corrupt politicians and doping athletes. — Howard K. 30db
Photo: Getty Images
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