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No Country For Nice Boys

God help me, let’s do this I guess. Think of the limited amount of time we have on this earth and all the things we have to accomplish while we’re here. Think of the modern pressure to squeeze every last bit of fun and purpose out these fleeting seconds, to fill the empty spaces of our days with visceral experiences, to live, to laugh, to love. Now imagine filling fifteen of those God-given minutes with Charlie Brown-headed anthropomorphic slices of Wonder Bread doing karaoke that would shake the foundations of Pandemonium. Well, I don’t have to imagine it, I did it, and I can only guess it’s up there somewhere with “insulting the Holy Ghost’s mother” in terms of unforgivable sins. And now I’m going to write about it.

Let’s get down to brass tacks: we are down to one (1) sympathetic bachelorette at this point and it’s none other than Bee, the whirling, kaleidoscopic pinwheel of a person who has captured hearts across Utah County but who for some reason continues to be enamored with Boy Pyrite, Walker. It starts with the aforementioned karaoke scene, most of which is pretty run of the mill karaoke garbage with the disadvantage that none of the participants is visibly sloshed, which is really the most entertaining part about karaoke anyway. We do get to watch Ben put in an admirable performance of “Proud to Be An American,” which is to say it’s admirable until you realize it’s unironic; during his post-performance interview he literally uses the words “America First,” making him the second potential alt-right bachelor on the show, so I guess we’ve got that going for us.

The real drama, though, comes when Generic Blond Guy in Glasses, a member of Team Bee, and Lauren get together for a surprise rendition of “Love is an Open Door” (from Frozen) that ends with GBGG asking Lauren, “Can I be on your team?” and Lauren shouting “Yes!” while the entire room stares in confounded disbelief at what has to be the cutesiest betrayal in the annals of reality TV. Look, I get that they were probably thinking it would be harmlessly funny, that they had prepared Bee adequately, that it’s just a dumb YouTube dating show (correct), but in the end, all they did was make Bee cry. The problem, I suppose, in being the only emotionally-invested person in a show that is mostly a parody of real human emotion, is that you run the risk of being crushed by the people who simply don’t care as much as you do. Ironically, it’s maybe the first non-parodic scene in the show.

The karaoke scene did provide a rare moment of actually endearing interaction when Bee and Dan (the one Bee should but won’t choose) engaged in a rollicking Bohemian Rhapsody duet, but the majority of it was simply the same try-hard tripe that characterizes so much of what see from the show’s men. In what was very clearly a predetermined outcome, Team Ellie won the karaoke competition and therefore another one of these insipid group dates, this time at a chocolate shop. There, we had the opportunity to see that of the four remaining members of Team Ellie, there are three man-children whose antics would embarrass even the most sexually-frustrated, hormonal 14 year old boys, and one surprisingly nice guy with an astoundingly awful haircut named Mikey (the guy, not the haircut, although, frankly, the haircut deserves its own name, maybe something like “Brontley”).

The problem with Ben, who has so far presented himself as the second most odious character on the entire show after Scott the Old Timey Snake Oil Salesman, is that it’s really hard to tell if he’s ironic the entire time or not. According to reports from insiders, though, the things he says and does on the show that make you wonder if someone has written him a very carefully crafted script to make him as dislikeable and arrogant as possible are actually just his personality, which is absolutely flabbergasting. During the chocolate scene, he and the acutely vapid Josue engage in a little competition that results in chocolate being smeared on faces and Ben vigorously punching Josue’s chocolates into a pulp in an almost academic display of toxic masculinity. Having made a series of chocolates that he uses to obtusely insult his teammates, Ben wins the chocolate making competition, further cementing the idea that Ellie is either a brilliant troll or simply has taste in men that would make Anne Boleyn shake her head sympathetically. Regardless, the fruits of Ben’s victory are basically nothing, as Mikey is selected for the one-on-one date.

Which we’re going to skip entirely. It’s a cha-cha dance lesson, they dance, Fanny Pack, selected as Lauren’s one-on-one, is superhumanly insufferable with his Nike rings and a t-shirt that a Chechen crime baron would find gauche and his inexplicable home-brewed hand gestures. Walker continues to give the impression that he’s only trying to win Bee’s heart because he made a bet with the other rich preppy seniors that he could, only for her to be humiliated when she finds out and run to the arms of the boy who appreciated her all along for who she was (is that Keaton? I guess we’ll see).

We’re back to conversation hour now, and I’m genuinely struggling to recall if anything noteworthy was said. There’s an apology from Lauren to Bee for publicly humiliating her during which Bee looks like she might gouge Lauren’s eyes out with her thumbs but that ends, predictably, in a hug. Oh wait, now I remember! Keaton, the Basic Provo Bro, finally dives in for a kiss with Bee that feels significantly less awkward than any of the several kisses we’ve seen between her and Walker. At this point, it’s clear that Dan has been gently but firmly placed in the friend zone and at this point we should simply enjoy his signature combination of antics and inimitable fashion sense. It would absolutely blow my mind if we see him again after next week. Meanwhile, Bee seems to be marching inexorably forward toward Walker and it’s just hard to see Keaton Mrs. Robinson-ing his way successfully into that relationship, which I think is a shame because he’s proven to be one of the more genuine and affable characters on the show. Oh well.

There’s a plot twist there at the end when Ben reveals that he’s rekindled an old flame that he’d broken up with before the show and was leaving Team Ellie to be by her side. While everyone seemed a little surprised and confused, there didn’t seem to be a trace of real disappointment, and Ben left in a fashion similar to how he’d spent all of his time on the show: with brazen oafishness and crude machismo. Best of luck to him and his now, apparently, wife, God help her.

We arrive now to the final disappointment of the show, the moment we realize that we can sever any kind of emotional bonds with Lauren and her harem: the Rejection of Johnny, Boy Canada. Johnny was the guy Lauren had initially shown the most interest in, whom she had given a friendship bracelet during the very first episode of the show, who had reciprocated later on with one of the few meaningful gifts given to any of the girls, who had refrained from trying to kiss her against her wishes despite having wanted to, who had shown sensitivity and who had valued Lauren as a person rather than a conquest. And now he’s gone. Is there a lesson to be learned there? I’d guess anyone who has engaged in the Provo dating scene has already learned it. The other cast-off was Devin, who presented a similar, if less Canadian, vibe to Johnny, and instead Team Lauren consists of a trio of Plain Unsalted Oatmeal, Insufferable Fanny Pack Afficionado, and Generic Blond Guy in Glasses WHO MADE BEE CRY. Sorry, Lauren, in a show in which we can only muster up so much emotional investment, you have utterly lost our interest (we stopped caring about Team Ellie what feels like a very long time ago).

That’s it for this week, a drama filled ride on a Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup-themed rollercoaster. Unfortunately, there’s at least two more episodes which means I’ll likely be back with another review if another hour and a half of this show doesn’t utterly obliterate my will to live. Until then.

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