Provo's Most Eligible Episode 2: The Abomination of Desolation
I am pleased to announce that any fears we may have had during episode one of Provo’s Most Eligible that any of the men involved would demonstrate anything akin to human emotion were utterly misplaced. Is testosterone-driven post-adolescent angst an emotion? Because if so, I suppose I could be wrong here. Welcome back to my review of the country’s most unlikely pseudo-phenomenon, a show in which a baker’s dozen smooth-faced Mormon boys struggle with each other and against their own burgeoning adult sense of self-awareness (that must surely be screaming at them that this is the worst thing they could possibly have chosen to do with their lives) for the hands of three girls with whom their chances would normally vary from “stuttering in your general direction from across the cultural hall” to “hi, I’m the copy of the copy of the copy of the copy of the copy of an amalgam of database entries compiled by the FBI on upper middle class white male stereotypes and I would like to aggressively stroke your back with my fingertips.” Is that a range? Honestly, we are two episodes into this show and I can already feel my brain being rewired to a point where the universe doesn’t really make sense in the same way it used to, so you’re going to have to forgive any nonsense that appears on this page.
Let’s get something out of the way here really quick: this show is too long. There’s a reason that the class of cultural parasites that designed this show’s progenitors have honed most of them down to a cool 40 minutes plus constant commercial breaks for skin products and fiber-based laxatives. It’s a formula that works. Yes, the goats at goat yoga are cute, but they’re not twenty minutes cute. Next year (God forbid), let’s keep it snappy, some of us have jobs and families and are only watching this show because they made the mistake of committing to the results of a Twitter poll.
Episode Two starts with a visit to Center Street mainstay Taylor Maid’s costume shop as our contestants prepare for a sort of fashion show of the damned/fatally un-self-aware. We catch a glimpse of one of the last people to find out it’s 2019 and both incredibly dense and insensitive to dress up in stylized Native American garb, but fortunately it looks like the producers nixed that costume fairly quickly because we don’t see it again. Instead, we are treated to an altogether different kind of offensiveness as one-by-one our contestants gyrate their way across the Nu-Skin building courtyard bedecked in a variety of costumes so classic you can smell them through the screen. The impotent testosterone begins to flow immediately as several of the suitors take the opportunity to show far more male nipple than I personally would allow in a G-rated show, but the bachelorettes and guest judges seem suitably impressed. This ground-zero catwalk goes on for what feels like forever, ending eventually with Team Bee winning the contest and therefore group date with their bachelorette. Remember the words “impotent testosterone” because that’s going to be a motif.
The date begins with our contestants competing in a portrait contest that winds up being more of a window into the artists’ individual personalities than anything else. Naturally, then, all the portraits (with one notable exception) turn out looking remarkably similar in a vein that could best be described as “Koko the Gorilla”-esque. The rest of the date includes a paint fight, a game of paint twister that is filled with so much virginal sexual tension that it nearly burned a hole in the screen of my laptop, and best of all, the most uncomfortable sumo wrestling scene in reality TV history.
There’s something deeply cringe-inducing yet tragically beautiful about watching Team Bee’s collection of unironic employers of the term “Alpha Male” put on inflatable sumo suits and try to cover up their deeply insecure masculinity with a veneer of purposeful nonchalance. This is art, congratulations Provo’s Most Eligible, you have unwittingly created art. Walker, a MacGuyver look-alike in his incessantly flopping Gen Z mullet and a practiced smile that says “yes, I’m extremely handsome and no I definitely won’t cause you emotional trauma,” is clearly trying to live out some kind of lost high school wrestling dream.
You know the guys in intramural sports who clearly weren’t good enough to make the college team and so they took it out on all the people they felt they were too good to be playing against in the first place? Ninety-percent of contestants on this show give off that vibe so strongly it’s almost an aura radiating around their personnages. When Walker easily beats all comers but then tries and fails to oust the amiable but significantly less athletic Daniel, you can see the frat rage written across his face. When Keaton loses his bout and (fairly) claims he should have won you can hear the epic conflict between “haha I’m totally chill this doesn’t matter” and “BRO DO YOU EVEN LIFT” battling out in every sound wave of his voice. It’s compelling television.
Unfortunately, the next hour or so is not. Following the excruciatingly long goat-yoga scene (oh, yeah, I guess the group date had a winner but, you know, whatever), we are catapulted into an absolute miasma of torpid conversation as we go back to an “episode one”-style merry-go-round as the bachelors recommence pitching their half-baked woo to our gameful bachelorettes. The added drama, this time, is that we have a handful of contestants trying to switch teams, and I think they deserve credit for actually (for the first time in the show for most of them) doing something worth paying attention to. We also have a little bit of bachelor infighting when Some Blond Guy (look, I’m not learning all their names) reports to Bee that (gasp) Walker (I learned his name because he has an absolutely insufferable haircut) has committed the unthinkable crime of being...fake. To sum up what will forever be known in the annals of history as “The Walker Text Message Affair,” apparently Walker showed SBG text messages he had sent to other girls while admitting that he’d never had to work so hard to get a girl before (very normal conversation).
Bee, who for reasons that are absolutely, utterly incomprehensible to me, had previously designated Walker as her favorite and is of course heartbroken to find out that someone on a YouTube dating show may not have been completely transparent about his motives. Walker manages to talk his way out of it to Bee’s satisfaction, but the whole dramatic interlude does at least throw a little hot sauce into this whole “which bag of white flour will she pick?” cringe-fest. So good job, Walker, literally no one believed your defense except for Bee, but I guess that’s all that matters.
Fast-forwarding through the rest, the leg-stroker returns but mixes it up with some excruciatingly awkward back-caressing, there’s a debate between Walker and Fanny Pack Guy (I’m sure he has a name) over who stole whose only personality trait, a guy who really, really says “I brought you flowers because I know girls like flowers,” more attempted team switching, Keaton trying to figure out if he’s actually attracted to Bee or not, the constant droning of an absurdly fake Southern accent from Georgia MAGA Guy, and in a likely attempt to set a new record for BYU dating stereotypes, the ghost of Archie Andrews (comics, not Riverdale) playing a song on his ukulele to a 19 year-old girl trying desperately not to let the polite smile slide off of her face. I’m sure more things happened, but I can’t bring myself to watch it again to refresh my memory.
Finally (FINALLY) we get to the elimination round and a merciful release from this week’s episode. Perhaps the big surprise of the episode is the non-selection of Kwaku, who had tried to switch from Team Lauren to Team Ellie following his reveal that he and Lauren had a romantic history and he wanted to try something new. In the end, it was a whiffed attempt and we have now lost two out of three members of “Twitter Royalty” from the show (James the Mormon apparently did not speak to a single person during the introductory episode and that was that). A special note needs to be added for Ellie, who does bring a little spice to the show simply due to the fact that she appears to be utterly uninterested in a single one of the contestants, one of the few aspects of the show most of us can empathize with. That said, I have to believe that Ellie’s team selection is some kind of a troll act, given that she inexplicably chooses one of the show’s most odious characters (literally have no idea what his name is) to stay on for the next round. Ellie, I want to give you enough credit to think that this is your way of burning it all down, and for that I commend you.
Well, that’s all the blood I can squeeze from this stone for this week. The real tragedy here is that I’m not able to drink away the memory of the things I was forced (sort of) to sit through but instead had to relive them for your entertainment, a sort of reality TV kidney, breaking down all of PME’s toxins so you can pass them through your mind without them poisoning you. After a little recovery time, I’ll be back next week with an episode 3 recap. Until then, go to church, because only God can save us from what PME hath wrought.