The Bachelorette: Yes, They Really Had A Mr. America Pageant

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The Bachelorette Season 9 Episode 4 Mr. America PageantYou guys are welcome, because I watched The Bachelorette again last night so you wouldn't have to and yes, it is still getting worse with every episode! Thank you for asking!There are thirteen guys left now, and this week they left Los Angeles for Atlantic City in their first stop around the world. Because if you're only gonna be seeing the girl you're dating for three hours a week, you might as well be doing it in an exotic locale, no?

This week, Desiree Hartsock chose Brad for the one-on-one, a man the rest of the contestants all independently refer to as some variation on ‘the quietest guy in the house'.  They don't think he's coming back. Brad and Des go on rides on the boardwalk while Zak W. watches them from the floor-to-ceiling windows of their hotel room and pines over Des because he doesn't think Brad is right for her and blah blah blah. I happen to agree, though, because their date is suuuuper quiet. I think she's drawn in by the fact that he has a son and being a part of a family appeals to her, but bottom line he's not responsive, and it becomes glaringly obvious when they climb up to the top of a lighthouse after a silent dinner. She wants to give him the rose but she just can't do it because something was missing and she wants “a love that can light the darkness.” Oh boy, lighthouse love references. But even with that parting line, Brad is still crying. Dude, you barely know this girl. It must be time for your nap…slash, a reunion with your son. Bye bye!

The group date is eleven guys this week: Brooks, Bryden, Zack K., Kasey, Drew, Juan Pablo, Zak W., Mikey, Ben, Michael, and Chris. And just to prove that The Bachelorette has a scary amount in common with its parody show Burning Love, the guys are doing a Mr. America Pageant, swimsuit competition and all. First they introduce a ‘world-famous pageant coach' as if this group of straight guidos should know his name, and then everyone has to pick a talent from a big table full of supplies. Juan Pablo goes for the batons, which he's surprisingly good at, Michael tells us that he dreamed of becoming Mr. America as a kid, and Chris selects ‘walking in heels' as his talent. Yup. Then they get assigned swimsuits, which Mikey has a problem with because his covers too much. Again — yup.

Basically the highlights are Mikey stripping for his talent, Ben ribbon-dancing, Drew having a shockingly good body, and Brooks being hilarious! I actually like this guy! He breaks a ukulele onstage like a certified G. He wins second runner up, Zak W. wins first runner up, and Kasey wins the whole damn thing. And he is EXCITED ABOUT IT.

Now that the guys have all shown Des that they can laugh at themselves and each other, it's time to get surrious with some one-on-one action. Chris breaks out the poetry, which Desiree really likes because she writes it too! Of course you do. Initiate reward kiss. Place hands awkwardly. Robot love sequence. Back with the main clump, the rest of the guy really hate Ben, especially Bryden. But Ben totes doesn't care, okay guys? He's gonna have his one-on-one time right in front of the other boys because he's “not here to make friends.” Yeah he said it. As the date wraps up, Bryden hasn't gotten any alone time, and the group date rose goes to Zak W. What a lot of sadbro faces. Better luck next time, clowns.

James gets the second one-on-one date, after having a lovely romcom montage all to himself in which he eats fresh strawberries while luxuriating in a hot bath. “It's kinda nice to have the house to myself!” he says, unironically clad in a fluffy white bathrobe. On their date the next day, James and Des take a helicopter overlooking the Jersey shore and the devastation from Hurricane Sandy with a woman who works at the Red Cross. There are a ton of destroyed homes, and the camera keeps zooming in on Desiree's eyes in case she's crying. Spoiler alert: she's not. The two of them meet a couple whose house is completely destroyed, and they spontaneously decide to give their date to them because they missed their anniversary in all the fallout from the storm. That would be a really sweet gesture except for the fact that it was A. completely pre-planned B. they kept pretending it wasn't and C. they kept reminding themselves and the couple of their generosity at every turn.

This couple, Manny and Jan, actually seem very sweet, but Des and James keep popping into their date at every turn, watching them interact and patting each other on the back for being such good people. And then they bring in a photo album of Manny and Jan's lives together, because this was so completely casual and no one knew it was coming. Let's give everybody a medal for condescension. Except for Manny and Jan, because I like them. James opens up to Des about cheating on his girlfriend of FIVE AND A HALF YEARS in college, and she's so pleased that he confided in her and national television that she decides she trusts him and gives him the rose and a kissyface. Good lookin' out, Des. Because what's that phrase? “Once a cheater, never a cheater again because it's a one time thing and history never repeats itself…a cheater”? Yes, that sounds right.

Now let's go to the Cocktail Party, where we have a very limited amount of time to inject some drama into this episode, because nothing's been going down. Enter Bryden! He's confused because he hasn't had a one-on-one with Des since that first one, and there are all these other guys around! He thinks his feelings toward Des might have changed since he hasn't had any alone time with her, and he's not sure if he'd accept the rose if she offered it with the way things stand now. Gasp! Screech! Mon dieu! Meanwhile, Michael is making a grand gesture with pieces of paper with the letters of her name, to which she responds with encouraging cooing. This is going just great, so he swoops in to kiss Desiree's teeth. Way to read the signals, bud. In her one-on-one time with Chris, Des talks about her family and inexplicably gets more attracted to him even through his forced jokes about being in the friend zone, to which she responds, “Friends don't kiss!”…while kissing him. Delivery needs work. And finally Bryden takes his moment, sharing his concerns with Des so she'll ask him to stay, which she does, and so he can leave it up in the air, which he does.

Going into the Rose Ceremony, Zak W. and James are safe, and Des gives roses (in order) to Chris, Brooks, Juan Pablo, Drew, Michael, Ben, Kasey, Bryden (after a long, fraught hesitation that I doubt very much took place in real life, Bryden accepted the rose), and Mikey, who huskily responded with, “You make me sweat.” Aw thanks, man. That's so sweet. You make me sweat, too, that's why I called you last.

Going home this evening is Zack K., who really saw a future with Des but puts his head in his hands during his exit interview because he forgot to rustle up any tears. Maybe the air  will be more conducive to crying in Munich, which is where they're headed next week! Stay tuned! Or don't, if you have any kind of life or hobbies that you prefer to watching this deranged social experiment continue limping through its ninth season. It's really your call.

(Image: Wetpaint)