“The Bachelor” is the Worst and Best Show On Television

“The Bachelor” is the Worst and Best Show On Television (photo)

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Love is about sacrifice. Marriage teaches me that every Monday night, when I have to sacrifice my desire to watch football so that my wife can indulge her love of crap television to watch “The Bachelor.” As a result, I’ve seen a lot of “The Bachelor” myself over the last couple of years. God help me, I’ve even come to enjoy it.

That’s because “The Bachelor” is more than just a television show. It is the television show, the show that exemplifies all that is terrible and wonderful about our celebrity-obsessed culture. It purports to be a reality show twist on the old “Dating Game,” but it has absolutely no connection to reality whatsoever. It’s really a “fantasy show,” a television drama starring people loosely playing themselves in romantic fantasy about long walks in the mountains and candlelit dinners on the beach and one dude trying to sleep with ten women all at once.

That this story of socially acceptable polygamy is sold to viewers as a long-form story of fairy tale love is just one of the many of contradictions at “The Bachelor”‘s core. Really, the show is all contradictions, the best and worst show on television all at once, and all the things that make it a crime against humanity are the same things that make it essential viewing. Here are just a few of those things:

It Is Basically Impossible to Fall in Love on “The Bachelor”

Fourteen previous seasons of “The Bachelor” have produced the same amount of “winning” married couples as “Rock of Love.”

In other words, none.

True, Bachelor Jason Mesnick married one of the rejects from his season, but only after dumping the woman he had actually proposed to on national television during the most hilariously uncomfortable reunion show in reality history. So that’s one successful relationship in nine years. If any dating service produced results that bad, they would be out of business.

That makes “The Bachelor” terrible because the entire show is predicated upon the notion that two people who meet on a TV show can fall madly in love, but the show itself has proven time and time again that that is almost impossible. “The Bachelor”‘s marriage batting average makes Mario Mendoza look like Ted Williams. At this point, anyone who becomes a contestant on “The Bachelor” is either a)doing it to become famous or b)absolutely crazy.

But that also makes it amazing because these crazy women seem so genuinely smitten with this guy. They go on one date with him — at the same time as ten other women, mind you — and are lucky to kiss him once. But when he sends them packing, they walk away sobbing, their emotions shattered into a million pieces. Nobody likes to get dumped, especially not on camera, but they’ve talked to this dude for maybe a sum total of three and a half hours! General rule of thumb: if I’ve had bus trips longer than your relationship, you can’t be that upset when it ends.

The Bachelor Himself Is A Dud

This season’s “elligible’ bachelor is Brad Womack. He is the first two-time bachelor in series history. Back on season 11, Womack decided not to propose to either of the finalists because he wasn’t in love with either of them. Seems sensible to me, but on “The Bachelor,” not picking one of the finalists is the worst thing you can ever do. On “The Bachelor,” you’re better off murdering a dolphin with your bare hands than dumping both of the finalists.

Don’t believe me? In this season’s premiere Womack claims he’s villified wherever he goes for leaving his first go-around single. If you ask me, Womack’s the most sensible bachelor “The Bachelor”‘s ever had. He didn’t fall in love so he didn’t cheapen the already debased concept of marriage by going through with a sham proposal he would have bailed on six weeks after the season finale. But according to “Bachelor” viewers, Womack’s refusal to participate in this charade made him one of the worst men who ever lived. Hitler. Stalin. Womack.

But just because I think Womack was smart doesn’t mean he’s a great catch. Here’s what we know about his private life based on this season’s premiere: he was abandoned by his father, has trust issues, suffers from panic attacks. He spends his free time watching himself on television, eating cereal alone, jogging alone, and staring out his window thoughtfully alone. He doesn’t appear to have any friends, and he doesn’t have much of a personality. He doesn’t appear to have a job, either. He’s a former bartender whose listed profession on “The Bachelor”‘s Wikipedia page is “Returning Bachelor.” All this guy has going for him is a good body and an extremely comfortable looking couch. Would you go on a dating show, risk humiliation and heartbreak, leave your family and friends, potentially lose your job, all for a shot at that package? It doesn’t matter, because the show found thirty women who would.

That makes “The Bachelor” terrible because you stare at the television in disbelief and wonder what these women see in this guy. I mean if “The Bachelor” was set in some post-apocalyptic wasteland, and Brad Womack was the last fertile man alive in the Forbidden Zone, I could understand the attraction. But right now, this looks like an awful lot of fuss over a six pack and a leather sectional.

But that also makes it amazing because you get to watch these women lose their minds over Brad Womack. Seriously, the show’s only been on for four weeks, and these women are getting so competitive for this schmendrick’s attention that one girl, Michelle, has already expressed her desire to kidnap her fellow contestants. We’re getting dangerously — and excitingly — close to a prison-style shanking at the weekly rose ceremony. Which brings us to my next complaint/highlight…

All the Women On This Show Are Absolutely Crazy

I love women. I think they are special and beautiful creatures. There are times watching “The Bachelor” when I wonder if the creators of this show disagree. They seem to have designed this program to showcase women at the very worst: at their most jealous, their cruelest, their most competitive, their most needy. It’s not really their fault. The Bachelor” puts them into the world’s most glamorous jail. There’s no television or phones or Internet. All they have is their desire for Brad Womack and their desire to keep him from everyone else. When Brad’s not around, when he’s out on a date with someone or he’s eating cereal alone with his shirt off, they have nothing to do but sit around that “Bachelor” mansion and talk about him and each other.

Even worse, an astounding number seem to be carrying huge emotional scars from their past relationships with men. They’ve all been either abused or left or divorced or widowed. And now they’re trying to heal their wounds on “The Bachelor.” So you know that’s not going to end well.

That makes “The Bachelor” terrible because these women deserve better than to have their pain exploited for crass television and laughed at by assholes like me.

But that also makes it amazing because, on a socialogical level, it is absolutely fascinating to see just how quickly the rules of polite society vanish when you put 20 women in a house, take away all forms of entertainment and communication, and tell them to all fall in love with the same man at once. Also, it’s really funny.

It Absolutely Tortures The Contestants

The structure of any given episode of “The Bachelor” is as follows: the remaining female contestants sit around a large and extraordinarily well-lit mansion waiting for a communiqué from Brad Womack. He goes on a one-on-one date and decides whether he’d like to keep that woman around, then a group date with most of the rest of the girls and decides which of that group he’d like to keep around, then a second one-on-one date with another bachelorette he has to decide to keep or dump. At the end of the episode he has to hand out roses to the rest of the women he wants to stay. Anyone who doesn’t have a rose at that point has to hit the bricks.

The show doesn’t ever explain how Womack picks the women for the one-on-one dates. But I’m beginning to suspect that Womack has nothing to do with it all all, and that it’s actually the producers who pick which companion he takes where. Because without fail, every date the Bachelor has is the worst possible date he could have imagined for that woman. So either Womack is the most insensitive and unluckiest man on the planet or the producers are intentionally picking the contestants most likely to hate each date they’ve planned.

For example, last week on the show Womack went walking on the ocean floor with Chantal (who hates deep water) then later went rappelling down the side of a skyscraper with Michelle (who hates heights). You might have heard about next week’s notorious group date where Womack takes a NASCAR driver’s widow named Emily to a NASCAR track. Sounds bad, but it couldn’t be any worse than date Brad and Emily’s first date, when Womack flew Emily in a private plane not unlike the one that her husband died in so he could wisk her away to a “romantic” picnic at a winery.

That makes “The Bachelor” terrible because in any other situation, in any other context, that would be Brad and Emily’s first and last date. But “The Bachelor” loves to portray these nightmare rendezvous as important personal milestones. They’re conquering their fears as they’re falling in love!

But that also makes it amazing because you get to watch these poor women freak out and sweat, and cry, and shatter that veneer of fake charm that they wear at all times on the show because they know they’re on camera and don’t want to look bad in front of a couple million people. And even though I know I shouldn’t, I really enjoy that. And if you’re watching “The Bachelor” and you’re being honest, you do too.

You can watch every episode of this season of “The Bachelor” on Hulu.

That 70s Show Superfriends

That '70s Spoofs

8 Movie and TV Parodies From That ’70s Show

Catch That '70s Show Mondays & Tuesdays from 6-11P on IFC.

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That ’70s Show never missed the chance to make a mockery of major movies and TV shows from the Me Decade. Before you dive into IFC’s Thanksgiving Day Sweatsgiving That ’70s Show marathon, check out some of the show’s best spoofs of Star Wars, the Superfriends and more.

8. Star Wars

Star Wars That 70s Show

The 1977 release of Star Wars affects the That ’70s gang as much as it affects the rest of society: totally and awesomely. The season one episode “A New Hope” sends the gang to a galaxy far, far away (well, the cinema), leading Eric to star in his own Force-powered dream with everything from Red Kenobi to a R2-D2 vacuum.

7. Batman

Batman That 70s Show

When a drunken Jackie makes Fez‘s dreams come true by hitting on him, he faces a superheroic internal struggle starring himself as a tiny Batman and Riddler. Of course, Fez-man hasn’t always been so heroic.

Fez That 70s Show

6. The Super Friends

Superfriends That 70s Show

Kelso gets to be Batman in an entire ’70s gang of Super-pals in a super-powered fantasy. Though their battle against Red Luthor — who, let’s be honest, would triumph over the REAL Super Friends — is weakened when all Wonder Twins Hyde and Jackie want to do is make out.

5. Shaft

Isaac Hayes, who wrote and performed the original and incomparable theme for the ’70s flick Shaft, provides a significantly less tough “Theme for Fez” in the episode “Spread Your Wings.”

4. The Continental

Big Rhonda That 70s Show

When Fez tries to get to third base with Big Rhonda in the basement, the camera switches to second-person as she watches him making his attempts in the style of Renzo Casena in the TV series The Continental. (The 1950s series was also famously parodied by Christopher Walken on SNL.)

3. Psycho and other Hitchcock classics

Psycho That 70s Show

Halloween episodes are always a good excuse for costumes and parodies. “Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die”  memorably parodied Hitchcock classics like Rear Window, The Birds and, of course, Psycho‘s iconic shower scene.

2. Annie Hall

Eric and Donna took on the roles of Alvy Singer and Annie Hall in a spoof of a memorable scene from the classic Woody Allen and Diane Keaton comedy.

1. I Love Lucy

In a fun take on the Lucille Ball sitcom classic, Fez’s fantasies veer all the way to monochrome, creating an alternate world where he has a relationship and Red might even talk to him for two sentences without calling him a dumbass.

Stephen Merchant Everett 1920

Cringe Humor

10 Moments That Prove Stephen Merchant Is a Master of Cringe Comedy

Stephen Merchant brings the awkward to Comedy Bang! Bang!.

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They say that behind every squat, successful British writer-producer is a lanky, six-foot-seven bespectacled co-creator. All right, maybe no one said that ever, but it certainly applies to the duo responsible for some of the most awkward moments in television history. Masters of cringe comedy Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant produced The Office, Extras and Life’s Too Short — along with many other moments that caused viewers to avert their eyes and squirm in their seats. Even when flying solo in shows like Hello Ladies, Merchant can provide just as many unbearably uncomfortable moments as an incompetent talent agent, an inelegant pick-up artist or just a bloke sharing a story about being turned down by a nightclub doorman.

To get you ready for Stephen’s appearance on tonight’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, here are some of his funniest cringeworthy moments.

1. Performing Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty,” Lip Sync Battle

When you have to sway a crowd and you’re built like a flailing-arm inflatable balloon man, you gotta play to your strengths. So when tasked to perform Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty” on Lip Sync Battle, Merchant proudly bared his midriff, upper thighs and soul in a cutoff T-shirt and flared leather chaps. While we applaud his self-confidence, we don’t have the inner strength to be caught dead doing that.

2. Discussing his first Golden Globe win, The Graham Norton Show

It’s hard to imagine a time when The Office was something of an underdog, but the original UK version was just a plucky upstart when it won its first Golden Globe. Unfortunately for the then-unknown Gervais and Merchant, their long, awkward walk to the stage was punctuated by the announcer mispronouncing their names and Stephen’s head getting cut off for the front page photo.

3. The Oggmonster, The Office

Although Gervais’ David Brent was the poster boy for The Office, Merchant only appeared twice in the original series as Gareth’s gangly pal Nathan, AKA The Oggmonster. Even more ungainly and off-putting than the Assistant to the Regional Manager, Oggy is pushed to tears by David Brent’s relentless joshing about his appearance. We feel for ya, Oggy.

4. Nudie pen, Extras

In this very NSFW clip from Extras, Merchant plays the highly incompetent agent Darren who, between failing to get acting work for Gervais’ Andy, is caught in flagrante in the company of a novelty nudie pen. Inappropriate, unprofessional and utterly humiliating given the focal point, his moment of self-gratification is somewhat vindicated when assistant Barry is caught doing the same thing.

5. Trip to Rio, The Ricky Gervais Show

Debuting as a radio program in 2001, The Ricky Gervais Show was among the first wildly successful podcasts and spawned countless comedy audio programs in the years since. Co-host and whipping boy Karl Pilkington was the breakout star, but Merchant supplied a heapin’ helpin’ of embarrassment with cringeworthy anecdotes, including this story of his trip to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

6. Hopeless nightclub pick-up artist, Hello Ladies

Without Gervais on the roster, Merchant shined as hopeless romantic Stuart Pritchard in HBO’s Hello Ladies. Showcasing his true-to-life awkwardness around women, the sadly short-lived series upped the cringe-ante that he and Gervais injected into The Office — and this torturous nightclub scene is perfect proof.

7. Eager wedding guest, Hello Ladies

As we all know, weddings are a meet-cute hotbed, but it definitely requires optimal positioning. Unfortunately for the viewer’s nerve, Stuart is keenly aware of this. Persistent past the point of rejection, he monopolizes the line to congratulate the newlyweds and wedges himself into a table with single women. Eagerness has never been so unsettling.

8. Denying Warwick Davis a loan, Life’s Too Short

Having to turn down a friend in need is so unbearable, most of us will compromise our comfort with favors just to avoid it. Not surprisingly, Gervais and Merchant — playing heightened versions of themselves — don’t have an issue with sidestepping support for diminutive actor Warwick Davis when he asks the successful team for a loan.

9. Behind-the-scenes dance party, Extras

Yes, it’s Stephen dancing for the second time on this list. But honestly, it’s never not cringeworthy.

10. Nightclub zinger, Conan

Single life is unanimously the worst, but it can be easily mitigated through fortune and stardom. And while Stephen Merchant is a household name among comedy geeks, his notoriety has yet to hit the radar of certain LA nightclub doormen. Appearing on Conan, Merchant shares a story of trying to get into a nightclub but being thwarted by the bouncer at the door with a devastating putdown.

Whats Eating Gilbert Grape

Depp Gets Real

10 Times Johnny Depp Was Great Without Makeup

Catch IFC's Nightmare on Elm Street movie marathon Friday, November 20th starting at 6P ET/PT.

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Photo credit: Everett Digital

Ever since Johnny Depp reached teen idol status as a pretty boy cop on the late ’80s TV show 21 Jump Street, he’s made a career of seeking out film roles that he could disappear into. In most of his career-defining films — like Edward Scissorhands, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the Pirates of Caribbean series — Depp has proven to be one quirky chameleon. For his fans that may have forgotten what he actually looks and sounds like, here are 10 times Johnny Depp was great without makeup.

10. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Depp was one of the sleep-deprived teens in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, and his character isn’t remembered for rocking a half shirt or being sufficiently freaked out by Freddy. Depp, who played the boyfriend to Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy, is remembered for being killed in glorious, horror film fashion. As Freddy’s glove springs through his bed, Depp awakens to get sucked in before blood shoots out at the ceiling like a geyser. Depp played a part in one of the greatest moments from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, except for once the other guy in the scene was buried underneath makeup.

9. Platoon

In another pre-21 Jump Street role before he became a household name, a young Depp was cast as “Gator” Lerner, one of the members of the platoon in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War classic. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him role, which Stone cut down to be even smaller, Depp proved he could blend into an ensemble. It was one of the few times a Johnny Depp performance could be described as “subtle.”

8. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

After wowing audiences by believably portraying an outsider with scissors for hands and a knack for landscaping in Edward Scissorhands, Depp began a string of acclaimed dramatic roles in the early ’90s. Unlike quirkfests like Benny & Joon and Don Juan DeMarco, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape allowed Depp to play a relatable, not-so-out-of-the-ordinary twentysomething meandering through everyday life. In a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio received the lion’s share of the acclaim for his quirky portrayal of the always dirty, mentally challenged Arnie Grape, Depp gave a noteworthy, understated performance in the titular role that sets the tone for this highly likeable film.

7. Donnie Brasco

In this acclaimed crime thriller, Johnny Depp had his own undercover cop Serpico role that pitted him against the legendary Al Pacino in some highly charged dramatic moments. Depp’s character is based on the real life Joe Pistone, an undercover FBI agent who infiltrates the Mob. If you’re going to be playing someone who learns the ropes of the gangster life, you can’t do better than Pacino, and the duo have genuine chemistry. Depp’s Donnie Brasco battles his own conscience and allegiances as he loses himself in the Mafia world.

6. Chocolat

As Jason Segel’s character in I Love You Man said, it’s hard to argue that the cinematic bon bon Chocolat is “just delightful.” There’s a sweet (pun intended) tone to this adult fairytale of a film, and both Depp and Juliette Binoche play off each other well. Their flirty scenes fit the sweetness that Binoche’s chocolate shop begins to bring to the repressed French town she arrives in with her daughter. In Chocolat, Depp puts on the European charm as a suave traveler who falls for the effortlessly beautiful Binoche and for once he doesn’t chew scenery like so much delicious chocolate, er, “chocolat.”

5. Secret Window

In Secret Window, which is based on a Stephen King novella, all Johnny Depp plays a disturbed writer holed up in a remote cabin. Like Misery, Secret Window has the brand of psychological thrills that we’ve come to expect from King. Depp’s Mort Rainey is accosted by a stranger, played by John Turturro, who claims he stole his manuscript. It is Turturro who plays it creepy with the over-the-top accent, but by the end of this thriller the audience is taken on a ride into Depp’s own madness. Secret Window is classic King, and proof that Depp is due for a return to psychological horror.

4. Dead Man

Depp gives an understated performance in Jim Jarmusch’s moody Western where for once he’s the one reacting to the quirky characters. (It’s hard to be the “head quirk” in a film boasting cameos from Crispin Glover, Iggy Pop and Billy Bob Thornton.) An underrated film in Depp’s canon, and a good showcase for his deadpan comedic timing.

3. Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the final movie in the Robert Rodriguez-directed El Mariachi trilogy, and it lives up to the over-the-top action, gunfire and general baddassery of its predecessors. Johnny Depp’s CIA agent character Sheldon Sands steals every scene he’s in, creating one of his funniest and most likeably devious performances. You can’t take your eyes off of Depp, as his character becomes more entertaining after losing his.

2. Ed Wood

Even Depp’s most hardcore detractors have to admit that he gave one his funniest and richest performances as Z-movie director Ed Wood. In one of his least mannered and overtly “quirky” collaborations with director Tim Burton, Depp puts his stamp on a real person without creating an over-the-top caricature. His scenes with Martin Landau, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of horror icon Bela Lugosi, are some of the best work Depp has done in his long career.

1. Finding Neverland

After his comically on-point role in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Depp brilliantly took on as opposite a part as he could the following year, portraying famed Scottish author and playwright J.M. Barrie in this acclaimed drama. If you’re looking for the definitive great Depp performance where he’s not relying on make-up or a cartoonish wig to help bring his character to life, you’ve found it. (Even his Scottish accent is understated here.) Depp seamlessly embodies the Peter Pan creator with childlike imagination, as he forms a bond with Kate Winslet’s Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her four sons. The chemistry between Depp and Freddie Highmore, as the real life Peter, is so heartwarming, even Captain’s Hook and Sparrow would get emotional in the scene where the two sit on a bench as Barrie comforts the boy after the loss of his mother.

That 70s Show James Franco

That '70s Franco

Watch James Franco’s Geriatric That ’70s Show Spoof

Catch That '70s Show Mondays & Tuesdays 6-11P on IFC.

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Ever wonder if Jackie, Kelso, Fez, Donna, Hyde, and Eric ever made it out of Red‘s basement? According to James Franco, those dumbasses definitely did not.

In a new episode of AOL’s “Making a Scene with James Franco,” the actor peered into the future of the gang from That ’70s Show to see what they’d be up to if the show actually continued into their 70s. Turns out they’re still sitting around the basement, sharing a joint, and listening to some of the Steve Miller Band’s greatest hits.

In the sketch, aptly called “That 70s ’70s Show,” Franco plays both a stoned, elderly Kelso as well as a nostril-hair heavy Eric Forman. The only member of the crew who has made it out of the basement is Donna, who has sadly passed away into a higher plane of existence (yes, it’s possible for them to get higher) leaving Eric to mourn the loss of his one true love.

For more That ’70s Show, find out who almost played Red Forman and more fun facts.

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