The dirt

Predatory bachelorettes, animal assassins
By JAMES PARKER  |  April 10, 2007

MUFFIN HUMOR: Andy confides, “There are definitely women in here who I could see being with for the rest of my life.”

ABC’s The Bachelor has long been one of the dirtiest shows on TV, a softcore brothel spritzed with the air-freshener pieties of courtly love. The 10th season kicked off last week with The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman (Mondays at 9:30 pm), and the grotesque dialectic of the thing appears to have been cranked to a new extreme: the bachelor in question has become a god, and the women fighting for his ring appear more seethingly desperate than ever. Lieutenant Andy Baldwin — Navy doctor, Iron Man tri-athlete, humanitarian, “raised in the heartland of America,” his life a long swoon of masculine perfection — is a caring person. He cares very deeply. “I have so much to give,” he says. “I have a huge heart.” Groomed and prepped by Chris Harrison, the weasel-faced procurer who hosts the show, Andy stands outside his mansion in goofy innocent male glory as the ladies roll up in their limos. On a table next to him is his “first-impression rose,” which he will present to the girl with whom he feels the strongest “connection.” “Trust your gut and go with it,” Chris advises. Out of the evening they stalk toward him with crooked smiles and glistening shoulders. “I’m from Chicago. Have you ever been there?” says one. “I’m from Dallas. Have you ever been there?” says another. A third essays a joke. Two muffins in the oven. One of them says, “It’s hot in here!” “Holy smoke! A talking muffin!” says the other. “Are we those muffins?” asks Andy slyly.

Once they all get inside the mansion, it’s time for some tried-and-true reality engineering, i.e., trap ’em in a hot room and ply them with booze till somebody cracks. The ladies work on Andy with George Costanza–like gambits: “My parents got divorced . . . ”; “My boyfriend in college sadly passed away . . . ”; “Today is my birthday.” Andy grins and confides in Chris: “There are definitely women in here who I could see being with for the rest of my life.” Somebody sings him the national anthem; somebody else engages him in a push-up contest. One girl does backflips. Another girl falls over, drunk. “Here’s to love, right?” says Andy, raising his glass. We are drawn to Lindsay, who is loudly describing one of her rivals as “kind of heinous, actually.” Five minutes later, when Lindsay herself gets cut at the “rose ceremony,” she storms out and does one of those classic falling-to-bits remote scenes, standing barefoot and shoddily lit in the garden, blaspheming into a single avid camera. Tears, rage; her high heels are dangling from her hand like a brace of dead exotic birds. Unbleeped, her monologue runs like this: “I don’t give a fuck. I think this whole thing’s fucking fucked. Truth be told, he’s short and his head is big, and his teeth look fake.”

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