On ''The Bachelorette,'' Jen survives an existential crisis while half the guys eliminate themselves through a series of freakish outbursts

By Michael Slezak
Updated January 17, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Matt M: Bob D'Amico/ABC

”The Bachelorette”: Half the guys dump themselves

Okay, so I just logged off eBay, and I am shocked — shocked, I tell ya! — to report that I was unable to find an auction for a New York Knicks ticket stub autographed by The Bachelorette‘s Jen Schefft and sealed with her pink-lipsticked kiss. This disturbs me more than I can say.

You see, the fact that New York City firefighter Matt isn’t selling off the sole memento of his one and only date with Jen leads me to some sad conclusions: Matt might have meant what he said when he pleaded for Jen’s John Hancock and told her their first date (which was, mind you, shared by six other men) had been a ”huge experience” for him. And even worse, I am now led to believe that Stu isn’t the only contestant on this season of The Bachelorette whose bedroom is wallpapered with photos of the perky blonde.

My heart broke (a little for Matt but mostly for our heroine) when Jen looked him straight in the eye and asked, ”Do you view me as a celebrity?” Sure, she’s been on the cover of Redbook, but what Jen really wants is a husband, not a fan-club president. Honestly, if these are the best guys available to woo the Talented Miss Schefft, then maybe it’s time to steal an HBO series’ title and rename this program Deadwood. Certainly, that would be an accurate term to describe the seven men Jen pruned from her future-husband tree during this week’s utterly suspense-free rose ceremony.

Indeed, by the time Jen arrived at the pre-elimination cocktail bash, a number of suitors (led by Matt, natch) were clearly marked for elimination: admitted ”mama’s boy” Jason; A.W., who in an inspired moment told Jen that people think he looks like her ex-fiancé, Andrew Firestone; and Stalker Stu, who declared he was ”absolutely and completely in love” with Jen — before their first date! Plus, you knew Ryan from New York (a.k.a., Token Black Guy) was not long for this show either when Jen spent all of, oh, nine seconds talking with the Ivy League-educated attorney.

That left two open spots for pink slips, and sadly, big lug Michael, the affable teacher from Michigan, signed his own when he started babbling to Jen about how much he enjoys ”spooning” his dog every night. You could see the light leave Jen’s eyes as she took in the image of massive Michael throwing his leg up over a reclining Great Dane (we pray he doesn’t have a teacup poodle), and with that, one of this season’s early favorites went kaput.

Among the remaining nine contenders, Mark seemingly wanted his walking papers the way the smart kid in your third grade class wanted to answer that question involving long-division. ”Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me!” he seemed to say, as he inexplicably gave Jen a rare guardian-angel necklace exactly like the one he put in the coffin of . . . his dead mother. Jen delivered the most understated line in recent TV history when she declared that such an early show of intensity made her ”feel uncomfortable.” Me too, sister. Me too.

But not to worry. Tonight’s rejects all walk away with identical parting gifts: years of humiliation trying to live down their embarrassing televised dating gaffes among friends, family, co-workers and future paramours. And of course, as Matt pointed out, he’ll ”always have that ticket with those lip marks.” I sure hope it keeps him warm at night!

Not surprisingly, the whole experience of being The Bachelorette began to send Jen into something of an existential crisis — a rarity in the world of reality television. ”Where am I? How did I get here?” she asked aloud, and I felt her pain as I looked into an empty box of Tagalongs and wondered how the box had gone from half-full to empty in the course of an hour. (Damn you, Girl Scouts!)

But seriously, as Jen took a long, hard look at herself and realized that she needed to stop playing a character and start being herself, her suitors distinguished themselves by drinking in the street, taunting tired New Yorkers who were trying to get some sleep, and bickering like teenage girls. I literally had to plug my ears when helmet-haired virgin Josh started whining, ”I heard from Jason that Fabrice said . . .” Please! I’m rooting for Josh’s early departure, simply so I never again have to hear him spout lines like ”You cannot even begin to understand the depths of me!”

Watching these tools in action, I began to hope that maybe this will be the first season of The Bachelorette in which our heroine chooses being alone over being with some bland, secretly angry lout like Keith (”I will chew him up like a piece of garbage!”) or handsome-but-icky Jerry, who seems to have come on this show for the one thing he’s dreamed of all his life: getting his 15 minutes.

Yes, you may say I’m a dreamer. In a world where we’re supposed to grin and bear it when all four of the proudly single Sex and the City gals end up with men in the show’s final episode, it’s an awful lot to ask Jen not to take (another) chance on love.

And so, jaded as I may be, I’m going to dare quiet contender Wendell to shake me from my feminist daydream. Wendell, whose smile is as big as he is tall. Wendell, who for the second straight week managed to generate some genuine physical and intellectual heat with our Bachelorette. Wendell, who just needs to learn to open his mouth when he’s speaking. I’m counting on you to do right by Jen, buddy, and maybe give The Bachelorette a happy ending that doesn’t ring false.

What do you think? Which reject was the biggest loser? Who is your favorite to win? And should Jen just say no thanks to all of them?

The Bachelorette: Jen

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