Unpopular Opinion: I Hate Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’s Sex Education Segment

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This is the hottest take of all hot takes because I literally just watched the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver sex education segment and loved it and then got REALLY ANGRY in the final few minutes. I haven’t seen any of the glowing coverage of the segment address this point, so I’m doing that angry writing thing. Bear with me. Continue reading

Bachelorella: The Bachelorette’s Nightmare Non-monogamy

Nick and Kaitlyn traumatize passersby. Source: All on TV.

Nick and Kaitlyn traumatize passersby. Source: All on TV.

I took a break from Bachelorella recaps because much of this season has been composed of cringe-inducing group dates and unnecessary confrontations. But I needed to come back this week because, in case you hadn’t heard, Kaitlyn got laid on national television. Reactions to Kaitlyn gettin’ some swung in two directions: the online media rolled its eyes and said WELL DUH, SHE IS THIRTY YEARS OLD, WHY IS THIS A SCANDAL, while viewers on Twitter called Kaitlyn a whorish, vapid tramp. And then the media machine embedded those tweets, and then more articles happened, and the producers were rewarded with the controversy they so perfectly manufactured. Keep it classy, America.

So. Why is it so scandalous for the Bachelorette to bone one of her dudes? After all, people have sex all the time; it’s a normal part of a relationship. If Kaitlyn is going to marry one of these men, she better give them a sexy test drive. She was going to sleep with at most three of them in a few weeks in the fantasy suite anyway. Why all the pearl clutching and Twitter freak-outs? What is the big deal?

The answer, my dear friends, is that The Bachelorette is a nightmare version of non-monogamy where everybody loses. The relationships fostered in this jet-setting disaster of a dating show are caught up in the story the producers want to tell, the values America wants it to uphold, and the audience’s hunger for blood. Emotional carnage, all for the purpose of great television. How far we as a society have come. Continue reading

Bachelorella: The Literal Battle of the Bros

Ben Z. gives me feelings.

Ben Z. gives me feelings.

I love bros. This isn’t exactly a secret; my twitter handle is @brosandprose, after all. Why do I love bros? I love their confidence, and their nerve, and their arms. I really love their arms. I also love their near constant negotiation with gender, because if being a bro is about anything, it’s about masculinity. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a “men must be REAL MEN” type of girl. But I’m fascinated by how bros articulate, understand, and struggle with the expectations they’ve grown up with and continue to be judged by.

Self-aware social justice bros are Ella kryptonite. Yes, they’re real, I promise.

Anyway. Tonight’s episode of The Bachelorette was all about bros. During the first hour of the show, the men competed in a boxing tournament against each other to win Kaitlyn’s heart, and a big, fancy belt. Yes, you read that correctly. The men physically fought each other. Be still my heart. Was it insane? Yes. Was it hard to watch? A little bit, yes. One guy, Jared, was basically given a concussion, but still felt well enough to get Kaitlyn’s lip gloss smeared all across his face. I was aroused by it and also uncomfortable.

If you need evidence that men need feminism too, look no further than Jared wheezing, “It was worth every punch that I took… my head may hurt but my heart has never felt better.” Continue reading

I went to the Outlander premiere, where everyone laughed at domestic violence

This is the face of someone who does not know why she is at the Outlander premiere.

This is the face of someone who does not know why she is at the Outlander premiere.

I’m sitting in the beautiful Ziegfeld Theater in midtown Manhattan, watching a woman be beaten with a belt. The audience around me is laughing, clapping, and whistling. My plus one winces as he watches the scene through his fingers. I listen to the delighted howls echoing through the theater and wonder if I am missing something. Is this supposed to be funny? Is this supposed to be sexy? Am I being a feminist buzzkill? Did I miss a memo?

I really need to talk about the Outlander premiere.

For those of you not in the know, Outlander is a time-travel romp of beautiful costumes and sexual tension on Starz. Claire Randall, a no-nonsense WWII nurse, gets sucked back in time to the 1700s Scottish Highlands, and her assertive “modern woman” personality doesn’t exactly mesh with the kilt-wearing rogues she is sort of held captive by. She winds up marrying Jamie, a sensitive fugitive from the English troops, and they have a lot of steamy sex but she’s conflicted about it. Outlander is beloved and popular because of its extremely heavy use of the female gaze, despite Claire being nearly raped every other episode. It’s the sort of show I watch with skepticism while scrolling through Tumblr on my iPhone: feminist enough to entertain but not perfect and not spectacularly written.

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Bachelorella Finale Recap: Why having two Bachelorettes is BULLSHIT

From The Bachelorette Twitter:

This pixelated as hell image from @TheBachelorette, with the caption: “It’s a #TheBachelorette first! Who will the guys choose: #TeamBritt or #TeamKaitlyn?”

I’m going to try to recap the actual finale of The Bachelor before I descend into my rage spiral about the decision to have two Bachelorettes. Thankfully I wrote half of my recap during “After The Final Rose” before the big announcement, back when I had faith in society and was not shuddering with rage.

So The Bachelor ended without much drama, all things considered. Chris chose Whitney, she of the baby voice and refreshing maturity. Whitney could say what Becca couldn’t: that she was in love with Chris beyond any doubt, and she wanted to move to Iowa. While Becca admitted with far too much intelligence for this reality show that she just wasn’t where she was supposed to be in the process, stuck in the weird pre-love limbo that comes from only dating someone for two months, Whitney was like let’s do this, bro.

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Bachelorella Recap Week 9: Lady-on-lady crime

Ashley I. brought the facial expressions this week.

Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by Ashley I’s eyebrows.

Last night was the penultimate episode of The Bachelor: the Women Tell All, also known as “let’s put the rejects in a room with Chris and a studio audience and see what happens.” Traditionally there is a lot of crying, demands of closure, and some awkward confrontations. Host Chris Harrison yucks it up with the ladies and nods sympathetically as they snivel about their lost chance at love. And then: tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion of the most dramatic season of The Bachelor yet!

But this season’s Women Tell All was….. Jesus Christ, what a shit show. Continue reading

Bachelorella Recap Week 7: Deal breakers (Iowa vs. Playboy)

Chris and Jade watch a football game because that's the only thing to do in Iowa.

Chris and Jade watch a football game because that’s the only thing to do in Iowa.

The Bachelor franchise graced us with five hours of television this week, thanks to back-to-back episodes on Sunday and Monday nights. This is far too much Bachelor for me to process. In a nutshell: Britt continued to be super fake, Carly ratted her out to Chris, and when provoked Britt self-destructed in an “I need to be your first priority if we’re dating” hissy fit that would have been appropriate in real life but definitely was not on this television show—let alone in front of two of Chris’s other girlfriends. And then there was this whole other weirdness with Becca and her never having loved anyone before and how she’s not into physical intimacy, which would be interesting if it were about asexuality but isn’t because, again, this is The Bachelor. And then Kaitlyn made Chris rap. It was uncomfortable.

But. BUT. Two things worth talking about went down in this crazy marathon of rose-giving and back-stabbing. It turns out Chris and Jade both have dirty little secrets: Iowa sucks, and Jade revealed her “nude modeling” past, aka posing for Playboy. Continue reading

Bachelorella Recap Week 6: What makes a woman perfect (for Chris)?

Ashley vs. Kelsey.

Duck and cover, folks, it’s the two-on-one.

“Sorry I’m not from Pleasantville. I’m from fricken 2014. You and I both have our masters, and I have it from a good place… if you don’t think I’m intelligent enough to see through you, you’re friggen hilarious.” – Ashley I.

It was the catfight heard around the world. This season’s dreaded two-on-one date (two women enter, one woman survives) pinned house drama queens Virgin KardAshleyian and Tragic Widow Kelsey against each other in the scenic Badlands. There were insults. Both women cried. Chris was exasperated. Finally, in a surprising move of intelligence and badassery, the milquetoast Bachelor sent both women home. Or, more accurately, he got into the helicopter alone and left Ashley and Kelsey to find their own way back to civilization (one can only hope).

It was spectacular television. Watching the two least likable women in the house take turns throwing each other under the bus was schadenfreude in the truest sense. Should I be ashamed about enjoying self-involved women tearing each other down on national television? Probably. Am I ashamed? Nah. You can watch the action here. Continue reading

Bachelorella Recap Week 5: Kelsey & the 4th wall (whose TV show is this?)

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Hilarious graphic courtesy of the official Bachelor twitter account.

So tonight I was live-tweeting the new episode of The Bachelor as always, minding my own business, when one of the women said something smart. Wow, I thought to myself. What a great remark! Why is the name of this woman escaping me? I Googled a few of the names to see if I could match a name to a face, when I… spoiled myself. I know who wins this season of The Bachelor according to Reality Steve, via Google.

Yeah. Fuck my life, right? Thanks for that, Google.

I was crushed at first—the finale is so much more fun when you honestly don’t know whom the bachelor or bachelorette is going to pick. I’ll never forget screaming bloody murder when Clare rejected lothario asswipe Juan Pablo’s pity hug, or when Andi jilted frontrunner Nick for meathead Josh. I have never once known how a season would end, and my theories have always been disproven. And I love that about this franchise, how it is edited to leave you grasping at straws, and yet how clear things look in retrospect once you know for sure who the leading man or woman has been falling in love with all along. It is shocking, exhilarating experience. By the final two contestants, you really do care. You are invested in their happiness, even if the couple’s odds of lasting are hilariously low. Continue reading

Bachelorella Recap Week 4: Prince Farming, Cinderella, and a Kardashian Stepsister

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Prince Farming sweeps Jade off her feet and it’s actually super cute.

This week The Bachelor was all about Cinderella—Disney’s new live-action version, that is, in theaters this March. The entire one-on-one date served as a massive plug for the movie, with clips of it interspersed through the episode with no attempt at subtlety. In a stunning move of product placement, the rose on the date sat under a giant plastic replica of Cinderella’s slipper. It was… gross.

But I can’t complain, because I’m actually a huge sucker for the Cinderella fairy tale. When you grow up with the name Ella, it comes with the territory. I’ve already written about my love of Ella Enchanted, a feminist-in-training children’s lit masterpiece, and my favorite movies growing up were always Cinderella retellings: Hillary Duff’s semi-vapid A Cinderella Story, Drew Barrymore’s Ever After, and even the adventurous, mildly flaky Cinderella in Sondheim’s Into The Woods. Cinderella was always a ballsy, smart, self-sufficient female lead who valued her independence as much as she valued love. She was my kind of princess: she didn’t give a damn about achieving royalty as much as she did escaping mistreatment. A real Cinderella is never about the glitz.

Which was why this episode was actually genius. Sure it had all the classic, shallow Disney-Meets-ABC’s The Bachelor trappings: free diamond earrings for the woman who won the one-on-one date, a ton of ball gowns for her to choose from, and a full orchestra to which she and Chris awkwardly waltzed. But the date was about elevating character, drawing attention to a wallflower with a kind soul: Jade, 28, an organic cosmetics developer from LA. This week Chris’s sisters swung by the mansion to get to know the girls individually, and they chose Jade as someone they could see their brother with. She had been overshadowed by the larger personalities in the house, and even Chris admitted to not having really noticed her despite bringing her to week four.

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