Category Archives: television

The Mad Men Interviews: Eric Scott Cooper

mad-men-skinny

Welcome to The Mad Men Interviews in which I interview friends who were on my favorite show, Mad Men. My first interview was with Molly Hawkey, who played the first person to ever tell Don Draper he couldn’t smoke somewhere. This time I’m talking with Eric Scott Cooper, who played the TV commercial director who had to deal with rude comedian Jimmy Barrett in “The Benefactor” in Season 2.

Mad Men

Eric, far right, ready to direct.

For those who don’t know how the biz works, can you tell us how you wound up being on Mad Men?
I actually auditioned for a the Camera AC role – the guy with the clapper. I remember asking my agent why they called me in for a role that age-wise said “late 20s” when I was 37. My reaction was absurd I realize now – when they call you in, NEVER question why. Just getting an audition is like booking a part. There are thousands of actors submitted by agents for every single role.

I got to the studio – went in, and read for the role. As I was leaving, my agent called me to tell me they wanted me to come back for a producer session later that afternoon. I bummed around downtown for a few hours and went back to LA Center Studios. I’d never had an audition/callback with that many people in the room. It’s kind of a blur but I know Matthew Weiner, the show creator and writer of the episode, Lesli Linka Glatter , the director, several other producers, and the Casting Directors Laura and Carrie were all in the tiny, crowded room. I read the single line and they started whispering. Then one of the CDs said “Matt would like you to read for the Commercial Director role.” I remember freaking a little because I’d never had that happen before — and it was a producer session.

I took the copy, looked at it for 30 seconds and said “okay.” They asked if I needed to leave the room and rehearse. It was more lines but less words overall than the first role I read. So I said something insane like “No, thanks. That’s okay.” I just went right into the new role and read for them. They laughed hysterically at the read and I left. Ten minutes later I was at my car, pulling out of the lot, and my agent called to say I booked it. It was the first TV gig I ever booked since I’d started auditioning 9 months earlier! I was bouncing off the walls excited. Unfortunately, the shoot day was the next day — the day I was scheduled to fly to Boston for an event. It cost almost the same amount to change the ticket as what I got paid after taxes and commission fee for the shoot! But it was worth every penny. Also, I lucked out that I got the Director role instead. They kept the Camera AC guy’s lines, but in voiceover only – you never saw him in the scene.

Were you a fan of the show before you were on it? How about after?
Oh my God, YES! I loved the show then and still love it now. I’ve never missed an episode. Do I wish I’d been asked back to direct more commercials with Sterling Cooper Price Draper etc….? Um, yes. But I am still a huge fan and I am very proud of booking such a great show to start my new LA acting career – and in the latter stages of my 30’s I might add.

How many times did you have to audition?
That was the only time I ever auditioned for Mad Men. I’ve been called back for several other shows cast by the same casting directors since then.

Who was your scene with?
My scene was with the amazing Patrick Fischler, who played the surly, jerk-off borscht-belt style comedian, Jimmy Barrett. Patrick was also in ABC’s Lost as a super creepy Dharma initiative guy in a later season. [And I may also add, he was the guy who had the creepy dream of the bum behind the diner in Mulholland Drive.]

Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) and Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) are the agency people at the shoot.

Patrick’s character was a famous comedian shooting a commercial as the new spokesman for Utz Potato Chip. Jan Hoag played the Utz maven. When she walks onto the set to see how the commercial for HER company is going, Jimmy humiliates her by making loud, nasty jokes about her size and she storms out. Sterling-Cooper almost loses the account. It’s a strong opening scene to the episode.

Mad Men

Patrick Fischler as Jimmy Barrett in the episode.

Anything memorable happen you can share?
I haven’t told many people this. I didn’t have any contact lenses at the time and my glasses aren’t period [appropriate to the era]. So wardrobe got these real vintage frames — but just used non prescription plastic lenses. I have a major astigmatism and I’m extremely nearsighted. I was sweating bullets on set because I really and truly couldn’t see a thing. I had to make special “arrangements” with different crew members, some of whom I’ve seen on other sets since then and there’s definitely a bond. Each time the camera wasn’t rolling, I would get them to take my frames, and hold them while I put on my real glasses. I’d try to plot out and memorize all the marks on the floor and where I needed to look for all the reverse and coverage shots where you’re not actually looking at another actor. When I had on the vintage glasses it was just a big blur. The crew helped me find my eyeline and marks throughout. The hardest part was when I had to walk in the scene. I was terrified I was going to crash into the vintage camera. They told us to be careful around it, that it could break, and how expensive it was. It was a little bit of a nightmare. I kept thinking they were going to fire me. But I learned the lesson that I still need to tell myself every time I book a job and I’m doubting myself on-set. They want you to be there and they hired you for a reason. So it’s okay to ask for a little assistance. They WANT you to do well. When I booked Argo, another project where I had to wear period glasses, I immediately went out and got contact lenses to wear with the glasses!

Also, the scene they shot before mine was with one of my Groundlings teachers (and now Oscar winner!), Nat Faxon. I had no idea he’d booked the show and I hadn’t seen him in over a year or so. He was the first person I bumped into that day at the studio and he really put me at ease. It’s always nice to see a friendly face on a set.

Oh, another fun fact: I was credited wrong in the episode. They used the name on my headshot at the time, “Eric S. Cooper” instead of the name I’d put on all the pages of the contract, including something for how you will be credited, as “Eric Scott Cooper”, which is also my SAG name. It was a nightmare with IMDB to get it tied to my account. It’s never happened since. I make sure to always double-check that specific detail now with the production when I’m signing the contract.

A good lesson. And my God, even though I saw the scene and knew it turned out great, hearing your glasses story made me extremely nervous! What great people to have on set. What’s it like to play a director directing a commercial when you’re actually an actor following a director in a TV show? 
It’s very meta. I remember the first time I said “action”, I went a little overboard, yelling it like I was in a 1940s movie. Matt came over and told me to just say it like the director Lesli was saying “action” to start the scene we were shooting. And I did. And it was fine.

Mad Men

Eric about to call “Action!”

What was the reaction from family and friends when you told them you were going to be on the show?
Everyone was super crazy excited, mostly because I’d “finally booked something.” My best friend Michael threw me a viewing party. It was a real high.

It was the third episode of season 2 and it was a buzz show that had aired for one season, but it hadn’t become the huge hit it is now. My grandma Millie had never heard of the show — that’s been a challenge for each project since…oy. She’s 89 and has been the most consistently supportive, cheerleading relative. So it’s okay that she doesn’t know what any of the projects are. She still went to see 2 movies even after she knew I’d been cut, just to watch my name in the credits.

My parents were excited too. Of course I called to see what they thought after it aired and my dad said, “That was it?”. Gotta love it.

Do you have a favorite “Mad Men” character and/or episode?
I waffle between Peggy and Joan. Roger Sterling and Sally Draper are also favorites. I look forward to Pete Campbell’s shenanigans and undoings. I don’t necessarily have a favorite episode. I have favorite seasons, relationships and story arcs.

Why do you act professionally? Do you ever see yourself stopping?
I was a professional TV journalist, an Assignment Editor and Field Producer in Russia, and then Boston for years, before coming to LA 10 years ago. I’d always acted in local theater and worked a lot in improv. I actually moved out here to pursue standup and improv. But I ended up accidentally getting an agent — he found me — and the acting thing started working out better than the comedy. I may continue to try different aspects of the business, but I’ll always pursue acting, whether it’s on a stage, screen, web, talking to myself in the car — whatever. I love performing.

What are you working on now? Where can we see you next?
I’m writing a one-man show and I have some LA storytelling events coming up in the new year, dates to be determined. I’m in 2 films that should be making the festival circuit next season as well. I have a recurring role on The Bold and the Beautiful as Gustav, party planner extraordinaire. Hopefully they’ll call me back soon. Besides that I’m always hustling for more work!

I know you became friends with Jan Hoag AKA “Mrs. Utz” – I met her at your birthday party a few years ago. How did that happen?
I’d briefly met Jan Hoag at a party my friend Claire hosted just a few weeks before the audition. So when I called Claire to tell her I booked the show, her reaction was, “My friend Jan booked that show too!!!” So we saw each other on-set for rehearsal and had a great time. We’ve been friends ever since.

Thanks, Eric! You are awesome.

To see more of Eric, check out his reel:

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The Mad Men Interviews: Molly Hawkey

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Mad Men is my favorite show on television. I live in Los Angeles, and at some point, I went to a Mad Men casting. I didn’t get on the show, but I have three friends who did. In this series I’m calling “The Mad Men Interviews” I’m going to ask each of them the same questions, plus a special one (or two) about their specific episode.

Our first interview is with Molly Hawkey. Molly took my headshots years ago back when I was acting professionally. As weird luck and life would have it, we now live on the same street and didn’t know it until she accidentally got a package of mine once (our addresses are very similar). I was fascinated by Molly’s behind-the-scenes stories of shooting the episode, down to the underwear they made her wear, and also the stories about her trailblazing Mad woMan mom.

"Lazy Lazarus" Mad Men Season 6

For those who don’t know how the biz works, can you tell us how you wound up being on Mad Men?
My manager submitted me and the casting office called me in for an audition!

Were you a fan of the show before you were on it? How about after?
I’d never seen the show when I got the call for the audition, so I watched the first two episodes to get an idea of the tone and what to wear. I looked great for the audition, by the way. I found an old, brown wool skirt and cashmere sweater at The Goodwill — the breakdown said the character was a “mousy scientist” — and I coiffed my bob perfectly.

How many times did you have to audition?
I only had one audition and it was so fun. Like I said…I’d never seen the show. It didn’t even occur to me to look up anything about the producers, directors, and casting directors, so when I walked into the audition I didn’t know who any of the six people in the room were. That worked out to my advantage because I was crackin’ jokes with Matthew Weiner and I had no idea. I mean, I was on fire! I had him laughing the whole time. About an hour or two later my manager called and said calmly, “Molly? What did you do in there?” I said, “…uh, oh…why?” He goes, “Because they’re in love with you!”

That’s completely awesome. Who was your scene with?
Don [Jon Hamm], Peggy [Elisabeth Moss], Ken [Aaron Staton] and two other scientists at the Kool Whip lab…one of whom was played by Mr. Belding of Saved by the Bell fame [Dennis Haskins].

You were the first person to tell Don Draper he couldn’t smoke somewhere. Do you realize you made Mad Men history with that line?
I had no idea. I mean…I guess you’re right!

 

Anything memorable happen you can share?
Honestly, the most fun happened before the shoot day. I got to go to the table read and meet everyone. They cast had so much fun around the table…and I realized how funny the show actually was. When I said my magical line to Don he stared me down. And then everyone laughed!

Wardrobe was pretty awesome. I got to try on a bunch of great vintage dresses. Hard to tell from the scene, but I’m actually wearing ’60s heels, nylons, a girdle, an old school pointy bra, an itchy wool turquoise blue dress and jacket…all under that silly lab coat.

The day of the shoot was kind of a let-down. Why? It’s a dramatic scene and no one gave a fuck about the little co-star over here with her one line. The actors were keeping in character and trying to remember their lines. Understandable! But no fun for me. And I was on my feet in those ’60s heels for six hours as they ran the scene 30 times. No one told me when the camera was on me or when it wasn’t, so I never relaxed. My back hurt.

Damn. What was the reaction from family and friends when you told them you were going to be on the show?
“Finally!”

Do you have a favorite Mad Men character and/or episode?
Well, after I booked the show I had a Mad Men marathon, trying to catch up. I loved it…but also HATED it. I hated how the men took advantage of all the idiot women and how the idiot women let them. Sorry, guys, but it absolutely infuriated me to see how weak the women were portrayed when my mother, an OG Mad Man, broke through the glass ceiling and paved the way for other women in advertising. I also started getting depressed and jealous, transferring my anger at Don and fucking what’s his name [Pete], onto my boyfriend at the time. The show ACTUALLY made me suspicious of him. Not cool. So I had to take a break for a couple months. Luckily there were seven months between the shoot and the airing, so I was able to catch up before I saw my episode.

My favorite episode is my episode, of course [“Lady Lazarus.”]

Why do you act professionally? Do you ever see yourself stopping?
Hmmm. I’ve been trying to figure that out for a while. I think it started because I grew up the youngest of seven and I just craved attention. I was also lucky enough to have parents that encouraged me to express myself creatively. They put me in ballet, tap and jazz classes, I took piano lessons. I LOVED singing. I was a tiny mouse in the Nutcracker at three-years-old and I was in every school play and musical ’till I graduated high school. I just loved it.

But it kinda stopped there. I went to Cornell after high school and formed a wonderful friendship with weed and alcohol for the next four years. Finally, senior year in college, it hit me that I wanted to be an actor.

So here I am, 13 years later, still trying, still starved for attention, I guess? I’m lucky because I’ve gotten to perform improv weekly for the past nine years at iO West, my home away from home.

What are you working on now? Where can we see you next?
Oh, well, I’m at iO West all the time. They’re shaking some things up over there right now, so I can’t really tell you what the future holds as far as when you can see me, but who knows! Come down tonight! 6366 Hollywood Blvd.

I also created and star in an improvised web-series that I love. It’s funny and sad and I haven’t heard a negative thing about it. Like…ever. It’s called Holy Singles, and it’s about Sevany, an unlucky-in-love girl who hosts a weekly Christian Singles Meet-Up in her back yard. It’s funny and sad and you will fall in love with Sevany.

Most recently I shot an MTV Pilot where I got to play a hard ass FBI agent. That was fun.

Molly Hawkey

From http://instagram.com/mollyhawkey

I just wanted to brag about my mom, Penny Hawkey, for a minute. Like I said earlier, she’s the OG Mad Man. She started as a secretary, just like Peggy, but quickly worked her way up through the ranks. Copywriter, Creative Director, and eventually President, at different, big-time agencies. She was no wimp. She played the game like a man. She even wore a shirt and tie to work. Methinks Diane Keaton took some style tips from my hot mom. She was the first woman ever allowed in the Coca Cola board room, and I’m guessing that’s where she pitched her idea for the most famous commercial of all time – the iconic Coca Cola spot starring Mean Joe Green.

Coca Cola

Mean Joe Green and Penny Hawkey On Set of the famous commercial.

Iconic indeed. I’ve seen this parodied on The Simpsons. It’s the commercial where the football player throws his towel to the kid.
Yup. Almie, if you want real Mad Men stories you should interview her. She has stories of sexism that will make your blood curdle. I have no idea why Matt Weiner hasn’t hired her as a consultant, but I guarantee the women of Mad Men could learn a thing or two from her.

Thanks, Molly. This was fun! Hope you guys enjoyed the read.

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The Lena Dunham Problem

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Lena Dunham is big business. Just her name evokes the strongest of human reactions. The IMDB message boards, a place where good comments go to die and bad comments grow to Voldemort proportions, has called her basically every kind of farm animal in existence. Some choice comments:

Yea so my girlfriend is watching this and I ended up sitting there watching it and she comes on naked? Ugh *beep* disgusting. 

Quest for dumpiness – Lena, who walked the tight-rope between dumpy and do-able, finally took the plunge into dump-ville. She joined the ranks of the throngs of small town Southern girls by getting the 50yr old woman haircut. Other than the dyke mullet, there are few haircuts that send straight guys running for the hills better than the old lady cut on the 20 something yr old girl.

I don’t hate her,… I like her show, I mean,… I think some moments are stupid and weak, but is also something different. I do think however she is overrated and there is too much hype on her and her show.

What an ugly woman! Looked horrible at the Emmy Awards. She was dressed like a circus clown. 

These comments are mean but the second from the last one caught me. It seems that everyone over 40 is ready to call Lena the voice of our generation, but being in my generation, no one is even close to giving her our voice. We’re barely giving her our praise.

And it’s not that we think her show, Girls, is downright terrible (well, I guess some of us do. Personally, I think it isn’t terrible, nor do I think it’s fantastic. I think it exists and is pretty good at existing. I swear, I don’t mean any of this as an insult. The show is fine.) I think that most of us are most offended by Girls not for its content but for its takeover.

Because the thing is, Girls is nothing new to us. I guess it’s new for the 40+ crowd, but we’ve been blogging all this shit for years now. It’s just that Dunham got lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time, and from the home of the right people.

So is it just jealousy? Yeah, you know what? It is a little bit of jealousy. I don’t think there’s anything she’s doing that I haven’t seen done just as well or better than on my friends’ blogs or their YouTube channels. How did she get her show anyway? She made a movie. A small indie film starring her and her mom, with her sister. How did that get noticed enough to have someone say, ‘Here’s your HBO show, enjoy”?

The Lena Dunham problem is that the older generations are using her to speak for us, when the thing is, she’s speaking with us or even after us. Nothing she’s doing is new, and we wish it was maybe done a little better. As a female writer, I’m happy that she’s got a show and a $3 million book deal, because it shows that people are willing to listen with their money to female writers. And that’s great. There’s lots of Lena Dunhams out there. She’s just the only Lena Dunham who got there first.

 

Originally posted on Weekly Whatevs.
Image credit: “5-Exercise with Household utensils” by Nina Leen for LIFE via LIFE photo archives for Google.

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I Speak Simpsons

Simpsons pictures that I gone and done

The Simpsons just began its 25th season and I haven’t seen a new episode in about 10 years. But I still speak the language.

People have written hundreds of essays about Simpsons quotes and quoting The Simpsons in everyday life. Quotes beyond your typical “D’oh!” and “Exccccellent” and “Eat my shorts!” (Although I don’t know anyone who still says that last one.)

Then there are longer quotes that seem misplaced, but make sense in the right context. For example, if it’s a bad day outside or something isn’t going your way, you could say, “Lousy Smarch weather.” Or if it is a beautiful day and things are going your way, you could say, “Everything’s coming up Milhouse!”

coming-up-milhouse

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The Bachelorette Finale: WTF

desiree hartsock chris bachelorette finale

The Bachelorette is a show I accidentally became deeply invested in. At first for the sheer “this is incredibly stupid and thus enjoyable” factor. But then the first part of the finale happened. And I practically wrote a goddamn dissertation on it. I could easily get a doctorate in Bachelorette studies.

It’s long, so I’ll sum it up as best I can: The Bachelorette (Desiree) fell in love with one particular candidate (Brooks), and he dumped her. And it was brutal. Basically Brooks realized how fucking ridiculous the whole premise of the show is, and while he really liked Desiree and cared about her, he wasn’t in love, and did not want to propose marriage, which he was expected to do, being one of the final three remaining men. She was heartbroken. She told the host of the show that she was in love with Brooks. She also mentioned she was “falling in love” with remaining candidate Chris and could see herself falling in love with the other candidate, Drew, but it was pretty clear that Brooks was the one she wanted. She said as much when she told Brooks, sobbing, “I didn’t want to share my heart. I wanted to give it to you.” And then Brooks cried.

the bachelorette crying

Then I cried. Then Maggie laughed — she’s such a little trooper.

Thus, the second part of the finale picks up right after Brooks dumped her.

Warning: this will also be long. It will also contain a few Arrested Development references and at least one more intentional Simpsons one.

She is going through a real breakup. But instead of being able to discuss it among her closest gal pals in her apartment over a bottle of white, a bottle of red, a bottle of Billy Joel tears or however the song goes, she only has the show’s host to talk to. “How are you?” he asks her. She smiles weakly. “I’m okay.” He pauses. “No…you’re not.” And she bursts into tears. “I’m okay until anyone asks.” Classic breakup stuff. Great television, horrible in real life.

The host, who I’ve taken to calling Giant Stone Head, asks her what she wants to do now. He was quite obviously pushing her in the direction of, “Stick it out with the remaining guys and see if your feelings develop because we have a show to finish and we’re nearing the season finale and you really fucked it all up, so you can’t go home, or we’re fucked, and I like having a job, fucker.” Desiree says that her heart was broken but, “my spirit isn’t” and so she decides to continue the process of finding a husband with the two dudes left.

chris drew bachelorette finale

“You guys look like… What do they look like, Jimmie?”
“Dorks. They look like a couple of dorks.”

To give Desiree credit, I honestly believe that this girl had enough feelings for one of the remaining guys to go on, because she’s not a cruel woman. She gathers Chris and Drew together, explained that Brooks decided to leave and that it really hurt her, but that she wants to continue and if they didn’t, she understands and they should just tell her and go home. And since both men told her, repeatedly, that they love her, they stay.

(It’s just so classic. She’s said on the show that her biggest problems were liking men who wouldn’t admit their feelings and/or say “I love you.” So of course she falls for THAT guy.)

She realizes pretty quickly that she’s not in love with Drew and that she has to break up with him, now. Drew does not realize this, because as they sit down to their picnic on the beach, he raises a glass of champagne and toasts, “To being madly in love.” It was like a scene out of Arrested Development or something. But Desiree doesn’t let that deter her break up plans. She’s honest with him about her feelings; that she’s not in love with him, and apologizes profusely. And Drew says the most mature thing I have ever heard anyone say when they’re being broken up with:

“You don’t have to apologize for not being in love with me.”

Which is a genius concept and a great thing to say, and contrasts sharply with my classic, “FUCK YOU, I LOVED YOU!” break up response.

So Desiree sends Drew home, but without telling Chris. Chris thinks he’s “competing” with another man to “win Desiree’s heart.” This point in the show is when the final two guys meet Desiree’s family. But Chris was the only one to meet them. It’s just Chris now.

chris shirtless bachelorette

And before he left, Drew robbed Chris and left him a note saying,
“Try proposing without a SHIRT, motherfucker!”

Let’s do some math, which I suck at. At this point, Desiree has known Chris for about ten weeks. In those ten weeks, she’s spent maybe a solid 81 hours with him. Prior to Chris meeting her family, ready to ask her dad for her hand in marriage, Desiree broke up with someone she was in love with about five days before.

We’re not sure what the fuck is going to happen. Chris has no idea how upset over Brooks Desiree is. And Chris is ready to propose. He was ready two weeks ago. And while Desiree has feelings for Chris, they’re not nearly at the level as her feelings for Brooks.

How did I write this much about this show already?

Chris and Desiree have their last date together before the proposal scene. (Yes, scene, this is a TV show. In the proposal scene, The Bachelorette stands on a cliff and the guy she chooses proposes to her. Because God forbid a woman propose, I guess.) On this, their final date, Chris sits down with Desiree and is Boyfriend Material Incorporated; he is The Anti-Brooks. He tells her that he saw how hurt she was when she spoke to him and Drew and that he wanted to go hug her but, “out of respect for Drew” did not. And then he shows her something. And it’s his penis. No, I’m kidding. It’s a journal, containing all of the poems he wrote for her over the season, a sweet note inscribed in the cover, and written on the first page,

The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are but the direction of where we are going.

chris journal desiree poems

Even Ryan Gosling is thinking, “Shit, that’s good.”

And you see the motherfucking lightbulb going off in her motherfucking head. It’s like the room suddenly gets as bright as a Home Depot. She starts crying. You actually see her start to fall in love with him. Because she’s realizing the difference between love and infatuation, and what it’s like when someone loves you more than you love them, and how that’s not a bad thing, and that real relationships need time to develop.

Had the show stopped here, and Chris and Desiree decided to move forward together, as boyfriend and girlfriend, it would have been a great ending.

But no. It can’t end without a proposal. Because here’s Neil Lane with his guady-ass rings, and he paid for his advertising, damnit. So the next day, Chris picks out an engagement ring for Desiree. Desiree gets into a very pretty dress to go stand on a very pretty platform overlooking a very pretty ocean to wait for a very handsome man to propose something no one is sure she wants. Chris doesn’t even know. Desiree hasn’t even said “I love you” to him. But that’s kind of how the show works. The Bachelor/ette is not encouraged to say the “L-word” until the finale. Which is why it was so shocking that she said it about, and to, Brooks.

It’s not that there isn’t any chemistry between Chris and Desiree. Chris was a frontrunner. You can tell she really likes him. But enough to marry him?

Chris shows up. He does a speech. About how much he loves her. And as he’s about to get down on one knee, she stops him. She says, “Stop.” He’s mid-proposal stance. He says “uh” and chuckles at the same time, in that “well this is awkward how the fuck do I respond” way. Again, it’s the best/worst episode of Arrested Development ever.

chris seigfried desiree hartsock bachelorette proposal

Pictured: a man getting his proposal fucked up.

“I want to be honest with you,” Desiree says. People always say they want honesty in a relationship, until someone announces, “I want to be honest with you.” Then you’re like, “Whoa, this sounds serious, I don’t wanna hear this shit.” Desiree tells Chris that she sent Drew home, because she knew she didn’t love him, and that Chris has been the only one left. Chris starts smiling, he really can’t help it. She tells him he’s the only one who’s met her family. Bigger smile. Then she tells him she’s been having a rough time and that Brooks really hurt her. Yes, she brings up another man’s name during another man’s engagement proposal. Chris is not really sure what sort of facial expression to make here.

chris-seigfried

“Him?”

But she goes on. She tells him (to paraphrase), “I think I was so blinded by my feelings for Brooks that I didn’t see what was in front of me the whole time. You have always been by my side. Thank you for never giving up on me. On what we could be. I love you, Chris. I love you so much.”

He says, “I love you too, and this way too much pressure on us. Let’s run away, right now. Let’s date. Let’s take this slow.”

Just kidding, he kisses her and asks her to marry him. She says, “Yes, a thousand times, yes!”

The end.

desiree chris bachelorette finale

And off they went, towards the edge of a cliff, near a cannon, and a dead tree.

Almost the end. There’s a live show after the finale airs, in front of an audience with Giant Stone Head interviewing the newly engaged couple and other contestants. Brooks comes out first. They talk. Then Desiree comes out. Brooks has no idea that Desiree is engaged. This is the first time they’ve spoken or seen each other since he broke up with her on national television. And weirdly, she seems fine, and he seems like the one in “I’ve made a huge mistake” mode. Giant Stone Head wants Desiree to tell Brooks everything that happened after he left. “Things actually got really good after you left,” Des says. She realizes how mean that sounds as the audience laughs. She tries to explain. Finally she just says it. “I’m engaged. To Chris.”

I swear, it’s like that famous scene in The Simpsons when Bart shows Lisa the recording of her breaking up with Ralph and Bart says, “You can actually see the exact moment his heart rips in half.” We see that in Brooks. Briefly. And then he says, very gentlemanly, “That’s great. That doesn’t surprise me. I could see how you guys were with each other.” (Paraphrasing.)

And then Brooks leaves and Chris comes out and sits next to Desiree, and I swear to God, they actually seem really happy together, and they talk about how they are moving to Seattle. It’s like Brooks never even existed.

So here’s what has people divided on this finale. Was Desiree settling or did she realize the person she loved was there the entire time?

All I know for sure is that I’m glad most dudes don’t watch The Bachelorette, because this episode would only encourage the guys who believe that if you have a crush on a girl and she doesn’t feel the same way, you shouldn’t give up because she’ll eventually realize you’re the one for her.

And one other thing:

chris desiree the bachelorette finale

You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.

 

Photo credit: Screen caps of The Bachelorette, ABC, via Zimbio

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The Bachelorette Is The Craziest Show Ever

desiree brooks break up the bachelorette

The Bachelorette is the weirdest show on TV right now, and if you’re missing it, you need to catch up, because I can’t even describe the surreal level of weirdness that is happening on this seemingly stupid and fluffy television show. This season has been one of the most dramatic, and saddest. Because for the first time ever, we’ve seen real torment about what it’s like to simultaneously date twenty-five men and the pain that comes from having to turn down twenty-four men, and on the opposite side, the overwhelming fear and uncertainty that comes with a woman who is dating twenty-five men and wants you to marry her at the end of a staggeringly short two months.

I’m taking about Desiree and Brooks. To sum up: our perpetually on the edge of tears Katie Holmes/Rachel Bilson hybrid, Desiree Hartsock, is the bachelorette and with one episode left of the season, she’s made it clear that only one of these men is the man for her: Brooks Forrester. But Brooks Forrester is the only person in the history of this franchise to say, “This is fucking crazy, I’m not getting engaged to a girl I’ve had four dates with, known for two months, and spent maybe a total of sixty-five hours with.” Well, not in those exact words.

To recap the season up this point, Desiree has had to deal with:

  • A guy who brought his kid on the premiere episode and used him to paint himself as a doting dad so he would have a shot at the next Bachelor (“Hollywood, you missed your opportunity — a single dad from Texas” he said, when Desiree rejected him.)
  • A guy who already had a girlfriend.
  • A guy who wanted to stay on the show so badly he fake cried and manipulated her into believing that he also wasn’t looking to be the next Bachelor.
  • A cringe-worthy rap video shoot with Soulja Boy, in which she and the Mr. Desiree hopefuls had to put on stupid costumes and rap about the show.
  • Two guys who dumped her.

The first one to dump her, Brandon, did it while she was on a date with another guy. No doubt egged on by the producers, he decided right then and there that he wasn’t feeling it to the point where he had to dump her right now. So with a camera crew following him, he found Desiree on her date with Chris, pulled her aside, essentially told her that her feelings for him were stronger than his for her, and left back home for the USA. Desiree cried and poor Chris, still on their date, was left to cheer her up.

About Chris: he and another guy, Drew (who is probably gay), are “madly in love” with Desiree. They, among Brooks, are in the final three. Throughout the show, almost to the end, Desiree said that she likes these three guys very much, and that she’s falling in love with all of them. But then host Chris Harrison, the Olmec (giant stone head in Legends of the Hidden Temple) of the show asked her if there’s anyone in particular she’s really in love with. He asks this of every Bachelor and Bachelorette; they’re never actually expected to answer. They usually deflect the question. The Bach/elorettes never admit to being in love with anyone until the finale, otherwise why would they keep the show going? But Desiree announced, “I’m in love with Brooks.” Stunned, Harrison said something like, “Well should we just pack up and go home?” He asks her, “Has Brooks told you he loves you?”

chris harrison the bachelorette

Pictured: giant stone head.

Zak, Chris, and Drew all told Des that they loved her. Again, they’ve each gotten maybe three dates with her and over the span of two months, while she was dating several other men. Brooks was the only one not to declare his love. “He doesn’t need to,” Des said confidently, 100% kidding herself. “I know how he feels. He doesn’t have to say it.”

But we, the audience, we know how Brooks feels, and we saw that awkward moment where he gave it away with a look. Earlier on their date, Des cheerfully suggested they come up with adjectives to describe something in between “like” and “love” — no doubt she thought this would take the pressure off of him to say “the L-word.” At dinner, she proudly announced her “adjectives.” “There’s stepping. [Then] skipping. [Then] jogging. [Then] running. [Then we’re at the] finish line.” Never mind that none of these are adjectives. The girl is relying on the simplest of metaphors, and possibly the worst; she may as well say, “I am running after you.” When Brooks asked, “So where are we?” she pauses and at the same time she says, “I’m breaking into a run” he says, “Jogging.” Des didn’t acknowledge his lower tier, but we saw the surprise on Brooks’ face. “Running?” he said, trying to keep his eyes from widening to the size of moons. “That’s…good.”

SO here we are, part one of the two part finale, and this is brand new, never before have we seen the show structured like this, by which I mean, it’s not a game anymore. We see Brooks go home to get advice from his mom and sister about whether he should propose. He tells them that Desiree is perfect and what he’s looking for — she checks off all the boxes — but he doesn’t know why he can’t feel love. They stare at him. “If you don’t feel you love this girl, you shouldn’t propose,” says his mom (to paraphrase.)

Well duh, right? But this is The Bachelor/ette world, where it’s expected by the end of the show that there will be a proposal. Because it’s a show. It’s a game. People are eliminated every week until there is a “winner.” But unlike other reality competition shows, there is no cash prize. This reality competition show does not want to acknowledge that that’s what it is. Though Chris and Drew said they are ready to propose to Des right there and then, it’s because they’ve been brainwashed by the entire experience. Brooks is the only one who has stepped back and said, basically, “This is insane.”

brooks the bachelorette break up

He goes to Antigua. Desiree gushes about how excited she is for their date. It’s going to be a romantic day of sailing, and at night, she’s going to ask him to spend an evening with her in “the fantasy suite.” Being in the fantasy suite is the one time during the whole show that the couple can be together without cameras present. And yes, bang. They can bang. And they should, unless they have their own personal reasons against having sex before marriage, but they really should know each other intimately before getting engaged, because that’s what this is, this is your last chance to have sex with someone before you ask them to marry you, and typically, that’s not how people have relationships. But of course none of this show is typical.

Thus Brooks, who must feel like he’s taking crazy pills, came to the decision that he must break up with Desiree, because he isn’t in love with her and isn’t ready to propose, and he doesn’t have any more time, because we are nearing the season finale of a TV show.

Des, so excited to see Brooks walking towards her, immediately knows something is wrong when she sees his face. “What’s wrong?” she asks.

And then we are treated to the most awkward break-up in all of television. Because this is real. No one warned Des about this. Brooks doesn’t want to begin the conversation until they sit down on a bench that is approximately 300 fucking miles away from where they are standing, or at least that’s what it feels like. Once they sit down, it becomes clear that Brooks has no idea how to break up with someone. Des doesn’t understand what he’s getting at until she asks, “How do you feel?” and his pause goes on forever, and she knows, and then he says, honestly, “I want to be madly in love with you…” and trails off and she starts sobbing. He doesn’t even need to add “but.”

He tries to make it better by saying how great she is and he doesn’t know why his feelings aren’t as strong for her as he would like and then she drops the bomb, “I love you.” He’s shocked. “Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?” he says, voice cracking. “Because I couldn’t,” she cries. I’m assuming she means that she was pressured by the producers not to tell him, but who knows really. “You’re the only one I love.” This breaks him. And we see them sobbing on the bench, holding each other, until she pushes him away, begging him not to touch her because it hurts too much.

desiree bachelorette brooks break up

Neither of them want to leave this bench, they are clinging to each other for dear life. There is no soundtrack, there is just the sound of sobbing. He finally suggests they get up, and they walk away. “I guess you’re leaving” she says, emotionless. “I don’t know what to say,” he says. He keeps apologizing. “Don’t say you’re sorry,” she responds. “It makes it worse.” “I’m sorry,” he says. She stops and for a moment you think she’s going to turn around and smack him.

They keep walking. He says something like, “I thought maybe you had similar reservations I did, that you were confused too” or something and she snaps, saying she did have confusing feelings, because, “I didn’t want to share my heart. I wanted to give it to you” thus revealing that this whole time on the show she’s just been going through the motions while dating everyone else. He realizes he’s made it worse. He has no idea what to do with himself. They hug and she says “stop” and she turns around because she can’t watch him leave. She walks back to the bench of doom. Then he paces, sobbing, saying he didn’t know it was going to be that hard and that, “I didn’t want to let her go…I didn’t expect to feel that.” Does this mean that he’s falling in love with her? That her revelation changed his feelings? You better believe that’s what the producers will convince him. He’ll most likely be back, and they’ll reunite and it will be edited like a Nicholas Sparks movie, and this moment of raw emotion will be pushed aside until the show ends and they break up for real.

So why the hell did I write this much about an episode of The Bachelorette? Because this was the most painful fucking thing I have ever seen on reality TV, and this includes every time someone got their nuts smashed on Wipeout. For once we have the “real” in reality. This feels like my break up. I’ve had this break up. Because this part has nothing to do with the show, this part has to do with feelings, that horrible crunching feeling in a suddenly empty space in your stomach when you realize for the first time that someone you are in love with isn’t in love with you. She must have known it, or she wouldn’t make the classic excuse for him, “he doesn’t need to tell me he loves me, he says it without saying it.” We’ve all said that at some point. We all really wanted to believe it at some point. But thankfully, millions of people weren’t watching us prepare for such an epic car crash at the finish line.

desiree bachelorette crying

 

Image credits: screenshots of The Bachelorette, via Hulu, ABC

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