By Lesley | August 26, 2009
Last week: there was good-wife/bad-wife judgyness, Kristian cried, laydeez were JELLIS, Mandy did something to Luke’s heart, and Malissa did something to another part of Luke’s anatomy. Overall, I feel the prior episode contained altogether too many allusions to Luke’s meat thermometer, and by this I mean his penis. I don’t want to think about Luke’s penis anymore, folks. In fact I wouldn’t mind forgetting it exists altogether.
Of course, we begin the episode in the kitchen, where the laydeez line up at the trough to gorge themselves on an hourly basis. Kristian is talking about eating nothing but waffles since their second day here. CUE CLOSEUP ON THE STACK OF WAFFLES. CAN WE GET A PA IN HERE WITH MORE BUTTER? MAYBE SLATHER SOME ON KRISTIAN’S FACE AND GET A SHOT OF THAT TOO. ALRIGHT WE’RE GOOD. I totally suspect there is a production assistant on this show who is exclusively responsible for smearing butter on things.
LUKEMAIL, woo. Kristian and Mandy are going dancing with the Lukenator. Kristian jumps up and down and jiggles like the proverbial bowl full of jelly. It’s totally cute. In confessional, Luke says he thinks Kristian and Mandy are the two best dancers in the house. The note says something about a tango, but they’re actually getting salsa lessons. SEMANTICS, am I right? As they enter the dancing facility, Luke says he can’t wait to see what kind of moves they have, and Kristian says “I’ve got moves you’ve never seen.” Hee! I want to pinch Kristian’s cheeks and buy her an ice cream. Shortly the dance instructors appear. They are both slender, probably because they live in LA. In confessional, Kristian admires the lady instructor’s legs, and says her jiggliness makes her look like two pigs fighting under a blanket, however she also asserts that “dancing wasn’t just made for thin people, hello!” Kristian thinks you need some ass to dance. Awwww yeah. The lessons begin, and Mandy confessions that it’s “hard” to have a date with another woman along; she says Kristian was loving every minute of dancing with Luke and “couldn’t wipe the smile off her face.” Of their dance-time, however, Mandy also says she and Luke “were connecting on every level; everything was like perfect.” I don’t think Luke has that many levels, so that may be less impressive than it sounds. I’m guessing he has two. Maybe three, if “hungry” counts as a level.
Back at the laydee farm, the laydeez decide to make Luke cupcakes, which they will leave for him to find when he gets back from his date. Clearly, the laydeez are compelled to make cupcakes because they’re fat. And fat people make cupcakes. It’s what we do. Like baby sea turtles instinctively seeking out the ocean after hatching, cupcake-preparation is our deepest instinct, so inherent to our being that we are barely aware of its influence. Deep in the genetic memory of every fat woman there is an ingrained knowledge of cupcake-making, going back to our early fat ancestors, who baked cupcakes made of rocks over a fire in a cave. Cupcakes are a critical part of the rich legacy of the Fat Race; nay, cupcakes are the very axis on which the world of the Fat turns! So it has always been and so it will continue to be. Fat people & cupcakes are a partnership older than TIME ITSELF.
The laydeez deliver the cupcakes with some ridiculous glitter-strewn handmade cards and leave them on a table outside Luke’s abode. I am momentarily distracted thinking, um, what if it rains (someone left the cupcakes out in the rainnnnn…)? Then I remember they’re in LA.
Dance lessons complete, it’s one-on-one time. Luke decides to go with Kristian first. Mandy confessions that Luke’s picking Kristian first “is telling” of Luke’s interest in Kristian. Actually I’d think it was the other way around, but then I’m a delayed-gratification kind of girl. Mandy feels herself falling for Luke, blah blah blah.
Whilst seated for the talking portion of their date, Luke says to Kristian: “I think that the biggest mistake a man can make in a relationship is not appreciating his lady enough.” I can think of some bigger mistakes, actually. Like, say, beating her up, threatening her childen, or burning her house down. Or exploting her insecurity to keep her trapped in a relationship with you. Luke and Kristian revisit the dance floor and in spite of all her damn crying, Kristian seems fairly comfortable shaking her jiggly bits with Luke. I maintain that Kristian is being unfairly edited to look extra-crazy when really she’s only marginally crazy. She confessions that Luke “loves me for every curve on my body; he loves me for me!” I’m not sure he loves you at all, dear, but again with the semantics. Kristian also confessions that she’s like totally really for real in love with Luke and is like constantly doodling his name on her Trapper Keeper and hatching plans to cross paths with him on the way to fourth-period chemistry.
Mandy comes around the corner just in time to see Luke and Kristian embarking on a trip down Makeout Lane. Mandy, of course, blanches and bolts for the bathroom. Luke, who may or may not have ever had contact with a real living three-dimensional human female before, wisely takes this opportunity to go pound on the bathroom door and inquire after Mandy’s wellness. Because what every woman wants whilst sobbing, heartbroken, in a public restroom is for the source of her pain to invade her privacy and demand she confirm or deny her relative okay-ness. (Husband observes to me, “This is why Luke is single” and swears Luke is stifling a smirk when he first knocks on the door; after many rewinds via the magic of DVR, I think he’s right.) Luke doesn’t seem to get an answer; hell, for all we know Mandy may not even be in there anymore and this was staged later. Clip below.
I don’t know if Luke’s actions here are supposed to be romantic, or what. What, show? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO FEEL HERE? All I’m getting on my own is a powerful urge to punch Luke in the groin as hard as I possibly can. In confession, Mandy says she doesn’t “feel very special right now.” Well, I don’t feel very not-nauseous right now but we’ll both have to cope. She thinks Luke is more interested in Kristian than in her. Self-confidence is sexxay! And how special did Mandy expect to feel? Luke’s dating a bunch of other women on television. I am left to wonder whether some of the laydeez didn’t honestly expect at some point Luke would go, “You know what, I’m not going to complete my contract, I’m just going to leave right now with [insert laydee name here] because we have found True Love. See you in court!”
Luke’s got his Desperation-Vampire fangs out and thirstily asks a freshly de-bathroomed Mandy what’s wrong. They appear to be sitting together on a stage of some kind. OH GOD HAVE THEY RUN OUT OF COUCHES WHAT HAPPENS NOW? THIS IS A TWIST NO ONE COULD HAVE FORSEEN! Mandy says “it’s hard” for what is easily the ten thousandth time in this episode. Way to go for the kill, Mandy; Luke cannot resist such candid insecurity and misery. Luke confessions that he doubts Mandy’s commitment to Sparkle Motion; rather, he wonders whether she has “the patience” to see this humiliating and demoralizing process through to its bitter end (which I am still hoping will involve roasting Luke on a spit, a reunited cast of laydeez toasting champagne to the bullet they’ve dodged, and maybe some fat skinny-dipping whilst chowing down on Luke’s tender and well-marbled flesh, if I want to get greedy). Luke says in confession: “I’m worried that Mandy’s going to begin questioning the connection that she and I have.” Maybe, maybe, and maybe that’s because YOU’RE “CONNECTING” WITH FIVE OTHER PEOPLE RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER FACE.
When Kristian and Mandy come back into the laydee-stacking room post-date, Kristian is freaking AGLOW with joy, and Mandy looks despondent, like she just witnessed a garbage truck flattening her beloved kitten, Muffburger. Elsewhere, Luke finds the cupcake-pile the other laydeez have left outside the guesthouse door and yells thank you in the general direction of the main house. I don’t know if this is a lack of class on Luke’s part or if he’s forbidden to have unplanned contact with the laydeez. These are not free-range laydeez; this is laydee factory-farming.
LUKEMAIL, woo: in the note, Luke says he wants to take his relationship with Malissa to “new heights”. Luke himself confessions that he wants to get to know her better “as a person” — this would be different than getting to know her as a laydee-who-gives-me-a-boner-in-a-hot-tub. Will WE also get to know Malissa as a person? My money’s on some banal conversation followed by heavily mic’ed making out, because evidently conventional wisdom dictates that the television audience feels left out if they don’t hear every single lip smack or point of tongue contact. Worth noting: Malissa gets a solo date! Malissa confessions “I think we both have strong feelings for each other”; I think “strong feelings” may be code for “KNOCKIN’ THE BOOTS YEEEAAAHHH” but what do I know.
Luke and Malissa will be helicoptering to a vineyard, to do some wine-tasting. Luke confesses that he and Malissa have “a great connection” and he wants to explore it further. Apparently exploring it further means having awkward and boring lunch conversation about how great the helicopter ride was and how much fun they’re going to have today and wow, that was fun, and today will be fun. Yes! Fun! Then Luke says to Malissa, “I feel great, like I feel so relaxed right now,” though I wonder how much wine he’s had, exactly. They start to eat, and the conversation appears to die a mercifully rapid death.
LUKEMAIL, woo: Anna, Heather and Tali are invited on a group date tomorrow, for some “fun in the sun”. I’d just like to take a moment to say how refreshing it is that they don’t fall back on the most tired cliches in the whole fucking universe for the few bits of show that are actually scripted. The laydeez figure their date will involve the beach. Enigmatic Tali looks as stone-faced as ever but apparently the other laydeez have learned to read her better because Anna asks Tali rather pointedly how she’s doing. Tali complains to the group about having “another date in a bathing suit, not extremely happy about it.” Tali confessions (POSSIBLY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER) that she’s basically afraid of being judged for being fat and in swimwear.
We now interrupt this recap to bring you some important breaking news. This just in: LUKE LIKES FAT WOMEN.
LUKE LIKES WOMEN, THAT ARE FAT. LUKE LIKES WOMEN WITH FAT ON THEM. LUKE LIKES IT. HE LIKES IT. HE LIKES SEEING FAT LAYDEEZ IN THEIR SWIMSUITS WITH THEIR GIANT PLANETARY-ORBIT-SHIFTING ASSES AND ALL. HE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF FAT WOMEN IN SWIMSUITS. HE LIKES IT. HE LIKE LIKE LIIIIIKES IT! LUKE LIKES FAT WOMEN.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled recap.
Tali says to the laydeez, “It’s not only another date in a bathing suit, it’s another date with two other girls in a bathing suit.” Tali says this after pulling a big old BLANKET over herself, as she sits on the laydee-stacking couch, like the mere thought of swimwear makes her feel naked. (Tali and the other swimsuit-traumatized laydeez have my husband’s sympathy, I should note, though not mine, so clearly I am dead inside at this point.) Clip below.
Oh poor, poor Tali, who is strikingly, classically beautiful, and tall, and who has immaculately shiny healthy hair and near-perfect skin, and who is really not all that fat. I may be projecting this, blank slate that she is, but Tali strikes me as the kind of woman who’d complain about how being pretty is a terrible burden. How you must suffer, dear.
Meanwhile, Luke and Malissa are – wait for it – MAKING OUT on a blanket in the vineyard. We do get a closeup of Luke grabbing her backfat in the course of the makeout, so at least there’s that. Malissa remarks in confession, apropos of nothing, that people are judgmental because she’s fat. WE KNOW. Does this show think it’s doing good by going the WAH WAH WAH WE ARE SUCH VICTIMS OF EVIL CRUELTY LEAVE THE FATTIES ALONE route?
Luke and Malissa are now supposed to ride a tandem bike. Luke sits up front – such a gentleman, to give Malissa the assward view – and awkwardly tries to hold Malissa’s hand while they ride, and in so doing almost sends the bike veering off the road. THEN, trying to climb a hill, Luke breaks the bike. I mean really, REALLY breaks it. Not like, the chain just came loose. He demolishes the whole works. THANKS PRODUCERS, you fucking assholes. I hate you. I hate this show. Luke and Malissa laugh and gaily skip away from the destruction, and there are clips of nearby horses throwing their heads around in what I presume is meant to indicate disgust. As if even the horses are all, “HA HA HA, YOU FATASSES!” Clip below, including a random shot of some zebras (?).
Luke nonsensically confessions: “I really enjoyed my date today with Malissa. I felt like it was she and I, dating.” (Husband: “Your date felt like you were dating? Wow, that guy is DEEP.”) Luke then complains confession-style that having a good date makes his life more difficult. All together now: POOR LUKE.
Back at Hogwarts (no embellishment needed, I think), Malissa tells the other laydeez about their swell romantical stylings at the vineyard. Anna confessions that the other laydeez had all assumed Malissa was going to have some kind of “adventure date” – like she and Luke would be battling Nazis to retrieve the lost Ark of the Covenant? – but instead it sounds like it was this “fantastical, amazing, romantic date, that it was really like, knife in the heart, and twist.” Anna gives us a little visual aid here of holding out an imaginary knife and it’s very Lady Macbeth. Malissa tells the laydeez she’s in love. I’m sure this would be a tender and sweet moment if I weren’t distracted by the fact that Malissa is wearing some impressively ugly shoes, which look like something she borrowed out of Jessica Simpson’s wardrobe from her role as Daisy Duke.
Later that evening, some of the laydeez are sitting by the pool. In the hot tub, up-front Kristian is telling the other laydeez that she’s in love with Luke. Heather starts crying because she doesn’t feel that way yet. Heather, bless, this is not a bad thing. This scene lays out, clear as day, a terrifying reality: these laydeez are honestly TRYING to love Luke because many of them don’t believe they’ll ever find another guy who accepts their size. And if those feelings aren’t there, they’re panicking and attempting to force them, as this may be their “last chance”. Show, I hate you even more. How the fuck is this positive or empowering? How the fuck is this good for fat women, both the laydeez on this show and the women watching?
Heather is snotting quite a bit, poor lamb; I guess the downside to so meticulously microphoning your participants is that not only is the kissing noisy, but the crying is too. During this exchange, Malissa is in the hot tub with Kristian, and both of them are in swimsuits. Heather is sitting near the edge of the tub, fully clothed. Tali is sitting further back on a chair, still wrapped in the throw blanket from the couch. Like Tali is so afraid of swimwear that even being NEAR a pool makes her panic and put on additional clothing. I half expect in the next scene Tali will be wearing a burqa, ethnicity-clashing notwithstanding. Clip below.
Luke fetches the laydeez for their beach date, and confessions that “any time they can show off their bodies is awesome, because it kinda shows how confident they are and that’s a turn-on for me.” Right on, Luke, it’s all about you and your big beef bus. Once at the beach, the conversation dies, and Luke confessions further: “I did notice that the girls seem really uncomfortable; they’re all still relying on me to direct the conversation.” Well, that’s because you’re A-#1 Big Pimpin’ Mack Daddy here Luke! You hold all the cards and the laydeez know it. The first part of his comment is pretty obviously cobbled together from two separate comments from Luke, which is curious and leaves me dying to know what he originally said, like maybe “I am a smug bastard and I totally suck.”
Cut to Anna confessioning that she doesn’t enjoy wearing a swim suit, and says “I’m a big girl, we don’t prance around in bathing suits for fun.” Speak for yourself, GigantAnna! I prance every opportunity I get. Luke then suggests to the group that he take his “sweaty shirt” off so the laydeez can rub sunscreen on him. I AM NOT JOKING. This actually happened, though with a sad absence of 70s porno music on the soundtrack. (Husband: “He may as well pass out some lotion and ask who wants to give him a hand job.”) Luke confessions that “women are strange creatures” — SERIOUSLY — and that “I knew the girls would be excited about slapping some oil on me, and I was too.” My husband actually bellowed “OH MY GOD, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” at this, so loudly that I’m not even relegating it to his usual parenthetical status. Luke says it with such conviction, like he’s already composing in his head: ‘Dear Penthouse forum, I am a big stupid douchebag from Southern California, and I never thought I’d be writing to you…”
After the laydeez have completed their contractually-obligated slathering, Luke has one-on-one time with Tali. Tali immediately responds to his “How are you?” inquiry by talking about feeling jealous. Who told these laydeez that jealousy was attractive? Tali basically tells Luke that the other laydeez seem to only talk to him about stupid shit like, oh, family, and personal interests, but HER conversations with Luke are like so deep and not about that irrelevant stuff, such that piddling details like family and background and past experiences become totally meaningless. We’ve yet to witness any of these deep conversations, for the record; possibly they are so very deep that America is not ready to hear them. Luke responds, “Sometimes there’s like, a connection where, the details don’t matter, ” and Tali says she feels the same way, and of course this is a cue to make out. Luke says in confession: “The fact that it took Tali so long to open up to me is a testament to the fact of what a deep person she is.” I’ll transcribe my reaction to this verbatim: HA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It’s not so much that I doubt that Tali may in fact be “deep”, as I am amused by Luke’s methodology for determining her alleged depth. Clip below.
Back at the the Thunderdome, Mandy tells the other laydeez it feels like she’s letting her boyfriend date other people. The other laydeez agree that it’s frustrating. MY GOD, LAYDEEZ, YOU HAVE BARELY MET THIS MAN. In Mandy’s case, she hasn’t even had a solo date with him yet.
Luke and Anna are paddleboating. Wow, I haven’t done that since summer camp. No wait, it’s not a paddleboat, it’s motorized or something. LOSE. Luke asks Anna if she thinks she could fall in love with him and she pauses for kind of a long time. Evidently she doesn’t want to be dishonest or a bullshitter, so she tells Luke she’s not willing to rush into marriage after like a month (THANK HOLY HEAVEN FOR A LONE VOICE OF REASON SCREAMING INTO THE WILDERNESS OF FAT DESPERATION IN WHICH WE FIND OURSELVES). Luke’s all, yeah, alright, thass cool. THEN, we have a classic Luke moment: he begins complimenting Anna, and calls her gorgeous. Then he pauses and it’s clear he’s waiting for a response, so after a moment, Anna laughs and says thank you. Luke then basically moves right in for the kiss without even waiting for her to make eye contact. It reads, at least on television, almost as though he thinks he’s entitled to it. I CALLED YOU GORGEOUS, WOMAN. NOW YOU KISS ME. Actually, it’s just occurred to me that throughout this series, Luke has been complimenting laydeez on their appearance as a lead-in to the makeout, as though he figured out at some point that if you tell a woman she’s beautiful, she’ll probably kiss you, or at least will let you kiss her. Gross. Gross, gross, gross. I’m not even clipping this because it turns my stomach. Luke says “there’s an obvious attraction between Anna and I” and references “fireworks”.
Luke, a note: just because a woman gives you a hard-on does not mean you have some deep mystical connection with her. Likewise to the laydeez, who I am sure are getting hard-ons of their own, though they’re probably not encouraged to talk about it lest they slide down the slippery cultural slope from Wife Material to Tawdry Slut. Hard-on bequeathing, whilst important to a healthy long-term relationship, is ultimately only one piece of a much larger picture of important relationship-building parts. Focusing on the hard-ons would be like trying to build a house by putting up drywall without building a frame to hang it on first. And that’s one to grow on!
While Tali and Anna play volleyball (MY TEAM-SPORTS NEMESIS!), Luke and Heather are lying on the beach together and Heather is like totally harshing Luke’s mellow by talking about feeling jealous. So when Tali does it, she’s “opening up”, but when Heather does it, it makes Luke doubt her confidence? Luke confessions: “Heather was really jealous of Malissa’s date, and I thought she was more confident than that in our feelings for each other, so I was kinda surprised.” What the hell would make you think she was confident, Luke? The crying? The awkward laughter? Luke feels like their “chemistry” isn’t increasing exponentially and that’s totally a bummer. Clip below.
Final Countdown Cocktail Party Time! Luke whines in confession about how hard his life is, having to decide which laydeez to send home. He takes off with Mandy for their one-on-one time. He asks Mandy to tell him about an experience that’s shaped her; Mandy discloses that she had an eating disorder in high school and gained weight while in recovery, and about her struggle to reinvent herself and her identity as a result. Wait, are we hearing about something of substance here? I am floored. Kristian watches from a distance and tries to read their body language.
One-on-one time with Heather and Luke quickly turns into crying as Heather essentially begs for Luke to not send her home. Luke blathers something noncommital about wishing he could not send anybody home, but it comes across as sort of ominous. Then, confusingly, Luke says: “I feel like I know who you are, and I love who you are, and I wouldn’t want you to change for anybody.” SHIT Y’ALL, HE USED THE L WORD. Way to confuse poor Heather and the audience as well. Does that mean she’s going home or not? Next, Luke and Anna have couchtime and not much must have happened because we don’t see it. Following Anna is Kristian, who wants to tell Luke something in three different languages and make him guess what she’s saying. When he doesn’t totally get it, she says outright that she’s falling in love with him and he’s “the most amazing man” she’s ever met. Oh Kristian, you can do better. Luke confessions that he was “blown away” by Kristian’s laying bare of her feelings, and that he has a lot to think about with regards to the elimination. Yawn.
Tali, meanwhile, hears about Kristian’s disclosure and takes it upon herself to be a Free Range Laydee after all, by veering off the usual path from sleeping quarters to kitchen to laydee-stacking room to pool, and accosting Luke on his own, stage-whispering for him to “come here for a sec.” Tali is feeling jealous. SHOCKER. She complains that she felt confident and now she doesn’t. Luke tells her not to listen to the other laydeez but to listen to her heart.
Time to pass the ring-collection plate around! The laydeez are all stressed. Kristian wants to stay with her “future husband”. Two laydeez will be cut and cast, ringless and naked, into the woods behind the mansion to be devoured by starving feral dogs. Kristian confessions that she will be “crushed, heartbroken” if she doesn’t get a ring back. In her confessional, Anna wishes she said more about her feelings for Luke during their time together. Fortunately Luke must like a laydee of few words, since Anna gets the first ring. Malissa gets the second ring. Mandy confessions, “I feel like I’m just about to break.” Honey, THERAPY. Please get some, or some more, as the case may be. Mandy gets the next ring, though, so yay, she can be tormented further. Emme reappears with an assualt rifle and mows down the whole cast in cold blood. Not really, she actually just informs everyone that one ring is left, in case nobody can count. Tali wants it. Kristian wants it. Heather, apparently, has no opinion. The ring goes to Tali. Kristian and Heather are going home. Kristian may need to be taken out on a stretcher. Heather confessions that she’s shocked, but that she accepts that she must not be the one for Luke: “Even though I’m crying, I’ve never felt this good about myself in my entire life. I feel so confident, and I feel like I’ve overcome a lot of things.” Aww. Then Heather says Luke taught her to “spread her wings”. (“Dear Diary: Heather told me she teaches people real life. She said, real life sucks losers dry. You want to fuck with the eagles, you have to learn to fly. I said, so you teach people how to spread their wings and fly? She said yes. I said, You’re beautiful.”) Fly free, fat little Heather bird!
Kristian’s turn to say goodbye. She embraces Luke for a long time and whispers that she does love him, and that she hopes he finds someone there to care about him after all. When they part, Luke looks as emotionally affected as we’ve ever seen him. I think there may even be a facial expression that isn’t “mouth breathing” or “satisfied smirk”. He stands alone for a moment, looking off-balance and overwhelmed, and then he abruptly turns and walks out of the room.
OH SHIT, he’s going after Kristian! He hugs her as she cries – and does she ever cry – and tells her he wants what’s right for her, and that he’s not it. Elsewhere he confessions that he thought Kristian deserved a fuller explanation and that was why he went after her. I have noted before that the only times I’ve found Luke at all likeable is when he’s in Kristian’s presence, and that’s true in this moment as well. Right now, he seems almost like a decent guy. Kristian’s pain is heartbreaking; they say nothing ever compares to the honesty and innocence you give your first love (and as ridiculous as this whole catastrophic show is, in Kristian’s mind, this IS her first love), and you can see all that laid bare here. Clip below.
I cried, okay? I did. I cried because I felt Kristian’s pain; because once upon a time I was Kristian. I cried because I want to take this show and stab it through the heart for manipulating these women in this way, for hurting them like it has. It’s like beating up a kitten; most of the women here have little fight in them, it’s all they can do to keep their heads up and carry on faking-it-til-they-make-it for another day. I cried because I think Kristian is an ordinary young woman who just wants to be loved by someone without having to change herself to make that happen; and that’s what I want for all of us.
Luke returns to the laydee-stacking room and gives the remaining four laydeez the required group hug, though it’s kind of sad and halfhearted. Luke is sorely bummed, y’all, and I find this deeply satisfying.
This week’s musical interlude is a special long-distance dedication from me to Kristian. Kristian, just because you might be good for a certain man doesn’t mean he’d be any good for you. You will survive this.
Next week: solo dates with the remaining laydeez, and their families show up to surprise them. Malissa’s sister made me say “Yikes” out loud, because I am a mean-spirited judgemental person. Til then.
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