WHAT ABOUT PROM?: The third episode of More to Love

By | August 17, 2009

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Bring on the princess references, ramp up the teenage-prom trauma, and order up some phallic desserts: it’s the (belated recap of) the third episode of More to Love. The same three-minute intro montage we’ve seen prior to every episode sets the stage, again. See, this show is just like every other Bachelor clone, except it has fat people! I’m starting to suspect it’s just me and a handful of reality-TV masochists actually watching this. The montage is not drawing in new viewers, Fox. Your show is soul-sucking and depressing.

Last time: there was vomiting, first dates, swimwear, and Lauren The Trifler turns out to be a full-fledged rank bitch.

We start in the kitchen, where Kristian, who didn’t go on the swimming group date, is quizzing the laydeez on Luke’s physical characteristics – most specifically on whether he’s tanned or pasty-white. Then she says, “I want to pour barbecue sauce on him and eat him like a pork chop!” which, forgive me y’all, is just so bloody adorable. I want to stick the beautiful, precious, over-earnest Kristian in my pocket and protect her from the big mean world that will inevitably break her heart and leave her jaded. Lord, I am becoming a fan of someone on this show. Heaven help me. TEAM KRISTIAN, amirite?

Kristian, with help from Bitch Lauren, is rattling off personal info about Luke, like he has a nephew and stuff. Wait, did she just say his dog is named Maximus? Because that’s pretty hilarious if true. Also my most burning question about Luke thus far – was that his dog in his introductory montage? – has been answered and now I can honestly say I’ve no further interest in the man.

Speak of the devil: Luke appears and summons the laydeez to the laydee-stacking room, whence there is a big pile of silver-wrapped gifts. Luke, for his part, is wearing a construction-cone-orange polo shirt, and it’s AWFUL. He looks like he should be picking up trash on the side of a highway with a bunch of other orange-clad dudes. Clear evidence he needs a woman in his life, if only so she can throw that shirt away one day while he’s at work. (I bet Luke is the kind of guy who has a special chair, say, a reefer-reeking tattered recliner from college, sitting in his house, and he thinks of it as an old friend. Possibly it has a name, like Stoney the Recliner.)

When Luke says “Hello Laydeez,” to to assembled group, he sounds exactly like my tenth grade Catholic-school Latin teacher when she addressed the class. A little bit patronizing, a little bit condescending, a little bit ironic. The laydeez respond in near-perfect unison. Are they being graded on this? Luke goes on to explain that they all share Fat Pain from not going to prom, or from going to prom and having a crap time. This is a bit of a stretch for me, as the odds of being miserable at prom, in my experience, have little to do with relative fatness. Finally Luke pauses and then all but shouts, “Would you all go to the prom with me?” and his enthusiasm is marginally endearing. Luke: skeezehound, Nice Guy, I can’t figure out what to make of you.

The laydeez say yes, they’ll go. Luke pretends to be relieved, like anyone had a choice. I envision a cadre of producers standing just off camera with cattle prods in case any of the heifers step out of line. Luke leaves and the laydeez pounce on the pile o’ sparkly packages, which are filled with prom dresses, evidently of a random assortment of sizes. The laydeez begin making efforts to pack their fat selves into dresses that may or may not fit them. Bonnie, zipped into a green satin strapless dress with help from another laydee, says, “That’s not bad.” When asked if she can breathe, she responds swiftly, “No. Who needs to breathe?” Breathless with excitement, or breathless with lack of oxygen, I suppose in the grander scheme of revisiting the ridiculous ritual of prom it doesn’t matter. Because who needs to breathe.

[I feel compelled at this point to disclose that I did not attend my prom, which is doubtless coloring my assessment of the prom redux. I was pretty checked out of high school by the time prom rolled around and was essentially counting the days till I left South Florida for the wild collegiate wilderness of Boston, Massachusetts, where I could find the CDs I wanted with ease and where my favorite bands (that nobody else had heard of, naturally) routinely played at places like the dearly-departed Rathskeller and the Paradise. So instead, true to my teenage self, I went to see a friend’s band play at my local coffeehouse hangout and then caught up with friends at a prom afterparty later. I really only went to the party because I felt like I should give this prom-night business a fair chance to impress me, but the post-prom festivities were every bit the sloppy-drunken bad-music-laden catastrophe I expected them to be. You can probably guess what sort of teenager I was. The good news is that I’ve never once regretted my decision not to go.]

Makeup! Manicures! Tales of Prom-related Fat Pain! Some laydeez went to the prom alone, horrors! Kristian didn’t have a date and “borrowed” her friend’s date for prom pictures to show her mom. That’s actually really depressing. The dresses are a big sparkling mess of taffeta pickup skirts and blinding rhinestones. I mean, they’re prom dresses, so what do I expect? Bonnie’s is cut straight up to the vag, evidently, but nobody feels the need to comment on this, according to the editors.

Luke and the laydeez drink champagne on their party bus to their destination, whatever that may be. Luke observes in confessional that none of the laydeez enjoyed their prom, either because “they weren’t asked, or it was awkward,” and so he wants to fix that for them with a second chance at having a prom that doesn’t suck. Somehow I think the odds of this succeeding are pretty grim. More to the point, I would hazard a guess that people of any size who had absolutely no prom-related anxiety or awkwardness in high school are a pretty rare breed and that this is hardly a fat-specific cross to bear. But whatevs! Luke’s observations enable thinner people to feel superior that their prom experience may have sucked marginally less! Thanks, Fox!

My biggest problem with this show isn’t so much the insecurity or even the crying: it’s that this show is, intentionally or not, building a mythology of fat experience that is both insulting and inaccurate. More to Love would make the case that all fat teenagers missed the prom. This show continually presumes that all fat people share the same Fat Pain, that fatties uniformly face difficulty in getting dates or finding romance (except, occasionally, with other fat people), that fat people are overly fixated on eating and food, and ultimately that fat women are, deep down, insecure and pathetic and desperate to be loved. I had a comment last week that said in part: “I have read many reviews of this show online, and I have to say the reviews on this site are by far the snarkiest and meanest I have read yet. You girls certainly have your own issues too.” First of all, thank you. Secondly, I’m not even going to touch the “girls” part because it ain’t worth the effort, but I do have issues with this show – I have maaad issues. I am disgusted and snarky about this show because it purports to represent me, as a fat woman, in ways that I find demeaning, condescending, and offensive. Sure, some fat women have romantic difficulty, women and men of all sizes have romantic difficulty. This is not a hallmark of fat life. The moments this show captures that ARE legitimate concerns for fat folks – finding a dress that fits, being aware of weight limits for certain activities that thinner people don’t have to consider, dealing with harassment by assholes, even belly rolls – are really wonderful little moments that briefly normalize fat bodies insofar as portraying them without criticism or judgment. I’ve not yet heard a laydee remark on another laydee’s body in a disparaging way, which is a direction this show could have taken. But I am sick to death of fat chicks crying, because fat women are not all weeping wrecks willing to do anything, anything at all, for a second glance from a halfway-decent guy. None of these women need Luke or any man to complete them or validate them. They’re all fine just as they are. I just wish they knew that; I wish this show could tell them that. But that wouldn’t really make for gripping television, so here we are.

Back at Fat Prom, there’s a live band that isn’t bad. I imagine Prom Band getting this gig and thinking, “FUCK YES, guys, we’re going to be on TV! This is our big break!” And then finding out they’re playing in the Bachelor’s fat-lady sideshow tent. I would have gone with a DJ. Everyone dances and Luke acts the fool to loosen the laydeez up. Kristian and Luke have their dance and finally have their first kiss. Aww. Luke is sweating a lot which is sort of human and unlike the poreless fat Ken doll I’ve come to imagine him to be. Melissa’s never danced in her life, and Luke tries to teach her, though she is terrifically insecure and self-conscious. Again, this is sort of sweet.

Emme comes onstage to address the group. She uses the microphone and everything, which is hilarious considering she’s speaking to a group of thirteen people in a fairly small room. I guess that makes Emme the high school principal in this prom do-over. She has a surprise for Luke: his besties from college are here! Chase is a white, soft-middled, goatee-sporting Jack Black stand-in, and Sam is black and athletically built, and frankly the best-looking of the three of them, Luke included. Luke gives each a vigorously thumping frat-boy hug and says: “It was great to have them there to help me find out who they thought that I would look good with.” Wait, what? There’s more: Principal Emme says you can’t have a prom without a queen! Nor can you have a reality show without dramatic tension and women hating on each other! The prom queen’s prize, aside from a cheap tiara, will be a solo date with Luke. Luke’s friends will choose the queen for him, so now the laydeez have to suck up to two new dude-guys as a bonus. Sweet. Luke’s friends – or at least Chase, as Luke’s Black Friend gets no speaking time onscreen at all, I mean none, which is totally bizarre and uncomfortable – proceed to chat up the laydeez; apparently Danielle talks so much that Heather can’t get a word in. Given Danielle’s prior acknowledgement that guys always tend to dig her as a friend, I won’t be too surprised if Luke’s buddies give her the queen nod. I don’t know too much about guy-culture but I’d imagine most dudes want their best brah to have a girlfriend they can also get along with.

And I’m right! Danielle gets the title! Thanks for setting that up for me, editors! The other laydeez look uniformly shocked. Danielle blubbers in confessional that she “put all her balls down” – I think she means cards? – and she’s wicked happy, cry cry cry. The loser laydeez proceed to dab tears at the event and then hate on Danielle in confessional. Bonnie, in the curtainy hell of the confession room, states, “Usually prom queen is the most beloved person there.” I must have gone to a weird high school because this was certainly not the case for me. And evidently all those teen movies I grew up on were wrong in casting the prom queen as a self-centered princess. Have none of the laydeez seen Jawbreaker? What about Carrie? Furthermore, how dare Bonnie cast doubt on the rich legacy of the late lamented John Hughes? Clip below.

Prom over, we go back to Fatass Manor, where Danielle worries and preps for her solo date. She and Luke pile into the limo and through the magic of editing – specifically cutaways and dissolves – it looks like Danielle talks non-stop the whole way to the restaurant. Luke is not thrilled by this, either because he wanted more of an exchange or because, as the case has seemed to be in the past, he prefers the more restrained laydeez he has to draw out. While Danielle could definitely use a lesson in the subtle art of Leaving Something To The Imagination (or, Stop Oversharing), I also suspect Luke prefers to be the pants-wearer in a given relationship. Danielle is sinking rapidly and doesn’t even know it.

They get to the restaurant and I am hoping Danielle calms down and shuts up for a bit. Snark notwithstanding, I really do want to root for these laydeez to find themselves and their happiness on their own terms; I just think this show is exploiting them and their Fat Pain. However, the date starts off with a misfire when Luke says in confessional he’s looking to share some of his favorite foods with Danielle, but when they sit down and he asks if she likes calamari (referencing the place of deep-fried something before them) Danielle says, “I actually don’t eat seafood. But it’s okay, you dig in.” Given that they’re at a restaurant called The Harborside, we can imagine how this is going to go. Luke is stunned. I am choking with uproarious laughter that has frightened both my cats. Twenty points, show, for this excellent and hilarious twist.

Naturally, whilst Danielle is out on her date, the laydeez are busily bringing the hate back at the hippo ranch. Bonnie is relieved to have Danielle out of the house – “It’s very relaxing,” – and Bitch Lauren, in confessional, calls Danielle a liar, or at least not “honest”, but we’re left to wonder what the hell she’s talking about. In the kitchen, Kristian observes to Bitch Lauren that Danielle is somewhat immature, which, I love you Kristian, but if that isn’t a case of the pot calling the kettle fat I don’t know what is. The reality is that many of the laydeez, Danielle and Kristian included, have a naïveté and nervousness that’s affecting their ability to be smooth operators. Kristian also disdains Danielle’s attention-seeking behavior, and I can’t fault her there.

They have given Danielle chocolate-covered frozen bananas for dessert. Way to set this girl up for a fall, producers! It is basically impossible to chow down on a giant phallic object without terrifying every man in the room. Also chocolate-covered frozen bananas, while delicious (Trader Joe’s makes awesome ones, for the record), are difficult to eat gracefully. I would have tried to use a knife and fork myself. Danielle’s awkwardness and self-consciousness is brutal. Luke says it’s time to move on to the next phase of their date, which turns out to be a gondola ride.

In the gondola, Danielle tells Luke that this is her first second date – apparently she’s never been asked out a second time. Damn, Danielle, you poor clumsy thing, can we talk about this? No wonder you’re nervous as hell. Then she discloses to Luke that she’s a virgin.

Yep. You read that aright. See for yourself.

I have a lot of sympathy for Danielle here because I have done this. Many, many, manymanymany years ago, before I got married and turned into the decrepit OLDER woman, as Bitch Lauren would put it, that you see before you today. I had it in my head that my lack of penis-in-vagina experience at the ripe old age of twenty was a shameful secret and I just wanted to get it out there before too much time had passed (though to my credit I had a better sense of when I was having a bad date with a dude I’d never call again than Danielle seems to have). I now know that this is pretty ridiculous and that a lack of having performed a particular sexual act by a particular arbitrary age is neither shameful nor embarrassing. But at the time it seemed so to me. I got a few different reactions to my virginity disclosures; most were of the skeezetacular huh-huh “I can help you out with that!” variety. But then I wouldn’t have had the poor judgement to disclose it (or to date in the first place) to a guy like Luke. When Danielle says it, it’s like a visible wall comes down between her and Luke. Luke mentioned before in confessional that he wasn’t that into Danielle, but now it seems like he’s simply counting the minutes until he can be rid of her. I feel for both of them, as bad dates suck awfully, but I am more sympathetic to Danielle here as she seems so clueless.

Date is over, thank the heavens, and we return to the mansion, the Xanadu of crying fat laydeez, if you will. LUKEMAIL WOOOOO!!! I have to say I think the Lukemail delivery system is flawed; it’s basically a giant white plastic version of their dumb rings that hangs on a hook in what appears to be the front yard of the fat palace. What they SHOULD have done is trained a potbellied pig to waddle in and deliver Luke’s notes. See, even I could be a reality TV producer! Luke says, in note form, that he wants to give Heather the full force of the Luke Experience since she missed out last week owing to her vomiting problems, so he asks her on a solo date. I suppose her assent is presumed. Bitch Lauren is the laydee who happens to discover and read the Lukemail so she then gets all whiny and aghast in confessional: “I never get what I want around here! I don’t get it! How is that fair? Whine whine whine!” Boring.

Oh shit, they’re going horseback riding. AWESOME. I am so jealous. Luke asks the horse dude whether his horse will mind that he’s over three hundred pounds, and the horse dude assures him they’ve chosen a horse sufficient to the task of hauling Luke’s lardy ass around. Long-running horse jokes aside, this is a valid concern for any fatty attempting horseback riding, as too much weight on a horse can injure it, so this is another of the aforementioned wonderful fat-normalizing moments for me.

Back at the Taj Mahfat, the laydeez are swimming, and Kristian is proving herself to be more forthright and savvy than I expected. We don’t get any context for the conversation but instead just launch right into Kristian telling Danielle straight up that she wants to “wring your neck” and/or “stuff a sock in your mouth” sometimes. Holy shit, honesty! Kristian is apparently not one to only talk shit behind people’s backs but to their faces as well. How refreshing! Somehow she manages to do this in a non-bitchy way such that it appears that Danielle just sits and takes it. She then moves on to Melissa, whom she believes is “hiding something”. In confession Kristian extrapolates that she thinks Melissa would totally stab her in the back if she thought it would help her position. Take no prisoners, Kristian! Melissa asks Kristian if she has a “sneaky side” and Kristian insists she doesn’t.

I am ever more strongly on Team Kristian after this exchange, for what it’s worth.

Luke and Heather’s date continues. They ditch the horses and sit on a bench together and chat about Heather’s love of singing, and that she’s never pursued it seriously because of her Fat Pain. Then she talks about learning to accept herself. Then they make out.

Date over, Luke and the laydeez suit up for the now-routine Final Countdown Cocktail Party prior to elimination time. Bonnie looks fantastic in an ivory and black dotted dress with a narrow red belt. Kristian is wearing an ill-fitting halter dress that would be cute if it didn’t bunch up at the midsection so much. Many of the other dresses came from Torrid, it would seem. Sigh.

Luke and Bitch Lauren have a one-on-one conversation outside and Bitch Lauren, in her loud and halting! manner! of speaking! which is really! irritating! to me!, asks Luke if he’s excited to cut some bitches. She says she wishes they had elimination every day! It’s like Fat-Girl Christmas! Bitch Lauren wants to be clear that she’s not just saying what she thinks Luke wants to hear, and Luke assures her he’s never doubted her sincerity. In confessional, Luke says, “Lauren is definitely trying to assert herself as my woman, like she’s in this for me, and that’s actually a turn-on.” EWWWWWW. EW EW EW. I actually shuddered, folks. I actually shuddered.

Elsewhere, Danielle says she’s not worried after her Awesome Date, which pretty much ensures she’s going to get cut. Other remaining laydeez suck up to Luke and repeat themselves on the subject of their Deep and Profound Connections with him and it’s sort of a blur to me when these proclamations happen. Next, Luke sits down with Bonnie, who says she has a present for him. In answer to his O RLY? inquiry she slightly pulls down the front of her dress to reveal a piece of paper tucked into her boob area (it’s not properly in her cleavage, to be clear). Luke gingerly takes the paper and it’s a little sketch of him that Bonnie’s drawn. This whole thing could have come across as trampy and overbearing but to Bonnie’s credit she manages to pull it off in a way that’s confident and sort of hot and not ridiculous. Well done, Bonnie. I’d totally give you a ring back after that.

Kristian and Luke are encouched and Kristian is pouring her heart out to Luke again, telling him she thinks she’s falling for him. My husband, for the record, is officially disgusted by the level of ass-kissing going on here. Kristian is crying pathetically in confessional about never having “a man in my life who made me feel beautiful”. It’s the same thing, over and over again, forever reinforcing that mythology of fat love I discussed earlier.

Emme turns up and announces that four laydeez are going home tonight. The laydeez, predictably, freak. Four! Four! FOUR! HOW CAN IT BE FOUR OH GOD.

Pre-ring-toss, Luke gives a speech about “strong connections” and “amazing girls” and “putting yourselves out there”. He opens the ring box. Kristian is all but openly crying, she’s so terrified of being cut. Heather gets the first ring. Kristian, in confessional, talks again about princes and princesses and Luke is totally her prince and she can totally be a princess with Luke (My husband, to me: “You’ve never, ever, not once, thought of yourself as a ‘princess’ and me as your ‘prince’, have you?” Me: “Nope!” I have, truthfully, thought of myself as the Supreme Overlord Of Putting Things Away That My Husband Has Taken Out And Left On Various Household Surfaces Instead Of Putting Them Back Where They Belong, but never as a princess.). Mandy is next, and she tells Luke her finger feels “naked” without his ring on it. Hmm. Anna gets called next. In confessional, Christina says it feels “weird” to not have his ring on her finger. Is it just me or are we skirting some weird double-entendre territory with the whole ring-finger-insertion thing? Bonnie confessions that she’s confident. No, never say you’re confident! That’s the death knell! Always cry and say you’ll die if you’re sent home! Bitch Lauren gets her ring and says, “I don’t care if I’m called first or eleventh, it’s all the same to me,” again betraying the math troubles she demonstrated last week when she told Luke that Arianne could be his mom; since there are twelve girls and four are being eliminated, if Bitch Lauren is called “eleventh” she’d be going home, and she probably would care about that. Yes I am nitpicking. Bitch Lauren is a bitch. So there. She says elimination “thrills me” because every laydee cut means less competition for her.

Melissa gets a ring. In keeping with the theme, Malissa also gets a ring. Where’s Emme to tell us one ring remains? Oh there she is! Thanks Emme. Kristian is crumple-faced and one harsh glance away from a meltdown. Luckily Luke calls her name. This means Danielle, Amanda, Christina, and Bonnie are going home. Christina, to her immense credit, tells Luke quietly that she thinks he’s made a big mistake. Luke actually has the balls to try to debate the point with her for a moment. Luke, for fuck’s sake, just let her have the last word, would you? You’re the big man here. Bonnie cries kind of heartbreakingly and says she thinks Luke has an attraction to her but that she’s “scare the crap out of Luke’s mom”. Oh for heaven’s sake, fuck Luke’s mom, if he’s going to cut you because you have tattoos and shit then he’s not a guy who’s going to treat you right anyway. Bonnie’s probably dodged a bullet and she doesn’t even know it. It looks to me like Luke doesn’t want a confident and positive laydee who stands out on her own; he wants a sad neglected laydee he can draw out and take credit for. Moving on: Amanda, whom we’ve seen very little of, cries and leaves. Danielle is very graceful in defeat and believeably tells Luke she hopes he finds girl of his dreams. Now minus those eight hundred or so pounds, the remaining laydeez and Luke do the vomit-inducing group hug, and this episode comes to a close.

Next week: jealousy, fat pain, signs that say “Bad Wife” (I can only imagine where this is going to lead us), Bitch Lauren is bitchy, and Kristian cries.

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