The plunging neckline was a very purposeful decision.
  • Rick Rowell/ABC
  • The plunging neckline was a very purposeful decision.

This season of The Bachelor, ABC’s beloved televised hazing ritual, has already produced some memorable moments, hasn’t it? Who could forget the time Megan didn’t know that New Mexico is a place that’s in the United States of America? Or when labia exhibitionist Jillian dazzled Bachelor Chris Soules by asking him whether he’d “rather have sex with a homeless girl . . . or abstain from sex for five years.” (I think the correct answer’s pretty obvious.) Or when Kelsey, a school guidance counselor, convinced us all to withdraw our children from the public education system by behaving like a mental patient.

But, c’mon, we know the drill. The show, which has been on for a hundred years, give or take, comes at us in grueling two-hour increments that vacillate between trolling the depths of bad taste and boring us to tears. You rope in a bland blank-slate of a human being to serve as the “prize” (Soules, a farmer from Iowa, for instance, has the personality of a rake) even though we all know the real prize is becoming the Bachelorette next season. You rent a few helicopters, poke and prod the girls who are only tenuously stable, wait for a villain to emerge, and then watch the Nielsen ratings gush in like so much spent saliva.

A classic contestant move: exploiting a dead loved one. Or rather, exploiting a weakened emotional state in the wake of the death of a loved one. And the producers will always be pleased as pigs to guide your hand as you pour salt in your own wounds! As strategies go, it’s a pretty successful one. (Off the top of my head I can think of two recent contestants who ended up becoming the Bachelor/Bachelorette on the merit of a personal tragedy: Ben Flajnik, dead father, and Emily Maynard, dead fiancee—in a plane crash of all tragic things.) You’re no one until something horrible has happened to you. But the recently widowed Kelsey managed to make a well-worn narrative feel fresh again by behaving like such a weird, weird lady.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer who took to the Internet to confirm that Kelsey even had a husband (and, if she did, that he actually died) when she first opened up to a fellow contestant about the death and couldn’t remember the name of the ailment that killed him. When she got Chris alone to tell him about her loss, she used it as an excuse to show him what the inside of her mouth tastes like. And then there was the “panic attack.” And then the bone-chilling look she gave Ashley I. while they both sat on a canopy bed in the middle of South Dakota’s Badlands National Park (this show!)—we gazed into the face of madness and it belongs to a 28-year-old guidance counselor. At the end of a two-part episode (listen guys, when a show is already two horrifying hours long, it should never be “to be continued”) Kelsey was sent home. The other contestants celebrated like they’d just found out the government had subsidized asshole bleaching and eyelash extensions.

The dark-arts practitioners who make this awful show are having more fun than ever. I’m sure it’s to society’s detriment—but it’s fun in the meantime.