Television's Least Romantic Night

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Lots of last night's TV was going for romance but, eek, drastically failed. Yes, surely The Voice and of course Alcatraz were as deeply romantic shows as always, once again making the heart swoon (Sam Neill! Cee Lo!) and pitter-patter and all that stuff. But we skipped those shows last night, instead tuning in to an episode of Smash that was partly about (SPOILER) adultery. Really non-sexy adultery, actually, entirely unromantic adultery. Oh, plus there was the finale of The Bachelor!

Technically we didn't watch The Bachelor last night, but rather on Hulu this morning in a feverish attempt to understand just what is going on with Ben and evil Courtney and the gang. Good lord, this show is strange. For those unaware, last night an ape in a tuxedo with a Prince Valiant haircut proposed on a mountaintop in Switzerland to a woman who is basically a witch who was wearing a long white cape and black elbow gloves (y'know, evil witch clothes). Yup. Like something out of a horrifying fairy tale! Apparently everyone was upset about this because Courtney was a horrible monster to all the other potential wives (this show is so weird!) but that's who Ben wanted in the end. So there on a mountaintop, in view of the helicopter, Ben gave his witch a ring, they faked joy mostly unconvincingly, and the episode was over. This is a thing that happens on American television, still, in 2012.

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And then the couple goes on After the Final Rose, a reunion special of sorts that's become necessary since so few of the Bachelor/Bachelorette couples make it through to the airing of the final episode, so some explanation is demanded. Since these two wrapped filming, Ben's apparently been caught smooching other ladies, and obviously Courtney has been in her dungeon doing spells, so last night (or, this morning) was the time for them to hash it all out in front of us. There wasn't really any clear explanation of what their status is now — they broke up for a while but they're back-ish together now, probably thinking that they'll be more famous together than they will be apart — but in the end Ben put the engagement ring back on her finger so... I guess that's that? Who the hell knows. What a bizarre television program. Bizarre in that obviously, duh, it's mostly synthetic, but there's an aspect to it that's... not? Like, these people seem to have pretty successfully convinced themselves that there's something real to all this? And who are we to say there isn't! Maybe there is. And if there is, if there really is genuine love or something like it at work here, then this show, and all the hoopla reunion shows afterward, are made all the stranger. Whatever this show is, though, it's decidedly not a romantic endeavor. It's mostly a weird testament to just how high a flaming pyre people are willing to throw themselves on in the manic pursuit of Warhol's fame time.

Over on Smash, Debra Messing's character ventured further down the extramarital rabbit hole, her temptation eventually leading her to a truly odd scene in the rehearsal hall in which her illicit paramour Michael managed to seduce her by just plain old taking her top off, leaving her standing there in sweatpants and funny black sneakers (she'd been in bed earlier) and nothing else. Then he took his shirt off and they both stood there, shirtless, fully dressed from the waist down, and looked at each other. This is... sexy? I'm not sure how sexy that is! Maybe some people got something out of it, but over here it just came acros more than a bit awkwardly. Sure we've all probably had intimate moments that woud look ridiculous to the outside observer, but that's why we're not characters on scripted TV shows! (Unless we are??) It was just a very oddly blocked scene that probably could have been handled better.

Though, well, it's possible that it was done so strangely on purpose, to put the extracurricular oddness of the whole thing in starker relief. If that's the case, then well done Smash! And well done on other aspects of the episode, including a so ludicrous it was funny Bar Mitzvah setup (seriously, the lengths they will go to to get the characters singing outside of rehearsal are admirably limitless) and Angelica Huston playing Big Buck Hunter. Smash is not turning out to be the show we thought it was going to be, but maybe that's OK. Surprises are fun, right? And since we don't have a tuxedoed ape on a mountaintop to surprise us, we'll have to settle for Smash.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.