''The Bachelorette'': The guys' family secrets
Welcome to the latest installment of The Bachelorette, in which our heroine pays visits to her suitors' families. Who cares if she doesn't know anything about them? That won't be a problem, considering tonight's approved topics: Jen Schefft; how comfortable the four remaining bachelors feel in Jen's presence; why these men can see themselves spending a lifetime with Jen; whether or not they're interested in Jen for the right reasons; and sports. (It's okay: Jen used to be a cheerleader.)
The use of sign language has been approved for the duration of this episode, but only if it can shed light on Jen's inherent goodness and willingness to try new things. You may also speak in tongues that is, engage in spontaneous Frenching if you run out of things to say.
Before we begin, you may want to hit the hooch (like Wendell's wise clan). At the very least, keep an emergency supply of cabernet next to the remote. (I opened mine at the ten-minute mark and, by the rose ceremony, was seriously considering taking a swig straight from the bottle.)
Whatever you do, though, please avoid discussing your passions and hobbies, your job, your beliefs (political, religious, or otherwise), and any details of trips you've taken to exotic locales. Try not to be too funny either. Actually, the less amusing you are, the better. And don't mention Jen's previous failed engagement. Yes, we know her courtship occurred on national television, but it's none of your damn business now, mmmkay?
At least after tonight, I finally have an answer to the mystery of why The Bachelorette's producers haven't shown one single interesting conversation all season. Apparently, our gal Jen gets bored vv quickly when chatter turns away from hers truly. Indeed, her ability to feign interest in others came to a screeching halt while she was visiting Ryan's parents at their Oregon homestead. Scott and Barbara were a tad overzealous in sharing the details of their recent trip to Thailand, which made their possible future daughter-in-law climb the walls with ennui and later ask the camera, ''Does anyone else think this is weird?''
Any weirder than dissing your possible future mother-in-law in front of some 10 million viewers? Not so much, doll.
Seriously, if Jen were remotely interested in getting to know any of these guys or their families, I suspect she'd have opened her ears instead of her pie hole, which later let loose a Jan Brady-style complaint of ''Thailand! Thailand! Thailand!'' Poor Jen . . . when will anyone ever pay any attention to her?
Thankfully, our Bachelorette was nice enough to excuse Ryan's parents for elbowing her favorite topic off the table, by theorizing that these misguided folks were probably nervous about meeting her ''and everything that came along'' with her. Cameramen? Sound mixers? The curse of Andrew Firestone?
None of those things, mind you, prevented Jen from catching some make-out action with Ryan, who aside from having a pleasant smile, hasn't exhibited or at least been shown exhibiting any distinguishing character traits whatsoever. And come to think of it, a smile isn't a character trait either! At least we know his ''best-case scenario'' involves Jen falling in love with his family, them falling in love with her, and then maybe him and Jen falling in love with each other. Just a show of hands please: Wouldn't most of you want the same thing in reverse?
Getting back to Andrew Firestone, though, how hilarious was it when Wendell's tipsy mother told a horrified Jen that she found her previous TV fiancé ''a little stuffy''? Or when Mom made those crazy finger spectacles? Here's a woman who deserves her own reality pilot (with Wendell's saucy sister as a sidekick). After all, if you had to spend an evening pretending it was totally normal that your son might end up getting engaged to a woman he barely knows on network television, wouldn't you need some social lubricant too?
And anyhow, Wendell's mom wasn't so sloshed that she couldn't see the obvious. ''I don't get the feeling Jen is into Wendell the way Wendell is into Jen,'' she declared rather ominously. When Wendell (the only funny guy on this show) and Jen didn't kiss goodbye, you knew the lanky redhead's minutes were numbered leading to another predictable rose ceremony, and a likely laugh drought for the rest of the season.
Which cleared the way for another week of John Paul. (Argh!) I'm not sure what happened during Jen's visit with his family in Oklahoma City I was busy trying to get cork bits out of my wine but I heard something about boots, sports, and J.P. having a personal chef. (All I had was a frozen Trader Joe's quesadilla and some radishes.) I also think I heard Jen excitedly exclaim that J.P. ''already lives in a house!'' Huh? Oh wait, who cares? J.P. and Jen may have kissed, but he's so going home next week.
That means a final showdown between Ryan and Josh Duhamel . . . I mean Jerry! I still don't like the latter (not just because he's better-looking than me), and I have no idea why he started their blackout date at his high school, but they seem to be finding some kind of mutual passion. Perhaps it's a burning desire to make the cover of In Touch? Hard to say. I was glad, though, that the show didn't either belabor or brush aside the fact that Jerry's mom, Paula, is deaf.
Actually, Paula was just as fierce as Wendell's mom, not being overimpressed by Jen's learning a little sign language and asking her right off the bat why she was doing a second season on the Bachelor franchise. I wondered for a second if Jerry's mom actually signed the words, ''Jen, you're a skank,'' and then her daughter softened the translation, but Jen distracted me by blathering something about the journey leading her somewhere.
How I wish that somewhere were Singlesville. Or at least a good therapist's couch. After all, while I know the old adage says you've got to love yourself before you can truly love someone else, methinks Jen is taking the theory a little too far.
What do you think? Is Jen too caught up in her own hype on her second TV go-round? Should Wendell have gotten J.P.'s rose? And how many drinks (if any) did you polish off during tonight's episode?