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'The Bachelor' recap: Is Brad in this for the right reasons?

January 11, 2011 |  8:31 am

Brad-womack When I first heard a few months ago that Brad Womack would be reprising the role of the dashing suitor on "The Bachelor," I was skeptical. Here's a guy who led two beautiful women on, broke their hearts in front of millions of viewers, and then became a recluse in his hometown in Texas after apparently realizing his true color. His second shot at love, I imagined, would seem contrived -- a faux effort more focused on proving something that finding something.

Two episodes in, Brad still doesn't have me sold. To be fair, it's typically hard, I think, to jump on board with new "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette" candidates early on in the season. (I remember how sunny and grating I found Ali at first, and when she made a cameo on Monday's episode with Roberto, I swooned.)

But there's just something about Brad -- like there was with the last "Bachelor," Jake -- that doesn't ring true. He's overly earnest. He constantly says "please," as if he's trying to be deferential. And he's so intent on finding the one that I think he's often jumping to conclusions about the girls he's dating.

That was evident on his date with Ashley H. Sure, on "The Bachelor" you have less than six weeks to get to know your potential spouse, so you have to move fast. But when Brad's first date opened up about how her father had abandoned her family, Brad seemed to instantly light up. "We both have daddy issues! We must be the same!" Her admission made Brad feel so comfortable around her that he uttered this cringe-worthy line: "Ash? Can I call you Ash?" No. Please do not.

The two were on a date at a carnival that had been set up in the middle of the woods, which was part awesome, part creepy. (That huge clown sign at the entrance? Yikes.) Despite the fact that they had the fun all to themselves -- there were no lines or people to speak of -- they ran from one ride to the next like two giddy schoolchildren. In fact, Brad kept gushing how much the night made him "feel like a kid." Um, yeah, you're at a carnival.

In true high-school style, the pair made out on the Ferris wheel -- and they really went at it. It was the first kiss in a long time on the show that was so intense it was almost uncomfortable to watch. Case in point: He seems to like this chick a lot. 

However annoying Brad's date with Ashley H. might have been, it was nothing compared with the group date, which had to have been the largest group date in history. I can't stand these events early on in the season. I can just hear the producers cackling: "Let's put all the girls with a tendency for crazy that Brad doesn't really like in a room together and make them jealous to amp up their crazy."

On the crazy scale, Melissa and Michelle took the cake. Melissa -- who, thankfully, was voted off at the end of the evening -- was so envious that she didn't have a kissing scene with Brad during the shooting of an American Red Cross PSA that she stormed into another girl's scene and stole a lip lock. It was awkward. (More awkward? That she was cast as the cougar, when she's clearly one of the older-looking gals on the show.)

She proceeded to get in a tiff with Rachel, who was also later voted off. I can't even remember what they were arguing about, it seemed so insignificant. But good riddance. I loved how when Ali and Roberto showed up to help vet Brad's pool of girls later in the evening, Ali instantly seemed to sense the two girls that were bringing the drama. She's the woman.

Meanwhile, Michelle seems to have taken up the requisite "crazy hot girl" role this season. She reminds me of that beautiful woman Rozlyn from Jake's season -- the one who was kicked off for allegedly hooking up with a crew member. As one of the contestants aptly put it last night, these are the type of women who know they are good-looking and abuse that privilege -- acting in a manner so childish that "The Bachelor" would never put up with it if he didn't find them so attractive. 

Anyway, it was Michelle's birthday, and she wouldn't let anyone forget it.

"It's not my 29th birthday, not my 31st, it's my 30th," she whined. "This isn't how I thought I'd be spending my 30th birthday."

Maybe you shouldn't have signed up for the show, then? 

Even though she stormed off the PSA set because she wasn't getting enough birthday attention from Brad, he gave her a rose at the end of the night. Shocker. It was gross to watch her gloat about scoring the flower -- waving it over her head in the air. 

"When Brad and I kiss, it's going to be like fireworks," she said, bringing her hand over her face in a move that looked like jazz hands, but was meant to emulate fireworks, I guess? Craycray.

One woman who seems decidedly more normal is Jackie, who went on the last one-on-one date with Brad. Her date was arguably way better than Ashley H's: She got to go to the swanky Peninsula hotel, get pampered in the spa, pick out a dress from an array of fancy fashions, wear some Neil Lane jewels, have dinner on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl, and then get a private performance from Train.

Okay, so the Train part wasn't that awesome. My roommate couldn't stop laughing when Brad announced: "What could make this evening better? The band Train!" Yeah, not so much. They could have at least played "Drops of Jupiter."

In any event, Jackie seems pretty down-to-earth. I'm worried, however, that she's going to be a bit too complex for Brad. He seems to like his women uncomplicated -- also a bad sign for another woman I like, Emily, who lost her husband in a plane crash and is a single mother. When Jackie told Brad that she'd only had two boyfriends in her life -- something I don't think is thaaaat bizarre for a woman who's what, 25? -- Brad lost it.

"Clearly you pick men you're with very cautiously," he said, almost visibly recoiling. Oh no! Unlike the other women on this show, she might not magically accept you as the Best Man on Earth just because you're "The Bachelor"? Red flag. 

OK, OK. I know I sound a little bit negative about this season of "The Bach." But that's only because I love this stupid show. I expect a lot from it. And so far, Brad is really just not bringing it. I'm not into these guys -- the Jake and Brad types -- who are so stiff and formulaic. I wish we had another Jason Mesnick, who actually seemed to express genuine emotion.

That being said, I'm willing to give him a shot -- even if I think a lot of his motivation for finding a wife is rooted in redemption. Do you think Brad's in it for the right reasons? Weigh in below.

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Brad Womack is "The Bachelor." Credit: ABC.

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