That's right. Dolly Parton herself made an appearance on "The Bach" this week, and her glitter and ample cleavage and bedazzled gloves temporarily made this season bearable. Unlike the men vying for Emily's affection, Dolly was also the only person capable of bringing some personality out of our leading lady.
In case you missed it, Emily is from North Carolina, which means she listens exclusively to country music like Gloriana and Luke Bryan and other people you've barely heard of who need to plug a new album on the show. It also means that she worships Dolly Parton and grew up visiting the musician's Tennessee theme park, Dollywood. So on her one-on-one date with race-car driver Arie — totally my new fave, by the way — the pair flew to the park. They played carnival games to win prizes for Ricki Tick, obv. Emily white-knuckled her way through a roller-coaster ride. And then they visited the old theater on the premises where — shocker! — Dolly walked out in some killer boots and surprised the couple on stage.
Emily proceeded to freak out, acting for the first time all season like a human being while repeating "I could die" 3,000 times and covering her mouth in awe.
"Surprised? At Dollywood?" Dolly asked Emily, shocked that she didn't pick up on the beyond-obvious setup.
Dolly then lived up to every little girl's dream by acting like the coolest fairy godmother ever, asking Emily to sit down for a "girl chat" and imparting her wisdom about her 45-year marriage. Poor Arie was totally overshadowed, but redeemed himself later that night at dinner by playing right into her father fantasy. Oh, yes, Arie had dated a woman with not one but two children, and when they broke up he didn't miss his ex, he just missed her kids. You could practically see Emily salivating at the mouth.
"I don't have a whole lot of talents," she smiled. "But I am a good mom."
Really selling yourself there, sweetheart. Vom.
Anyway, Emily and Arie appear to have the most chemistry so far, and I like that he doesn't look as if he's on steroids or cry in alleyways because he misses his kid. Oh, right. That happened. Single-dad Tony left a group date to fret over leaving his 5-year-old son behind for the show. In theory, that's sweet. Except that when he called his kid, the boy barely seemed to register that daddio was gone and seemed confused by a game in which Tony referred to himself as Joker and his son as Batman.
"Do you miss daddy at all? Do you miss me, buddy?" Tony pleaded desperately into the cellphone, welling up and pressing his head against the dirty bricks in the alley. Thankfully, Emily sent him packing, saying "she would never be able to forgive herself" if she kept him around while he was missing his child — in other words, he was weird-looking, and dudes who cry in alleyways are unattractive.
Miss Emily does certainly seem to know what she's searching for looks-wise, as she nearly jumped Chris' bones during their one-on-one date. Am I the only one who doesn't find this guy hunkalicious? I guess he kind of has that strong-jawed Brad Womack thing going for him, which clearly revs Emily's engine.
"If I saw you across the bar, I would not talk to you. I would be too nervous to talk to you," she told Chris, before learning he's only 25 years old. That's right: 25. A whole year younger than Emily. Even though she said she's always dated older guys, Emily was willing to overlook Chris' youth because he's so damn good — I mean, mature.
Meanwhile, on the episode's group date at the park, Emily — clad in quite the revealing top and shredded Daisy Dukes — brought out a group of her "friends" to size up a handful of her suitors. Most of Emily's girlfriends all looked suspiciously older than her — we're talking, like, 40 or so. In fact, one guy was so perplexed upon seeing the group of women in the park that he asked: "Are we getting manicures?"
Yes, dude. A group of nail artists are waiting to give you gel manis in the sandbox.
In retrospect, I guess that's not that bizarre of an idea, considering what actually proceeded to happen: A bunch of random children bounded onto the playground and were told to frolic with the men. That's right. Some random North Carolina residents allowed their youngsters to climb the jungle gym and hop down the slide while being chaperoned by strange men on a reality television show so Emily could witness their parenting skills. Totally normal.
Oh, this episode was just jam-packed with awkward moments. There was the time that Ryan told Emily — IN FRONT OF HER FRIENDS — that he'd be upset if she got fat after they got married. The moment when Kalon — after talking incessantly — slammed Emily down in conversation, telling her condescendingly: "I love it when you talk, but I wish you'd let me finish."
And then there was Alessandro, whose first and final words on the show were uttered this episode: "Compromise." Oh no, nothing was lost in translation when the Brazilian told Emily he viewed taking on a wife with a kid as a compromise, since it would mean he couldn't travel for his job as a grain merchant. This is a gypsy man who sells barley and quinoa, my friends. You can't tie him down.
— Amy Kaufman
Photo: Dolly Parton performs for Arie and Emily on "The Bachelorette." Credit: ABC