"The Bachelorette" is such a strange beast. I'll often loathe one contestant, making snide remarks about them for the entire season, and then the moment they're sent home I feel an odd sense of pity for them.
Take good ol' Ryan, for example, or as my friends and I had referred to him this season: "Solar Panels." I realized during Monday's episode, of course, that a more apt nickname would have been "Water Heaters," as on his first one-on-one date with Ashley he continued to ramble on about how water heaters are a waste of natural gas. She couldn't even feign interest in that scintillating piece of information, as her eyes already began to well up in anticipation of sending the environmentally-friendly businessman home.
Prior to the date, I -- like the rest of the remaining guys in the house -- could not tolerate Ryan. I'm not sure how it was possible, but he contained even more boundless energy than Ashley. His constant glass-half-full attitude wasn't endearing; instead, it tarnished even his Matthew Morrison-esque good looks.
"What a date," he said, before sitting down to a picnic with Ashley where he'd later be told to pack his bags. "I feel amazing. Like I'm cloud nine--cloud ten."
Unfortunately, he did not.
"Water in the background. Fish all around. Look at that little guy," he said, smiling weirdly at a not-so-tiny bird.
Apparently his over-the-top enthusiasm for life -- and nature -- finally began to wane on Ashley, because when Ryan told her how eager he was to have her meet his family, she decided to tell him that just wasn't in the cards for them.
"You don't want to meet my family?" he said, cocking his head in confusion and staring back at Ashley like a lost puppy. Despite the fact that this dude oozes cheese, there I was, suddenly feeling sorry for him. He proceeded to wander off, confiding to a camera guy about how no one had any idea how badly he wanted to "find someone." The idea got him so choked up that he disappeared into the bushes momentarily, kicking the dirt, crying and swearing.
It was an emotional episode for lots of folks this week. J.P., still the obvious front-runner, got upset when he had to witness Ames and Lucas kiss Ashley on their group date. He was even more angry when Ben didn't come back until the following morning after his one-on-one date with Ashley -- even though Ben insisted the pair stayed in separate rooms.
As usual, Ashley also found something to get upset about, oddly breaking down into tears after sending Lucas home at the rose ceremony. Really? You're crying over this guy? Other than that vaguely cute moment when he taught you how to swing an imaginary golf club, you didn't even feel anything for the dude.
"Sometimes I want to say like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't even breathe,'" she sobbed. I just wished that sentiment even made sense.
It's especially frustrating to see Ashley get so distraught when it seems like she now has some viable options in front of her heading into the hometown dates. J.P. is clearly smitten with her, and her date with Ben went off without a hitch. Although, wasn't it kind of awkward when Ben poured his heart out to her after their moped ride, saying he was "teetering on the edge" of dropping the "l-bomb," and she just responded by staring blankly at him?
Ugh. Well, if she's not feeling good about her future in love at the moment, it appears she's quite confident with her body. How many tops that reveal her entire back does this chick own? We get it. You're not well-endowed, er, in the front region, and lots of guys made you feel insecure about that during the comedy club date earlier this season. That doesn't mean you have to walk around showing your entire naked back to compensate for it.
But Ashley's small tops weren't the only things that were cropped this week -- the entire episode was cut short to make room for Chris Harrison's dramatic interview with Emily, who of course was proposed to at the end of last season by then-"Bachelor" Brad Womack. In a shocking! turn! of! events!, Emily and Brad are already dunzo, only months after they proclaimed their undying love for one another.
I thought the interview with Emily was kind of lame, as she began weeping the moment she stepped out of the limo at the infamous "Bachelor" mansion.
"It's just sad being here," she choked. "The last time I came here, it felt a lot different."
For whatever reason, I had trouble feeling sorry for Emily. Those of you who watched the "After the Final Rose" episode after Brad's season will recall that Emily came across as totally controlling and seemed to have completely abandoned the sweet Southern girl persona she'd embodied prior. It appeared in an interview with the couple on that program that Brad would have done anything for Emily, who was not willing to uproot her life and move to Austin to give their relationship a chance.
On Monday, we didn't even really get any good details about why it didn't work out for the former lovebirds. She said she had been planning to move to Austin for the summer to see how things went, but "little red flags" kept coming up.
"I didn't doubt that we loved each other, I just doubted that he was still gonna wanna be with me," she said, insinuating he wasn't ready to abandon his single guy ways and become a husband and a father to Emily's daughter, Ricki.
"This was my worst nightmare," she insisted. I can only hope Ashley isn't back at the mansh in a few months, lamenting how her relationship went awry. But let's face it: The odds ain't in her favor.
Photo: Ben and Ashley get intimate on their moped date. Credit: ABC.