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TV

The Bachelor

Rome
Cast: Chris Harrison
Regular airtime: Mondays 9pm ET

(ABC; US: 2 Oct 2006)

The Way the Biscotto Crumbles

The worst thing about this will be having a roommate. I’m used to having a maid all the time. My freshman year of college, I paid my roommate to clean my room.
—Erica (Socialite/Houston/23)


Terrorism’s effects are increasingly broad. On the evidence of The Bachelor: Rome, the humble bra is no longer allowed on transatlantic flights. Peroxide, however, is fine.


Life being short, I haven’t seen any of the first 11 seasons of The Bachelor or its sister show. However, I’ve checked with the people who care, and apparently only two of the couples put together by presenter Chris “Chip” Harrison previously are even talking to each other today. All others are utterly asunder. So if “Prince” Lorenzo “P-Lo” Borghese really wants to find the love of his life, he’d be better off paying eHarmony $250 a year. But where would be the fun in that?


If ABC gave me a dollar for every time one of the 25 aspirant American princesses reminisced about her childhood dreams of Prince Charming, I’d have enough for a month of eHarmony right there. But I’d probably buy the contestants a slender volume about Italian history instead, because there are some things I think they need to know.


Apparently, Lorenzo’s family passed “Go” and collected much more than 200 lire when the extravagantly nepotistic Camillo Borghese became Pope Paul V in 1605, and then got lucky again when a political marriage and series of lawsuits allowed them to take control of the wealthy and prestigious Aldobrandini family. Still, the Italian title Principe is not a royal title like the British Prince. Rather, it was the highest rank of the Italian nobility, one up from Duke, until the post-war Italian government stopped recognising the nobility in 1948. Presumably Lorenzo’s not a direct descendant of Papa Paul himself (heaven forfend!), but he might be a genuine Italian-style noble if only King Vittorio Emmanuelle III hadn’t bent over for Mussolini.

Based on the two-hour premiere of The Bachelor: Rome, P-Lo seems like a pretty nice guy. Even if we all know he’s there to promote himself and his high-end dog grooming business. So long as he takes care to look like a nice guy, Lorenzo can’t lose. If only we could say the same for Rosella from Chicago.


My mother and father found love in Italy. It’d be so beautiful if it
happened again, 26 years later.
—Rosella (Makeup artist/Chicago/27)


Mathematically challenged, and shorter and darker than the average Princess Wannabe, Rosella was molto più Italiano than Lorenzo, who can barely order a bottle of Chianti, let alone pop out for cannolis. If the pair had been cast in The Sopranos, he would be the wealthy WASP neighbour who looks down his nose at Tony, while Rosella hangs out with Carmela and the “girls”. Indeed, Rosella could easily be Rosie Aprile’s daughter.


Eh bene. Rosella sold her car so she could buy herself gowns and compete for the not-very-Italian non-Prince, thinking her was her destiny. Of course, she went home without a single rose. Because that’s the way the biscotto crumbles when you sign up for a show like this. Repeat after me: reality TV is not Sleepless in Seattle.


When you remove all the padding and implants, the two-hour premiere of The Bachelor: Rome was an all-night cattle market with rivers of booze, no obvious food, and a lot of very stressed-out girls. If I cared more, I’d complain that keeping a contestant up all night and filling her with alcohol was cruel, if not unusual. But it’s hard to care when you can’t tell your Lauras from your Sadies. Those few contestants who did catch the imagination tended to do so for all the wrong reasons.


Heather (Nurse/Pennsylvania/34) may be a nurturing angel to the sick and injured, but thanks to the magic of TV, she will now always be known as That Drunk Chick Who Looked Like Dyan Cannon. And if Heather’s really only 34, then I’m totally prepared to reconsider Caprice’s claim that she’s been 28 for the last 10 years. I’m similarly unconvinced that Desiree (Realtor/Salt Lake City/22) is 22. She is, however, lots of fun. In conversation, she’s replaced the concept of punctuation with the word “Baby”. Her party frock made her look like a cross between Marilyn in The Seven Year Itch and a Caesar’s Palace cocktail waitress. She tried to lap-dance her way to Lorenzo’s first rose and the pair of diamond earrings that went with it.


Gina (Ultrasound technician/Chicago/28) doesn’t dance. Neither does she drink herself into rehab in an evening. But she does have quite the ugliest set of expressions you’ll see this side of a bulldog chewing a wasps’ nest. If looks could kill, she’d be reality TV’s first serial killer. Gina desperately needs to try out some of P-Lo’s Royal Treatment Stinky-B-Gone Pet Odor Fighting Kit, to see if she can’t get rid of the nasty smell under her nose.


The first four girls I met all had tattoos. And only half of them have been to college!
—Erica


One competitor I’d love to see more of is Erica. A right royal Texan Princess in her own right, she’s an awkward cross between Marley Shelton and Heather Graham, with the sum boobage of both. She either worships blindly at the Temple of Paris Hilton, or she’s like, so totally sending herself up, and having a blast doing it. It’s obvious that Erica’s going to become very unpopular very quickly. But when she gets back to H-town, I surely hope Miss E will call me.


The Chipper’s diamond earrings gambit succeeded in splitting the American drinking classes. His next format twist simultaneously upped the dramatic tension and reunited the 25 girls. When he introduced two new contestants, local über-hotties both, stunned looks and silent howls of protest abounded. As the Americans joined ranks against the Italian interlopers, Gina’s face broke an antique clock and emasculated a passing waiter; not even Lorenzo’s princely good breeding could control the smirk that oozed across his face.


At the end of the premiere, Lorenzo sent 14 girls back to America, and dancer Cosetta back to… um… Rome. It’s already fairly obvious that the final four in this season’s Bachelor will include the Italian Agnese (who could be his very own Audrey Hepburn), a Reese Witherspoon clone, and one of the interchangeable brunettes he seems to favour. But for me, the big question is, how will the prince deal with a hometown date that takes Agnese back to Venice? After all, the Pope in his family closet once excommunicated the entire government of Venice and placed the city itself under edict. I wonder if Venice has forgiven and forgotten? If not, P-Lo could be heading for a nasty accident in a gondola.

Rating:

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