“I’m looking forward to whatever this whole thing is,” says one of the bachelors on The Bachelor Winter Games, and if he’s baffled as to what “this whole thing is,” lemme tell ya, I was astoundingly puzzled myself. A special edition of the Bachelor franchise designed to lure eyeballs away from NBC’s coverage of the real Olympics, The Bachelor Winter Games gathers bachelors and bachelorettes who’ve performed (is that the right word for a “reality” show?) in Bachelor competitions around the world, including the UK, Australia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, China, and Japan. Hosts Chris Harrison and poor Hannah Storm bring all these international hornies together in Vermont, where they compete in outdoor sports so that they can pair off later for some indoor sports. Harrison calls it “a global celebration of unity and love,” barely able to choke out the words without laughing, since he knows he’s presiding over a global celebration of jealousy and arousal.
I don’t know what possessed me to watch this — it’s only the second time I’ve watched any edition of The Bachelor all the way through to the end. (My first time was a notable mistake.) Maybe I was trying to get in the spirit of the real Olympics? Nah. Anyway, almost everybody onscreen was a stranger to me. On Tuesday night’s premiere, a woman squeals, “I’m gonna be a snow bunny!” She is always referred to as “Ashley I” (that’s not a roman numeral, it’s the letter “I,” as in “Idiot”). She is apparently famous in Bachelor lore as someone who cries a great deal, and she lives up to this reputation on Tuesday night.
Even hardcore Bachelor fans are, I assume, going to be meeting some of these singletons for the first time, since they’ve been plucked from faraway lands to freeze their toes off in Vermont. Typical of this show’s sense of humor is the way we meet a bachelorette from Japan named Yuki. “I don’t know English!” she yells at the camera and at anyone who attempts to strike up a conversation. We’re supposed to find an inability to speak English inherently hilarious. So, too, are we meant to giggle at Christian, who’s from Germany. He speaks very good, if slightly not vernacular, English, and the producers couldn’t wait to show us a clip of him saying to the camera: “I’ve dated a China woman, a black woman, a Russian woman … dark, light, it doesn’t matter — when a woman looks beautiful, I like it.”
The opening-night competition is a biathlon: cross-country skiing interrupted by marksmanship. I’ll translate that: push yourself a few feet on skis, then shoot a paintball gun at a nearby target. Laugh at all the falling and tripping done by the snow bunnies and snow … hares? … who have never been on skis before. (“Yuki, can you ski?” “I don’t know English!!!”)
I appreciate the sub-digs the producers get in at their subjects, such as putting an informational chyron beneath shots of bachelor Kevin that reads “Seen Nickleback 27 times.” But after a while everyone seemed interchangeable and the proceedings kind of baffling. Toward the end, Chris Harrison asks Yuki, “Are you having fun?” “Thank you!” Yuki yells back, non sequitur-ially. I agree.
The Bachelor Winter Games airs Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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