Hi. Meg here. I’m back from having a baby. And I regret to inform you Provo’s Most Eligible, formerly known as The Bachelor of Provo is a thing that is happening and we’re going to talk about it.
Before the threat of a lawsuit:
Let me tell you why I’m uniquely qualified to write about the show. The reasons are fourfold:
1. I’ve spent half a decade writing about The Bachelor, the dating series on ABC wherein one man dates 25 women, slowly whittling them down to one and gives that final woman a Neil Lane Diamond and a People Magazine cover and then breaks up with her 2 months later. It is the series upon which Provo's Most Eligible is based.
2. I attended BYU, the same school the majority of Provo’s Most Eligible cast attends, and the campus on which a lot of the series of filmed.
3. Like everyone on Provo’s Most Eligible, I am Mormon (I know we're not calling ourselves that anymore. But member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints takes a really long time to type.) So Mormon, in fact, that a not very flattering photo of me appears in the "Service" section of the church’s "For The Strength Of Youth" pamphlet.
Much to my chagrin, this photo has also appeared in The Ensign, on justserve.org, and in a temple pamphlet. So yeah. Real momo.
4. I grew up in Provo, went to school there, and now live a mere 40 minutes from the city accurately described in the show tagline as “The Thirstiest Town In America.” I saw a lot of classmates get married when we were 18.
Given my unique set of skills and qualifications, I thought I would be prepared for what Provo’s Most Eligible had to throw at me. But it is worse than I ever imagined a dating show about the young people of Provo would, or even could, be.
To their credit, the series creators know it’s bad. In interviews and Instagram videos they say they are just as uncomfortable with the show as the average viewer. They claim to have had no idea how popular the show would become.
And the popularity is hard to explain. Everything about the series, from production quality and filming locations, to the complete lack of star power from its lead, is perplexing and bad. I hate this “show.”
But I also love this show. I will watch all of it and all subsequent series. I can neither look away nor get enough. This duality of emotions demands analyzing. And that analysis is too much for one person to do alone, so I’ve invited Rebbie Brassfield and Eli McCann, two fellow BYU graduates and survivors of the BYU dating scene, to help determine what makes this show both so terrible and so watchable.
The Bachelor of Provo features a very cute 20 year old BYU freshman named Colin who has the on-screen charisma of a punctured balloon.
Eli: Eli here. Before I say anything else, I have to confess I was only able to watch a total of 1 minute and 12 seconds of this. Meg got me to sit through an entire episode of The Bachelor two years ago and I honestly believed then it was not possible to ever have more hate in my heart. Now I’m positive I’m going to hell just because of the things I thought during that 1 minute and 12 seconds. Anyway, I just came here to say Meg owes an apology to punctured balloons.
Rebbie: Okay hi it’s Rebbie and before we go any further I have to confess I think I might love this show? That is, after the initial hatred of course. Like I think it was a Pride & Prejudice thing, where I tried super hard to act like I hated it but it was only because I was afraid of the truth that I actually really, really love it? I cannot tear my eyes away. It has bewitched me, body and soul.
Colin returned from serving an LDS mission about five minutes ago and hasn’t quite shaken the mission awkwardness. He has no idea what he wants to study, but guys, he is learning how to DJ because he’s really into electronic music. SO THERE’S THAT.
Rebbie: At least he doesn’t want to teach Seminary? That was always a terrible date moment - when you had to pretend to be excited about the prospect of living in near-poverty because he just couldn’t let go of the mission.
Eli: But the nice thing about Seminary teachers is that they’re all completely normal and have no weird opinions.
Colin explains that he’s never had a girlfriend and he’s not good with girls, but that there could be a ring at the end of this journey.
He’s 20, never had a girlfriend, and hoping to get engaged by the time the series wraps. This is why the world laughs at us.
Rebbie: So this is a major question for me - does not the term “bachelor” suggest the person has somehow missed out on the love they deserve? Like, they’re someone you’d say ‘How is so and so not married yet?’ Are the creators just sorta ignoring that meaning of the term here, or does he honestly see himself as a “bachelor” at age 20? Is this the reality in Provo and I’ve just blocked it out??
Eli: Rebbie – I’ma help you out. If they found a single man in Provo over the age of 25 to do this, there would be a 150% chance he’s a raging homosexual. They’re not looking to help a closeted man make 20 new best friends.
Okay but I would 100% watch that show. Heck, I'd even sign up to be on it. Do you think a young, fun, gay man wants to befriend a 30 something mother of three?
But back to Colin. I’ve seen a wide variety of bachelors on the The Bachelor in my time. Sure, they’ve all been muscular white guys with gelled hair, but their personalities have ranged from Prince Charmingesque (Ben) to total dirtbag (Jake/Arie/Juan Pablo). What remains constant, however, is their ability to interact with women like an adult human, an ability Colin lacks entirely.
When the first girl (I use “girl” intentionally. They’re all children) introduces herself to Colin, he responds with “okay” then gapes at her while she struggles to carry the entire weight of the conversation.
He repeats this interaction 21 more times the first night and into the next episode, never showing any sign of improvement.
Rebbie: A friend once said that on his first date after the mission all he could think to ask were what color her scriptures were. I’d like to submit that as a conversation starter, Colin!
Eli: I had a roommate at BYU who used “If all of the temples got into a fight, which one would win,” as a conversation starter on dates. I thought he was the worst person in the world until he told me one day a woman he had taken out asked him to take her home because she wasn’t looking for a man who didn’t have respect for the temple. The point is how did I live in Provo?
In episode 2, which we’ll get to next week, one of the girls asks Colin for a kiss. His face flushes crimson and he tells her he’s not comfortable kissing her. Colin, as someone whose photo appears in FSOY, I have the authority to tell you that a small peck on the lips is probably okay. Also, do you know how long each episode of The Bachelor would be if you took out all the kissing? Nine minutes. Tops. It’s most of the show. With no kissing what we get with Provo's Most Eligible is 40 minutes of cringing and memories of every terrible date we had as BYU freshman. Like my date where he picked me up from the old Heritage Halls, took me to Subway in the Wilkinson Center, prayed over his Five Dollar Footlong, then told me I wasn’t as fun as his last girlfriend.
Eli: I’m just gonna move past the phrase “prayed over his Five Dollar Footlong” because I’m a lady.
Remington, Colin’s roommate, is both the host and the creator of the show.
Rebbie: Remington is an evil genius. He gets to play the cool, uninvolved wingman and hang out with more girls than he could meet on the 5th floor of the HBLL during finals week. WATCH YOUR BACK, COLIN.
Remington’s Chris Harrison impression is fine, but his production choices leave much to be desired. There’s clutter in every shot, and not stylized clutter. More like, a closet door is open and you can see all the trash inside clutter.
Eli: I would watch the hell out of a Marie Kondo Bachelor of Provo crossover show.
Speaking of trash and sparking joy, props to the distracting barefoot guy in the background of this scene:
At one point a tripod is left out in the middle of the room.
Rebbie: But you didn’t even mention the framed puzzle on the wall.
Eli: Why is framing a completed puzzle a thing people do? You didn’t create that. Someone intentionally broke a painting so you could put it back together. Why would you want to display for the world that you have poor time-management skills?
I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to decide if it is actually a framed puzzle or just bizarre art? Both feel appropriate for a Utah basement.
Most of the show is shot on campus and the crappy housing complexes surrounding it. If you also attended BYU, the series will transport you back to the time when you Lived the Riv or occupied King Henry where the couches were always covered in mysterious hair and the kitchens always smelled of old meatloaf. Unless you lived in Belmont. If you lived in Belmont you know nothing of the dilapidated student housing struggle. You probably never hoarded toilet paper from bathrooms on campus because your meal plan ran out a week too early and the balance in your bank account was 57 cents.
Eli: We need a youth to inform us whether the Belmont is still the Beverly Hills of Provo. I’ve been out of that scene too long to know. When my parents were 20, the Riv was where all the rich kids lived. Last week I heard they busted a meth lab there. It was the most proud I’ve been of BYU since my marketing professor senior year had to issue a formal apology to our class because she accidentally included a giant picture of male genitalia in her powerpoint presentation.
Rebbie: YES the rich kid complex is always changing! And it really dates you to disclose what it was when you were a Cougar. For me it was Alpine Village, or as some called it “the great and spacious building.” I remember visiting beautiful friends of friends there and just being in awe they could afford to pay $400/month for rent. Pennies!
What exactly was your professor marketing, Eli?
Eli: I don’t know, but I was very ready to buy it.
The “cocktail party” and “rose ceremony” are filmed outside and in the basement of someone’s parents’ house.
It’s just like every other Utah house built in the nineties. Heavy on beige and wrought iron
Rebbie: *Specifically Greg Olsen’s Jesus! (my personal favorite). I grew up with his kids and once had a sleepover in his art studio, where we discovered, and played sort of irreverently with, a prop Jesus foot. You know the one that is always sticking out of his robes. These are the wild teen stories you have when you grew up in Provo.
Eli: Next time you go to his house, please ask him why Jesus is white.
As for the ladies,
Remington or Colin or maybe the devil convinced 22 very young coeds to sign on for the opportunity to meet their next regret. Remington posted 500 flyers around the freshman dorms and received over 200 emails from willing women. How that number was narrowed down to 22 is unknown, and probably better left that way.
A good chunk of episode 1 is spent on footage of the girls making short introductions for the camera. They’re looking for a spiritual family man and someone who can be sarcastic, they all say.
Rebbie: You know they all made actual lists in Young Women’s with the qualities they wanted their future husband to have. I want to see the lists. Producers, can we see the lists?
McKenna is the oldest contestant at a whopping 23.
Rebbie: I feel so deeply for the spinster McKenna. Only a few of us make it to 23 and single in Provo, and it is a time of great confusion and woe.
Most of the rest of the ladies are 18-19 and you guys, that means they were born AFTER Y2K. They 100% do not know what Full House or Napster is.
Eli: Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think people who don’t remember 9/11 should be allowed on the internet.
“I’m not your typical Provo girl. I’m studying surgical technology,” one of the girls says.
I’m not sure what she’s implying about Provo girls, but as a girl raised in Provo I know I’m offended.
“You don’t need to go to the store to find a snack, I’m right here,” another says.
Eli: In other news, Gloria Steinem just had a stroke.
I’m really hoping this girl stirs up some trouble. She has the eyebrows of someone who knows how to create drama. And I mean that in the best possible way.
Rebbie: YES Annali! She’s got to be a Paul Mitchell girl. Remember how they’d sneak into BYU housing and you’d be secretly pissed because they had better makeup than you and were going to snag all the dudes but didn’t even go here?!
I’ve tried so hard to forget. Once I went to the Paul Mitchell school and my neighbor, a new student of the academy, waxed my brows and in the process removed a whole half of my left eyebrow. At the time I thought it might be sabotage on her part to weed out dating competition, but looking back she was eons hotter than me and was probably just really bad at cosmetology.
Eli: What does your life have to look like to get to the point where you are not required to live in BYU-approved housing, but you sneak into it anyway?
The girls make their step-out-of-the-car-not-limo-because-this-show-is-cheap-and-wow-Colin-with-their-looks-and-wit introductions, pulling out all the stops.
And even, if you can believe it, sleeveless dresses:
As someone whose photo appears in FSOY, I feel I’m in a position to judge whether or not this much shoulder is appropriate. I’ll allow it.
Rebbie: It really feels like a missed opportunity they didn’t ask Colin his thoughts on modesty. There was a stark division between the cap-sleeved and the bare-shouldered, and this is exactly the type of petty drama that should exist on the Bachelor, people!
Colin treats every introduction like it’s the first time he’s seen, let alone met, a member of the opposite sex.
Once all the ladies have arrived, they gather in what must be Remington’s parents’ basement,
where they mingle, sip their apple juice,
and then take turns talking to Colin for ten seconds each.
Eli: Talking to him for ten seconds reminds me that in December I was in a jewelry store and a fetus wearing BYU paraphernalia walked in with his mom to buy an engagement ring and when the woman behind the counter with tattoos up both arms asked how long he had been dating the soon-to-be, he said “3 weeks” and she responded “What took you so long,” and he didn’t understand she was being sarcastic so he said “Well she went home for Thanksgiving so I didn’t see her for one week of that” and THAT ENABLING MOTHER SHOULD BE IN PRISON.
From the ugly and poorly lit armchair where the post-conversation debriefings are filmed one of the girls says, “I got to learn about him. I didn’t talk about myself much.”
A lot of the girls try their darndest to act interested in where Colin served his mission.
And this poor girl, who is an actual musician with Young Ambassadors, tries to act impressed when Colin tells her that he was in a DJ club in high school:
You know how you know you’re not ready for marriage? When you’re talking about things you did in high school like they were last week.
Eli: “Do you sometimes wish you could just go back? I bet I could throw a football over that mountain.”
Annali with the good eyebrows is probably the best flirter of the group, and is definitely not here to make friends.
Elena interrupts Annali’s conversation with Colin, and Annali becomes Annali with the angry eyebrows:
In her ire Annali reveals that Elena gets the first impression rose before we see Elena getting the first impression rose. Chronology is not the editor’s strength. The editor has no strengths.
Rebbie: Has it been mentioned that Elena is from London? And has an accent? Honestly just predictable, Colin.
As Annali puts it, “She only got it because she has an accent. This is so stupid.”
At long last, Colin picks his faves via the Rose Ceremony, a joyous gathering if the women’s faces are any indication:
and 8 girls are sent home.
All 8 are taller than Colin, and include almost every woman of color in the cast. NOT A GOOD LOOK, Colin.
Rebbie: Argh, and he even made a comment about the girl’s afro! Solange wrote an entire song about this, Colin!
I wouldn’t put money on Colin being especially woke.
Eli: I know this is low-hanging fruit, but one of us needs to say it: THEY FOUND PEOPLE OF COLOR IN PROVO?
It should be mentioned that none of the released girls are upset by the rejection. Most seem relieved.
At the end of episode one, Remington includes a very “Speacial” thanks in the credits.
And with that, we’re off to a season of embarrassment and praying that the rest of the world doesn’t find this thing, but also waiting breathless for the next episode to drop.
Stay tuned for recaps of episodes 2 and 3, and beyond. It's going to be a wild ride.
(Design: Josh Fowlke) (Editor: Rachel Swan)