“Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?” Episode 1: The Most Boring Couple In America Get a Show!

LOOK HOW HAPPY WE LOOK DON'T WE LOOK HAPPY HEY EVERYBODY LOOKIT HOW HAPPY WE ARE

LOOK HOW HAPPY WE LOOK DON’T WE LOOK HAPPY HEY EVERYBODY LOOKIT HOW HAPPY WE ARE

Welcome to a brand new recap series, Bachelor babes! Whilst Bachelor Nation takes a Quiet 15 in between Bachelor In Paradise and The Bachelor: Nick Always Gets Dumped!, The Free Form Network (formerly known as The Family Channel, it’s now rebranding itself as the Lifetime version for young women who love top knots, The Bachelor, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, shows about gymnasts and ballet dancers, and paranormal romance novels…a.k.a, everything that lies deep inside the heart of all of us) has decided to pick up where The Bachelor: Ben Is Sweet! left off and join Ben & Lauren in “the real world.”

And if by “the real world” they mean “grossly set-up and overly-produced situations that don’t even remotely look like they’re naturally happening in real life”, then well done, Free Form! Ya did it!

I actually had no plans to even watch, much less recap, Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?…Ben’s season was so boring I don’t even think I finished my finale recap of their season, so I didn’t have much hope that their lives “in the real world” were going to be much more interesting.

And guess what? I was right!

But it was also so awful and fake and I hated it so much that I just knew I had to recap it. Consider it my gift to you, Bachelor Nation…

The Part of The Show Where Ben Acts Like Everyone Watching Doesn’t Already Know How He & Lauren Even Met Because If They Didn’t Then Why THE FUCK Would They Even Be Watching This In The First Place

The show starts with us having to watch the whole meeting-Lauren-on-The-Bachelor-and-then-proposing-to-her montage all over again (points for the song in the background, though – this Free Form channel really gets the whole soft-voiced female slow song thing!). Which I actually don’t mind, because it means I have at least 10 minutes to zone out and check Twitter…at least until I have to hear them crying and saying “you’re my person” to each other after the engagement (why do dumb boring people always have to ruin cool, originally sweet sayings like that? Remember when “you’re my true north” happened after the movie “Message In a Bottle” came out and it was kind of cool but then everyone and your mom started saying it in their wedding vows and shit? When I get married or proposed to, I want my betrothed to say something like, “you’re the only person I want to get stuck in an IKEA with on a Saturday afternoon” because vanilla Nicholas-Sparks-reading Colbie-Caillat-listening mothafuckas ain’t gonna be stealin’ THAT).

“It was The Journey of a Lifetime,” we hear Ben say. “But now The Bachelor is over.”

“Find out what happens after The Bachelor,” Lauren chimes in. “Will we find our Happily Ever After?”

My guess is no.

Trouble In Vanilla-&-Linen-Scented Candle Paradise!

The show does one of those tricky flashbacks where we see the climax of the episode – Ben & Lauren fighting backstage just before they’re supposed to walk onto the taping of JoJo’s “After The Final Rose” (or “AFR”, as Ben helpfully abbreviates for us later). Lauren is not happy to be there – she would much rather be in Denver, “hangin'”! She does the super passive-aggressive thing where she basically just dumps on Ben that she’s super not happy to be there and then wraps it up with a “It’s fine.”

Ben knows that it’s obviously not fine, and earns my respect by confronting her with a “You’re telling me this right now? We had all morning to talk about this.” Because seriously, Lauren – you don’t just do that to someone literally minutes before you’re both supposed to be walking onto a TV show…it’s basically the ultimate in emotional manipulation.

But first, let’s go back to the beginning, to one month earlier in Denver!

Ben and Lauren are grocery shopping. What a normal, day-to-day, couple-y thing to watch! They make decisions about watermelon together, Ben shows off by tossing a melon behind his back to Lauren – “You’re supposed to catch it!” he laughs, as Lauren arranges her face into the kind of tight smile most women reserve for when they’re being forced to tolerate the antics of their most unruly and least favorite child in public – and are accosted by a couple of producers pretending to be shoppers who stop Ben and Lauren and – whaddya know! – wanna know a whole bunch of things about their lives now and how they feel about JoJo’s season of The Bachelorette!

This apparently causes a lot of pain for Lauren, which we only know about because she literally tells us this in every single one of her interviews. Apparently, Ben telling JoJo and Lauren that he loved both of them has caused some real-life resentment in their real-life romance! Who would’ve guessed that??

ONLY EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRETY OF THE NORTHERN AMERICAS, THAT’S WHO.

And you know what? Lauren is SICK of people asking both of them about JoJo! Even though that is literally all people know about them at this point! It’s so weird to Lauren that people – aka, producers! – just randomly come up to them in grocery stores and ask them personal questions about a show they were both on and got paid for and are now getting paid to do another show about that show! Ben reminds her that they were on a national tv show and that people think they know them. “From airplanes rides to grocery shopping for fresh fish and fruit! Life changes a bit, honey! Hey, but you know what doesn’t change? My cart skills!” Ben says, as he twirls the cart around. Oh fiddlesticks! His hilarious, lighthearted dance with the cart ends with a broken cart handle…but instead of hurrying up and hiding it like Lauren wants to, he insists on telling the store about it, even if they have to pay for the damage!

Like, seriously…sometimes watching Ben feels like being stuck in a ’50s children’s book.

But the worst is yet to come! They’re driving somewhere, and Ben asks Lauren to make up a song for him. “Drop a beat for me?” she smiles. OH WOW WHAT A CUTE AND ADORABLE COUPLE-LY THING! BEN AND LAUREN JUST MAKE UP RAP SONGS TOGETHER WHILE THEY DRIVE AROUND THAT’S SOOOO CUUUUUUUTE!

And also it’s always so hilarious and never annoyingly insufferable when a white blonde girl makes up her own raps. Like, can we stop this please? I’m not saying that white girls can’t and shouldn’t rap, but there’s something subtle-y gross and kind of weird about white girls thinking they’re super cute and adorable for “rapping” on their Snaps. And I’m reading you because I’ve also been in that library, when my high school friends and I used to drive around the loop whilst blasting Snoop Dogg and the soundtrack from “Boyz In The Hood” and LOL’ing the whole time because we were four white small-town girls riding around in a station wagon while rapping along to lyrics about drugs and gangs. I could write a whole think piece about the socio-economic luxury of being able to do this as a white girl because you think it’s hilarious and ironic instead of being forced to grow up and live in a culture where rap and hip hop is a means for calling out the injustice, racism, poverty, and disenfranchisement that your society is otherwise willfully blind and ignorant to, but…I will instead spare you those thoughts at this time.

Also, her raps are terrible.

In an effort to learn more about each other on what is increasingly becoming a long road trip to fuckin’ nowhere, Lauren asks Ben if he has any deep dark secrets she doesn’t yet know about. Ben goes real deep by confessing a fear of clowns, and anyone else unlucky enough to be watching this show rolls their eyes. “I used to have dreams about Jesus, and about clowns. I don’t know…I was a weird kid, I think.”

Or any conservative Christian parents’ wet dream.

Right on cue, Ben and Lauren get a call from a Bachelor producer, who offers to fly them out to JoJo’s After The Final Rose, hoping that they’ll show up to give JoJo and her new fiancé some words of advice.

Lauren tells the producer that they’ll have to talk it over. She hangs up the phone and mumbles, “That’s a weird request.” Is it, Lauren? It is really a weird request to be asked back to appear on a AFR taping, when literally almost EVERY couple who’s still together when the new season ends (with the exception of Juan Pablo and that blonde girl he proposed to…keep dating after the show) is asked to appear? “Let both parties just move on.” LAUREN. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY COUPLE IN THE EXISTENCE OF BACHELOR HISTORY. ALMOST EVERY SUCCESSFUL COUPLE HAS HAD TO WATCH THE PERSON THEIR FIANCE HAD FEELINGS FOR + REJECTED GO ON TO THEIR OWN SEASON OF THE SHOW.

So anyway, Lauren is afraid that going on the AFR is just going to bring up all the hurt and resentment she felt after she learned that her now-fiancé told JoJo that he loved her, too; Ben is worried that it’s going to bring up all the hurt and resentment Lauren felt and make her even more passive-aggressive toward him than she is now and then who will laugh at his awful light-hearted melon-throwing and cart-breaking then, huh?

But Ben still argues that they should go on AFR and show everyone that they’re doing well and that they’ve moved on. Have they, though? Because it kind of feels like they haven’t…and I’m not even talking about the highly-orchestrated “Let’s talk about JoJo!” situations in this show. There’s a lotta lotta low-grade resentment happening in these scenes, from Lauren to Ben, which usually means one of two things: 1) Ben is not keeping up his end of the deal when it comes to oral 2) Lauren has not fully forgiven Ben for not making her feel more secure in his love for her during and after The Bachelor.

I mean, it’s probably both. It’s definitely #1, but also probably #2.

We Want Our Show Relationship To Be All About Us But Here’s Another 30 Minutes Where We Only Talk About JoJo

So in order to know what’s going on with JoJo, Ben and Lauren decide to marathon her season. Lauren’s nervous because what if Ben is attracted to JoJo? Or thinks about regrets he might have? All of which are totally valid fears, because JoJo is smoking hot. Lauren points out that JoJo definitely has a type, “because all of these guys look alike. They all have the same hair.” They then get in an argument about Ben deciding to go bald when they get older, and Lauren protests that they agreed that they would always try to look good for each other. The minute that comes out of her mouth, I know that this relationship is not going to last. If you, as a couple, have to make a VERBAL AGREEMENT that you will always look good for each other, you are not mature or realistic enough for deep, lasting relationship.

The best part of this marathon is that there is a lotta, LOTTA shade being thrown toward Ben by JoJo for telling both Lauren and her that he loved them. HAHAHAHAHA! Ben looks so uncomfortable during the montage of JoJo shading him, it’s the freaking BEST.

“For someone who’s supposedly moved on, JoJo talks a LOT about Ben,” Lauren snipes. Yeah, probably because YOUR FIANCE TOLD HER THAT HE LOVED HER LAUREN HAHAHAHAHAHA LOOKIT THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK.

Orchestrated Hilarity with Lauren’s “Really Close Friends” Who Also Happen To Be The Twins From Ben’s Season!

Lauren sits down to have lunch with her two “really good friends” from Ben’s season, the Twins!

“So, how are you and Ben?” one of the Twins asks, after being prompted by a producer.

“We’re good,” Lauren says flatly, in the way you only say “we’re good” when you’re really not good. “We’re really good.” Which means they’re really, REALLY not good.

“Really because here’s a horrible news story about he two of you the I just happen to have on my phone that a producer pulled up for me to ask you about so you’ll get upset,” a Twin (basically) says.

Lauren gets annoyed about the story, the Twins convince her to go to AFR to show everyone that she’s moved on (again: has she, though??), and she goes to watch fireworks with Ben and once again talk about their relationship in the context of JoJo. Lauren tells Ben that she’s cool with going on the show because she trusts him and knows he has her back, and even though she says that, you know she’s basically just talking herself into believing it.

The Part About Buying & Installing a New Toilet That I Won’t Even Waste My Time On Because It’s So Dumb 

Lauren wants to feel like the house that Ben bought and paid for that she’s now living in feels like it belongs to both of them, which apparently means decorating it her way and installing a new, comfier toilet (what the fuck does a more “comfy” toilet even mean?)! So of course she rounds up the hilariously dumb Twins and they go toilet shopping and then try to install one which, to no one’s surprise, purposefully goes awry! That is, until Ben comes home and we see the true nature of Lauren as she admits to manipulating him into installing it himself all along. What a great couple, you guys!

Also notable is the conversation Ben has with his older male coworker where he admits that he has no idea what Lauren is doing that day. Huh.

The other notable thing about this whole scene is the fact that, in Lauren’s interactions with Ben, there’s almost literally no indication that she actually really even likes him. The way she looks at him and treats him reminds me of a 40 yr old housewife socialite who can barely tolerate her husband but doesn’t want to put the kids (and herself) through the hassle of a divorce. So instead she just tries to act like she still loves and cares about him, but all the while is dreaming of when it’s finally going to be a reasonable time for her to open up a bottle of wine and bitch to her yoga pals about what an idiot he is.

Oh Look Guys, It’s Time To Go Back To Talking About JoJo

Literally, I don’t think we talked this much about JoJo on her OWN show.

Ben and Lauren have a date night at a Mexican restaurant where there’s a mariachi band, because of course there is, and Lauren simmers with low-grade rage at the way Ben eats his food and condescendingly corrects him on the way he pronounces jalapeños,and I honestly start to feel bad for the guy, because it’s obviously he’s making an effort to be light-hearted and fun and kind in the face of someone who can barely tolerate to be around him. Right on cue, JoJo calls Ben’s phone, and he puts her on speaker. JoJo suggests that they have lunch when he and Lauren are in town for AFR, and the producers push the mariachi band to suddenly appear and start playing again, which visibly flusters Ben. He agrees to lunch with JoJo and her new man, and after he hangs up, Lauren says, “You didn’t want to talk about it, though, or ask me?” Ben agrees that he probably should have, and we get to see a flash of their lives twenty years now, when Ben is now apologizing for planning their romantic getaway around the best golf courses in the area and Lauren simply regards him with stony silence.

And We’re – GOD, FINALLY – Back To Talking More about JoJo!

Lauren is getting her make up done when Ben walks in. He compliments her on how good she looks, she complains about how she just wants to get this all over with. Then they’re backstage, where Lauren is obviously doing the whole “I’m quiet because I’m upset” thing. Ben asks her if she’s ready, and she’s like, “I mean…I guess.” “What do you mean?” “I mean, I didn’t really have a choice. I feel like you just said yes for the both of us. But, you know…it’s fine.” DID HE, LAUREN? Because I’m pretty sure the two of you discussed this thing to death and it finally ended with you telling him that you’re okay with doing it. “You’re just now telling me this?” Ben (rightfully) argues. “We had all morning to talk about this.” TRUE. But it’s too late! They’re being ushered onto the set, and there’s no more time for passive-agressive guilt trips about Lauren didn’t really want to be there but Ben did and so what does it mean that he really wanted to be at After The Final Rose instead of back in Denver, “hangin'”?!

The show starts, JoJo and Jordan come out –

…And Chris Harrison asks Ben for what advice he’d give JoJo. He gives them really solid, wise, grown-up advice about ignoring the haters and having fun, etc., and then they go to a commercial break. Lauren immediately gets on her phone, and Ben asks her if what he said was okay. Without even looking up, she mumbles a “Yeah.” The cracks begin to show, and Ben asks her if he said something wrong. Lauren acts like she doesn’t know what Ben’s talking about (OMG, all of the relationships in my early twenties suddenly came rushing back to me) and they get into a whispered, tense argument about how Lauren said “yeah” when he asked if what he said was alright even though she CLEARLY didn’t mean “yeah”.

The next morning, they’re driving, and Lauren hisses at Ben to “watch this guy” while he’s driving. “Honey, I saw him,” he says back, and she fixes him with the longest, most irritating, I can’t believe you just talked back to me on national TV stare in the world, and it is at that very moment that I decide that I kind of hate Lauren.

And this is why The Bachelor churns out so few successful couples…becuase you’ve got girls and guys on Lauren who know how to act sweet and laid-back and perfect while in the earliest stages of dating, but the moment that something real happens, they immediately turn on the passive-aggressive, lnaggy, “It’s fine” (but it is totally NOT fine) part of their personality, and then never turn it off again for the entire rest of the relationship. But luckily for her, she resets by asking, “Does this feel awkward for you? Because I feel like this is weird.” And then we once again, for the FIFTEENTH TIME, have to hear why hanging out with JoJo might be awkward for the both of them.

Luckily for us, though, that’s where the show ends, which means we get a whole week without having to hear about it for the SIXTEENTH time!

And that’s it, Bachelor Babes, for the first episode of what promises to be one of the most over-produced, heavily-orchestrated, and yet most boring reality TV show in the history of all reality TV shows! I’m gonna try to live-tweet these betches every week, so feel free to follow along on Twitter, SnapChat (acbruhaha), and maybe even Instagram if I’m feeling fancy. 

In the meantime and between-time, you can refresh yourselves on Ben & Lauren’s “journey” by brushing up on that season’s recaps here, or, for a little more substantial reading, you can buy my novel THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE which I promise is way more riveting and also super sexy even though it has literally zero hot vampires in it. 

Until next week, Bachelor Babes! Kiss kiss*!

* I’ve started ending all of my personal correspondence with a “kiss kiss!” thanks to Straight Talk With Ross Matthew’s podcast, which I listen to constantly because it’s freaking hilarious, and even though it started out as a funny, “haha this makes me laugh” thing, now I’ve done it so much and so often that it’s now just kind of become a thing which is actually how this whole Bachelor recap nonsense also got started! So just get used it, mmmkay? 

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About Amber L.

Hi! I'm Amber. I've been telling stories with books and blogs since 2004. I also spent 10 years working as a behavior therapist, which I now put to proper use by publishing thought pieces and dissertations on '80s pop music and the defining TV shows of our current times ('The Bachelor', 'Vanderpump Rules', etc). I can also be credited with single-handedly ruining the city of Portland, OR just by moving here.

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