Well, folks, here we are! The Age of Love finale, where we get to finally find out whether Mark chooses a 25-year-old, or a woman old enough to be his mother! Or, for the more cynical of you, whether Mark chooses the woman he’d like to date, or has to go for the old lady just to make the show look good. Either or.
Handily, the two women remaining are 25 and 48. The totally evil voiceover opens things up by saying, “Everyone wants to find true love, but when is it too late?” Damn, has it been talking to my mother again? It’s too late when I die, old woman! Get someone else to give you grandchildren if you’re in such a big hurry!
Ahem. Anyway. The screen also shows the words “spinster” and “over the hill,” in case anyone was in doubt that women over age 38 are OLD AND GOING TO DIE SOON AND WILL NEVER HAVE BABIES AND DON’T THEY FEEL AWFUL ABOUT IT?
At any rate, it’s been a long and weepy ride, what with Mary’s constant breakdowns and Amanda’s ever-present jealousy and lack of self-esteem. Oh, and Maria’s drunken camping freak-out. And Megan’s panic attack about flying last week. Ah, good times. But all that’s in the past, my babies. No regrets! We’re looking toward the future. And tonight, the future is in Australia.
We Have a Connection, Blah Blah Blah
Mark, Amanda and Jen flew Down Under last week, to give the women a chance to meet Mark’s family. We rejoin them in Melbourne, with Mark standing on a white catwalk thingy, telling us he feels he’s made the right decision. We see shots of both women walking toward him, separately, through a line of white sheets. Jen says she’s fallen in love. Amanda says she wants it badly, but if it’s not her, it’s not her. I say, we could end this show right here, with Mark saying to someone, “I just don’t think it would work out.”
But that would be too easy. So we go back three days. Amanda’s “ecstatic, thrilled, happy” and Jen is nervous. They can’t wait to meet the people who are important to Mark.
Mark says he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. It’s the first time he’s seen the women since getting to Australia. I guess we’ve missed a few days, then. Amanda leaps from the limo and says she missed him. Mark tells us she’s the first one he really felt chemistry with. She’s the first one he kissed (although not the last, to her eternal fear). He says Amanda is in the moment, and doesn’t think too much ahead. He feels she has real feelings for him, and she makes him happy.
Mark says he was drawn to Jen from the start. Her age freaked him out at first, particularly her 25-year-old son. But her hotness wins him over. She knows what she wants, Mark says, and she doesn’t play games.
He claims it’s not about age, now, it’s about two women he loves hanging out with. He says he clicks with both of them. He also says it’s a big deal to take women to meet his mom.
My Evil Plan Is Contained In This Hummel Figurine
They get in the limo, and Jen brought a gift for Mark’s mom. She says she didn’t mention that to Amanda. Amanda thinks it’s like a game strategy, but still feels terrible that Jen has a gift and she doesn’t. Ok, now, I’m only 31. (ONLY, you NBC producers! Not a spinster yet! Shut up, Mom.) But even I know that it’s good manners to bring a gift. I once took a boyfriend’s mother an aloe plant. Very handy in the kitchen, aloe plants. Anyway, I’m not going to blame Jen for taking a little something for Mark’s mother.
Jen’s nervous, though, because she’s afraid her age will be a big shock. Mark says his mom doesn’t hide things, you know where you stand with her. The women go in to meet his mom, sister, best friend, best friend’s wife, their kids, etc. I’m not even going to pretend to keep track of their names. There are hugs and kiss-cheeks. Amanda reiterates that she felt “terrible” about going empty-handed. Jen reveals that her son is 25, and the friend’s wife looks shocked.
The friend, Charlie, says he’d have lied about the age. Mark’s sister says age shouldn’t matter, you shouldn’t judge the book by the cover. Jen starts telling stories about herself, and the things they did with Mark. Amanda is quiet, and says she “kind of sat in Jen’s shadow” trying to think of something to say. Jen’s getting along well with his sister, and she notes to us that Amanda doesn’t look pleased that Jen is doing all the talking. Jen says Amanda’s not a child and she doesn’t care. Dating is war, Amanda, you gotta jump in and fight.
The mother and sister try to teach Amanda how to make a salad, and then Jen takes over. Jen laughs that Amanda didn’t even know what to do with the lettuce. Amanda says her mother does the cooking, and that she wants to learn. The point of all this – Jen is outgoing and at east, while Amanda is awkward and silent.
Mark calls it a “big fat Greek lunch.” His mother urges them to feel at home. Jen says she had told Mark that his mother did a raising job raising him. Amanda grumbles that his mother already knows that.
Jen says she could see herself as part of Mark’s family, as she hugs them all goodbye. His mother tells Amanda she’s a little bit shy, like herself, which made Amanda feel better.
In the limo, Mark tells them to go back and change, and they’ll have a date by the river. Jen will be first. Amanda sinks in her seat, saying she’s never had a one on one date with him at all, and she’s irritated Jen got the first one.
Back in the house, Mark’s friend’s son says he didn’t like Amanda as much as Jen. But his mother likes Amanda better, because she’s shy like the mom. His sister says they’re both nice, but the sister thinks Jen’s more like her.
Mark tells them with Jen he doesn’t think of her age. But his friend’s wife points out that Mark’s mother wants grandchildren, and Amanda’s the one who can provide them. Mark says all the confliction opinions have just confused him more.
Clearly She Meant She Has Three or Four Leg Cramps Per Intimate Episode
Jen says she’s nervous, her feelings for Mark have gotten stronger and she knows it won’t feel good if it’s not her. She’s in a pretty dress and meets Mark at a pond, where he’s waiting on a gondola. Mark tells us that Amanda was in the lead a few weeks ago, but Jen has changed that, and opened his eyes to the fact that age doesn’t matter. I don’t see how he could forget her age even if he wanted to, what with being encouraged by producers to mention it every damn time he talks about Jen.
Amanda says it’s “unnerving” when Mark is on dates with Jen, and she can’t think about anything else except what they’re doing. Well, Amanda, they’re still in the gondola. And kissing. He asks her to tell him something, and she whispers in his ear something we can’t hear. Jen tells us she was in a funny, playful mood, and she told him how many times in a row she’s … had an orgasm, I think? She’s rather coy about it, but that’s what I got out of it. Whatever it was, Mark says he doesn’t think that’s possible. Oh, hon. You clearly have things to learn about women. That it all.
Mark tells us Jen’s confidence is a big turn-on. (which leads me to question why he also likes Amanda, the complete antithesis of self-confidence). Jen tells him he’s spoiling her; she tells us this may be their last date, and there’s no turning back.
They go to dinner in the Melbourne Aquarium. Ooh, that’s cool, they go through a tunnel of fish, and their table is set in a room surrounded by fish tanks. She asks us how he’s feeling about her. He says he’s attracted and likes her, he feels happy and relaxed with her. Jen says she also feels like she can just be herself with him, and laughs a lot with him. She tells us she wanted to let him know what he’s done for her, so she tells him he’s given her hope again for love. She could see herself falling in love with Mark. She tells him she doesn’t see herself getting tired of spending time with him.
They go into a fishy tunnel with pillows and a blanket, staring up at the fish. Now, that’s cool. NOTE to any men reading this who may one day want to propose to me – do it there. Or somewhere like. Very romantic. Anyway, Jen and Mark lie down and watch the fish swim over their heads, and hold hands, and Jen feels confident that Mark can be the one for her. She tells him she doesn’t it to be over, and he says it’s not. She tells us that if he doesn’t choose her, it’ll be a lot harder for her to get over than ever before. Really, ever? Harder than two divorces?
Can We Ditch Mark And Keep the Cute Koala?
Moving on to Amanda’s date, Mark shows up in a t-shirt. He has a car, which he’s driving, and they hit the road into the country. She says she always wanted to see the kangaroos and koalas. Luckily – and completely randomly, I’m sure -- they’re going to an animal conservation park, where there are indeed kangaroos, which she’s allowed to hand-feed. And they have koalas, which she pets. Amanda, though, is wondering how intimate Mark got with Jen the night before. I’m a little curious myself, because the last we saw of Jen, Mark was kissing her goodnight at a door. But anything could have happened. Jen says she can’t force Mark to choose her, and is a bit worried about Amanda because she’s great – just not his type.
Mark says he feels something for both women. Amanda tells him it was worth waiting for the last one-on-one, to be her first. She tells us everything is on his decision. They go back into the city to eat, and for her to somewhere pick up a red fancy dress. I like her shoes. At a Japanese restaurant for dinner, Amanda tells him her favorite part of the date was him holding her hand in the car. I guess he didn’t need to bother with the koalas, then. They kiss. Amanda says she’s nervous, but it’s her last chance to not let the opportunity slip by. She asks what he’s feeling. He talks about his feelings for Australia. Amanda tells us the more she opens her heart, the longer of a fall it is. Mark tells us he could see himself dating both women. He tells Amanda he can’t help who he clicks with. She says it’s scary. I say it seems like he sort of dodged the question about his feelings.
They go to a hotel room for dessert. Mark says he started realizing it’s the last date, and claims he has no idea what he’s going to do. They talk some about this ending. She says he’s everything and then some of what she’s looking for. She tells him she’s attracted and connected to him, and tells us she’s in love with him. There’s some kissing and cuddling, but while I fully believe Amanda is desperate enough to, to adopt an apt euphemism often used by a friend of mine, “go walkabout Down Under,” we don’t actually see any evidence of hanky-panky.
Mark says it seems so unfair that someone has to go home. Amanda’s nervous because it’s all his call.
Just One Big Bundle of Nerves
Now it’s decision day. Amanda doesn’t know if she’s ready. Jen says she and Amanda talked about age differences and the elimination. Amanda says she never imagined she’d be this involved with someone that much older. She tells Jen she has a wish list, and Jen has a to-do list, and that that is a big difference. It’s like saying, “I have a future, and you’re going to die soon.” Jen says she has to make things happen and loves being 48 because she’s more confident and loves herself, and that Amanda is still getting to know herself. Amanda reveals that Mark danced around the question about his feelings. Jen says she wants to make it clear, she has feelings for Mark. But she says Mark may be the type of man who wants someone he can teach things to, or he may be the type who wants to be shown the new things. Amanda says she doesn’t want to go home. I feel like they must have edited a lot out of this conversation, because to me neither woman has really said anything important.
Mark, 3 hours out from The Decision, says he’s nervous and this is like one of the biggest matches of his life. Jen’s nervous too, wondering if he’s really going to pick a 48 year old. Amanda says the scariest part is that she trusted completely, so to be rejected after that would be devastating.
Jen’s wearing some weird salmon-colored dress. Amanda gets the sexy slinky black dress. Mark says he can’t tell them why it wouldn’t work out, because they do connect, both of them.
Where Does the Shocking Ending Come In?
Finally Mark’s back on the white-sheet-lined catwalk. He says he didn’t come here to hurt anyone. Jen is first, which always means she’s not the one. He tells her she blew him away. He was freaked out about her age. Oh, stupid producers, now we’ve cut to Amanda. This is going to make my head hurt. Mark tells Amanda she’s gorgeous and they had a connection and he loves her eyes. Back to Jen, he says they connected from the start, and it’s gotten stronger. He thanks her for letting him into her life, and says the decision is tough. Back to Amanda, he wanted her to come and meet his family and get to know where he’s from and what he’s about. He tells Jen that in the end, it’s about who makes him happy. He has very strong feelings for her, or Amanda one – they’re flipping back and forth so much I can’t tell.
But finally, it’s Jen who hears “I’m sorry, I just don’t think it’ll work out.” She says, very softly, “oh.” And nods. She tells him this was “amazing” to meet someone like him and he’s incredible, and she wishes him the best. He says she deserves to be treated like a princess. That dress is too short, especially in the wind. Just FYI. She walks away.
Jen says that she used to watch shows like this, and how in the past she thought their emotions couldn’t be real. But now she knows, her emotions are real, and she’s sad. Mark says saying goodbye to Jen hurt him a lot. Jen knows there was a connection and chemistry, but he got scared. She believes that if she were younger, he’d have chosen her, and it hurts a lot. She’s probably right.
Mark tells Amanda this was an “amazing journey.” And he’d love for her to continue that with him. She cries and hugs him and says she’d love to. They step off the catwalk, and Amanda says she’s “happier than the happiest girl in the world. Because I have my man. I have Mark.” He lifts her onto a boat, they wrap up in a blanket, and sail off. Mark says they’ll see where this takes them, while Amanda says next is “happily ever after.”
So, in other words, we went through all of this just for Mark to, shockingly, pick the girl many of us thought he would pick, and to choose a young one over an older one. This reminds me of Average Joe, where if I recall correctly, at least two women picked not a Joe, but a hunk, with whom they promptly broke up.
Anyway, thanks for taking this amazing journey with me! I know we totally made a connection. I’m sorry our time together has to end, but I want you to go be happy. Really. You’re great, I just don’t see this working out for us down the road. But you’re awesome and you deserve someone who’ll treat you right. And if that doesn’t work out, maybe we’ll meet again at Age of Love 2! Which may or may not be in the works, I don’t know. Bye!
P.S. I actually love my mother, who is very cool and only grumbles about non-existent grandchildren every now and then, and is easily quieted by vague talk about "retirement homes."