Who would have thought that I’d return from vacation to find, not only that this show is still ON, but that I’m still responsible for it?
Ok, yeah, I could have handed it off. Stargazer did an excellent job with last episode’s recap. But she ran away with her fingers in her ears, screaming “nyah nyah nyah, I can’t hear you!”. I’m really not sure what she was trying to say.
But I figured, since I was back anyway, why inflict the finale of this show on some other writer? They’re no better at handling insipid, vapid sentimentality than I am. And I’m sure that would generate some bad karma to come back and bite me. The other writers would all suddenly be “out of town” during episodes of Big Brother.
Besides, jokes about this show pretty much write themselves. Really. They do.
The Claws Come Out
We start the action with the Okland family waiting for the two remaining women to come down to dinner. For anyone else who has been on vacation, the last two standing are Stacy and Suzanne. I had rather expected Marilyn to outlast Suzanne, but whatever, it’s not like I’m emotionally invested here. The two women are upstairs, where primping is about to turn into a cat fight. Finally, a crack has appeared in the lovey-dovey, sappy-happy façade of group love among the women who have been vying for Robo-Dad’s affections.
Suzanne distrusts Stacy, and confronts her, saying she’s been trying to understand her all this time and still doesn’t. Stacy says if this is going to be ugly, she’s not going to do it now, and on camera. Well, actually, she is. I’m sure her contract specifically states that not only should angry encounters occur while the cameras are rolling, any sarcastic comments directed at other contestants must be clearly enunciated and loud enough to be audible.
Suzanne thinks the family would have seen through Stacy by now, and Stacy counters that they both obviously think they’re the best choice for Marty. Stacy also notes that she’s not about to reveal to Suzanne all her feelings for Marty. Stacy says she has reservations about Suzanne, but that unlike Suzanne, she has kept them to herself. Suzanne says that Stacy says one thing to the women, but another thing to Marty and his daughters, and she thinks Stacy has been conniving.
Stacy doesn’t take that particularly well. “You know what, sister? You want to sit in the lie detector, let them as you questions? Don’t question me,” she snarls. Eek. Trust me, this whole exchange played out better on TV. It’s kind of hard to reproduce in writing.
The two women retract their claws long enough to go down to dinner with the Oklands. Stacy gets in a dig by saying she and Suzanne were talking upstairs about how sad it is that it’s their last night. Suzanne is mute. The Okland daughters finally pick up on the vibe o’ hatred emanating from Stacy and Suzanne, and ask if there’s anything wrong.
Stacy jumps in first – wisely, you always want to get your side in first – to confide that Suzanne questioned her sincerity. The girls turn to Suzanne, who admits she has doubts about Stacy. Stacy mutters that the timing of Suzanne’s confrontation was inappropriate. Suzanne clarifies that she wanted to make sure that if Stacy is chosen, she – Suzanne – feels comfortable leaving the Oklands in Stacy’s manicured little hands. The daughters ask if she does, and Suzanne says she doesn’t want to answer – which of course IS an answer, a resounding “No, run away from this she-devil before she flays you alive”.
Stacy quickly says that the daughters and Marty know she loves him, and them, and everyone except Suzanne. The daughters privately say they’re surprised to see Suzanne being negative, as she hasn’t been up till this point.
Little Sing-Song Girls and Religious Sects – Both Spooky
We then see the Oklands blathering on about how hard it is to choose just one of these women, and how everything would be easier if Dad would move to Utah – just one state away, unless my geography is waaaayyy off --- and then he could marry them both. Ok, I made up the bit about Utah. Please don’t send Mormons to my door to preach at me. I’ve already had Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’d hate for my neighbors to see not one but two religions trying to save me. It would be like saying I’m so obviously going to hell that a multitude of sects have picked up on it.
It’s clear, anyway, that even in Utah one woman would get the short end of the Dad-stick. Marty tells us they’re both great, but he has “a favorite.” Well, I would hope so. I’ve never really bought this dating-show “I’m in love with both of you people but I have to choose one” drama-heightening bullcrap. When a reality show contestant says they’re in love with two people, trust me – one of them is in the mirror.
At this point, that stupid fax machine rings again, inciting a Pavlovian response of dread in the Oklands and the two women.
For once, the fax machine heralds some, if not good, at least not bad, news. The wedding rings the women picked out weeks earlier are being delivered. Stacy and Suzanne both go to the front door, where a little girl dressed as a flower girl hands Suzanne a diamond ring and says, in a sing-songy voice, “good luck, see you at the wedding, bye!” Then the camera cuts to the walkway outside, which is lined with candles, and I don’t see the little girl. Where did she go?
Back inside, a weepy Suzanne falls into the arms of arch-enemy Stacy to sob. Wtf? Weren’t they just calling each other liars? Listen here, ladies, we can’t have this love-hate thing going on. Pick a theme and stick with it. Personally, I want to see the hate.
The moment is busted up by another ringing of the doorbell. It’s another little girl, also dressed as a flower girl, this time with a ring for Stacy. This kid repeats the same “good luck, see you at the wedding, bye!” singsong as the first one, and it just all seems a little creepy to me. I think I’ve seen this movie, you know?
Having done with these spooky kids, Suzanne and Stacy think they’ve dodged a bullet. But no – the doorbell rings again. This time it’s lie-detector man, bearing his polygraph machine on a flouncy white pillow. “Sorry, wrong house,” Stacy snarls, slamming the door.
I Would Gnaw Off My Own Leg If I Were On This Show
Of course, short of running off the set, there’s nothing these women can do to avoid taking the lie detector test again.
Stacy is up first, and as Star did, I’m going to indicate the veracity or mendacity of her answers with a or a .
Q: If Stacy and Marty were caught in a bear trap, would she gnaw off her own leg and go for help to save his life? Because, you know, things like that could happen at any time. What is this, a FOX show? Stacy says she would. Surprisingly.
Q. Would she like one of the daughters as a stepdaughter? Yes.
Q. If the daughters don’t pick her, would she give Suzanne her blessing? Yes.
Q. Has Stacy fallen in love with Marty? Yes.
With Stacy having come through fairly unscathed, it’s Suzanne’s turn.
Q. Does she like Stacy? No.
The girls act surprised at that answer. Where were they at dinner the other night?
Q. Can they cut her loose after a year, if they don’t think it’s working out? Yes.
The girls seem shocked that Suzanne would even say yes to this question, and so am I. It seems obvious to me that they wanted her to show some backbone and say hell no. And if that’s not what they wanted, she needs to run far, far away from this family, and fast.
Q. Would she expect dad to finance shopping sprees? No.
Q. Has she fallen in love with dad? Yes.
So, to recap, Suzanne dislikes Stacy, is trying too hard to please the girls by acting like a doormat, lies about expecting Marty to pay for her shopping, but hey – at least she’s in love with the guy.
For some reason, the girls still act as though this is a hard decision. Listen, I missed a couple of episodes and I don’t know what the Stacy-hate is about. I’m sure there’s a valid reason (and yes, I did hear about the farting thing, thank you). But Suzanne – even the new, softer-haired Suzanne – seems to me like an eager little bleached-blonde puppy. She’s trying too hard. It’s not sexy.
I Told You I Don’t Do Hallmark. But the Oklands Do.
While Marty mulls that this is his last night as a single man – assuming, of course, that a wedding or at least a serious relationship commences immediately upon the daughters articulating their choice – the girls announce that Stacy and Suzanne both get to make a final plea. Brace yourselves for a string of clichés, people.
Suzanne is up first. She says when she came to the show, she was excited but didn’t want to get her hopes too high. She found an “amazing family” that exceeded her expectations. Considering that she already said her expectations were low, I’m thinking this didn’t take much doing. The family from “Roseanne” – now, they might have NOT exceeded her expectations.
Anyway, Suzanne makes Marty come over to her. “I never, ever thought I could fall in love with someone so very quickly. But each time we’re together, I feel like I’ve come home,” she said. So, Suzanne’s idea of home is a shallow, plastic world in which the rugs are made from man-made materials?
She adds that she loves him like no other woman will, but wants him to be happy. She cries, the girls cry. I do not cry. Marty says from day one they all knew she’d get to the final two. Suzanne wants a group hug. Oh, blech.
We move on to Stacy, who throws out whatever clichés Suzanne left. (Apropros of nothing, what the hell is that pink sweater doing around her shoulders? She’s got on a nice, strapless dress, then drapes a sweater over her shoulders like she’s at the tennis club? Tsk, tsk, Stacy. Someone call the Fab Five.) Ahem. Right. Stacy’s speech. She says she has a gift for Marty – an intangible gift, of everything she has, such as love, devotion and heart. I’m not making this up, people. I couldn’t. She says she came to the show very skeptical and logical and analytical, but that the experience has changed her. She now feels full of love and hope and really feels that she and Marty found each other and are good together. And she loves him, and no matter what happens – i.e., even if he stupidly picks Suzanne – she just hopes she can be part of their “precious lives” down the road. He cries, she cries, the girls cry. I cry too, but then, I stubbed my toe.
Marty tells us that if he had any doubts, he doesn’t have them any more. He has more to say, but that’s to be a group pronouncement, so Stacy is sent to fetch Suzanne. A daughter notes that both women are good for Marty but in different ways.
I am sorry. I’m sure some of you watched the following scene and were moved. To you I say, go read something else. Because honestly, it was so gooey and sappy and lovey-dovey that my black, twisted, sarcastic little heart could hardly endure watching it. I desperately wanted to go find a roadhouse where I could drink beer, shoot pool, smoke cheap cigarettes and have an all-around unwholesome time. Just to counteract the gooeyness.
But I stayed on the couch, gritted my teeth, and endured the sap for you, my peeps. Because you deserve to know that Marty loves his daughters. And that they love him. And that they’ve all given up things to do this find-dad-a-wife-on-TV thing. And they love each other for that. Stacy mutters that it’s all been worth it just to see the crying, loving jumble of group-hug that is the Okland family. Everyone cries. Everyone thinks everyone else’s words were beautiful. Everyone cries and hugs some more.
Ok, I can’t take it anymore! Anyway, love. Tears. There you go. That’s the gist of it. Geez, I need to go shower in Pabst Blue Ribbon or something.
Eventually, they’re all pried apart. Stacy and Suzanne are to be sent off to two different hotels, and only one “will be returning home to join our family.” Except, um, that house isn’t really “home”, is it? Isn’t it just rented for the show? I guess we’re speaking figuratively, then. Hope the women realize that.
Let’s Play “Ignore Dad”
With the women gone, the Oklands sit down for a little family chat to figure out who to choose.
Marty says he knew this would be a hard choice. Suzanne is so giving, he says, but Stacy does something for him that he can’t put in words. I’m guessing that even if he could put it into words, they wouldn’t be appropriate for a PG-13 site.
The daughters think Suzanne is a perfect match and that she and Marty would have a great life, and the daughters would have so much fun with her. Marty, however, thinks he’s fallen in love – with Stacy. “It’s been 28 years since I’ve had these kinds of special feelings,” he says.
The daughters, however, are still doubtful. They wonder if Dad can distinguish between love and infatuation. He thinks he can, but of course he’s going to say that. He wants to sound like his choice of Stacy is reasoned and well-founded, and not just based on her being the one he’d rather sleep with.
Marty finally leaves, telling the daughters he trusts them. They still don’t trust him, though – they say they’re not sure Stacy is the right choice. They think he’s only looking as far as the night’s decision, and not looking at the future. They don’t want him to get another divorce, and are afraid the butterflies and pitter-patter of falling for someone new are affecting his judgment. They’d rather make him mad now, and know they made the right decision, than choose the wrong woman for the long-term. Think this power has gone to their head much?
Build-up to the Smack-down
Ok, so at some point, the daughters decided. Now all that’s left is to break one woman’s heart and make the other either deliriously happy or give her a serious case of cold feet.
The Oklands are lined up in what appears to be the backyard, which is lit up like Christmas. In our bazillionth glimpse into what Marty is thinking, he tells us he’s awed that his daughters chose a bride for him. I’m guessing awe will quickly turn into something a bit uglier if it’s not Stacy.
The first limo rolls up, and Suzanne steps out. In reality-tv-dating-show parlance, this typically means she’s about to get shown the door. But didn’t they say only the woman chosen would come back to the house? So when Suzanne steps out onto some balcony thing, and Marty actually turns to the daughters and says, “Is that Suzanne?”, I guess he could be forgiven. He must have been feeling pretty freaked out to see not-Stacy.
As Suzanne walks toward them, Marty struggles to paste a smile on his face. He manages to tell her she looks beautiful, then they turn to the daughters for the verdict.
The girls launch an absolute avalanche of adoration. Heh, that’s alliteration. Um, Suzanne enriched their lives, puts ease and laughter into any difficult situation, has taken on a motherly role with them, blah blah blah. She fits in perfectly and means the world to them.
Yes, there’s a but, and really, that was a lot of putting-her-up-on-a-pedestal just to smash her down on the jagged rocks of rejection. Because they’ve chosen Stacy. Suzanne looks at them blankly. I really don’t blame her, it’s quite the about-face. Finally she glances at Marty, then begins crying on his shoulder. She tells him she loves him, and offers in a puppy-like fashion to be waiting “if anything should ever happen.” She hugs him and says she doesn’t know how to let him go.
As this continues, the daughters look increasingly uncomfortable. Finally, one says she’s going to throw up. Marty looks concernedly at the barfy daughter while Suzanne keeps weeping out her love.
When Suzanne is finally gone, the family looks stricken. They say they feel terrible for Suzanne, but that while she and Marty would have had a wonderful life together, Marty just wasn’t in love with her.
Back at the limo, Suzanne is supporting herself with a few clichés about how if it’s meant to be, it will be, and the right man will come along. Well, being a cliché doesn’t make it less true, really, so hopefully that’s comforting to her.
10 Things We Love About You Since We Have To
With that uncomfortable part out of the way, it’s Stacy’s turn. The winner. Marty looks a lot happier to see her. Of course, we already know she gives him “special feelings” that he can’t put into words.
Stacy pauses on the balcony, and a daughter claims to feel peace come over her, as though everything would be ok. What, is she having an out-of-body experience? Don’t walk towards the light! Come back! On second thought, go on.
Stacy says she’s so crazy about the family and can't bear the idea of never seeing them again. She whispers to Marty that she’s so scared; he tells her she looks beautiful. Then they all sort of look at her until she says, “somebody’s got to tell me something.”
But no, not before everyone recites what they love about Stacy. One daughter likes her sense of family and recognition of how important that is. Another says she exudes breathtaking confidence and beauty and confidence. And the third says that she knew Stacy was perfect a few episodes back when she read wedding vows to Marty, and he never looked more happy. They feel she was meant to be part of their family – something I’m thinking they forgot while they went on and on about how they doubted the wisdom of Marty’s preference for Stacy.
Finally, they tell her she’s the one they’ve picked. Stacy’s expression does not change one iota. She looks like a deer caught in headlights. Finally she says she’s unworthy. She seems overwhelmed.
Marty finally steps in – you know, Marty, the prize in this exercise. Cliché alert, by the way. Marty says he’s finally found true love, she makes him happy, she makes his life complete. He makes a brief mention of Stacy’s own daughter, who – as far as I know – he’s never met. Finally he gets down on one knee, says he loves her, and asks her to marry him. She says yes. Everyone cries.
Here Comes the Bride. Not.
So, there you go. There’s more -- Marty putting a ring on Stacy’s finger, a montage of Stacy since the show started, a strange kiss in which Marty hesitates right at her mouth before going in for a liplock, and of course, many more formulaic lines. But here are the important things to know: there was not a wedding, and nothing was said about if or when there will be one. I am seriously irked. The very title of the show promises a marriage. They trotted out some justice of the peace dude to threaten them with on-the-spot vows. What a crock. Weeks of watching this pap and all I’ve got to show for it is a hangover and the phone number of a guy named Bubba from the roadhouse.
I don’t think he’s into crying jags and group hugs, though.
I may give him a call.
Comments welcomed. Cliches throttled. firstname.lastname@example.org