When you're at the top of your game, working on the cutting edge, creating world-changing works of ambition, failure is inevitable. Thomas Edison famously went through more than 1,000 versions of the light bulb before one bothered to glow. Henry Ford went bankrupt twice before the Model T was a thing. Michael Jordan made "Space Jam."
And now "The Bachelor" has "Listen to Your Heart" – aka "The Bachelor: Jeds 2: Generic Boogaloo" – a full-scale face-planting fail of a spinoff, an Icarus that flew too close to the sun and collapsed in a heap of feathers, wax and mediocre Ed Sheeran covers.
From day one, there were no real stakes since we as the audience weren't sure if the goal was to find a couple or find a musical duo – things that could be achieved after getting kicked off anyways. Worse yet, the audience didn't care because we assumed everyone was there doing their best Jed impression, there to promote their careers over any romantic chemistry. The drama was somehow even more fake and fabricated – and that was before the episodes had to desperately fill an hour before each week's musical performances, resulting in 60 minutes of reality entertainment every Monday night that barely qualified as television.
It was a transparently bad idea that mostly lived down to expectations, but credit where credit is due: At least the audio didn't work for most of episode one in my part of the country? Oh, and also: Wine exists!
In all honesty, though, if we had to spend 12 hours watching various Jeds fight for love and forgettable song covers – and my contract oddly enough said that I did – at least "Jeds 2: Generic Boogaloo" had the decency to end its first (and hopefully last) tour as pleasantly as possible.
After a quick recap of what an emotional rollercoaster this season's been – remember when there was a guy named Jack on this show? He certainly doesn't! Wow, what non-existent memories we've made; cue up the "Time of Your Life" by Green Day, amirite? – Harrison arrives on the show to talk to the remaining three amateur Sonny & Chers to emphasize "how important it is to be on the same page." Cut to Matt awkwardly coughing and pretty much doing a dramatic nervous gulp on camera. Even after last week's road trip to the bottle graveyard, the desert motel from hell and the healing powers of Shaggy, Matt is still not sure if he and Rudi are on the same page romantically. My man, you're at the finale, where you could win essentially a recording deal, a tour and a chance to put your music on display across the country; maybe suck it up and pretend for one more night? No one buys most of these relationships anyways. But no, he decides he's got to dive-bomb this relationship before it goes any further. And you dare to call yourselves Jeds ...
So yeah, after they get their assigned songs for the finale, Matt basically breaks up with Rudi, saying that he just doesn't think they're at emotionally where the other two couples are. Rudi understandably cries and ineffectively tries to slam some hotel swinging doors before leaving the show with Matt to follow. Well, dammit, there go the best singers remaining on the show. THANKS HARRISON!
There isn't much time to mourn, though, because Harrison has final date cards to hand out – including fantasy suites for both of the remaining couples. Fantasy suite week is typically the grossest part of "The Bachelor," as the star sleeps with three separate people back to back to back, telling them all the same bland lines about "falling in love" or "finding a special connection" before sleeping with each one and then moving on immediately to the next when morning comes. So at least this spinoff just features two separate couples deciding whether or not they want to go to that physical level with their one significant other – so congrats on "Jeds 2: Generic Boogaloo" for de-creepifying the fantasy suites. Small victories!
Unfortunately, while the spinoff pulls that trick off, what it fails to do is make any of this dramatic or interesting. Jamie and Trevor have a nice date, having a boring chat on a couch before deciding they want to go to the sex room, while Bri ISN'T SURE SHE WANTS TO GO TO THE FANTASY SUITE (*DRAMATIC MUSIC STING*). But neither does Chris, so the two just have a nice dinner decidedly NOT eating their very tasty-looking plates of steak and chicken and pleasantly agreeing to not go to the sex room before going back to their separate hotel rooms, topped with Chris walking Bri back to her door because THEY'RE ADORABLE. Couldn't they have gone to the fantasy suite, though, and just snuggled or watched TV or something? I hope Harrison can get that room refunded. Maybe he gets to use the room now? I have questions.
So that attempt at creating drama didn't work out for Harrison and company – but that's OK because the producers have got another sabotage up their sleeves. SEND IN THE BAND DIRECTOR WHO LOOKS LIKE THE STUNT DOUBLE FOR E FROM "ENTOURAGE"! Indeed, Chris and Bri head to practice their two songs for the finale performance, and they're struggling on the words and harmonies – which happens. It's practice after all. But NO, this time there's a backing band director who is there to give them stressful commentary and feedback about how they're not connecting and how this isn't going well. Now, at no point do Chris and Bri actually seem deathly stressed or on the edge of breaking – no matter how many shots the show edits in of the two riding in an SUV in silence – but dammit, the show's got to TRY and make it seem like something dramatic is happening. It's not like Jamie and Trevor are any help; they're just having a pleasant post-sex room brunch!
Amazingly, all of that fills an hour of airtime.
Thankfully, we reach the finale performances – which, I will admit, have been the most watchable part of the show. Yes, it's strange that the judges are less grading their musical talent and more grading how their relationships are rehearsed and presented on stage, but at least the performances give the audience something to have an opinion about – and we get to hear good songs. Albeit sung by glorified karaoke singers, but good songs nevertheless.
This week's star judges include Kaitlyn Bristowe and Jason Tartick from Becca's season, Jewel, a pre-coronavirused Rita Wilson and ... Taye Diggs?! You were in a Best Picture winning movie, Taye Diggs; you shouldn't need to do a spin-off of "The Bachelor." Everyone go watch the romantic comedy "Set It Up" on Netflix so Taye Diggs never has to degrade himself like this ever again – because the following clip is now just the second most embarrassing thing to happen in his esteemed career:
Anyways, after Rita Wilson speaks in double entendres and talks about how I think she wants everyone to have sex on the stage, the show begins. (Always good when I say the phrase "the show begins" at the halfway point of the show!) Jamie and Trevor are up first, and even though I'm not the hugest fan of these two, I admit that their duo of finale performances weren't bad. Their voices still don't do much for me – Jamie's voice is just so young, and Trevor's is featureless white noise that fades in and out – but their rendition of "Unchained Melody" sounds pleasant enough and plays nicely in their vocal ranges. At on point, though, the show cuts to Bri and Chris talking in voiceover from the wings, and you can hear in the audio mix that Trevor is clearly belting out some notes on stage – so maybe he wasn't quite hitting this part well, and the show's politely covering for him.
"Speechless" by Dan + Shay is up next, and it's fine as well. Jamie's doing all the vocal heavy lifting while you could easily forget Trevor is on stage too, which even Jason kind of points out during the judging. Meanwhile Kaitlyn Bristowe wants them to have sex ASAP, Jewel cries (settle yourself, Jewel) and Taye Diggs says that the two can trust their chemistry and perform to the crowd occasionally as well, which is WHAT I'VE BEEN SAYING THE ENTIRE SHOW! God bless you, Taye Diggs!
Now it's Chris and Bri's turn with "Make You Feel My Love" by Adele – and they're just simply better. Neither of their voices are powerhouses, but their lightness blends together well, and even when they're stiff on stage, singing directly at each other like there's a gun pointed at the back of each of their heads, it's stiff in a charming and sweet way. And credit where credit is due, during their second song – "Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran – they perform to the crowd. IS THAT EVEN ALLOWED?! Jewel points out during judging that Bri performs in a permanent and unmoving power stance, so that's something to work on – but Taye Diggs says that he would pay to see these two perform live, and I think that's all Chris Harrison needs to hear. After all, they're not doing "The Bachelor: Karaoke Edition" to NOT sell tour tickets and Spotify streams.
So yes, in the end, Chris and Bri win – in a happy surprise, honestly. I very much assumed Jamie and Trevor were going to be the winning couple; the show seemed to love them, they're perfectly generic for the show and the producers even set the finale on Jamie's home turf of Nashville. (Though it's not like they could set it in Bri's famously music-rich home state of ... Utah. Hey, their basketball team is named after jazz at least!) But nope, it goes to Bri and Chris, who get to record an album and tour the country performing together. They celebrate and seek out their tour bus while Chris Harrison makes a final comment about how he really hopes they have sex tonight. Jeez, everyone, we get it! You want it to be Business Time! (Also: The tour bus doesn't drive itself, so I would not feel great getting intimate while Rex or Steven or Jeb is in the front of the business trying to not listen.)
But hey, let's not allow the annoying sex pestering get in the way of celebrating that the show landed with a correct, happy ending – and, best of all, is over.
I'd say an easy way of fixing "Listen to Your Heart" for future seasons is to take a page from other performance-based reality shows and mix the behind-the-scenes practice material in as flashback context before each song – kind of like how "So You Think You Can Dance" would show each duo at practice, learning and struggling with the moves, before cutting back to the studio for the routine. It would certainly help focus the show on its best attribute – the musical numbers – and spread out the material so the first 60 minutes of every show isn't an extended bathroom break for viewers.
The easiest way to fix "The Bachelor: Jeds 2: Generic Boogaloo" for next time, though? Not have a next time.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.