'The Bachelorette': Grading Desiree and Brooks' La-La Land Date

Good evening, Bachelorette fans! (Bachelorette-ettes? Maybe "Bachelorette favorite fans," which we can just shorten to "BFFs," which I already feel.) It's only two episodes of this new season that have aired, but already we've seen Desiree in a wedding dress, men nearly crying over a woman they just met, and Soulja Boy for whatever reason. I'd say we're off to a great start.

But first, can I make a confession? We can be honest with each other, right?

Before last night, I had never seen a single episode of this show before in my life.

I know, and I apologize. You're not in the hands of some Bachelorette scholar, versed in years of show lore. Or even, for that matter, a basic understanding of how this reality competition works. It's like football to me, which I also barely comprehend!

But one thing you'd have to be completely ignorant to not immediately see is that this show. Is. All. ABOUT. THE DATES. People love dates! To wit:

  1. We've all been on them, many of which have been terrible.
  2. We've all imagined what our perfect date looks like.

So The Bachelorette, in its fantasyland construction, allows us both to laugh at those fantastically awkward encounters and stew in jealousy at the pitch-perfect construction of the good ones. We can have our cake and eat it, too (quite literally if you're on your couch eating cake, like me).

Each week, we'll be grading the latest episode's date(s) on something we'll right now call the "Bustle.com Bachelorette Date Grader," to be replaced by a flashier name ASAP. We're looking at a few metrics here:

  • Romantic impact
  • Expectation/reality ratio
  • DIY possibility
  • Smooch intensity
  • "It" factor

A harsh grading rubric, for sure, but this is network television we're talking about — for the money thrown at these "dates," Bachelorette producers should expect no mercy from the Internet. So let's get to it!

The Event(s): trying on wedding dresses; chilling on the Hollywood sign; enjoying dinner and a totally casual Andy Grammer concert on some closed-off bridge

The Guy: Brooks, 28 y.o. Sales & Marketing

Brooks' "Ultimate Date*": "Anything that's fun and involves conversation"

*taken from the official Bachelorette site

Desiree, a bridal stylist by trade, decided it would be fun to try on wedding outfits with Brooks. "It could be really awkward!" she said, to which I replied, "It could be awkward? Everything about this date is like a superstition nightmare." And that's before they took photos of themselves, which — if there's not already a specific superstition pegged to that, there should be. Also saying, "We really felt like newlyweds."

Our Date Grader saw this whole thing tracking in a really downward direction, but the next phase — lounging on the Hollywood sign — stabilized the evening. Now, most Los Angelenos are aware that the Hollywood sign has long been inaccessible by foot, so Des offering this out-of-towner such a rare treat feels like a less-than-authentic local experience. Maybe they should have hung out in 405 traffic?

Still, romance > verisimilitude.

Brooks brought his A-game: "I'll take the chance of getting my heart broken again and again if it means making my way to true love." Smooth. Super-smooth. Am I falling in love with Brooks? No time to ponder my sexual orientation because there's the kiiiiiiiiiiisssssss -- a well-timed, nicely even-lipped landing with minimal recoil. Not very intense, but purposeful.

Kiss Score: 8/10

A Bachelorette newbie, I figured the date was over as soon as The Guy planted one on The Bach(elorette). Not so! Sooner than you could ask "where'd we park?" Des and Brooks were off to their next destination — a seemingly under construction bridge. Or was it... ? That closed-off bridge turned out to be a lavishly appointed date site, complete with candlelight dining and a surprise musical performance by Andy Grammer.

At this point I'm thinking okay — for as many of my friends might one day find themselves in politics, I don't foresee a future in which I get bridges shut down for my social outings. And Andy Grammer? Even needing to Google who he was (and lamenting the fact I wasn't watching Vampire Weekend), it's quite clear the effect he generated isn't easily replicated at home. None of this date was planned by Brooks, of course (or even Des, probably) but I have to dock points for its more fantastical elements. Stop showing us up, show.

DIY Score: 2/5 Amazon stars

Let's take a moment to recall Brooks' ultimate date, "anything that's fun and involves conversation." Was it fun? Yes! Was there conversation? A lot of it was about divorced parents and the difficulty of finding an appropriate partner in a country where 50% of relationships end in tears, but it was still a conversation. Judges?

(Brooks') Expectation to Reality: 100%

"These are the dates guys wish they could pull off," Brooks said, flashing a rakish smile at Des. "This date just keeps getting bigger and better... " she replied. That Grammer guy kept doing his thing nearby. Far in the distance, the lights of downtown Los Angeles shone like an illuminated blanket. "Is this the most magical bridge in the whole world?" we ask. The Bachelorette's producers will never give us an address.

Rose: Yes

Let me see if I can properly analogize here — the Rose is sort of like the snitch in Harry Potter? You can be losing horrifically (say, continuing to talk about your ex-girlfriend), doing everything wrong (say, kissing with your eyes open) and still, when the dust settles, find those other points of data utterly relevant. The Rose is the only score that counts. And you, Brooks, were Rosed.

(Does anybody on a one-on-one ever not get a Rose? No, really — newbie question I'd love to have answered.)

There it is — my first ever episode, and Bustle.com's first ever Bachelorette post. You all with me after that? I hope so, because we're going to be partying/commenting like that all season. Stay tuned!

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Image: ABC