Where last we saw Evan, he was writhing beneath Morgan in a bed. And though he was insistent that they not have sex (and he took care to remind her the next morning that full-on fucking needs to be off the table – and off the bed…and off the floor…and out of the shower – for the foreseeable future), they are still very much behaving like two people in a legitimate relationship. There are consoling touches. There is full body cuddling. There is high-octane chemistry. But you know what also exists in the shadowy corners of Evan and Morgan’s world? AN ACTUAL GIRLFRIEND exists, and what nobody seems to be considering right now is the sheer avalanche of emotional baggage that will surely plague both Evan and Morgan if they actually end up together. It may be all spend-the-day-in-a-villa-and-do-not-even-think-about-your-bills-piling-up-or-your-girlfriend’s-family-watching-you-rub-your-hands-across-another-woman’s-ass fun now, but the real world will eventually rear its tear-streaked face and whatever decision Evan ends up making will surely devastate at least one woman.
I’m really not sure how much worse it can get for Kaci. It was her idea to bring her boyfriend on this show. It was her logic-over-emotion mindset that put this now-scorching plan into motion. And after only a few weeks, it is her boyfriend declaring his burgeoning feelings to another woman, even as the woman he has been with for five years has decided for sure that their relationship is very definitely worth saving. To move forward while literally being stuck in this horrible little experiment that’s being televised to the masses, Kaci either has to take her mind off what she now knows is going on by trying to lose herself in something that, at the very least, mimics infatuation, or she can remain focused on everything she very well may lose. Listen: I know Hawaii is beautiful and spending your days hacking pineapples off a bush must be kind of fun, but when your future is dying and you feel impotent in your present, how much fun can slicing into any kind of fucking fruit really be?
If the ultimate goal of going on a show like Temptation Island is to perhaps discover new and exciting things about yourself, Kaci and Evan should be shoo-ins for the first Self-Awareness medals. I’d like to recommend to production that these prizes be given out at the end of each Bonfire of Doom, as I truly believe a shiny consolation prize might help soothe someone’s ravaged insides after she’s, say, forced to watch footage of the love of her life canoodling with a stranger. Kaci’s medal (I’m gonna go ahead and say she deserves the gold, and that’s only partly because her soul will soon be crushed into smithereens and at least gold will make those smithereens look pretty) should be awarded for having the realization that Evan proposing by a certain date is no longer important to her. Evan’s medal – let’s give him the bronze; it’ll highlight the new sun-streaked highlights in his hair – is for realizing he is able to crush on someone who is not his girlfriend. Oh, and the silver? Let’s save that one for the therapist these two should very certainly make an appointment with the second they arrive back on the mainland.
Just as the ash from the Bonfire of Doom goes scattering into the night sky, so too does Shari’s sanity. You really can’t blame the girl, not when the editors and the producers made quite sure the footage she’d see (involving the boyfriend she already doesn’t particularly trust) would be the most incendiary of the shit they could locate. True: Shari has no idea what Javen’s out of context blubbering even pertains to, but he does sound really fucking guilty. They’ve only been in Pretend Paradise for a couple of weeks! He’s already crossed a line? The guy is dead to her.
The experiment – you know, the one you’d only participate in if your entire existence was predicated on craving the kind of fleeting faux fame that Fiji water girl just experienced – is now fully in swing over on Temptation Island. The couples have been split apart, the Tempters are calculating exactly what they need to do in order to snag the maximum amount of camera time without having to resort to either murder or actually developing a talent, and Javen is releasing deep sighs of relief into his pillow because every second of every day is no longer scored by the sound of Shari’s annoyed sighs. Oh – and two Tempters are rocking necklaces that may as well be fashioned out of rotting forbidden fruit.
I’m pretty hard to shock at this point, but a lot of reality shows I’ve seen have seriously stunned me. Like, there was once a show where some woman dated men wearing Phantom of the Opera type masks to prove she was looking for love instead of looks. Do you remember it? The masked men would only get to remove their bizarre facewear in the pitch black darkness of a cellar where the woman would take them to go make out and, while they were down there, the woman would all but feel up the guy’s face to assure her obviously-terrified mind that no, this man who willingly donned a mask for twenty hours a day did not have boils growing off his cheekbones. Another show I watched involved two strangers marrying each other after a mock beauty pageant and it only came out later that the groom had restraining orders out against him for stalking. So yes, much of the reality television that’s come out has been (at the very least) mildly grotesque, but it was the first installment of Temptation Island that was on back in the day that freaked me out entirely – and now that nightmare is back.
Remember how shocking it was when twenty-two utter fools actually managed to pair up correctly at the very last minute of the seventh season of Are You the One? Remember the fleeting look of accomplishment smeared across their faces as they sauntered off that island with approximately $40,000 and some very probable invitations to appear on even more reality shows in the way-too-near-future for my comfort? Remember when this cast acted like they were entirely capable of forgetting all the fighting and the furniture smashing and the sociopathic bullshit they’d inflicted on one another all summer long? Remember how they instead clung to one another super tightly and swore they’d be like family until the very last second of time? Well, it seems time is relative and this little televised family is even more dysfunctional than the Manson Family after a particularly potent acid trip. The sweet goodbye that blasted across our airwaves occurred months ago and the sweetness between these people faded – much like genital warts eventually do. Now it’s Reunion time, most of these people officially hate one another, and if you’re surprised that the majority of these relationships didn’t work out in the long run, you too are an idiot and such a thing means you should immediately apply to be on this show because you’d be a motherfucking natural.
My sweet readers, several zillion ultra-important questions have been swirling round and round inside of my head since Are You the One? aired a new episode. It’s sort of been hard to sleep, what with my grave fears about what could happen (nothing) should Nutsa and Brett turn out not to be an MTV-approved soulmate match. And that concern isn’t even slightly comparable to the wave of stomach-clenching terror I sometimes feel (it’s probably just cramps) when it dawns on me that this right here will be the very last time these people can try to pair up correctly. But the most ominous question weighing heavy inside of me (along with that fistful of Twix I consumed on Halloween night…and then the next night…and then the night after that) is the question about these contestants and their futures. Let’s just face it – the vast majority came on this show not to find temporary love, but to snag themselves very non-temporary careers as H-list reality stars on every show this network produces until the end of fucking time. I’m pretty sure what’s really been keeping me up nights is how very certain I feel that the very worst of these people are not going anywhere.
Since my mommy and my daddy committed a long time ago to the act of effective parenting, I was raised to be a decent human being. As such, I was able to muster up a bit of empathy for Kwasi when he lost whatever was left of his sanity. I mean, the man crumbled into the lap of a producer while wailing, “I came here for love!” Who amongst us hasn’t had a moment where real love seemed unattainable? Unfortunately, my empathy sort of shriveled up and died rather quickly because though I do happen to be a decent human being, I am also a smart human being and – though it saddens me to say this – intelligence and pragmatism kicks decency’s ass pretty much every time. And so as a smart person, I find myself feeling exactly nothing for Kwasi as he experiences a televised breakdown because what kind of faulty planning must be involved for you to decide that your greatest chance of finding forever love will occur if you enter a house loaded with booze, exhibitionists, exhibitionists drinking booze, something called The Boom Boom Room, and fifty-three cameras? And what insane lies did you need to tell yourself so you could become convinced that a show that’s been on for seven seasons and has ended with most of the couples breaking up both publicly and rather spectacularly would be your emotional safety net? As I cannot even force the decent side of my brain to attempt such a leap in logic, the only thing I feel for Kwasi right now is the hope that there’s some Xanax on the premises.
Romeo and Juliet. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Holden Caulfield and that metaphorical kid he keeps trying to save over there in the rye. Kim Kardashian and herself. What do all these pairings have in common? I think the main link between them is a level of adoration that borders on the obsessive. What these people feel for one another (and what Kardashian seems to feel for herself) is the kind of adoration that’s so powerful, its very presence causes the world to feel electrically charged. And now it’s time to add another couple to this illustrious list, so let’s all grasp hands and welcome Tevin and Kenya! They are the stars of what I like to call THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TO BE TOLD ON REALITY TELEVISION AS THE APOCALYPSE LOOMS. Tevin, you see, is a modern day Renaissance man. Okay, I actually have no idea what the kid does, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say he’s an artist who happens to look a great deal like one of the greatest lipsynchers of our time so I’ve decided that factor alone makes him Renaissance-adjacent. His for-right-now beloved is Kenya, a woman who enjoys sitting on the lap of her ex-boyfriend probably way more than she should. But ever since that most recent ex left the island, Kenya decided that it might be kind of fun to settle and she declared her love for a very sweet (but a very very dim) Tevin. And guess what?! The MTV-sanctioned “relationship experts” (anyone besides me want to see the degree that officially deems these people experts?) agree with her! The lights of that Truth Booth – the ones that don’t actually do anything integral to the process – pass over their bodies and we learn that this house filled with emotional misfits has finally identified another perfect match! There are cheers and shouts of elation, but if you listen carefully, I’m pretty sure you can also hear the sound of nails and a very busy hammer. That noise? Oh, that’s Shamoy and Maria. They’re barricading the door of their until-now private Honeymoon Suite. Wouldn’t you do the exact same thing?