Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?
We’re excited when our friends get married. We’re happy for them. There are flowers and dresses and passed appetizers! But do we care? Do we give a single solitary damn? No. Not at all.
Luckily for us, Ben & Lauren combines all the fun of hearing about your cubicle-mate’s wedding plans with thrills of being trapped on a double date with a couple that isn’t going to make it. The episode starts with Nickname TBD picking out the perfect Instagram-worthy pastel bridesmaid dresses: dusty rose or dusty teal? Decisions, decisions. She says that no one looks good in hot pink, which just confirms that she’s never met a person of color in real life. Oatmeal is still at the batting cages, talking about cold feet with his friend. Oatmeal is worried that it just won’t be as fun as they hoped and he doesn’t know how to tell his fiancée because she gets so defensive when he brings up any emotion or difficulty in their relationship. Buckle up, everyone, it’s about to get passive-aggressive!
They decide to go to therapy, but Nickname TBD asks, “Who wants to go to therapy alone?” Lots of people. Most people. Rather than be like most people, they decide to rope Grant and Lace and the Twins into therapy with them. Are they even friends with Grant and Lace? I mean, Ben dated her for a while, but somehow this relationship is okay with Nickname TBD. The Twins are her favorite people in the world, so of course it’s appropriate to make them sit through intimate couples’ therapy. All three “couples” play the “Nearly-Wed Game,” which is a deft way to avoid The Newlywed Game’s copyright. Grant and Lace get every question right because they make me believe in love again. The Twins only get the questions about sexual intimacy wrong, which is comforting. Oatmeal gets every question wrong. Their relationship is trash. The only question they get right: “What was your most recent fight about?” The answer: “Our wedding.” Ain’t that right.
The next task assigned by relationship therapist Dr. Mike is … a ropes course, I guess. Everyone talks shit about Oatmeal and Nickname TBD on the way there and they just ride in silence. She finally breaks the silence to give him a hard time about his answers during the Nearly-Wed Game. How dare he say he’s afraid of clowns! Nothing brings a couple together like shaming your fiancé for not doing therapy right! Who is shipping these Land’s End–catalogue golems?
At the ropes course, the “couples” are each blindfolded so one person has to talk the other through the obstacles. Grant and Lace are amazing and inspiring and Grant holds Lace in his arms as he carries her to safety. I want Grant & Lace: Drunkenly Ever After. Nickname TBD refuses to listen to any of Oatmeal’s instructions and, good God, it must be tiresome to be in this relationship. Between his neediness and her stubborn passive-aggression, I’m worn out. They also call each other “babe” when they’re upset with each other, just like Michael and Jan. Everyone is screaming at each other and for each other and Oatmeal is chanting, “Scream! Pray! Jump!” to motivate Nickname TBD after he abandoned her at the top of the zip line.
Now, it’s time for the hot seat, another terrific therapy exercise where Oatmeal and Nickname TBD sit across from each other and communicate. She probably thought it would be a chance for her to grill him on all his shortcomings as a fiancé but, whoops, they gotta talk about feelings. Oatmeal word-vomits all his feelings onto her. He’s got a lot of them, and I kind of love that. Oatmeal became a real boy today. This Oatmeal has some walnuts sprinkled on top. While their friends watch in silence, he breaks down crying while he tells everyone about when he didn’t have any friends in second grade. He’s anxious about the wedding and whether they’re ready, so Dr. Mike has the brilliant idea to put them both in wedding attire and just see what happens! I don’t think exposure therapy works for relationship issues.
Nickname TBD puts on a wedding dress and meets Oatmeal on a balcony to talk about their future. He gushes over her, then says that they’re still learning about each other. She doesn’t even know he’s allergic to coconut! He’d rather figure those things out before they get married. Ultimately, Oatmeal decides that he’s not ready. He’s calling the wedding off. Whoa.
Now they have to go back inside with all their dumb-ass friends waiting while they cry. Oatmeal just flatly announces, “The wedding’s off,” the same way you’d announce, “There’s a dead frog in the pool so we can’t swim right now.” Nickname TBD goes off with the Twins and Oatmeal sits down on the couch. WHAT NOW, DR. MIKE? His advice? Go on a road trip. That’s all you got? Lock two people in an emotional thunderdome in a confined space for 72 hours? Where did you get your degree? The Lace Front Institute of Medicine? The next morning, Oatmeal and Nickname TBD sit in silence while they eat their dry wheat toast and Raisin Bran. She goes to visit her sister and says she feels blindsided. She doesn’t even know if they’re still together. And now they’ve got to tell Host Chris that they’re not getting married.
Can someone tell me how and why Host Chris is qualified to give relationship advice? Oh, he’s not? Okay.
Oatmeal decides to give Nickname TBD a little surprise … and it’s some product placement for a new car. If only the onboard-navigation system could guide their lives. They’re going to take Dr. Mike’s advice and drive back to Colorado from Los Angeles. They stop to see weird roadside attractions and marvel at the stereo system of the Fiat 500X. They ask each other truth-or-dare questions and visit a random, completely unstaged meet-up of Bachelor fans. Is there a season airing for these fans to be celebrating? Is this what white women do in their spare time? The superfans ask them about their wedding plans, which makes Oatmeal and Nickname TBD desperately uncomfortable. They go to the iHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas and face questions from the press about their wedding. It’s almost like they were on a reality show where the grand prize was a marriage or something.
Finally, they fight for the millionth time about Oatmeal’s unwillingness to commit and decide to stop for a milkshake at a roadside diner. They’re seated behind an elderly couple, Ed and Toots, who give them some generic advice about not going to bed angry and fighting in World War II. So just get married, you crazy kids, since the Germans could strike at any moment.
The best part of the exchange is Ed’s saying that before they go to sleep, Toots always tells him something she wouldn’t want to say on TV. Turns out she says, “Goodnight, you old fart.” How amazing would it have been if it was something like, “Gimme some of the Navy man D.”
At the end of the episode, Oatmeal and Nickname TBD return home to see that their house was shabbily made chic during the road trip. Oatmeal decides to buy Nickname TBD’s confidence with a whole bunch of white furniture that doesn’t even remotely fit in their house. If you can’t have emotional honesty, I guess you have to settle for a padded ecru headboard.