The Bachelor – Week 3

This episode has no shortage of drama. You might as well call this episode The Sarah Show. It picks up where the last left off, with Sarah fainting during the Rose Ceremony.

As the women talk among themselves, I wonder how the producers determine their placement. Why would they place Abigail in the second row with a more potentially obstructed view?

When Chris comes in to announce the final rose, I remember another reason why I stopped watching this show. We all know it’s the final rose, Chris!

This week there’s three dates: two group dates and one “unbelievable romantic 1:1 date.” The Bachelor is known for nothing if not its hyperbole. I do feel for these women, who are stuck at a Pennsylvania resort because of COVID. Dates in past seasons are much more exciting and over the top, and eventually they travel to exotic locales. Then again, these women are still on national television and getting an escape from their every day lives.

Group Date

Apparently Matt needs to be pushed a little bit. He has trouble feeling uncomfortable, so the point of the group date is to be uncomfortable. When the group (sans Abigail) walks into the room, Ashley I. (past contestant) is reading an erotic scene from Chris’ book, The Perfect Letter. Turns out the women have to write their own sexy love story with Matt, sharing with the rest of the group and a live studio audience.

The live studio audience sounds scary but it ends up being the other women in the house. They’re seated in the back of the room. Abigail is shown at the beginning of this scene, and then we don’t see her until she’s at the house. A deaf friend and I independently wonder how Abigail is able to follow the women reading their stories on stage. I always sit in the front or near the front at things like this whenever possible. Maybe she can hear well with her CI, but then why would she talk about lipreading so much? Is the show not accommodating her like they should? Or is she not advocating for herself?

Katie tells the camera that she loves watching and hearing Matt talk, with his juicy lips. Ironic that it’s not Abigail saying this!

Back at the House

During the conversation at the house, when the camera pans over Abigail, she’s looking down as usual. Does it help her listen better? Or do they always just happen to catch her that way?

When there’s a knock at the door, Abigail tells the camera, “My heart just sinks every time I hear that knock [so I guess she does hear it?]. I really want that date card. I just feel like other girls are getting that time with him, exploring relationships with him. I just need more time at this point. I think the connection is there. It’s super easy to talk with him when I see him, but you can only do so much with so little time.”

Alas, the next date is a 1:1 for Serena P.

The Sarah Show

Sarah is having a difficult time on the show because she’s developed feelings for Matt, who’s dating 32 women. She can’t deal. She interrupts him on the group date, which pisses off the women because now they’re denied their time. Some don’t get to talk to him at all, because the producers must have told him he had to leave to ensure this drama.

Sarah hides back at the house, so Matt checks on her when he shows up for his date with Serena. Their date involves horseback riding, a picnic with donkeys, a dinner, and then making out in a hot tub. You know, the usual. Meanwhile, everyone at the house is bashing Sarah, who continues to hide in her room.

When the third date card shows up, Sarah finally makes an appearance. She apologizes to the women, explaining that she was thinking of leaving and had to talk to Matt, yada yada yada. The women push back. Abigail speaks up as a voice of reason: “So if you don’t want to be here, why are you taking someone else’s rose that really does wanna be here and trusts that process?”

The episode continues with the women bashing Sarah. When Katie checks on Sarah, we discover that while we knew her dad has ALS, he only has weeks to live. Yes, it’s time to go home, Sarah dear! [ETA: A friend read Reality Steve’s recap and reported that Sarah had a boyfriend right before she went on the show. She doesn’t live with her parents and isn’t her dad’s caretaker. Oh, and her dad is still alive, which is great. But this kind of misrepresentation shouldn’t be required for reality TV!]

When no one has seen Sarah for the third day in a row, Abigail says, “If she doesn’t show on the group date, I feel like that’s a big red flag for Matt.” The others agree. Then they find out Sarah has decided to leave. There’s a dramatic goodbye with Matt, and the episode ends before even showing Abigail’s group date. So now I’m pissed at Sarah too. Next week, five new girls show up.

But for now, Abigail is still there, looking rosy!

‘The Bachelor’ – Week 2

I stopped watching The Bachelor a long time ago, but got drawn in again because of the first deaf contestant, Abigail Heringer. I wrote about the first episode of Season 25 for HearingLikeMe.com.

As long as Abigail is on the show, I’ll blog about her here. Future posts will go up on Tuesdays.

Abigail doesn’t get as much air time in week 2, but she stands out in her scenes.

Shout Out From Chris

The second episode opens with Matt James’ [running footsteps] and [tranquil music] as he gets some necessary exercise. After all, he has to keep his stamina up if he’s dating multiple women. But first, he must indulge the viewers in a gratuitous (outdoor) shower scene. It’s so natural that he even wraps a towel around his waist and goes back in the house without drying himself off.

In their house, which they jokingly refer to as the Matt-eau, the girls are all sitting around when host Chris Harrison walks in. “Where’s my girl Abigail?” he asks. “I’m over here!” she says. “Oh, you’re tucked in the corner,” Chris says. “You got the First Impression Rose! Congrats!” One of the women adds, “And she got the first kiss!” “Congrats on both of them!” says Chris.

Hmm. And here I thought Chris was looking for Abigail to make sure she’d be able to lipread him. But no, he’s here to announce that there will be three dates this week: one group date, and two one-on-one dates.

Group Date

While Bri is on the first 1:1 date, there’s a knock at the door back at the Matt-eau (yes, it’s as painful to write as it is to say). This is always a signal for the next date card. I, of course, wondered how Abigail was clued in. Ileana reads off the names of the girls going on the group date. And the names keep coming. There’s a total of 18 women going on this date, the largest group date in Bachelor history. <sarcasm> Naturally, Abigail is one of them, because it’s an ideal environment for a deaf person. </sarcasm>

What’s that sound? Fireworks popping outside. Again, who tells Abigail (or can she figure it out for herself?)? The women go outside to watch and muse that Bri and Matt are probably making out. How’d they guess?

One women thinks the group date will be a s%*t show. She’s right. Because all the dates have to be outside for some reason, they carry umbrellas as it’s raining. Good thing the show has enough, because cochlear implants shouldn’t get wet. Some are water resistant, but I don’t know what brand Abigail has.

Matt tells them that he’s confident he sees his potential wife in the group. Since he’s a visual person, he thought it would be fun to have a little photo shoot and visualize what that special day might look like with one of them. Right. He thought this, not the producers. Anyway, the women have 10 minutes to put on one of the wedding dresses and accessories inside. Maybe half of the group gets a photo taken with the groom, and some even get kisses in while the others watch. The whole thing is every bit as cringe-worthy as you can imagine.

Capture the Heart

Then Chris shows up. This always means a twist. He says to stay happily married takes a lot of hard work. Matt is looking for a woman who will truly fight for him. So even though half of the girls didn’t get a photo shoot, they all have to walk through a forest to meet up with Matt again. Is Abigail able to follow when Chris explains the game was Capture the Heart?

The women are split into two teams. There’s paint and other “weapons” like purses, and no rules. As the women discuss strategy, I wonder if Abigail is keeping up. How does she feel during the competition? She probably can’t tell as well as the others if someone is approaching. Is she worried about her CI coming off? When water is sprayed, what does she do? When the camera pans to her in a group shot, she isn’t looking at the person speaking. Was she relying on her hearing, or did she figure it doesn’t matter?

Alas, Abigail’s on the losing team. The wedding dresses get trashed. The winning team spends a “romantic, incredible night” with Matt, while the losers go home and “wonder who’s making out with Matt.”

Back at the house, the losing team tells the women there what happened. Abigail and her paint-splattered face starts it off, “Well, the red team won…” Later on in the conversation, as one person is talking, the camera pans to Abigail, who’s looking down. Is she following the conversation? Does she care?

Rose Ceremony

Abigail tells the camera that going into the rose ceremony, she’s really really nervous. She’s excited to see Matt because she didn’t get to talk to him much this week after getting the First Impression Rose. “That’s why I just really want to talk to him and just kind of let him know that I’m here and hopefully keep that connection going,” she says.

She gets the first conversation with Matt (at least, that’s how the editing portrays it). They tell each other they’ve missed each other and how it feels like they haven’t seen each other in forever. She says they had such a good first night and then there was the group date, which is hard when you’re trying to date the same guy.

Then Abigail does something clever. She tells Matt she should give him a little signal – like she can fix her earring or pull her ear, and it’ll be like her blowing him a kiss or something. He can do it right back, she says. “Or I’ll stare at you the whole night and wait for you to catch my eye,” she adds. They work out their signal and it’s very cute.

https://twitter.com/marishakishviIi/status/1348820121150771202

Matt tells the camera that Abigail is one of the sweetest people he’s ever met. He doesn’t have to try hard to have a good time. The conversation flows and she makes him laugh. He helps her off the couch when their conversation is done. “You saw me struggling?” she laughs. No kiss – at least not one that’s shown.

Drama

Marylynn – a contestant involved in drama with the season’s villain, “Queen Victoria,” — tells Abigail that she can’t do this anymore. Abigail asks, “You want a hug? Come here,” and hugs her. Aw.

When Matt calls Abigail’s name in the rose ceremony, she pulls on her ear as she steps down. She used their secret signal! Alas, the camera doesn’t show us his reaction. Did he notice? Did he respond in kind?

The episode ends with a woman (Sarah) almost fainting and the medics being called. And those dreaded three words on the screen: “To be continued…”

As MSN.com says in its episode recap, “Abigail, who melted Matt’s heart in the premiere, has managed to stay clear of the toxicity so far. Viewers saw much less of her on-screen Monday night because she didn’t score an individual date.”

At least we know Abigail is safe for another week!

Deaf U Review

A week ago, “Deaf U” was released on Netflix. A reality docuseries executive produced by Nyle DiMarco — admittedly not one of my favorite people — the show centers around a group of Deaf students at Gallaudet University.

I was sure it would be the next docuseries viral hit. After all, the media loves Nyle and the drama of American Sign Language (ASL). I was nervous to watch, because I knew much of the content would piss me off. But how would I be able to educate people (if needed) without watching? Plus, there are only eight episodes under 20 minutes each, so binging would be easy.

My curiosity won out. I watched, so you don’t have to.

As someone posted on Facebook, “Did I miss something? I watched several episodes of Deaf U. It appeared to be more about sex, partying, drinking, and bullying.”

Nope. That’s the show in a nutshell. It’s a huge missed opportunity to showcase what life is like in a deaf bubble like Gallaudet (the country’s only private university for deaf and hard of hearing students). The concept of Deaf Space, for example, wasn’t really touched upon, other than showing a group of students at a bar rearranging the seating so they could all communicate.

I was relieved to see two cast members who spoke as well as signed. One of them even has a cochlear implant. Ironically, he often interpreted for a classmate when they went out to clubs.

The downsides to being reliant on sign language were shown but may have been too subtle. There were a few scenes of people having to type out their food or drink orders on the phone or write them down on paper.

The bullying that’s so prevalent in the show is real when it comes to Deaf Culture. “Elite” Deaf people, who come from Deaf families and are native signers, treat anyone else as less than. It was surprising that people like Cheyenna weren’t aware of this. Did she not do her due diligence?

Gallaudet is so small, it’s practically incestuous. Gossip is a huge problem there. Everyone on the show is majorly f**ked up. Make of that what you will.

While it’s great that there’s a university that exists for people who are Deaf, is it to their detriment? I’ll never forget how one of my middle school teachers assumed I was going to Gallaudet, despite the fact that I was mainstreamed, spoke, and read lips. I was actually insulted. It can be nice to be in a bubble, but it’s not real life.

To further cement this point, people who rely on ASL often have poor English and literacy skills. Gallaudet coddles them. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some statistics a friend unearthed. Only 20 percent of the 2010 cohort finished their Bachelors in four years; 46 percent did it in eight. Two years later, the graduation rate was still low at 47 percent. It dipped again in 2014, with only 19 percent graduating in four years and 44 percent in six years.

But back to the show. There’s no closure in the last episode; I had to go online to find out updates. Then I had some fun looking up reactions on Twitter. I’m not the only one unimpressed. One main complaint from people in the Deaf community is the lack of Black Deaf female representation. I also discovered that the show was supposedly filmed in a month. It shows. If you haven’t already guessed, this hasn’t become a viral hit like I feared.

Nyle is on record as saying he made “Deaf U” to prove that Deaf Culture exists, because “people don’t believe me.” Is it wrong that I’m kind of glad he’s experiencing some backlash? He also says he’s trying to show that there’s “no one right way to be deaf.” But his actions don’t follow.

His next Netflix project, “Audible,” follows a Deaf boy at his alma mater high school – Maryland School for the Deaf. As Nyle describes this Netflix docuseries, “It’s a really interesting opportunity to see what it’s like for a deaf kid to go to a deaf school and play football with all of his buddies, then go home and not have access to language. His parents don’t sign. And that truly is the authentic story of the deaf community in America.”

As a hearing parent of a deaf child posted on Facebook, “[‘Audible’ is] absolutely the experience of many kids who go to signing Deaf boarding schools, but it risks further misrepresenting the statistics for parents who don’t sign by implying that most can’t communicate with their child rather than admitting that many don’t need to sign because their children listen and speak proficiently.”

In fact, more than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Why wouldn’t they want them to (literally) speak their language and be able to function independently in society? We exist. And we don’t need “Deaf U” to prove it.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence

ASL performance of Rachel Platten's "Fight Song"

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is being lauded for showcasing deaf talent and representation in its most recent episode, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence.” But as is typical for the medium, it was a biased, unrealistic portrayal.

If you’re hearing and watched the ninth episode this season – which aired April 6, 2020 – you likely recognized the song as soon as the instrumental began and maybe even remembered some of the lyrics. If you’re deaf and know ASL, you knew what the characters were “singing.”

Yes, the sign language-only performance of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” without lyrics or subtitles was dramatic and moving, and it’s great that actual deaf people were playing deaf people. But the fact is, the media gravitates toward American Sign Language, or ASL, because it’s so visual.

But if you’re deaf like me, raised to lipread and speak, you were completely out of the loop. How’s that for irony? 

When I looked up the lyrics, they added an extra dimension to the performance. “Can you hear my voice this time? This is my fight song…”

Well, this is my fight song. 

In the episode, Zoey’s father’s caregiver Howie’s daughter (you follow?) Abigail is deaf. When she visits Zoey at her workplace, Zoey’s colleague conveniently knows sign language and is able to interpret (otherwise they would have had to resort to cruder methods). About her dad, she signs, “Ever since I was little, he’s always tried to shelter me from the world and make me better, whether it was cochlear implants, hearing aids, or speech therapy. But when nothing fixed me, he was devastated.” 

She adds, “He always made me feel like something was wrong with me. Then I went to college and met people who didn’t view their deafness as a weakness.”

I know parents like Howie exist. Thankfully, I know many more parents who are like mine. I was accepted, raised to be independent in society, and never made to feel like I was broken or needed to be fixed. 

Since my congenital deafness was diagnosed at 14 months of age, I’ve worn hearing aids. As an adult, I got a cochlear implant, so now I have one of each. I had daily speech therapy from my diagnosis through high school. 

Deaf Culture activists shy away from what they call a medical model of deafness, or reinforcing limitations rather than abilities. They think this perspective emphasizes the “loss” of hearing and strives to make the person be “normal.” This philosophy – which they associate with someone like me — is so far from my reality, it’s laughable. Even with my cochlear implant and hearing aid, I’m deaf. I still can’t appreciate music or understand what’s said on the phone. I’m reminded of my limitations every single day. But because of my parents and teachers, I’ve been able to reach my full potential. I would have had more limitations had I not been taught to lipread and speak.

Unfortunately, viewers who don’t know much about hearing loss wouldn’t know that people like me exist. In fact, 90 percent of children who are deaf are born to hearing parents, the vast majority of whom don’t know ASL – just like the rest of the world. In a family report of primary communication modality, the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management found that 49 percent of families use listening and spoken language only, while only 3 percent use ASL only. The other percentages involve various combinations.

With advances like cochlear implants, listening and spoken language outcomes are even brighter – especially if implanted by age one. Kids are on par with their hearing peers when it comes to language, and don’t have the limitations older folks like me do.

The struggle between Howie and Abigail is that he’s scared to let her make her own choices and venture out into the world. Perhaps if he had given Abigail the right tools, he wouldn’t feel this way.

A deaf friend of mine who is an audiologist echoed my thoughts when she complained about the episode: “Just once, can we just have a TV show with someone who is deaf, wears CIs or hearing aids, and is happy to be able to speak? I am so tired of TV and movies playing into the same old tropes. We can’t keep feeling like we’re in the 1960s. The d/Deaf community is so diverse and it’s sad that we always get just one viewpoint.”

Can you hear my voice this time?

Bumper Stickers

I never thought I’d have a car covered in bumper stickers. I don’t…yet. While I have five, I don’t own a stick figure family or the annoying “MY KID’S AN HONOR STUDENT.” You’re welcome.

Years ago, my husband and I displayed stickers from our respective universities on one car’s side windows. Our other car had the HRC logo on a back passenger window. We were trying to be unassuming.

Then the 2016 election happened. And I no longer gave a shit.

I know putting a bumper sticker on my car isn’t going to change minds. But it makes me feel like I’m doing SOMETHING. Even if it’s just announcing to the world that I’m not happy with the current regime.

Think about it. There’s something about a captive audience. You’re waiting at the the light and have to keep an eye on the car in front of you. If the message is succinct, it’ll be seen regardless. Like the one I have on my back bumper that says “RESIST.”

Move On is where I’ve gotten most (or all?) of my stickers. And they’re free! Every once in a while, I’ll get an email about a new sticker. Since I’m often on my computer, I’m able submit my request immediately before stock runs out.

One of my favorites is the one that quotes Michelle Obama: “WE NEED AN ADULT IN THE White House.” I have yet to see that on another car, which makes mine even more special.

My BLUE WAVE 2018 car magnet will hopefully be replaced by BLUE WAVE 2020 (get on that please, people!) and/or one that has the Democratic candidate’s name on it. As soon as we know who that person is, you can bet I’ll have him/her represented!

I’m sure I’ve been on the receiving end of people who aren’t happy with my statements, but again, I don’t give a shit. They show my support for basic human decency, for a world that’s going up in flames (literally). And it’s always rewarding when strangers express their solidarity. I even had someone ring my doorbell a few months ago just to tell me that she’d seen my car around the neighborhood. She told herself she had to meet the person who had such great stickers. We talked about volunteering for organizations like the League of Women Voters and our shared hope that our efforts will prove fruitful.

Then today, while I was putting groceries in my trunk, a stranger approached me with the “SPREAD KINDNESS BUILD COMMUNITY” magnet. She gave it to me, saying she liked my stickers and found this magnet in Virginia. She wanted me to add it to my collection, and gave me a happy thumbs up as I drove away.

Of course, I don’t put anything permanent on my car. If it’s a sticker, it’s vinyl, the kind that’s easily removable. Otherwise, it’s a car magnet, which comes right off. Hopefully after the 2020 election, I can remove Michelle’s quote. By then, my daughter will be a college student; we can display some college spirit. I’d much rather do that than have to worry about the fate of our country.

Seriously — the news is so demoralizing these days. It’s always reassuring to know that we’re not alone in this fight.