Remember that “30 Rock” episode where Tina Fey’s character reveals that her one-woman show about Frederick Douglass was deemed “too confusing to be offensive”? That phrase is truly the best way to describe “Catching Kelce,” a new reality show on E! that debuted Wednesday night.
“Catching Kelce” centers around NFL star Travis Kelce, 27, allegedly looking for love, though probably just searching for more fame. Over eight episodes, Travis (the Kansas City Chiefs tight end who was once fined $11,000 for making an obscene gesture during a game) will narrow down a field of 50 women to “the girl of his dreams.”
Honestly, the show is just as morally questionable as “The Bachelor” or any other reality dating series. In this case, however, it’s so absurd that it’s pointless for viewers to sigh about how it’s contributing to the downfall of TV and/or humanity. Instead, think of it an unintentional, low-budget “Bachelor” parody you never knew you needed — it’s a trainwreck and you can’t look away. Here’s how “Catching Kelce” uses some of the franchise’s tropes:
1) “The bachelor” himself.
Actually, Travis would make an excellent “Bachelor.” Unlike the bland souls that have been showing up lately (we’re looking at you, Ben Higgins), he has tons of charisma. He makes goofy jokes, he dances, he belts out “Hey There Lonely Girl” in falsetto. He looks ridiculous and doesn’t care. He revels in red carpets, glitzy charity events and award shows. “When I’m off the field, I’m still in the spotlight,” he boasts. “I need a woman that will fit into all aspects of my life.”
2) The contestant introductions.
Instead of arriving in limos, “Bachelor” style, the 5o women start their journey on a Los Angeles football field, wearing matching outfits and shaking pom poms in the air as they cheer and swoon for Travis. The first challenge: Each woman gets 60 seconds of alone time with Travis to make a first impression.
Anika from Minnesota starts talking about her cat and loses track of time. Jenny from Oregon mentions that she and Travis can “connect on a lot of levels” and shows off crazy moves with her tongue. Kaylee from Iowa belts out a song. Crystal from Florida recently caught the bouquet at her sister’s wedding and thinks this is destiny. “I feel like this is a sign,” she says as Travis looks terrified. Chelsea from Virginia just wants to hug for the full 60 seconds. “You’re warm,” she whispers.
3) The gloriously tacky mansion where the contestants fight.
Travis eliminates 30 women while the final 20 are transported to an impressive yet hideous mansion, where they’ll live during filming and hopefully have lots of drama. Immediately, the contestants start trash talking each other to the cameras. “There’s some funny-looking heffers behind me. Like, get out of here. ‘Cause you’re wasting my time and I need to get to my man,” V Rich from Mississippi says of her competition.
The “drama” continues: V Rich orchestrates an impromptu house meeting to determine who spilled wine on the stairs, which is the prime way to get everyone to start fighting. Ceecee from Michigan laughs to the camera that she’s the one who spilled the wine, but she’s not about to admit it. Later, Ceecee warns the other women to not monopolize Travis in the future: “Next time, I’m not going to be so nice,” she says.
4) The forced gathering.
Travis brings his top 20 women to a rooftop party with his brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, and some of his other NFL pals (Malik Jackson of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mike Davis of the San Francisco 49ers).Travis wonders: Can the ladies hang with his bros?
As always, the contestants battle to get one-on-one time. Anika interrupts conversations so often that Travis compares her to a Whac-A-Mole at a Dave & Busters that he can’t escape. London from Tennessee, a self-described “severe Christian,” pulls Travis aside: “So, do you believe Jesus died for your sins, or do you just believe in God … or are you just chilling?”
Travis confirms that he was raised a Christian and then speeds away. “That last talk got pretty deep. At this point I just want to get up to the party and start dancing,” he confesses.
5) The elimination.
No rose ceremony here. At the end of the episode, Travis summons eight of the women and reveals that he’s sending five more of them home. What follows is the most awful elimination “ceremony” we have ever seen, as he calls out each woman by name and elaborates on what he does not like about her.
Kara from Kansas and London from Tennessee are sent packing; Travis says the only things they had in common were Kansas and religion, respectively. When he confronts Ceecee about being a party girl, Ceecee convinces him that she has much more to offer, so he graciously lets her stay. Not so much for Salma from Connecticut, because Travis doesn’t feel anything between them. “I’m going to have to ask you to go back home to Connecticut,” he says gravely.
Crystal from Florida is also on the chopping block. “Who is the real Crystal?” Travis asks. Crystal, a beauty queen, eloquently urges him to keep her around to find out. Uh oh — it was a trick question. “I don’t want the perfect pageant girl answering every question I ask,” Travis explains, and sends her back to Florida. Harsh.
Next, Travis is concerned that Lexi from Georgia is just there to promote her career as a fashion vlogger. “I love that you’re so pro-you … are you just here to build your brand?” he asks … rather hypocritically, considering he’s the one with a reality show. Lexi assures him she is not, so Travis gives her another chance and hopes he won’t regret it.
Finally, it’s down to Jordan from Arizona and Victoria from Rhode Island. Travis wonders out loud if Jordan is so beautiful that she won’t put in any effort trying to woo him, and then ponders if Victoria is meant for the friend zone. When Victoria hears that, she stands up, walks over and starts making out with him.
Travis, for what it’s worth, is a fan of that move. “I was not expecting that. That might have just sparked it,” he says sheepishly.
Then he turns to the other woman competing for his love: “Jordan, I’m going to have to ask you to go back to Arizona.”