Brownstein: The Bachelor presents Montreal as you've never seen it, and likely never will

This is a Hollywoodized view of the city, which could have easily been shot in a Hollywood studio.

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There are magnificent aerial views coupled with equally stunning visuals from Mount Royal of an autumnal Montreal.

On street level, there are no signs of clogged arteries, ubiquitous construction zones or detours. Parking seems readily available. There is no honking or raging from crazed motorists to be discerned. No debating on the merits of pouring nearly $1 billion on refurbishing the Big Ouch roof.

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This is a fantastical Montreal, a blissful city seemingly on psilocybin that serves as the romantic backdrop for the most recent episode of the hit ABC series The Bachelor. It was shot here last fall.

What greets this group here are luxury accommodations at the Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth Hotel, posh candle-lit dinners with violins at ornate city palaces I’ve never seen before, a private concert with Feist at the Rialto Theatre, a visit to the uber-haute couture Claudette Floyd boutique, a helicopter ride and a private lesson from Cirque de Soleil trainer Marie-Michelle Faber on aerial aerobics — nudge, nudge, wink, wink possibly for future boudoir encounters.

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No Ubers here, either. Nah, all limos and two of the gang even get to roll through our unscathed streets in a white Packard limo the size of a city bus.

They do touch down on a few occasions for a contrived street hockey game in Old Montreal, because isn’t that what all tourists do in the shadows of the Notre-Dame Basilica? They also get a lesson of sorts on the making of poutine from master chef Chuck Hughes at his Garde Manger resto.

Nine women smile as they walk along an old cobblestone street
Contestants — from left, Lexi, Kelsey A., Jenn, Katelyn, Maria, Daisy, Lea, Jessica and Rachel — on the streets of Old Montreal during an episode of ABC’s The Bachelor. Photo by Jan Thijs /Disney

This is Montreal as you have likely never experienced it or likely never will. It is a city out of bounds for most mere mortals. This is a Hollywoodized view of Montreal, which could have easily been shot in a Hollywood studio, complemented by some overhead and street shots of the city.

True, there are no warts in this view. There are no tensions. But there is no soul of the city captured, either. That’s because there is virtually no interaction with locals. There are no visits to some of our more vaunted neighbourhoods. There is no taking in all the more simple joys of the city, from festivals to sporting events to museums to restaurants. Not even our famed bagels or smoked meat.

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Except for the poutine, food rarely touches their lips. But wine does. Lots of it.

Apart from a few “je t’aimes” uttered and a brief intro from The Bachelor host, former NFL quarterback Jesse Palmer, there is little French spoken here, either.

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This was the first time I ever caught The Bachelor, and unless I’m forced to serve a prison sentence wherein the punishment entails a lifetime of reruns piped into my cell at ear-shattering volumes, it will be the last time. But I fear too many brain cells have already been lost.

Acquaintances have grudgingly called watching the show a guilty pleasure but also allow that it can be arduous with gusts to excruciating. I’ll go with the latter.

Actually, what best serves as a metaphor for this segment is the scene at Garde Manger, in which one of the women decides to concoct a poutine with pineapple, chocolate sauce and sriracha along with the usual fries, cheese curds and gravy. Gag-inducing to say the least. That’s up there with the woman ready to chug a gallon of maple syrup to mark her visit to Montreal.

In this segment, Bachelor Joey Graziadei has taken a gaggle of 10 women to Montreal to help him decide which one will be his lasting soulmate. At the beginning, there were nearly three dozen women trying to win his affections, but he was able to whittle the wooers down to 10 for now.

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Why these women are so hot for Joey is a mystery. Let’s just say he won’t pass for a nuclear physicist or a philosopher. But he easily passes for a lunkhead in a funk, despite all the indulgences that are tossed his way here. Joey even makes my favourite TV lunkhead, the animated Homer Simpson, come across more endearing and more savvy. Yet one colleague, a watcher of the show who will go unnamed for his own professional protection, claims Joey appears to have “more intellectual capacity than the last three Bachelors combined.”

Joey mostly mopes here. The women mostly mope. And they do their moping mostly inside the Queen E. It’s a good bet few tourists will ever try to reserve the rooms they occupied. Not like the much-coveted room where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their 1969 bed-in and recorded Give Peace a Chance along with the likes of Petula Clark, Tommy Smothers and LSD guru Timothy Leary.

Apart from their brief jaunts outside, most of the action — if moping can be classified as action — takes place at the hotel, where the women vie for the show’s signature red roses, which will allow them yet another shot at Joey.

The next episode takes place in the wilds of Jasper, Alberta. Perhaps Joey will find true love there. Perhaps it will be with a moose.

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