Photo: E!

Burning Love Gives The Bachelor A More Brilliant Parody Than It Deserves

And now its second season is taking on The Bachelorette.

As a professional commentator on the ever-changing, ever-expanding TV landscape, I really do my very best to keep up with the latest original content across all providers. I do. I DO. But there are only so many hours in the day, and some offerings — even very worthy ones that, when I hear about them, intrigue me — necessarily fall through the cracks. When I first heard about Burning Love, the spoof of The Bachelor created by Erica Oyama and featuring Ken Marino (who happens to be her husband) as the clueless firefighter looking for his true love, or whatever, from a passel of messed-up ladies, everything about it sounded good, except the fact that it only existed to stream on Yahoo. Could I have loaded it on my iPad and streamed it to my actual television via AppleTV? Probably. But when my DVR is filling up, every night, with other shows vying for my attention, who can remember to go to all that hassle?

When E! acquired the broadcast rights to Burning Love, no one was happier than I. Partly, it's because it offered more proof that the best of original online TV can, if it really is great, migrate to some kind of normal broadcast format; Childrens Hospital got there first (and, not coincidentally, has a lot of personnel in common with Burning Love), but the more series make the jump, the more confident I can be that whatever will end up meriting my attention will eventually bubble up to be DVR-able.

But mostly, I was happy when Burning Love made it to E! because it is so good. The first season brought us such classic Bachelor types as the girl who had no interest in Mark; the girl with the alarming drinking problem; the Christian girl leery of compromising her principles; the girl with the exotic medical ailment (in this case, a monkey heart); and the girl getting the obvious winner edit. And as for the group dates...I mean, when I watch it with my esteemed colleague David T. Cole, I sometimes want to pause it and ask him if he even understands that, as absurd as they seem, "let's all take an exercise class together" and "now the women are going to roast Mark at a comedy club" are lifted straight out of The Bachelor.

For its second season, Burning Love takes yet another page out of the Bachelor playbook by flipping the sexes of the chooser and the contestants, and by plucking a failed contestant from a past season. In this case, Julie Gristlewhite finds herself surrounded by all the eligible men you've seen on past comedy-nerd catnip shows or heard on podcasts — guys like Nick Kroll, Ryan Hansen, Paul Scheer (who happens to be the real-life husband of June Diane Raphael, who plays Julie), Martin Starr, and many others. Since Julie's main distinguishing characteristic in Mark's season of Burning Love is that she has astonishingly low self-esteem, putting her at the center of attention will be a hilarious shitshow.

It will be weeks yet before we get to see Juan Pablo romancing the chicas on the next season of The Bachelor, and as unintentionally funny as that will undoubtedly be, the intentional comedy of Burning Love should admirably fill the gap. Let's all take a journey with Julie together.

Burning Love airs Wednesdays at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT on E!.

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