Brian Huskey, Ken Marino, Helen Slayton-Hughes

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: We’re looking at favorite episodes from web and streaming series.

Burning Love, “Pool Party” (season one, episode three; originally aired 6/3/2012)

Burning Love is neither the first, nor the best television series to spoof the reality romance competition—both of those distinctions belong to season two of The Joe Schmo Show—but it’s the only show to fully commit to the concept and wring all the laughs out of it. For three seasons, Burning Love (which originated as a Yahoo exclusive) thoroughly lampooned ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, leaving no trope unturned. I’ve been tempted to rewatch the show since starting UnREAL, Lifetime’s new drama about the making of a Bachelor-style show called Everlasting. The creators of UnREAL have aimed for dark drama, not comedy, and have consciously avoided the temptation to spoof the subgenre. Burning Love creator Erica Oyama took the opposite approach, ruthlessly mocking The Bachelor’s goofiest conventions with help from a murderers’ row of comedic actors including Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston.


Oyama aimed at the most shopworn Bachelor tropes first, hence the show’s third episode, “Pool Party.” Every year on The Bachelor, there’s at least one single mother that talks incessantly about her child and tells the season’s beau how she can’t wait for him to meet little Dakota (or Ashlynn, or Rayne.) Burning Love flips the tradition: In “Pool Party,” the season’s eligible man Mark Orlando (Ken Marino) is the one who’s overeager about meeting the children of his aspiring fiancées, so much that he tracks one of them down on his own. It’s not quite as creepy as it sounds, but it’s close: Mark surprises Agnes (Helen Slayton-Hughes), the cougar of the bunch, by reuniting her with her estranged son Hershel (Brian Huskey). Mark pressures Hershel into commandeering the jungle gym, while an irritated Agnes averts her eyes from the heartwarming moments. For the record, Hershel does not enjoy riding another man’s shoulders, but once the bubble wand comes out, he finally buys in. No kid, including a balding sad sack, can resist the magic of bubbles.


Agnes can barely stand Hershel for the brief park outing, but Mark thinks it went quite well: “I know I can’t replace Hershel’s dad, but if this works out, maybe I could be a great bonus dad.” Awww!

Availability: All three seasons of Burning Love are available for streaming on Hulu.