A Belated 'Bachelor' Recap: We've Made a Huge Mistake

The season has ended! It was rough! So, let’s revisit a time when it was…just as rough, but not as close to being over, I guess!

Have any of the contestants on The Bachelor ever considered forming a union? Is there someone on LinkedIn or Twitter or, like, in an active picket line wearing a hard hat that I could refer Pieper and Abigail to get in touch with? Because the situation with Bachelor management has simply become untenable.

Around the time that producers brought Heather-from-Colton’s-season through the Nemacolin gates with a note pinned to her backpack, talmbout, “Hannah said I just had to meet Matt, so I went straight to Enterprise Rent-a-Car one week before Hometowns,” this season of The Bachelor officially switched from your average problematic race-to-the-altar gameshow, to something more along the lines of a psychological torture cage match. Thirty-nine people enter, absolutely no one leaves, the shells of their former selves now reside in the Nemacolin foliage forever now, I hope their families were able to say goodbye before shipping their daughters off to this nightmare dressed like an autumnal daydream.

Top to bottom, left to right, sea to shining sea, this season has been a disaster. And while a few of the women from season 25 were especially heinous—bong, bong—and while Matt hasn’t been the most engaging Bachelor we’ve ever met…the most epic missteps of this season are not the fault of season 25’s employees.

Matt was set up to fail by management. These women were set up to fail…by management. A demon wearing the skinsuit of a human whose personality is “posts their Orange Theory Splat Points on Instagram Stories everyday” named Victoria was set up with the perfect platform in which to wreak havoc…by management!

And those of us who watch The Bachelor are all passive recipients of those failures.

Which is to say that when The Bachelor spends seven straight episodes using every spare moment that isn’t taken up by a Peleton ad-placement, showcasing the bullying and belittling behaviors of a select group of women—that’s a choice. When The Bachelor casts women with clear examples of racially ignorant behavior in their past, or tolerates contestants who physically and verbally harass other contestants—that’s a choice!

When they choose the first ever Black Bachelor lead, cast a much more diverse group of contestants than ever before, and yet still center the petty antics of a handful of white women while relegating any indication of a personality for the women of color to final 30 seconds of each episode when the credits are rolling…

OH, THAT’S A BIG OL’ CHOICE. A choice the size of Nemacolin’s sprawling acreage! A choice the size of Matt James’ turtleneck collection! A choice the size of Chris Harrison’s [ed note: former :-)] salary!!!

It’s a choice so big and blatant that even the most passive of Bachelor viewer is finally taking notice. Something isn’t right here. And it’s made this season extremely uncomfortable to watch, only topped by the fact that, like Garrett Yrigoyen and Jed Wyatt before her, we know something about Rachael Kirkconnell—the woman who has been narratively positioned both on and off the show as the most likely winner of Matt’s season—that the lead doesn’t. Giving this season the distinct feeling of a horror film…

Y’know, if the horror film’s Final Girl had recently attended an antebellum party on a former plantation.

Because once again, ABC’s casting department seems unable to do a job that the members of Bachelor Reddit manage to do during their lunchbreak. Even though I’m confident @skidmarkmcgee472, @horneyforpizza12 and @TyrannosaurusSex over on r/bachelor are holding down fulltime jobs as bitcoin accountant or what have you, they can still manage to click around a little and discover which of the first Black Bachelor’s contestants are celebrating the Confederacy on their Instagram grid within the easily identified past.

Watching the lead be set up with women who couldn’t possibly be a match for him, in addition to watching said women be psychologically manipulated by Nemacolin’s giant revolving door that seems to work as a kind of vending machine for fresh hotties to newly torture the older, staler hotties each week…

…just isn’t entertaining! It isn’t even romantic. And if you had told me eight years ago, when TATBT was simply a Tumblr-twinkle in my fine-lineless eye, that one day I’d be calling for more romance on this show, I would have told you to shut up and pass me a Four Loko because I was 22 and alive, baby. [Ed. note: Much like Kit, the 21-year-old who we’re supposed to consider a serious contender to become Matt’s fiancé at the end of this, I’m SURE I was also planning to put off motherhood until a moderate-to-ancient age.]

But in the last eight years, my concept of what’s worth qualifying as entertainment has changed and adapted, while The Bachelor’s seems to have stayed exactly the same, they’ve just altered the optics a bit.

I’m not saying I need these Bachelor relationships to last, I’m not a child. The romance can stay or go, we’re all just here to watch the human experience in heightened form—that’s what reality TV is, after all. But when the cost of that heightened reality is intentionally dangerous casting, ignoring women of color in favor of centering whiteness, and engaging in emotional torture practices…well, that is a price to high to pay! And if The Bachelor keeps making us pay it because they’re too ignorant to change…well babes, I guess I’ll be out.

But I can last just a little bit longer to see if they make Michelle the Bachelorette [Ed. note: Alright, they really called my bluff on that one, DONT FUCK IT UP, ABC!]

YOU’RE A MEAN GIRL, AND YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR

I honestly can’t believe I’m spending any more metaphorical breath on Victoria, but I simply have to tell you about the two worst things that have ever happened on The Bachelor, and they happened within minutes of one another…

And you better believe it was all because another woman wore a crown into this house that she didn’t have to buy at Party City.

Three weeks into this quarantined season where 32 women have been marooned on Nemacolin Island in order to fall in love with a piece of clip art from a pharmaceutical brochure named Matt, the Bachelor producers decide to shake things up by brining in five more women right before the fourth Rose Ceremony.

The remaining 20 original women welcome Michelle, Brittany, Ryan, Kim, and Catalina with open arms because, as women going through a similar experience themselves (sharing a boyfriend on television), they have enough empathy to understand that no woman in their right mind would tick a box on their Bachelor application that said, “check here if you’d like to spend more time quarantining and then have a bunch of Beckys give you the stink eye when you show up three weeks late.”

Just kidding, the original women blame the new women for showing up three weeks into their dating experience, saying it’s unfair that these new women are trying to come in and take Matt’s time now, when they’ve been waiting for weeks to get some of Matt’s time.

Excuse me, they’ve been waiting?! At least they’ve gotten to see Matt, and throw a little cleavage around to get his attention! Can they the original women really not understand that these new women applied for the exact same experience as them, and went through the exact same qualification process, but have been held back for three weeks simply to create drama?

This is unfair to the new women, and you don’t hear them complaining about it— you just see them trying to make the best of a bad situation (and definitely also throwing around a little extra cleavage for lost time).

It is the classic “born on third base and thought they hit a triple” kind of entitlement that thrives on this show. And no one in this cast is more entitled than Victoria, a woman so mediocre that even ASOS’s finest faux fur jacket cannot make her seem fun.

I haven’t heard the word “random” used this incorrectly, this many times since I nannied a sixth grader in 2011. Is there an episode of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina that re-popularized this word or something, like when The Office cursed us with suddenly calling everything “classy” for all of 2009? Is there really anything random about a show that creates entertainment out of many women dating one man, bringing in more women to date that man at the exact moment that it would create the most chaos? There is not!

There is certainly nothing random about one of the new women, Catalina, arriving in a crown that she’s actually earned as Miss Puerto Rico. Victoria has already snarked at the first new woman to arrive, Britney, “So you quarantined, and then just stayed in your room as backup, and now you’re coming in as, like, backup because some girls left?” To which Britney perfectly responds, “I guess they just wanted to save the best for last.”

Catalina, unfortunately, is far too kind-hearted to immediately size Victoria up as one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters brought to life by a possessed cartoonist, so she makes the mistake of getting within arms’ length when Victoria coos at her to come closer like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. [Ed. note: Much like Matt, Victoria exclusively connotes cartoon characters, but as opposed to vaguely Christian cucumbers, hers are all over-the-top villains — but NOT the cool, horny ones like Ursula or Maleficent.]

I don’t mean to victim-blame poor Catalina for what’s coming; I just wish more than anything that Victoria had tried this with someone who wasn’t so generous as to assume that Victoria was “also a former Miss” when she demanded that Catalina come over to her smug perch on the couch.

Because, as we already know, Victoria is not another Miss — she’s just a bad person. And once Catalina comes over to her as requested, Victoria smirks, “Yeeeah, so I’m Victoria-like-the-queen, so I think I should have that crown actually.” AND THEN SHE TAKES THE CROWN OFF CATALINA’S HEAD.

You know? Like assault. Can you imagine if Catalina had done this to Victoria, the kind of victim tears we would have had to watch her cry?

The fact that the producers didn’t so much as reprimand Victoria for touching this woman of color who they had just put in the position to be antagonized, let alone that they allowed her to continue on the show calling Catalina and the other new women “hoes” “sluts” and “slores” told me everything I needed to know about this season and exactly what kind of changes the producers made after fans demanded action in June. (Spoiler alert: It’s none! No changes! Actually, things got worse!)

And yet, even understanding the depths to which we’ve sunk could not have prepared me for what came next.

See, there’s this woman named Anna. She’s like Hannah Brown’s midwestern tether. And unlike Victoria, she started the season off fine—just your average, over-caffeinated blonde woman slowly spiraling out of control the more time she spends at Nemacolin without getting to speak to her co-boyfriend. So when Matt finally does pull Anna to chat first on a group date, and she gets that time she’s been craving, how do you think Anna seizes this valuable opportunity to forge a connection?

Well, by talking about how she “grew up boating…water sports, obviously.” So, you can understand how Anna would be upset when one of the new girls, Brittany, interrupts this vulnerable, foundational conversation she’s having with Matt to try to forge her own connection. Anna spends a few more minutes with Matt, but she’s so distracted by Brittany loitering nearby that she can’t even get into kayaking, canoeing, let alone the life-changing experience she had on a Sea-Doo.

Eventually, Matt dismisses Anna, and she leaves fuming about how Brittany has disrespected her by interrupting her time with Matt precisely when the producers told her to. And we know that the producers told Brittany to interrupt Anna specifically, because this is also when we find out that Brittany and Anna are both from Chicago— and Anna apparently arrived at Nemacolin with a rumor about Brittany in her back pocket.

So, Anna makes perhaps the worst decision possible by confiding that rumor in Victoria. But to—well, actually to no one’s credit, just to my sad surprise, Victoria is not the one who takes the rumor and runs with it. Anna is. And she runs fast.

Anna pulls Victoria from the group and tells her that before she came on show, fellow Chicagoans were messaging her on Instagram, saying:

“Watch out for her how?!” Victoria gasps in a way that tells me she was definitely never an actor paid by producers to stir the pot, as some people suspected. Because Anna has clearly already told Victoria this rumor off-camera, and she’s doing a terrible job of acting like this is brand new information.

Basically, Anna says that she’s heard Brittany works as an escort for wealthy men in Chicago. Which should be absolutely fine. Because sex work is real work, and it should be decriminalized, not thrown around to suggest that “Brittany could be playing Matt if that’s what she’s used to doing with men to get what she wants,” as Victoria responds when she hears the news.

Which is such a fucking stupid response! Can you think of any more honest form of dating than a transactional one? Hello, I would like the company of a woman who would not otherwise be willing to give it to me, so I will earn the company by paying for it directly and establishing the rules beforehand. As opposed to actual DATING where no one ever knows what’s going on or who’s feeling what, especially on this show.

So, to prevent the possibility of—I guess—Brittany convincing Matt to pay her for a date, Victoria and Anna agree that it’s absolutely in Matt’s best interest (and this is only for Matt! all for Matt!_ to make sure that everyone knows this rumor.

And then Anna does the new worst thing I’ve ever seen on this show (this really is a record-breaking season): she waits until she doesn’t get the Group Date Rose, mentally confirming to herself that Brittany deserves this for interrupting her time, and then she confronts her about being an escort in front of all 10 women on the group date.

Brittany, who looks exactly like Manny Santos from Degrassi, has seemed like a kind of cool, tough chick to this point. But when Anna tells her that she’s been spreading a rumor that she’s an escort, Brittany completely deflates.

At which point, Anna weirdly apologizes mid-confrontation: “I think that’s an awful thing to say about someone and I want to apologize.”. But then she keeps saying the awful thing, shakily telling Brittany: “I want to kind of give you the space if you wanted to talk about why people were sending warnings about you when I literally have never met you.”

Oh why thank you Anna, for opening up this wonderful, judgment-free space for Brittany to have a dialogue about a rumor that you heard about her! HOW GENEROUS, ANNA!!!

Brittany takes this extremely safe space to say that, no, she is not an escort, and she manages to do so without belittling or shaming sex workers. I probably won’t cover the Women Tell All on TATBT because I’m pretty much all booked up taking screenshots of Formula 1: Drive to Survive to hang above my bed, but I do want to point out that at the WTA, Brittany makes sure to clarify that her shock toward Anna’s escort accusation simply came from the fact that it wasn’t true. She addressed “people in the sex work industry” specifically, saying that there’s no reason they should ever be torn down for their work: “I believe that everyone deserves love, and nobody’s life is worth more, or means less based on occupation.”

Oh, The Bachelor tried it, didn’t they?! They had the option to edit this storyline out given that, no matter how progressive Brittany’s views are, many people still view sex work as shameful, and that stigma could be very damaging to Brittany just because a stranger named Anna allegedly got a few DMs from other strangers. But they didn’t do that!

Oh, they tried to air this as just your average pre-show dirt, but too many people wouldn’t let them. Brittany wouldn’t let them shame her or anyone else. Katie wouldn’t let Anna, Victoria, MJ, and a few others in the house keep running their mouths about the new girls. And Matt wouldn’t stand for any truly shitty behavior once he heard that there was some truly shitty behavior going on.

So suck it, ABC!

After Anna has spread the rumor about Brittany… and Victoria has called Catalina “the dumbest hoe I’ve ever met”… and after MJ deeming the new women the “junior varsity” has become a persistent narrative… Katie has had enough.

At the end of a group date where the attendees spend the whole time complaining about the new women, Katie chases Matt down and tells him that the environment inside the haunted hotel where all his girlfriends live hasn’t been great. The new girls are being targeted, and there’s a rumor being spread about one of them that could “literally ruin her life.”

Upon receiving the news, Matt seems…tired. He definitely seems horrified, and like he wants to correct whatever’s going on, but I think this outside sales position he got hired for has ended up having a lot more managerial duties than he was expecting. To Matt’s immense credit, however, he shuts down the drama in the house much more successfully than most Bachelors who have come before him. And of course, his drama isn’t just two women who don’t like each other; his drama is that a select group of women are gleefully spreading an unsubstantiated rumor that one of his girlfriends is an escort. And also, that one specific woman won’t stop calling everyone she doesn’t like sluts and whores.

So Matt rolls into the next Cocktail Party, and is like, Listen up dummies! He says it was brought to his attention that the environment in the house has turned into a mob mentality, and become “a culture of bullying.” Yes, Matt! I don’t know where you learned your li’l terms baby, but in this one instance, they are correct! He tells the women that he’s also heard there’s a rumor floating around…

Oops! In her furious assurance that she needed to protect Matt from Brittany’s feminine wiles, Anna never stopped to wonder if Matt needed to be protected from her weaponized insecurity.

Anna owns up to what she did, repeatedly saying that it was “completely out of her character,” suggesting, perhaps, that someone else’s character possessed her body when she told everyone that Brittany was an escort? I have never once heard someone in my life talk about their own character, but the people on these shows do it all the time.

Anna breaks down, saying how upset she is with herself, and how she made such a huge a mistake. Matt tells her that he doesn’t think she’s a horrible person, and he’s also said things he wished he could take back. “But ultimately, I had to take responsibility for my words and my actions … and  right now, I have a responsibility to the women that are here, to Brittany, and to myself.”

It is the first of two times since getting to know Matt outside of Instagram that I’ve been ferociously attracted to him.  It is fleeting, but it was there. And the next time came moments later, after Matt had walked Anna to her shame limo, and invited Victoria into the hot seat. Victoria says she loved what he had to say earlier, so Matt tries to lead her toward confessing to any sort of bullying on her own, but she won’t do it. Then, simply the best exchange of the season happens:

MATT: “People’s words are so powerful, and when you said that Ryan was a hoe for being a dancer—”

VICTORIA: “That was taken completely out of context.”

MATT: “I’m just curious—in what context would calling someone a hoe be acceptable to be taken in?”

Oh, Matty, you’re driving me crazy with this levelheaded dismissal of harmful language!

Matt tells Victoria he has a lot to think about (less hot), and then cuts her loose at the Rose Ceremony, and when she tries to give him attitude and have a big dramatic moment on the way out, he just blinks at her (hot again).

Victoria hilariously says that she brought so much joy to the house, and everyone will be so upset that she’s gone—a sentiment that MJ weirdly mirrors when she’s dismissed for her ugly behavior later. And it just really makes you wonder what the shared mentality is there, and why that mentality is called textbook narcissism, hmmm???

I hope to never see or hear from Victoria ever again.

BREAK THEIR HEARTS, BREAK THEIR SPIRIT

After all that, everyone is tired. Jessenia and MJ get into it because Jessenia told Matt that MJ was the one who kept calling the new girls the “junior varsity.” Which is true, but MJ thinks there’s no reason to tell Matt because everyone knows she “leads by example” and “preaches peace and harmony.” As someone who uses a lot of words that don’t really mean anything, I recognize another bullshitter when I see her!

Needless to say, MJ does not deserve her amazing hair. While arguing ahead of their awkward two-on-one sit-down, Jessenia pointedly calls MJ “Meredith,” and it is briefly amazing. Jessenia does deserve her perfect American Girl doll face.

Katie and Serena C also get into it because Serena thinks none of this would be happening if Katie had just kept her mouth shut about how the five new women in the house were being psychologically tortured and having their literal crowns stolen off their literal heads.

Now, these are the arguments we’re used to in Bachelor Nation—less fueled by actual hate and harm, and entirely fueled by knowing that Matt doesn’t like you as much as he likes Timberly L, and you have absolutely no control over it. So, the only way to make yourself feel like you have any control is to lash out and blame your misfortune on someone else (to be clear, the misfortune is a kind of goofy man not wanting to open-eyed-kiss you as much he wants to open-eyed-kiss McKayla M, and also maybe his best friend, Tyler C).

But deep down, women like MJ and Serena C know that there are really only two entities that could be at fault for what an awful time they’re having on this alleged fairytale, and it’s not Katie or Jessenia. It’s Bachelor production or Matt. And those aren’t blaming options for anyone who wants to stay on the show…

Still, if there was ever going to be a season when the contestants absolutely rose up and revolted against management, I really thought it could be this one. Because these women were being done wrong left, right, and sideways.

After saying goodbye to some real gems (goodbye Magi, I loved you even though I hardly knew you; goodbye Lauren, you’re one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen; goodbye Catalina, I am just now seeing on Instagram that you are a lawyer, and I fully support you suing Victoria’s ass; goodbye Ryan, you’re absolutely not a hoe, and you were so sweet, and you do deserve your amazing hair!), there are 10-ish women still left to fight it out in the two weeks before Hometowns.

Now, these are women who have already had to physically fight one another; they have had to endure Victoria calling them sluts and whores and losers and “gestures”; these are women who have been emotionally manipulated time and time again. And most recently, these are women who had to go on one of those awful dates where only the winning bowling team gets to spend time with Matt. When all is said and bowled, the losing team is despondent because they’re potentially about to introduce this walking yardstick to their families, and now they have to walk back to Nemacolin to weep sadly in a room together instead of spending more time with him.

But wouldn’t you know it, Chris Harrison shows up and tells them that Matt felt terrible about their date getting cut short, so after letting them feel terrible for a while, they’re now invited back on the date! But as an extra fun twist, no one will be telling the winning team, so now they can feel terrible when the losing team shows back up, taking away the additional time they thought they’d won through—checks notes—BOWLING!

It is genuinely upsetting to watch how terrible everyone must be made to feel in order to get a brief moment of happiness.

Because all those tears actually were for something, Rachael—they were to break your spirit! They were to cultivate a scarcity mindset around your ability to access Matt; they were to make you so paranoid and anxious that you might, I don’t know…

Make some blonde lady who thought she was being fun and spontaneous regret the day she was born, the day she first signed up for The Bachelor, the day she ever let Hannah Brown into her home, and especially, the day she second signed up (er, showed up) for The Bachelor.

Heather-from-Colton’s-season arrives outside the gates of Nemacolin five weeks into Matt’s season, allegedly because her friend Hannah Brown came to visit and told her about a this guy named Matt that she’d be perfect with. The only catch?

He’s the least single man in America right now. In fact, Heather, this man you’re perfect for will have 19 girlfriends on the day you set sail for Pennsylvania. And by the time you’ve stormed the gates of Nemacolin in a minivan, asked to be let inside, Chris Harrison has mustered every bit of improv training in his past to screech, “Heather, what are you DOING here?!?!?!” and you’ve quarantined for what was definitely not 10-14 days, this man will still have 10 whole girlfriends. And Heather, all 10 of those women will be sitting as close to the entrance as possible when you walk through the revolving door to try and steal their boyfriend.

Except, of course, for the one who is closest to her breaking point—she’ll be with Matt when the producers send you in to interrupt.

That’s the steep hill that Heather knows she’ll be climbing when she decides to show up to Matt’s season six weeks late. What couldn’t have anticipated…

Is that she’s actually arriving to an already overflowing vat of boiling oil, and she is the bag of the frozen french fries that will light the whole house on fire.

But the producers anticipated it! Oh you better believe the producers anticpated it—because they’re the ones that cranked the heat up to high while Heather was quarantined in her hotel room doing embarrassing Rapunzel skits. I mean, the women are rude to Heather, but no one is ruder than these editors:

Woof.

Anyway, all hell breaks loose when Heather comes sashaying through the Nemacolin revolving-door-to-hell: her dress, presumptuously white; her hair…more presumptuously white. Almost all of the women are physically spinning around in circles trying to figure out if Matt is going to accept a new woman into their harem when they’ve already been building relationships with him for six weeks, and there’s only one week left until Hometown decisions…

Of course, if they had any faith in Matt, or any reason to trust the ecosystem in which they’re living, they would know that Matt starting to date a new woman now is an impossibility. And rather than having an existential crisis as he talks to Heather about her Enterprise Plus Points in another room, they could just wait patiently, if not a little nervously, for their boyfriend to come out and tell them that he’s not taking on a new girlfriend when he’s already told a handful of them that he’s falling in love with them.

But these women don’t have that kind of faith in Matt or the franchise. And, why would they? They’ve spent a median time of a few hours with this man over the last six weeks, and in that experience, everything that they thought was to be expected has been ripped out from under them. They thought they were dating a guy with 31 other girlfriends—nope, now they’re dating a guy with 36 other girlfriends. They thought they would get time with Matt on a Chris-Harrison-sanctioned group date—nope, now they’re being sent home in tears because they didn’t go to enough bowling birthday parties as a child.

These women have been destabilized. Their hysterics are a natural response to repeated manipulation…and unfortunately, Heather will reap what The Bachelor has sowed.

It’s quite awful to watch as they all berate her for daring to show up at their haunted hotel! And once again, it’s all for nothing. Matt tells Heather thanks for stopping by, but she can’t stay because he’s already too far into his other relationships to make more room in his heart, or whatever.

He does, of course, do this while intimately holding Heather’s hands in her crotch area, despite having 10 other girlfriends — but that just seems to be Matt’s natural resting state, like how my shoulders are always touching my earlobes unless a third party instructs me to unclench them.

Anyway, these absolute assholes make Heather drive herself away in her own stupid minivan. It is…the worst!

THE CULLING

After Heather has been dismissed, Matt really gets a taste for blood. He cuts Katie on a one-on-one with his bestie Tyler C, probably because he realizes that he would much rather be kissing Tyler than Katie, because Matt and Katie are the platonic kind of friends, but Matt and Tyler are the kissing kind of friends.

Matt also sends Jessenia home on a one-on-one date by waiting for her to say she’s falling in love, dramatically picking up the rose, waving it in front of her face, and then telling her that he doesn’t feel the same way and she needs to leave now.

Chelsea gets sent home in a run-of-the-mill Rose Ceremony after Matt has repeatedly assured her that she wouldn’t be there if he didn’t really like her. I guess the inverse of that is: you’ll know I don’t really like you when you’re not here anymore. There’s kind of just…no kind way to be the Bachelor, I guess.

But no one is done dirtier than Abigail, who got Matt’s First Impression Rose in the premiere, and then proceeded to wait seven weeks for a one-on-one date, only to see Serena P get a second one-on-one date before she did.

And Matt’s plan was to just… send her home at a Rose Ceremony with no explanation, I guess? Luckily, Abigail brought the topic up herself on a group date, like, Hey, it’s weird how it seemed how you really liked me and then barely spoke to me ever again.

Unfortunately, I doubt it brought her much closure to hear Matt’s explanation: he just felt so comfortable with his connection to her that he pursued other relationships and then forgot about their connection altogether. Fun! In the limo leaving the date Abigail quietly cries, “I just feel like I’m constantly the person that makes men realize what they want next, but they never wanna be with me.” On my couch at home, I cry violent, heaving sobs.

Other than hurting Abigail’s feelings (an absolutely unforgivable sin), and other than not being ready for marriage (which is the conceit of the show), I think Matt’s been about as thoughtful as someone in the position to break up with 37 people can be. Even so, when you’ve watched someone break heart after heart, it is always fun to see them get a little comeuppance…

Which is why it’s extra delicious when Kit is trying to get Matt to break up with her by talking about how many goals she wants to achieve before she gets married or starts a family…only to realize that actually makes Matt like her more because this dude is not ready to learn what an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage is, or whatever it means to be a real adult.

So before the next Rose Ceremony, Kit has to show up at Matt’s house and be like: Babe, I’m 21-years-old, very obviously I am not going to entertain the idea of getting engaged in two weeks, and since you’re contractually not allowed to confirm that you have the exact same sentiment, I’m going back home to see my mom, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley.

Finally, there are only five women left before Hometowns, which means only one person won’t get a rose. That person is Pieper, and she is mad. I love when they’re mad. They should be mad! They signed up for their 1-in-37 shot at falling in love, only to realize that they’re the 36-in-37 getting dumped. So when Pieper marched out to the limo without holding Matt’s hand, yanked the door open herself, and got inside without a word—yeah, that’s amore.

THE FINAL 4

Now, either because of editing, or because they are genuinely nice people — or more likely, a little bit of both — there are four people we don’t hear a peep from during almost all of the drama that I’ve been recapping: Bri, Rachael, Serena P, and my personal idol and hero, Michelle.

Michelle arrived with the new batch of five women, but even the worst of the mean girls knew not to go knocking any crowns off her head. Michelle is an elementary school teacher, and if you try to come for her, she will flex her Michelle Obama arms at you, then hand you a bottle of paste and some construction paper and tell you to work those feelings out in the arts-and-crafts corner.

She doesn’t have time for drama or appeasing the insecure O.G.’s—she’s too busy being hilarious and charming and adorable, and having all of that hilarity and charm and adorableness relegated to the last 30 seconds of each episode, like when she trolls Matt for doing push-ups before his shirtless scenes:

Michelle got a one-on-one date the moment she arrived, and is the one and only woman with whom Matt has displayed a single ounce of notable chemistry.  

The inverse of Michelle is Serena P, who I also love, but who could not have any less chemistry with Matt…

And Matt could not be any more clueless about that fact.

Serena is the one who got an unexpected second one-on-one because Matt felt like he’d fallen into the friend zone with her—on his own show! And then when that second one-on-one date winds up being tantric yoga, Serena stone-cold tells Matt she had a terrible time being intimate like that with him. And this Homer Simpson doofus loves it. He loves that Serena can be honest with him so much that he fails to notice she’s honestly telling him she’s just not that into it. Onward to Hometowns!

Then we have Bri—oh beautiful, fashionable, above-this-show Bri—who, in the final episode before Hometowns, reveals that she quit her job (allegedly at Facebook — it’s the reverse-Ali-Fedotowsky!) in order to be able to stay on the show and keep dating Matt.

Bri looks better in green than any other human I’ve ever seen, but she will always be known as the girl who didn’t go to Paris. And the girl who, after telling Matt she didn’t go to Paris for him, still lost out on the group date rose to Rachael :(

And speaking of Rachael — she is also headed to Hometowns. And yes, it is incredibly dark to watch Matt fall in love with her while we know so much information that he doesn’t.

It’s darker than the Victoria stuff, darker than the Heather stuff, darker than the mean bowling date. In retrospect, the only thing comparable to what’s headed our way in the final run of this season—the only harbinger of the darkness to come—is the moment during the credits when sweet Magi asked Matt if he liked to dance, and he told her that he did like to dance…

And then proceeded to perform an entire TikTok routine for her in complete silence, while she watched on in slowly dawning horror.

Chilling shit. See you back here for a brief final wrap-up of, I think the most socially detrimental Bachelor season on record! Until then, watch Formula 1: Drive to Surviveon Netflix, an absolute pool of future Bachelor candidates — y’know, if the show manages to survive itself :) :) :)

A TATBT Bachelor recap: Aw hell, the queen

Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start

In true TATBT fashion, I will now begin recapping Matt James’ Bachelor season, ahem, the same week as its “Women Tell All” episode aired.

TECHNICALLY, I wrote the recap below about six weeks ago (that’s 33 weeks in Quaran-time), but couldn’t quite get it out, and have second-guessed its relevance ever since. Maybe I should wait until the very end, and write a 10,000 word ode to the completed season? Perhaps I should just dive in at Hometowns, once Matt has whittled the group down to three nice ladies who’ve probably never cyber-bullied anyone into thinking their grandma hates them, and one lady who probably ALSO hasn’t done that, but DID spend a few years romanticizing the Confederacy on social media before going on a game show to date a Black man.

And really, wouldn’t that still be PLENTY to talk about?

However, the production and certain members of this cast have remained problematic from the tits to the toes of this season (I guess this week’s Women Tell All episode is located somewhere around the “taint” of the season…but I have full faith that The Bachelor’s lack of accountability can last aaaaall the way to the bitter, bearded end). So, it seems only right that I take you back to the very beginning, in the hopes that one day, maybe—just MAYBE—we can make it through to the very end.

Seven episodes. Two recaps. One TATBT Bachelor catch-up week. Leggo…

Here’s a list of things that haven’t happened since 2008:

  • You haven’t had a hilarious chat over BBM, conducted entirely under your desk since 2008

  • America hasn’t not had a Black president since 2008

  • Olympic swimmers haven’t worn those illegal full-body swimsuits since 2008

  • And since 2008, the lead of The Bachelor hasn’t arrived on the first night, all fresh-faced and full of hope, without having participated in at least one other Bachelor-sanctioned series beforehand…

Before Matt James and his 26-pack arrived on our screens looking like hot-ass Squidward — or an equally hot Frozone…or a slightly less vegetal, but equally biblical Larry the Cucumber…or any number of corny animated characters, a phenomenon I cannot technically explain, but still know is 100 percent correct — the last person to be named the Bachelor(ette) without having first matriculated through some other Bachelor franchise entity was a British man named Matt Grant. Who, even as a credentialed Bachelor historian (credentials: Tumblr, Microsoft Paint), I’m sure that I’ve never seen before.

Basically, this just means that Matt James is the first Bachelor in 13 years who hasn’t come into his season branded as an unlovable loser who got dumped in favor of a man who writes dog food jingles, or what have you. And yet…in the premiere of this Bachelor season, Chris Harrison will lead us to believe that Matt James having never been on any TV show, EVER is an absolutely wild fact about him on a personal, foundational level.

That is false information, as are a number of things notorious liar Chris Harrison says throughout Matt’s premiere. [Ed. note: My longstanding beef with Chris Harrison IS foundational to ME as a person.]

From the steps of the sprawling Nemacolin Resort — which looks like something from the set of Bridgerton, while, as you may recall, Clare and Tayshia fell in love at a place that looked like your family’s second-favorite Tex-Mex restaurant — Chris tells us that Matt James wasn’t on The Bachelorette, and he wasn’t on Bachelor in Paradise; in fact, this guy wasn’t on any television show ever. “But as the saying goes, when you know, you know,” Chris says. “And when we first met Matt, we knew we had to make him the Bachelor.”

To which I say: bitch, wut?

And further: You’re such a fucking liar, Camille!

In hindsight, the audacious confidence with which Chris tells this lie in the first five minutes of Matt’s premiere ultimately sets the precedent for the rest of this season, which is proving to be about as toxic as a seventh grade locker room the Monday after a Homecoming dance.

Chris Harrison’s “when you know, you know” claim is not only one that a quick Google search will disprove, but one that Matt directly refutes a few scenes later when he mentions that he was originally supposed to make his Bachelor Nation debut on Clare’s season of The Bachelorette. Because Matt isn’t the one out here trying to cover anything up—The Bachelor is.

Matt James, best friend of Bachelor Nation sweetheart Tyler Cameron, was originally cast as a contestant on Clare’s season, which ended up having to postpone filming from March 2020 until June 2020 because of Little Miss Rona. During that time in the United States, there was a societal reckoning over racial inequality unlike anything we’ve seen during the 19-year run of The Bachelor, and the glaring omission of not one single Black Bachelor within a 24-man lineup became too much for even this historically ignorant franchise to ignore…

And that is the whole truth of how Matt James got called up from triple A to the majors. It took work, and effort, and groups like the Bachelor Diversity Campaign, and people who hold power within the franchise like Rachel Lindsay demanding it.

It wasn’t because the casting directors saw Matt’s 6’5 frame and his adorable Instagram posts featuring little kids and cookies, and just knew they had to make him the Bachelor, as Chris is suggesting — but because, come game time, ABC needed to name a Black Bachelor or publicly out their franchise as racist and forever unwilling to change. And Matt James was an eligible Black man orbiting around the franchise about whom they would not have to answer sticky questions like, Well why didn’t you make Mike Johnson the Bachelor two years ago? What, PRECISELY, has changed now?

None of that makes Matt James — a hunky man who founded a nonprofit for tiny children, personally runs five triathlons a week, and only loves his Peleton and his mama, he’s sorry — any less deserving of the Bachelor title. It makes The Bachelor undeserving of Matt James.

Because when the show pretends like tapping Matt as the next Bachelor was as simple as “when ya know, ya know, lol,” it puts Matt in the unfair position of having to explain what it means to be the first Black Bachelor to Chris Harrison, instead of Chris Harrison explaining the systemic failures that could have possibly led to Matt being the first Black Bachelor in this, the year of our Bernie Mittens Meme, 2021. [Ed. note: I have left this out-of-date reference as proof of how long ago I originally wrote this.]

For The Bachelor to pretend like their casting of Matt James this season was no more nuanced than him being very tall and appearing to smuggle eight large yams under his torso skin at any given time—just the same as every white Bachelor who came before him—is for the franchise to pretend that even their own positive progression is the result of no reflection whatsoever, let alone a tactical choice. The message they’re trying to convey to the viewers at home is clear: Nothing is changing.

Matt hasn’t been placed in this absurd situation to have to sit down for a chat about race with Chris Harrison because he’s Black; he’s in that situation because he’s Black and the Bachelor. But only Matt is asked to explain his Blackness to Chris Harrison, while Chris Harrison and the show he’s an executive producer on answer for nothing.

That’s nothing new, but it is frustrating.

Whether Matt sincerely requested a moment of Chris Harrison’s time to talk about his anxiety over being the first Black Bachelor in the premiere, or whether the show posed that conversational approach as a good idea to Matt, I have no idea. I do know that Chris Harrison always seems about one harsh retweet away from saying “I don’t see color!” so listening to him try to navigate Matt’s nuanced feelings about being a mixed-race Bachelor who’s afraid of pissing off white people with his choices, and afraid of pissing off Black people with his choices was a tough sell.

And would you believe it if I told you that Chris ultimately advised Matt not to even worry about what people will think of his choices, because “the most important thing is if you come out of this with joy, peace, love, and you have this amazing woman who shares those things.” As if to say that Matt’s choices for a joyful, peaceful, and loving future can and should be completely tangential to race…

And that really is the entirety of what The Bachelor mouthpiece has to say about the pressure and anxiety Matt is feeling. From this conversation, we are supposed to understand that Matt’s season is exactly the same as any other season, with exactly the same pressures, motivations, and end goals — so waiting 24 seasons to cast the first Black Bachelor must have simply been a clerical error!

[Ed. note: While belatedly drafting this recap, I was hesitant about focusing so much on this conversation between Matt and Chris that aired well over a month ago…

Then Chris Harrison went on Extra and ranted at the first Black Bachelorette and recipient of regular online abuse, Rachel Lindsay, about how everyone just needs to have A LITTLE MORE GRACE for this season’s contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who has been called out for multiple documented instances of cultural appropriation, comingling with Confederate flags, and attending an Old South themed formal in 2018. In the clip, Chris Harrison insists that THREE YEARS AGO, Rachael couldn’t have possibly known she was being racist and offensive by romanticizing the Confederate States that fought for slavery, and therefore shouldn’t be held accountable for it. He is suspiciously defensive of how much compassion Rachael deserves, even though she declined to extend the same compassion to the millions of people she would be disrespecting — who Chris consistently refers to as “the woke police” — while dressing in Antebellum garb for a plantation party that even the Kappa Alpha fraternity banned in 2016 for its racist implications. Chris makes it very clear in the interview that he doesn’t think Rachael should be held accountable for her past actions because he doesn’t see any fault in her past actions — and anyone who does is simply trying to ruin the “great time” everyone (white people) was able to have before racism was invented three years ago.

Both Rachael and Chris have since issued multiple apologies, the implications of which I’ll cover in TATBT’s next belated recap. But for now, I’ll say that my aforementioned hesitation toward bringing the conversation back to race weeks after the show seemed to have already moved on from it, only to then watch Chris Harrison whine about “woke police” to a Black woman for 14 minutes…is pretty solid proof that I was trippin’, and we should absolutely NEVER take our kitten heels off the Bachelor franchise’s veiny neck.

Because this franchise can’t just choose one Black Bachelor, and then squeeze its eyes shut and hope that no one notices how it continues to uphold the exact same white, Christian, patriarchal values it always has. If we want to continue watching this show with sick glee, it’s also our responsibility to keep our eyes open to the behavior it normalizes and promotes.]

Which leads us to Matt’s 33-38 new girlfriends! And I’m so sorry to report that, no, they shan’t be lightening the mood around here — because this season is a bit of a disaster. And not in the self-sabotaging Peter Weber way, but more in the “huge systemic issues that no one with a clip board is even pretending to address” kind of way.

Still, either path leads to the worst Bachelor result imaginable, by which I of course mean — dun, dun, dun — episodes that don’t end with Rose Ceremonies.

THE GIRLS ARE MEAN; THE GUYS ARE MATT

Age doesn’t always directly correlate with emotional maturity…but after an aged-up cast for Clare and Tayshia’s season correlated pretty directly with a cast of men who were both interesting and didn’t spit in each other’s protein powder—it’s starting to feel like aging-up might be a good place to start???

On paper, the young women of Matt’s season seem like they should be able to have a nice time comparing their tie-dye leisure sets, and talking about intermittent fasting in between spending 10 minutes a week with their co-boyfriend. But in action, watching these women interact is a lot like watching a Ja’mie scene from Summer Heights High.

And yes, that is a 2007-era reference, because watching Victoria operate truly makes me feel like I have been transplanted from 2021 into at least a decade ago. I mean, this is a woman who unironically calls other women sluts; this is a woman with a Burn-Book-style hitlist of who she’s going to get eliminated next; this is a woman whose physical state deteriorates over the course of a Cocktail Party in what I can only imagine is some kind of Death-Becomes-Her-esque backfiring of a deal she made with a sexy satan played by Isabella Rossellini.

But what is perhaps most upsetting about Victoria is that her behavior is so noticeably reprehensible, that it seems to make a few of the other women believe that their own nastiness is more acceptable by comparison, and leads the group as a whole to lean into mean girl behavior with a wild abandon. I actually can’t recall the last time a group was this monstrous to one another. And yet, even the season’s greatest adversaries manage to agree on one thing…

The Bachelor is NOT a sorority.

But if that’s true, then can someone please explain why these women are out here making statements that I have only ever before heard said inside a freezing-cold auditorium during the fourth hour of the third round of rush deliberation???

It turns out that I actually love Katie, pictured above, and have a ton to learn from her about conflict resolution. But even she is wrong about what it means to be—or not be—in a sorority.

Both Katie and Victoria seem to think that this mansion full of their co-girlfriends cannot, and should not be a sorority because they’re under the misguided impression that sororities are…large groups of young women who all get along, I guess? But that’s not really the deal. Sororities are comprised of young women who simultaneously choose and are chosen to coexist in a group together, under one common perceived ideology, which mostly presents itself via parties with silly themes, and occasionally more formal functions where you talk to your date for 10 minutes, then get drunk with your friends until someone cries…

Is any of this sounding familiar? Okay, how about the fact that in both sororities, and on The Bachelor, everyone lives in a giant house together, under a mostly self-governed social system, despite the obvious fact that they need ample adult oversight so that no one does a butt-chug or calls one of their beloved sisters a “slore.”

What I’m saying is: ya best start believin’ in sororities, Katie — yer in one!

The only big difference between a sorority and the current Bachelor cast is that if a Kappa Theta cyber bullies a sister on Instagram, she has to go to a standards meeting, and some faculty advisor might eventually get involved and tell her, “No, that’s bad, you can’t come to Semi-Formal now.”

But if Victoria wreaks havoc on the psychological wellbeing of the entire Nemecolin lodge, or Anna spreads a dangerous rumor about her co-girlfriend, it’s actually encouraged by the producers, and they’re most certainly not going to report it to standards (Matt James). This season’s best hope of restoring balance to the sisterhood is that someone like Katie musters up the courage to risk her own place in the group by tattling to Matt that one sister-girlfriend has been spreading a rumor that another sister-girlfriend is one of Chicago’s most prolific escorts.

But before we get into the drama and slut-shaming, I’d love to focus on a few of the members of this season who we’ve barely learned anything about because they haven’t been sprinkling ex-lax in everyone’s overnight oats, so the producers won’t let us get to know them.

Starting out with the Bachelor himself, @MattJames919:

Matt James is allegedly a 28-year-old real estate broker who was born and raised in North Carolina, and now lives in New York City. And honestly—who isn’t? But these are not the kind of details we’re interested in…

Normally, the viewing audience is able to cement a new Bachelor lead’s personality in our minds during the Bachelorette season they first competed on, and then once they go on to take over the Bachelor reins, that impression melts down into a sort of Alex-Mack-like goo that holds their season together, but doesn’t add anymore to our general understanding of them.

But we don’t have that advantage with Matt, who has < Chris Harrison breaks through the wall like the Kool-Aid man > NEVER BEEN ON TELEVISION BEFORE. So, this is what I’ve learned about Matt from ten hours of watching him talk about how nervous he is, even though he has the Dorito-shaped body of a Marvel superhero, so I’m struggling to understand what he could be so nervous about when he is physically prepared to fight Thanos at any given moment:

  1. Matt kisses with his eyes open. But Matt must be afraid of something because our guy stays constantly vigilant. We have seen him kiss exactly one woman with his eyes fully closed, and I just know it made Reality Steve scream, because now every dummy watching this show (me) has found a loophole to figuring out Matt’s winner. Still, watching Matt kiss with two slivers of eyeball visible makes this season’s many make-out sessions even more unnerving than usual. My guess is that Matt’s eyes are just so large, he actually has a broader field of vision than most people, and therefore has the ocular ability to focus on two things at once.

  2. Matt James is very into activities. After Matt runs 20 miles in the Pennsylvania wilderness, he hops onto his Peleton bike to spin 60 more miles, then he moves onto sculpting his body by very slooooowly removing his shirt to reveal that his stomach is actually made out of eight small, wriggling puppies. When there is wood to be chopped for the wood-burning hot tub, Matt chops it; Matt is the trainer, handyman, tinker, tailor, soldier, spy, and official Bachelor of Nemecolin Resort.

  3. Matt James has read Brene Brown. Or at the very least, the inside of one of her book jackets has come into his line of vision (maybe even while he was open-eyed kissing someone?!). I know this, because the only thing Matt asks for from his 33 co-girlfriends is #vulnerability. And he asks for it constantly. Well, technically he asks for “vun-erability” constantly, because Matt is just so eager to talk about his desire for said vulnerability that the “L” kind of flies out the enunciation window altogether.

    Matt says that vulnerability has always been difficult for him, but he’s going to try really hard to be vulnerable as the Bachelor. In the premiere, the aforementioned contestant Rachael tells Matt that vulnerability has always been difficult for her, but she’s going to try really hard to be vulnerable for him, the Bachelor. And Matt loves it, because sometime around 2016, saying that vulnerability is difficult for you became the new form of being invulnerable as a performance of vulnerability. But no one tell Matt that — he’s already going through enough.

  4. Matt Jams is a nerd trapped in a jock’s body. This is not a smooth man! This is a nice man; this is a man who is not particularly funny but who, I think, appreciates humor; this is a hot man; this is a tall man. But a cool guy, Matt is not.

    During his one-on-one date with Serena P, they have one of my favorite exchanges in Bachelor history:

    SERENA: Did you have pets growing up?

    MATT: I had a turtle.

    SERENA: Oh, were you a weird kid?

    It is a gorgeous, perfect read on Matt, and I simply can’t believe it came out of sweet Serena P’s mouth. Matt laughs at her response like it came out of left field, but Serena is clearly just a funny, astute person. You can be a weird kid without having a turtle…but you cannot have a turtle without being a weird kid. It’s abundantly clear that Matt was kind of a nerdy child who then developed the body and athletic skill of a mid-level Olympian, so he had to learn how to hang out with other good looking people…

    But in his heart, there is turtle, and that is the best thing I’ve learned about him.

So, speaking of Serena P, I’ll quickly tell you about Matt’s other top women, so that you have a nice romance buzz going into truly some of the shittiest behavior I’ve ever seen on this franchise.

Before the one-on-ones even start, Matt forms a bond that can only be described as adorable with Abigail, and he gives her his First Impression Rose. Abigail was born deaf and she got cochlear implants as a child. It is super cool to not only have someone with a disability come on the show and share their experience with us, but also to watch Matt’s big eyeballs spin hearts like a slot machine every time he looks at her. Matt very clearly likes the sweet ones, and Abigail (and the li’l ear-tugging symbol she comes up with to let Matt know she’s thinking about him even when they’re in a big group) is just about as sweet as they come.

Matt’s very first one-on-one is with Bri, who bonds with Matt over being biracial, and raised by a single mom. Bri is half black, half Persian, and knock-you-down pretty. Matt chews on his lips like Kristen Stewart in the Twilight movies every time he talks to her. Bri isn’t not-sweet, but what I like most about her is that she’s very straight-forward. She doesn’t need to talk about having trouble being vulnerable. She just talks. And when Matt almost kills her by trying to do tricks on an ATV, she simply instigates a sexy mud fight. I feel as though Bri has never been in an awkward situation in her life, and has a dresser full of delicate Marie Kondo folded tank tops. She’s just good, gorgeous people.

Speaking of good people, Matt hasn’t been on a one-on-one date with Chelsea yet, but she is a 6-foot-tall runway model who is always in some fabulous, oversized coat and wears her natural hair in a buzzcut. So, having never seen anyone else like her in the history of this franchise, people are clambering to find out what her deal is and how we might grab brunch with her in Brooklyn some time.

In four episodes, we have gotten one significant segment with Chelsea and Matt during a group date where she talks to him about how hair can be a very emotional thing, especially for Black women, and the freedom she felt after finally buzzing her head. During the episode, we heard Matt reply to Chelsea with, “I can’t imagine,” which is kind of his go-to expression to every single story a woman tells him. But on a podcast, Matt said that he talked with Chelsea about his own experience having an afro, and the show just didn’t air it — can you believe it?

We did at least get to hear Matt reference Chelsea’s “bam-bam dress” from night one, which is good, because that dress should be referenced every hour on the hour for the rest of the season.

A post shared by Chelsea Vaughn (@chelseavaughn_)

See, wouldn’t you love to know more about Chelsea, or Bri, or Abigail? Well too fucking bad!

It’s about to be all Victoria all the time, and there is nothing bam-bam about what she’s up to, except the noise my head makes as I beat it against my coffee table while watching her behave like a cartoon villain.

AW HELL, THE QUEEN

In a year of bad news, some of the worst news I’ve ever received is that Christopher B. Harrison writes erotica. I can’t explain to you the jolt that went through my body — yet nowhere near my nether regions — upon receiving this dispatch during a group date promoting Chris Harrisons’ 2016 romance novel, The Perfect Letter. I’m sure it will come as a shock to no one that hearing Chris Harrison’s words about burning loins and writhing bodies read aloud is the impetus for the season’s first nasty brawl.

I mean, technically the nastiness started the moment Victoria arrived on night one, cruising right past “not here to make friends,” territory, and directly into “here to actively make enemies.” With each new episode of The Bachelor, Victoria targets a new woman and attempts to take her down through lying, bullying, and manipulation, and when anyone asks her not to do that, she says that they’re trying to stop her from expressing herself. Apropos of nothing, I would love to know where Victoria was on the afternoon of January 6th.

Victoria refers to herself exclusively as the “queen” upon her arrival, wearing a tiara, and calling all of the other women princesses. Or alternatively, bitches.

When Bri receives the first one-on-one date, and some of the women casually say that they’re happy for her, Victoria scowls that they’re all “fakes ass bitches,” and she’s the only one who’s real for saying she’s not happy for Bri. A soft-spoken woman named Marylynn tries to say that it’s understandable for Victoria to be jealous—

But you guys, she’s not jealous, she just wants what Bri has!

And technically, Victoria is right—that’s envy, not jealousy. Still, Victoria’s negativity doesn’t make her more honest than the rest of the women, it just makes her more desperate for attention and validation. Later, when Bri is actually on the date, and a couple of women mention that they wish they could be on a date, Victoria starts ranting that now they all agree with her, when before they were so rude to her.

Have you ever been less surprised by anything in your life than Victoria trying to blame her bad attitude on being an empath?

Victoria says in her confessional that Marylynn is “psychologically disturbed” while Marylynn literally blinks quietly in a corner. She then tells Matt that Marylynn is “toxic and manipulative” and Matt believes her because this man has no defense mechanisms. He is a turtle without a shell.

Victoria is very clearly insecure in her surroundings, and lashing out with lies and accusations toward anyone she sees as a threat, all while insisting that she’s very secure, and she’s not jealous, EVERYONE ELSE IS JEALOUS!!! This kind of get-them-before-they-get-me behavior is absolutely intolerable to watch, and at first, it seems like the women experiencing it can’t stand Victoria either. So, what does an insecure person desperate for dominance do when no one’s on their side?

They create a different common enemy, whip up a chaotic frenzy around that person, and become the leader of an angry mob.

THE SARAH SHOW

But that’s where Victoria is wrong, yet again. This is a sorority, and episode 3 of season 25 of The Bachelor ISThe Sarah Show.”

You see, Matt’s second one-on-one is with a young woman named Sarah who might easily be described as “a little bit Alexis”:

Sarah is 60K-followers-on-Instagram-even-before-the-show gorgeous, and Matt is very into that fact about her. Matt also continues to be drawn to sweeties, and the main thing we learn about Sarah before her downfall is that she recently quit her job and moved home to contribute to caretaking duties for her father who was diagnosed with ALS.

This is a very private thing for Sarah to share with someone she’s only known for two hours, and when she finally works up the nerve to do so in the nighttime portion of their date, Matt loves it. Not because her family is facing something awful, but because he can’t think of a more selfless act than Sarah taking care of her father, and he’s honored that she’s chosen to come on the show and go on this date with him…

Personally, I feel like if a woman told me she was sacrificing precious moments with her father to date me, when I knew that I’d only be seeing her for about 20 minutes a week from here on out, and that she faces a 29-in-30 chance of me dumping her…I would be a little overwhelmed. But Matt and Sarah bond over this intimate conversation, and by the time they leave the date, Sarah is shocked at how serious her feelings for Matt are already.

The feelings are apparently so serious that when Sarah is brought in as one of the live audience members for the Chris-Harrison-erotica-themed group date that shaved a year off my life, she’s heartbroken to hear the other women reading their own fanfiction about Matt’s loins, and their loins, and the potential joining of said loins.

Sarah says that after the best date of her life, it’s triggering for her to watch other women flirt with Matt, especially considering her own insecurities surrounding jealousy and infidelity.

Now, if Sarah just complained about this in her confessionals, it would be a little eyeroll-worthy that she willfully ignored learning how The Bachelor worked before coming on the show. But Sarah doesn’t stop at her confessionals — no, she gets so worked up that she breaks into the nighttime portion of this group date uninvited, and interrupts Katie moments after she’s sat down with Matt for their first conversation since the premiere.

Katie begrudgingly agrees to give Sarah a moment because she assumes something must be seriously wrong if Sarah has showed up to interrupt their date. But when Sarah starts talking with Matt, she basically just tells him that she doesn’t know why she came to see him [ed. note: if you listen very closely, you can hear the whisper of two producers cackling in the wind], she just knew she needed to get some time with him to let him know how she was feeling.

She says this with, uh, no hint of irony while interrupting a date full of women who have had no time with him, and who would very much like Matt to know how they’re feeling as well (VULNERABLE!!!).

Katie comes back to reclaim her time with Matt, and when Sarah asks for five more minutes, Katie responds: “Two more minutes.” Sarah’s face kind of falls like, Oh, has everyone not found my insecurity as adorable as Matt did? How could I, the protagonist of The Bachelor, have possibly seen this coming?

But even realizing that she’s clearly offended Katie doesn’t make Sarah act any differently— she just proceeds with her own prerogative to further secure Matt’s understanding of how much she needs him, asking to be walked out on Katie’s time, and planning to ask the other women for forgiveness later…

She does not receive it.

Sarah rolls up to this group of women whose date she just stole (Matt ends the date without having spoken to half of the women which is…bullshit?) and says she wants to “be the bigger person” by telling them directly that she snuck into their date and talked to their co-boyfriend

Now, I might’a had’ta tell a girl some facts if she told me that she was being a bigger person than me by informing me that she stole my time; that’s not being a bigger person, that’s trying to control a narrative. And no one controls the narrative in this house except Beelzebulb himself, because these women have been possessed by something.

They’re not actually too hard on Sarah in this moment — probably because they can hear Matt mouth-breathing like that kid from Hey Arnold! somewhere nearby — but once the women are safely back in their quarters, and Sarah spends the entire next day holed away in her room in order to avoid her fellow girlfriends…

Chaos erupts, fire rains down, and Victoria has finally found her foothold for power.

While Sarah cries upstairs about how she might not be cut out for this, Victoria is downstairs whipping up a frenzy downstairs that, should Sarah ever emerge from her room, will absolutely assure her she’s not cut out for this.

Matt doesn’t make the situation better when he arrives to take Sierra P on their one-on-one, starts to apologize about what happened with Sarah the night before, only to notice that Sarah isn’t sitting in the group, and then goes upstairs to check on her — leaving the women waiting because of Sarah yet again, and taking time away from his date with Sierra. It’s…a pretty shitty thing of Matt to do, that he thinks is a nice thing of him to do, and that the other women will blame entirely on Sarah.

They’re all positive that Sarah is manipulating Matt—that she doesn’t really want to leave, she just wants him to tell her to stay. And sure, they’re almost definitely right about that. But the ones who seem most pissed about it are the ones who are seething that they didn’t think of this first. What comes next, after Sarah spends another day locked in her room, giving the other women time to cement that she’s a Siren sent there to destroy their chances with Matt, is very bad…

But I have to admit, the moment when Sarah tries to quietly sneak into the group while the next group date card is being read after she hadn’t come downstairs or spoken to anyone for two days was…

…simply delicious. The entire room comes to a screeching halt. Sarah takes the opportunity to speak up, saying that she wants to apologize to all of the women that she interrupted the day before, specifically Katie. She also apologizes for not coming down to clear the air sooner. “I know the timing was bad, and I sincerely apologize,” Sarah says.

So, anyone who’s been droning on for two days straight about how Sarah just needs to apologize and own up to what she did should be satisfied now, right? Because surely they all know that no amount of berating Sarah in this moment is going to have any impact on the fact that Matt will still see her as a tiny, beautiful woman wearing a tiny, beautiful bomber jacket and being vulnerable with him.

But anyone who really didn’t care about an apology or accountability, or who was just using those things as an excuse to bond with the other women, and really only cares about establishing their dominance by making Sarah feel like shit…

Well, that’s someone who might not accept Sarah’s apology and drag this whole Sarah thing out, while simultaneously complaining about this being the Sarah show.

Some of the other women aren’t easy on Sarah either though. Serena C tells her that she’s burned all her bridges, Anna says Sarah clearly thinks she’s more important than them, and Kit—the 21-year-old daughter of Cynthia Rowley—really comes in with the kicker: “I hope that your connection with Matt is really strong, because the rest of your living situation here is going to be terrible.”

Threats—how fun! Sarah walks away weeping, and no one will let her talk to them. Until finally, one shining beacon of decency arrives…

ACTUAL QUEEN KATIE

The thing that I like most about Katie is that she’s kind, but she’s not particularly nice. Her basic human empathy isn’t for show, or because she’s some overly maternal character. She’s just a decent person, and from what the producers have chosen to show us of this group of women, basic human decency is absolutely the most we can hope for right now.

Katie goes to check on Sarah because she doesn’t like the way Sarah was just treated by the group at large. Sarah tells Katie that she’s made up her mind about leaving the show, and in a surprising twist, Katie tries to convince her to stay.

Again, not because she’s nice, but just because she’s a reasonable person who’s realized that Matt obviously really likes Sarah, and if she leaves, that is going to fuck with Matt’s head, potentially distracting him even more from ever spending that 10 minutes with Katie she’s been trying to grab for three weeks now.

That’s when Sarah tells Katie that a large part of her stress over being there is that her father is dealing with a terminal illness: “And it’s not, like, years or months, it’s maybe weeks.”

Katie’s eyes immediately well up, and she backtracks on everything she’s just said, telling Sarah that she supports her going home 100 percent. Katie’s father passed away in 2012. “If I could get back the minutes I had with him…” Katie says, trailing off.

That’s when Katie and Sarah become too emotional to continue speaking, and also when my vision becomes too impaired by my own tears to continue typing.

“I understand more than I would like to,” I hear but do not see Katie tell Sarah. “I missed out on my goodbye to my dad, and I would never want that for you.” So, Sarah goes to Matt’s house and tells him she has to leave, and Katie goes downstairs and tells everyone else they need to shut the fuck up.

Oh wait, that’s what I would have said. Katie tells the other women—many of whom are still gleeful in their bond over blaming every single negative aspect of this notoriously nightmarish experience on Sarah—that she’s just spoken to Sarah who has decided to go home because she has a family crisis looming over her.

Imagine clapping for someone else’s family misfortune! Imagine thinking Sarah’s departure will make you anymore loved! Google “schadenfreude” to find the above photo of Victoria!

Katie, who insists she’s never been in a sorority, encourages everyone to “stay classy in this process,” so I guess that’s just a phrase that’s built into all women’s DNA. And it’s advice that most of the other women seem to respond to on a biological level, because they recognize that the threat against their time with Matt—Sarah—has been eliminated.

But for some of the women, no longer having Sarah to blame for all of their problems is actually a bad thing…

The next morning, after Sarah has left, Victoria is still trying desperately to hang on to the tie that formerly bonded her to the rest of the women: talking shit about Sarah. So, at this point, Katie does actually tell her to shut the fuck up.

Victoria is visibly shaken, even though her mouth keeps moving with confidence: “No I won’t stop, Katie. I’ll do whatever the fuck I want.” Yes, you have made that very clear, Victoria!

But Vic wants to make it clearer still, so she pulls Katie aside to tell her that it was rude to interrupt her while she was expressing herself earlier. “Are you talking about today, when you were calling Sarah names?” Katie clarifies, gorgeously.

Victoria confirms, yes, she is talking about the time when she was calling Sarah “trash” for leaving a reality show to spend time with her terminally ill father, and Katie asked to her to stop. Victoria quite literally tells Katie that name-calling is a part of her self expression, and she thinks she deserves an apology for Katie interrupting her during said self-expression.

This season has been pretty tough to stomach so far — but being there at the precise moment that Victoria realized Katie was not the one to be trifled with was one singular beautiful moment among the mess.


So why don’t we end this recap on a high note, before I tell you about that time the producers brought in five new women three weeks into this process, letting loose every remaining strand of dignity this season had. Sound fun?! Great. See you there.

A 'Bachelorette' Finale Recap: A Great Group of Guys & A New Bachelor

Mazel Tov, Tayshia, and helloooo @MattJames919!

Ahead of The Bachelor premiere, TATBT wraps up Tayshia’s sweaty love story with her Final 4, and gives the teensiest preview of @MattJames919’s season you ever did see. Read along, and forward TATBT to your Bachelor-loving/hating friends!

Or really, Tayshia? Are you positive you can’t be with all four of them? Did you even ASK???

If I were the kind of gal that could wear a backless satin dress with no bra in 110-degree Palm Springs heat without producing an amount of under-boob sweat so monumental that the Bachelor production assistants would have to stop whatever theater tech set piece they were currently working on to Oompah-Loompa me out a Costco pack of sponges post-haste — and therefore, if I were the kind of gal who could have conceivably been named the second Bachelorette of Quarantine — then somewhere around this season’s Top 10, I would have been seriously considering polyamory. Because…

And I really don’t want to have to say this [ed. note: YOU HAVE TO SAY IT]…

After all these years of recapping The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise, and Bachelor Winter Games, and The Bachelor Goes to Camp, and 2 Bachelor 2 Burious, and The Bachelor: Electric Bugaloo, and The Bachelorette Goes to La Quinta Resort and Hookah Lounge, it pains me to cave like this [ed. note: SAY IT]…

After years of railing against casts that were too young, and too white, and too readily available to shill charcoal teeth whitening subscriptions on their Instagram stories, it kills me to admit that ABC did one single thing right [ed. note: Do it, bitch]. But it simply must be said:

This was a great group of guys. The group of guys that ABC cast for season 16 of The Bachelorettewere GREAT. [Ed. Note: Oh my god, she admit it.] It is to Tayshia’s immense credit that I was not furious with her by the end of this finale for booting Ben, Ivan, and then Ben one more time. Not to mention the likes of Riley, Demar, or Dr. Joe who—actually—I will mention, because:

That’s Joe — a hot anesthesiologist — talking about how jacked all of his friends are while his biceps literally file their own tax return. This was the caliber of person we were dealing with at the La Quinta Resort & Party Supplies. Tayshia let a hot, funny anesthesiologist go, like, third round.

But this season simply had an unusually stacked roster full of earnest, intelligent, expressive sweethearts (and also Bennett).

By finally casting a slightly older group of suitors for Clare to date, ABC managed to give us men who were comfortable exploring not just how they were feeling, but why they were feeling that way, and doing it in front of their girlfriend. These were men who had lived lives and learned lessons, and could show Tayshia exactly how they would behave in a relationship in the real world. And on The Bachelorette, that’s really all you have to go on — a hint of a promise that this dude won’t cheat on you once you stop being the only unmasked woman in his eyesight.

These men weren’t just telling Tayshia about their hopes and dreams for the future; they were telling her about how their lives have prepared them to achieve those dreams. They were doing their little vulnerability math equations and showing the work; they were offering primary sources, and evidentiary support from the literature. This cast of The Bachelorette came with footnotes, a works cited page, and CVS-length receipts.

I can’t believe how soft I’ve gotten after nine months alone inside my house, but I was honestly grateful to all these dudes for sharing their unique experiences with us. I dare say, I felt like I grew from listening to their dinner dates with Tayshia, tucked away in various alcoves throughout the La Quinta Resort and Used Tires.

When Ivan spoke to Tayshia about his brother’s experience in the prison system, he didn’t do it to show her how difficult his life has been, or to use his family’s trauma as a transactional means for building intimacy, as these time-crunched relationships are so often forced to do.

Ivan told Tayshia about his brother’s incarceration because it’s shaped his worldview, both as an older brother who wants to support his family no matter what, and as a Black man living in America. Ivan tells Tayshia that, a few years ago, after hearing that his brother had been mistreated by a corrections officer, his instinct would have been to ask what his brother did wrong. But in recent years, he’s come to understand that there’s nothing a person could ever do to deserve to be harmed by someone who’s been employed to prevent harm. “It changed me as a man,” he tells her. It changed him as a man. And in telling Tayshia how the Black Lives Matter movement that’s happening just outside the walls of the La Quinta Resort and Discount Phone Cases has been effecting him emotionally, Ivan opens up the door for Tayshia to allow her own emotions about BLM to rise to the surface in what seemed to be a very cathartic way. All of this…happened…on… The Bachelorette?!

Likewise, Zac shared his recovery from addiction not because it was a liability he needed to disclose to Tayshia, but because it’s a part of the person he is today. In one of the most romantic things I’ve ever heard on this show, Zac reassures Tayshia that he won’t walk away from her because, on the ninth anniversary of his sobriety, he understands commitment more than most. And over and over again, Zac found the perfect words to express not just that he had fallen in love with Tayshia, but why he had fallen in love with Tayshia, and exactly how he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

That’s right, baby…

The Quarantine season of The Bachelorette produced two engagements that actually made it out of that elephant graveyard of pampas grass, and out into the real world!

That’s more current engagements from this one season of The Bachelorette than the last five seasons of Bachelor(ette) combined. I’m not normally driven to collect franchise engagements like Beanie Babies, but I don’t know…I think these two couples just might work?? Clare and Dale are so weird that I genuinely believe they could choose to be weird together forever. And Zac and Tayshia are maybe the two most happily in love people I’ve ever seen, and it’s been two weeks since they got engaged on national television, and no one has come forward to say that Zac likes racist memes, or has a girlfriend, or sent dick pics to all the Kardashian siblings, or whatever.

I mean, Zac opened a recovery center after recovering from his own addiction, and he cries every time he thinks about how much his family helped him through the darkest days of his life. The man is filled with gratitude, which my Dad told me over the holiday is the opposite of fear. I really should have met this meaningful statement made at our Christmas dinner table by telling my family every single detail about Tayshia’s Final 4 men who regularly expressed gratitude over fear, freely and without hesitation.

We got to know these Final 4 in such a way that, by the end, they stood in stark contrast to Tayshia herself, who is still a bit of a mystery to me. If pressed, I think I could guess Zac’s social security number, whereas with Tayshia, the main attributes I’ve surmised are that she is kind, decisive, and the woman does not sweat. Can you imagine if God made you so beautiful that when putting on the finishing touches, She was like: You know what, I don’t want to spoil this with pores.

A post shared by ––––––– TAYSHIA ADAMS ––––––– (@tayshia)

Last we spoke, Tayshia had just arrived to take over as the Bachelorette, all Disney princess eyes, blinding smile, and a genuine openness to meeting her 20 new boyfriends who had recently been dumped by that lady that left them for a taco model. Now, a handful of weeks later, Tayshia has been tasked by host Chris Harrison, her good personal friend Jojo Fletcher, a Mac Book Pro screensaver posing as a state-of-the-art lie detector system, and the entire exhausted staff of the LaQuinta Resort & Auto Loans to choose a husband from her remaining square-jawed boyfriends.

But once Tayshia took the helm of this ship—what with her confidence and her bone-dry palms—there simply was not much drama to be found.

There were just a bunch of mostly mature dudes feeling their feelings, or at least trying really hard to. And perhaps even more surprisingly, there was a fairly moving love story. And I guess this year especially, it felt nice to watch something turn from utter chaos (Clare & Dale) into a nice, simple happy ending (Gas & Brakes):

But before Tayshia could find Zac, she had to wade through what may have been the best Top 4 in Bachelorette history. So, in closing, I’ll take you through Tayshia’s Final 4, and right into previewing @MattJames919’s season, premiering tonight—because ABC is not going to miss grabbing back one single ad dollar that evaded them this spring.

BEN

For weeks, I casually referred to Ben as “The Saddest Living Boy in Palm Springs” because, while generally shaped like a Greek god, he always wears these little stretched out t-shirts that make him appear vulnerable in a very primal way. Like he’s unwittingly, yet constantly, tempting Edward Cullen to suck the life out of those collar bones.

Plus, sometimes, when not given a group date rose, Ben would retire to the confessional room, and sing the saddest little diddy you ever did hear:

This moment happened over a month ago at this point, and I have not stopped thinking about it since. I need to know everything: Did a producer ask Ben, “If you could sing a song how about you’re feeling right now, how might it go?” Did Ben just offer up this little number? Is Ben like Jess from New Girl, who sings his way through awkward feelings? I need to understand what brought this hot man to sing this itty bitty song about his sadness!!!

Of course, calling Ben a sad boi became a touch trivializing once Ben clued us—and Tayshia—into the many things in his past that have led him to close off his emotions as a defense mechanism. Ben went to West Point, followed by a career in the Army that he only left after he broke his back, during which time he became depressed and attempted suicide twice, something that no one in his life knows about except his therapist. During all of that, Ben was also battling an eating disorder.

And somehow, none of that has hardened Ben. He is sweet and loving, and tries very hard to express himself to Tayshia because he wants to have a future with her. But Ben is the perfect example of the way this show elevates the “timing” aspect of a relationship to a nearly unmanageable level.

If Tayshia and Ben had met anywhere except the LaQuinta Resort & Orange Julius, Ben could have opened up to Tayshia in a reasonable amount of time—say, more than two dates—about the many difficult things he has experienced throughout his life that have shaped him into the man he is today. Instead, we hear Tayshia repeatedly telling Ben that it feels like he’s holding back from her, and when he does open up, that he was “almost too late” because her other relationships are advancing so much quicker.

But of course Ben is holding back! Ben doesn’t have divorced parents; Ben’s sibling didn’t go through something hard; Ben is in lifelong recovery from an eating disorder and suicidal ideation, and that makes his vulnerability just a little more vulnerable than most, and definitely more difficult to reveal to someone you’re hoping to woo. There’s a huge difference between being able to share your emotions about something you’ve moved past, and something you’re still dealing with—and that difference in the amount of time it takes to build trust with someone.

Still, Tayshia wants to be sure Ben can express himself to her after his Hometown [ed. note: where ANTONIA FROM TOP CHEF attends as his very dearest family friend, and ultimately helps Ben realize that he loves Tayshia?!?!!?], and when he’s not able to eek out an “I love you,” or any of its franchise-approved variants, he’s sent home.

Everything Ben shares with Tayshia, and with The Bachelorette’s large and notoriously snarky viewership is so, so brave, and for many with similar experiences as Ben, probably pretty life-affirming. This gorgeous, nice, funny man has been through it too—no one is alone, and our pain is worth working through it.

Of all the people involved in this cast, we get to watch Ben grow the most, and I think he’s leaving the show a more open and introspective person. And while I’m sure it’s not the first time that’s happened, it is one few times I feel like I’ve gotten to watch it happen. (Hannah Brown also comes to mind, and suddenly a ship is forming in my head, and, ugh, can a girl get a Bachelor In Paradise premiere date around here???)

BRENDAN

Unlike Ben, I have never once seen Brendan’s collarbones. His clavicle is as invulnerable as his precious little mind is an open book. It’s like how you think Taylor Swift just likes retro bikinis, and then you realize, Wait a gosh darn minute, there’s no evidence that woman has a belly button. Who knows what could be going on under there?! Brendan is known for his signature turtlenecks, but he’s also known for being a sweet, sweet spirit who deserves only the best things in life.

Brendan believes the same thing about Tayshia, which is why he looks like he’s gonna hurl for most of the final two episodes.

Following his Hometown visit (where, I kid you not, Brendan and his tween niece do a synchronized handshake straight out of The Parent Trap), and right before his Fantasy Suite date, Brendan self-eliminates from the show.

You may recall that, like Tayshia, Brendan was married young, and divorced fairly recently. Brendan tells Tayshia that when he came on the show, he thought he was ready to get married again, because he “wants a wife and kids more than anything on the face of this earth.” [Ed. note: S W O O N.] But in facing the idea that getting engaged to Tayshia means getting engaged in a few days to someone he’s been on three dates with, Brendan has looked inward and realized a few things:

“I’m coming to the realization that there’s a big part of me that’s still broken; there’s a big part of me that still needs time to heal; there’s a big part of me that needs time to grow … and you deserve a man that’s whole,” he tells Tayshia.

Listen, this is hard for both of them because they really like each other, but that’s some M A N shit right there. Of course, it took a date where the producers forced Brendan and Tayshia look at 1,000 engagement rings with Neil Lane for Brendan to get to this place — but who among us hasn’t disassociated and had a major reckoning over our own emotional wellbeing while Neil Lane monologued at us over a melon tray?

Ignoring Neil Lane is therapy. (I wish Brendan all the best, and hope to see his turtleneck swimsuits on the beaches of Paradise soon.)

IVAN

I first knew I loved Ivan when I learned that he was an aeronautical engineer who loved chess. That love grew when he played “the floor is lava” on his slumber-party-themed date with Tayshia, and upon realizing he’d left the room service menus in the other room, Ivan still stepped exclusively on pillows and couch cushions on his way back to get them, even though Tayshia was in the other room and couldn’t see him. This is a man of principle...

This…

Is a hot rocket scientist. My friends’ parents are both aerospace engineers and she says they don’t like to be called rocket scientists because it’s inaccurate (see: abiding floor is lava rules even when it doesn’t matter, even when the floor isn’t lava). But I am nothing if not inaccurate for the sake of drama, so in my heart, Ivan is a rocket scientist, and in my mind—and Tayshia’s mind, and everyone’s mind—he is one of the most eligible bachelors this franchise has ever seen.

Ultimately, that seemed to kind of be the problem. Logically, Tayshia understood that she should want to be with Ivan, but I think she just wasn’t that attracted to him. Which is nuts, but I guess when you have 30 hot guys to choose from, every hot guy is just an average guy. Thank goodness she didn’t cut Ivan loose before Hometowns though, because that meant we got to watch his brother that we’ve heard so much about surprise him halfway through his date, which Tayshia noticed before he did:

I know Tayshia cares for Ivan at least as much as I do because of the way we wept in unison when Gabriel showed up.

And then we got to watch two adult brothers very clearly and vulnerably express how much they mean to one another.

It was very special! I cried the whole time! I’m crying looking at the screenshots!

Gabriel also reveals himself to be a very soulful person who describes the inner workings of The Bachelorette with beautiful language that it very much does not deserve.

He says that Ivan has showed up and supported him so many times in his life, so he had to come and support Ivan “in this righteous endeavor.”

Gabriel also likes that Tayshia describes Ivan as loyal because “loyalty is an action word.” It is! I’ve never thought of that! I have learned so many things on this season—what is happening!?!?

Unfortunately, our time with Gabriel is fleeting, because even though Ivan and Tayshia do retire together to a Fantasy Suite Air Stream [ed. note: honestly so rude, ABC], one of their up-all-night conversations apparently gives Tayshia pause. At the Rose Ceremony following Fantasy Suites, Tayshia pulls Ivan outside to tell him that she can’t move forward with him because they’re not on the same page about religion.

We are all stunned — I will speak for all of us — by this information, because we weren’t privy to whatever conversations happened in the Fantasy Suite, and though Tayshia has loosely mentioned her “faith,” she hasn’t been slinging around Bible verses or anything. But Ivan, while surprised to be going home, doesn’t seem shocked by Tayshia’s explanation as to why. He’s since said that he is agnostic and Tayshia is Christian, and while that wasn’t a problem for him, it was a problem for her.

Nonetheless, Ivan has surely been shortlisted to be the next Bachelor, and I think we can all agree that this was, at the very least…

BEN IS BACK

It will never not be funny that Ben Is Back is the name of a Julia Roberts/Lucas Hedges film. I assume said film is not about Ben from The Bachelorette returning to the LaQuinta Resort & CoinStar because he accidentally told every single person he saw on his way out that he loved Tayshia, EXCEPT FOR TAYSHIA…

But there’s no way to know for sure.

I understand that repeatedly telling Chris Harrison how much you love Tayshia, rather than telling her is a mistake you might want to rectify in order to not spend the rest of your life (or at least the time between now and Bachelor In Paradise) wondering: “what if I’d just told her how I felt.” And in the end, I’m glad Ben came back. It’s very endearing to watch him get comfortable with these words, and move past his fear of being rejected after telling a woman he loves her…

Does his worst fear ultimately come true?

Sure. But there’s no way to discover that your worst fear really isn’t the end of the world quite like doing it on national television.

Unfortunately, the one thing sweet baby Ben failed to realize about his return to the competition is that, just because realizing he loved Tayshia was a huge leap for him, doesn’t mean it was a huge leap for everyone else. Tayshia invites Ben to the rose ceremony, and then BOOM—Ben is back in a game that’s down to two players, and he is flying high. He gets to meet Tayshia’s wonderful family, who love that he went to West Point, but when he sits down to talk to them…

Tayshia’s dad asks Ben what he loves about Tayshia, and he earnestly replies: “I love the way she makes me feel.” Oh Ben! That is a very bad answer! It’s all well and good to love the way she makes you feel, but you can’t be the only reason you love Tayshia.

I’m sure there are plenty of other, better reasons Ben loves Tayshia, and he simply didn’t have time to put them into words after he had his epiphany with Antonia from Top Chef. But what Ben doesn’t know, is that while a simple “I’m in love with you just because I’m in love with you” may have flown in almost any other season, this season, he’s competing with…

ZAC

Has anyone ever expressed themselves as well as Zac consistently expresses himself to Tayshia? I guess part of it is that he’s just so confident, and so sure about his feelings for her…

So sure, in fact, that one could start to question if Zac always says the perfect thing because he’s trying to say the perfect thing.

But Zac isn’t perfect, and he doesn’t try to make himself out to be. When his family comes for Hometowns, he tells his mom that while at the La Quinta Resort & Sunglass Kiosk, he realized that he’s been lying to himself and everyone else for a long time. He’s been saying that he could be happy just being a fun, single uncle forever, because he assumed the future couldn’t possibly hold love and a family for him…

But meeting Tayshia has made him realize that it could. That it should.

Or as he tells Tayshia on their Fantasy Suite date when she asks why his mom was under the impression he didn’t plan on having children: “What I’ve realized in coming here, and putting every other area of my life hold, is that I do want to be a dad, and I know that I’ll be a good dad, and that I’ll be a good husband… because I deserve all those things.”

Ah, self-worth — the journey that never ends!

Later, when Tayshia has already cut Ben loose again, and had a tough conversation with her dad about whether she’s really ready for a second engagement, (these editors cannot fool me with a little scene-rearranging, I’m gonna notice Tayshia wearing a THICK denim dress in the Palm Springs heat TWICE), she starts experiencing and intense stress that we really haven’t seen her express before. Because now that she’s down to one person, she has to acknowledge what life will actually look like with that one person.

In their final meeting before the potential proposal, Zac asks what’s causing Tayshia’s stress, and she rambles about how things could suddenly go wrong in the future, and how that scares her. She tells Zac that he’s fallen in love with this independent person, but what if, down the line, she “just wants to be a mom.” And then, more to the root of things: “What if it changes? When things get hard, it’s much easier to run away than to stay.”

Oof. Knowing what we know about how Tayshia’s marriage ended—that she wanted to fight for it, and he didn’t—this stress spiral suddenly makes sense. And this is why Tayshia and Zac are perfect for each other. And why, if they break up, I will personally drive to New York City and force them to kiss and make up like the two gorgeous Barbie dolls they are…

Because everything in Zac’s past clicks so well with everything in Tayshia’s past. Zac reveals to Tayshia that today marks nine years of sobriety for him. “My recovery is the most important thing in my life because it allows me to not run away—to actually face life as it comes my way,” he tells her. Zac understands Tayshia’s fears about him running away, but “I understand the word commitment, I understand loyalty … and if I’m given the opportunity to propose to you, I’m not doing that unless I’m committing to you for my entire life.”

I know I’m just quoting every single thing that Zac says at this point, but that’s because it’s all gold, so here’s one more: “I know why I love you, Tayshia, and it has nothing to do with, if in five years you want to be a stay-at-home mom, or a waitress. That doesn’t matter to me because that’s not the reason that I love you.”

I said earlier that gratitude is the antidote to fear [ed. note: okay, my dad said it, and I think the new season of Big Mouth also says it with cartoons]. Zac has a lot in his life to be grateful for, and a lot in his life that he’s had to work hard to be grateful for. He isn’t afraid to love Tayshia wholly, openly, and quickly, because Zac has faced much scarier things than rejection. That fearlessness is pretty inspirational to watch.

And in the end, Tayshia and Zac fell in love not because he’s an amazing communicator, or because she seems to go for men with distinct jawlines. They fell in love because it just made sense, and my cold, dead heart — which has already been softened to an alarming degree — grew three more sizes watching their proposal.

If it’s all a little whispery and “I’m going to choose you every minute of every day of every month of every year” for you, I get it. But I’d still recommend drinking two glasses of wine, watching this proposal, and allowing yourself to sob a little.

Again, if these two break up, I will personally mail Chris Harrison an envelope full of glitter every single day until he marches them down the aisle and forces them to wed with the powers vested in him by The Network That Also Airs The Goldbergs

@MATTJAMES919

Orrrrr I’ll forget all about Zac and Tayshia completely the moment a new season of The Bachelor premieres, which should be happening any minute now! The devil works hard, but Bachelor production works harder… and in hotter temperatures… and with more poking and prodding of vulnerable individuals.

So I’d love to quickly list everything I know about our new Bachelor, Matt James:

  1. He is best friends with Tyler Cameron. Shortly after everyone fell in love with Tyler Cameron on Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette, Tyler was allowed to return to his regularly scheduled Instagramming, where we were delighted to discover than he had an equally hot, equally athletic, equally nice best friend: @MattJames919.

  2. Matt James was originally cast on Clare’s season. At some point, Clare came out with a very Clare statement (unearned in its assertiveness, but fun nonetheless) about men cast for her season making Cameo accounts, and how they couldn’t possibly be coming on for the right reasons. Everyone raged against her in defense of Matt James’ Cameo account, but Clare insisted her statement was not about @MattJames919, who she understood was already extremely famous.

  3. Matt James is the first Black Bachelor. Bachelor fans (uh, some Bachelor fans) have long called for more diversity in the lead role of our favorite terrible television show, and ABC has long defied us. Like, for 20 years. It’s wild. When the Black Lives Matter movement made way for more direct reckonings with diversity in the entertainment industry, The Bachelor was not exempt. ABC plucked @MattJames919 from Bachelorette-bio obscurity with a quickness, and while we do not congratulate ABC on picking an extremely eligible Black man in 2021 when extremely eligible Black men been available for the last 24 seasons, we do congratulate Matt James on being extremely eligible. And extremely hot!!!

  4. @MattJames919 is extremely hot. End of statement.


On paper, Matt James’ women seem cool too. There’s a professional ballerina, a bunch of lawyers, a social worker, an actual 6-foot-tall runway model with natural buzzed hair…but there are also so many 23-year-olds. So I hope you enjoyed all that introspection and self-reflection while it lasted, because we’re back to screaming at people to stop crying in 5, 4, 3, 2…

A 'Bachelorette' recap: The Tayshia Transition

A belated recap of the peaceful transition of Bachelorette power in eps 4 & 5

Know a Bachelor-lover? A Bachelor-hater? Grant them the sweet release of snark by passing along TATBT. If this XXXL recap is clipped by your email server, just click the headline to read it all on jodi.substack.com!

Wow. You let The Bachelorette go on without recaps for three little weeks, and the whole thing goes to hell in a Chris Harrison-shaped handbasket.

That’s a truly heinous image, and I apologize for it. I also apologize for leaving the franchise at such a vulnerable time in order to pay some attention to the politics of a non-Bachelor nation, and also to descend into deep, dark madness while watching one Vanessa Hudgens chloroform another Vanessa Hudgens who was pretending to be a different Vanessa Hudgens in the soon-to-be-seminal sequel, The Princess Switch: Switched Again.

But anyway, I'm back now, and I'm mortified to report that The Bachelorette...worked??

Anyone who’s read TATBT for a while knows that I have one kink, and one kink only: watching Chris Harrison have to work for his seven-digit paycheck. [Ed. note: To newer TATBT subscribers…yes, I’m so sorry, it’s always like this.]

So, how do I feel about this season where Chris Harrison has been forced to stay within the confines of La Quinta Resort & Used Mufflers, and do his job every single day… this season where Chris Harrison has had to break up with men for Clare, and tell men that they have to propose to Clare, and stare into the eyes of 20 sad bros slowly going insane inside La Quinta Resort & Karaoke Bar, and tell them that Clare really doesn’t want to go on any dates with ever

This season where Chris Harrison has singlehandedly negotiated 2020’s ONLY SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION OF POWER???

Yeah, I feel good about it. But it’s not just the mental, emotional, and sexual gratification I get from watch Chris Harrison transform from psychologist, to dad, to friend-who’s-pretending-to-cry-because-that-seems-like-the-supportive-thing-to-do in a single conversation that’s making this season an unprecedented (drink!) success.

It’s that we’re not even halfway through, and we’ve already gotten two Bachelorettes, a group of men who are more than ready to share their emotions with their Bachelorette and with us—and by god, we may have already gotten a successful love story too.

In the time since I last checked in with you about The Bachelorette, three important things have happened:

  1. I wrote an extremely long recap of Episode 3 that my computer lost because, while my corporal body lives in 2020, my utilization of technology exists permanently in 2006 [ed. note: as always, this recap’s screenshots brought to you by Microsoft Paint, don’t @ me]. Just know that Clare canceled, like, every group date that Dale wasn’t on, and dry humped in her suite during every group date Dale was on.

  2. Then Clare broke up with all of her boyfriends in order to get engaged to Dale 12 days into her season.

  3. Then, via some questionable quarantine math, Tayshia arrived to pick up the remaining pieces of of The Bachelorette and nurture these sad men back to life with her fun personality and, as one man says, “her big ass eyes.”

Chris Harrison will tell you that Clare blew up The Bachelorette; that she threw a wrench in the season with her disregard for the typical process, and her sole focus on Dale. But riddle me this—did Clare not achieve the oft-stated goal of this show: to find love? Did Clare not simply do it faster than anyone else ever because, to Clare, finding love is a practicable sport, and being the Bachelorette was her Olympics? I ask you this…

Are you not entertained???

If the goal is to find love, Clare did it. If the goal is to get engaged, Clare did it. If the goal is to give everyone an even shot at your hand in marriage by pretending that you’re equally interested in 30 different men…well, Clare did a very bad job at that. A very bad job.

But The Bachelorette can’t have it both ways. They can’t say that the goal is to find fairytale love, and then continue to use “unprecedented” as a dig against the one person who managed to use their broken little system to actually do it. Sorry it didn’t take as long as usual, but Clare’s got things to do…

And we also have things to do. Since I’ve let quite a few episodes get past me, today we’ll be recapping the Good, the Bad, and the Best events of episodes 4 and 5:

THE BEST: Clare falling in love on Instagram

There is no more transformative — but also no more obvious — twist in in Bachelorette history than the reveal that Clare fell in love with Dale on social media.

The entire construct of The Bachelor(ette) is designed to starve the contestants of access to any part of one another that exists outside this romantic bubble that’s been created by a sea of malnourished Bachelor interns, earning their Belvita Breakfast Biscuits by draping Persian rugs over couches, making up sports that have to be played in Speedos, and planting hot tubs in the middle of deserts. All so that Kennedy M. can fall in love with Zax in a setting that feels like a fairytale…

But Kennedy M. can’t really fall in love with Zax if the moment that she leaves the Bachelorette bubble with a ring on her finger and stars in her eyes, she then lays those starry peepers upon the fact that Zax is the type of guy who gets into arguments about the legitimacy of Keto inside The Rock’s Instagram comments.

I estimate that not having access to your future fiancé’s public persona is 95 percent of the reason that 85 percent of these Bachelor-forged relationships don’t work out. I mean, I could never marry an “lol” man, but will absolutely pounce on any “hahaha” man — and how am I supposed to know that fundamental difference if we’ve never even texted.

There are so many parts of a normal relationship that are never exposed on The Bachelorette, and I find it absolutely hilarious that introducing just one real-world aspect — Instagram, of all things — created the actual fairytale love story that this franchise has been trying to shill out for decades.

Clare tells Chris Harrison that during the unexpected quarantine, she started following the men who were already announced for her season on social media. It was there she first discovered that Dale had also lost a parent at a young age, and started to fall in love with the person Dale appeared to be, only to have those feelings confirmed when she actually met him. Clare and Dale only knew each other for 12 days, but by getting a peek at those sweeet, sweet Instagram Stories, Clare left the show probably having a firmer understanding of her fiancé than, say, Hannah did with Jed, or Becca did with Garret.

I’m not saying that makes Clare and Dale’s resulting engagement totally reasonable. I’m just saying that a week alone with an iPhone and a refrigerator full of sugar-free Red Bulls might not be the worst addition to “the process” if The Bachelor(ette) actually cares about the longevity of any of their future relationships. Which let’s be clear—they super do not.

THE GOOD: Clare and Dale

Okay, yes, I’m rooting for these two insufferable weirdos. I can’t help it!

I know I’m probably in the minority on this. I know DeuxMoi has reported Dale spottings all over New York City without Clare. I know it’s embarrassing to see Clare thinking 20 steps head of Dale at all times…

But the ultimate feeling I got from their final episode — y’know, once they’d crammed a one-on-one, a Fantasy Suite date, a Neil Lane Emergency FaceTime, and a proposal all into two days — is that Clare and Dale might just be perfect for one another. Now that they’re together, it feels like, if Clare didn’t have someone like Dale, she might collapse into herself like a dying star, exhausting more anxious energy than one human body can handle. And if Dale didn’t have someone like Clare, he might just keep smiling that Cheshire cat smile and talking about crystals, and never actually get anything done.

But together, I fully believe that Clare and her Kris-Jenner-energy could have Dale wearing a gorgeous dress on the cover of Vogue in under two years. And that maybe Dale could help cut Clare’s median monologue time down from five minutes to three minutes because of all the alleviated stress over not dying alone. I’m not saying these are two fun people for other people to be around, but I do think they make sense together. This is how it happens:

After Clare has cancelled like six cocktail parties, and refused to give out a group date rose because none of the men were Dale, Chris Harrison has to step in and give Clare a stern talk. Frankly, I did not like how much he cursed.

He wants to know if Clare and Dale had any contact before the show. And once Clare swears on her father’s grave that they never spoke to each other, and it’s been proven that she is a good enough girl to continue on with the blessing of the franchise.

Chris Harrison tells the men that the Cocktail Party and the Rose Ceremony have been cancelled, and then pulls Dale outside to tell him that Clare wants a one-on-one date with him…

Boy does she. Sis busts out her finale dress because as far as she’s concerned, it’s all over. She’s going to tell Dale that he loves her, and she hopes he feels the same way.

And you guys, he fucking does. Or he says he does. It’s really hard to tell what’s going through this guy’s head, because I think it’s mostly wind and tomorrow’s HIIT plan. But there also seems to be some Clare mixed in there. The most magical and/or alarming moment comes when Dale asks Clare about her parents’ relationship, and she tells him how they met one time, and then her dad hitchhiked to her mom’s house because he had to see her again, and they were engaged three weeks later. So…that’s making a lot of sense for Clare being the way that Clare is.

Then our guy Dale very calmly tells Clare that his dad also hitchhiked to see his mom after they first met, and they got engaged quickly after.

Then he just laughs that laugh of his that’s way too goofy for his giant, gorgeous face, and stares at Clare like maybe she’ll share one more fun fact about hitchhiking, as though their matching parental love stories haven’t just put the final nail in the coffin of Clare’s time as the Bachelorette.

Dale is so nonplussed about their matching stories, that it’s almost like he’s never told this story about his parents before… almost like he’s never even heard it before. Almost like he heard that Clare’s parents fell in love via hitchhiking, and so he just parroted it back to her, which is generally what he does with her, but it’s much more notable when this very specific instance of hitchhiking-for-love is involved…

Almost.

But maybe Dale really is just this calm—so calm that he thinks their parents’ matching love stories make perfect sense because he and Clare make perfect sense (ahem, and not at all because he’s a sociopath).

After Clare admits that she’s fully fallen in love with Dale, he calmly tells her that he’s falling in love with her too: “My heart is open, I’m not gonna fight that.” And then he says those five little words that every girl dreams of hearing one day from the person she loves:

It is what it is. While Clare can’t believe that things are working out just as she always dreamt they would, Dale has never even thought about how they might work out. He merely accepts what comes his way, seeming to have no idea that this all highly unprecedented (drink!) inside and outside of The Bachelor universe.

After their date, Dale and Clare spend the night together, and the next day Chris Harrison informs them both that “the next step is a proposal.” Clare has no questions…Dale has no questions. I honestly don’t think he thinks about it. He just—and get this—SHOWS UP at the proposal podium.

All this time that Clare has been talking about wanting someone who “shows up,” there was no deeper meaning. She just wanted a dude that she loved to be where she expected him to be. And in the case of Dale, that place is at the proposal podium, with a ring shit directly into a box by Neil Lane not two minutes before.

A lot of people may think that Dale doesn’t seem nearly as excited as Clare. But can you imagine anyone being as excited about anything as Clare is about the idea of getting married. I’m not going to say that I loved the fact that Clare’s entire pre-proposal speech is about how she’s never had a man who would be there for her like her father was, but in Dale she knows she’s found someone who will never leave her, who will never run away. That feels like Clare is setting herself up for an absolutely tragic recap reel at After the Final Rose should Dale not live up to those expectations…

But then Dale basically says the exact same thing about Clare in his speech. That he’s never had someone who would be there for him unconditionally, that he knows that Clare will be, and that was all his mother ever wanted for him…

So if it’s all just a delusion, I honestly believe it’s a shared delusion. I’ll leave you with Clare and Dale’s final words as they celebrate their engagement, which I feel tell you absolutely everything you need to know about them as a couple:

CLARE: “We so saw this coming. I just felt it!”

DALE: “And I accepted it.”

CLARE: “I knew it!”

DALE: “And I accepted it.”

THE BAD: “Congratulations, you [really did not] just blew up The Bachelorette"

Once Clare has decided that she loves Dale, but before they get engaged, she has to break up with her other 20 boyfriends, who have basically descended into throwing feces at each other and eating their own hair after being trapped inside La Quinta Resort and Lampshades for five days with absolutely no updates on where Clare or Dale are.

It is totally reasonable for these guys to be upset that they’ve been left in the dark. And when you’re the person doing the breaking up, like Clare is, you just have to accept that you’re the one causing the pain, even if you have a good reason — and especially when you’re the one returning to a 6’4 sexy sock puppet that you love, and the people you’re breaking up with are going back to the La Quinta Resort & Snow Globe Museum’s cabana of sadness…

I would say Clare’s one mistake in the way that she handled this unprecedented (drink!) ending, is not just coughing up an apology to these dudes. And I know—I can tell—that her resistance to doing so comes from the sticky idea that women should apologize less.

WRONG—men should apologize more!!! Women don’t need to conform to the traditional standards of men to be taken seriously!!! [Ed. note: I can also use as many exclamation points in professional emails as I want to, I am an exclamatory person!!!!!!!!!] Sure, women shouldn’t apologize when they have nothing to be sorry for, but causing someone pain, whether it was intended or not, is worth apologizing for. And after a little pushback, Clare does get around to saying, “I’ll apologize if I wasted your time, I’ll apologize if I hurt you, but I’m not going to apologize for love.” I think she really only needed the middle one.

Oh, Jason. He’s the one who’s most hurt by Clare’s departure because he’d developed the deepest feelings for her — and for that very reason, he’s the one who most understands her fast-tracked feelings for Dale.

I really do feel bad for these guys. But I will not stand for the the constant suggestion from a few of them that Clare has “wasted their time,” when the alternative was that she wasted 30 more days of their time and then broke up with them when they really had feelings for her. That is the much worse scenario that they were all actively participating in when they signed up for a 1-in-30 (potentially 0-in-30) chance at love.

Kenny complains later that they started with an uneven playing field because Clare already knew she liked Dale from his social media. To which I say—Kenny, my guy, do you not have an Instagram?! She looked at yours too, she just wasn’t into it! But Kenny got a bunch of Franken-bites during this episode, so I won’t go too hard on him. Who I do briefly have to clown within an inch of his life is Blake, who clowned himself first.

Blake got a little special attention on night one, and clearly saw himself as a frontrunner. Unfortunately, realizing that he was not a frontrunner was an especially slow journey for him.

First, Blake spends a lot of time convincing himself and everyone else that just because Chris Harrison canceled the rose ceremony and then pulled Dale from the group doesn’t mean that Clare is choosing Dale.

He thinks they’re all such great guys, so Clare will definitely want to keep dating all of them…

And they are great guys! That does not make a difference. Clare loves Dale.

But Blake just doesn’t see it working with Dale and Clare! Doesn’t matter — Clare is actively boning Dale for the first time while Blake is convincing himself that she doesn’t like Dale.

But Blake bought a book to help him understand what Clare is going through with her mom! That’s very thoughtful, Blake — but it won’t make her not love Dale.

Then Clare tells the men directly that she’s in love with Dale, and Blake tries to convince her that she doesn’t know Dale well enough, and he’s afraid she’ll get hurt.

He says if Clare really wants someone to marry her, Dale is not the way to go.

Then it’s revealed that Dale did ask Clare to marry him and they’ve left the resort together, and poor Blake is just straight up out of ways to pretend that Clare loving Dale is a personal affront on him because he is actually the superior man who typed in amazon-dot-com into his browser to buy a book one time.

And then ,it’s revealed that Tayshia will be replacing Clare as the new Bachelorette…

And Blake is somehow able to move on.

THE BEST: Meeting Tayshia, meeting the men

To be fair, the moment Tayshia arrives, it is easy to forget that this madness with Clare ever happened. And it’s not just because Tayshia is maybe the prettiest person I’ve ever seen, and it’s not just because she arrives wearing a backless dress that threatens a li’l buttcrack at every turn, and it’s not just because she has the spunky, supportive energy of Miss Honey fused with your favorite camp counselor…

It’s because when Tayshia arrives, The Bachelorette really starts in earnest. We don’t get to know much about the woman herself just yet, but all of the sudden, we’re meeting these men that we’ve been staring at for a month, who we haven’t learned a single thing about because they weren’t Dale. Like, did you know that Riley is a medical malpractice defense attorney?

Well, he is! He also becomes my new favorite person when he innocently asks Tayshia what she does for a living…

Girl, I thought you were a phlebotomist?! Apparently in the time since we last saw Tayshia she has fully transitioned away from veins and into “the beauty and lifestyle space.” And honestly, she deserves it.

Tayshia’s first night also sees the arrival of four new men, one of whom, Spencer, rubs all the men the wrong way, but manages to get Tayshia’s first impression rose with such impressive topics as…

Riley further endears himself to me when he informs Spencer after a run-in during their group date, that he may be off-base about him being a little shit, in which case Spencer can let him know: “But if I’m on-base, and if you wanna fuck with me, then we can go.” Spencer visibly gulps, and I’m not normally into invitations for aggression, but I will tell you that Riley’s voice dipped into a sort of Denzel situation here, and… all the sudden, I saw Riley.

Tayshia’s arrival brought a new energy into the group immediately, but then she cancels the Rose Ceremony because she wants to keep all of the men — which we call and Inverse-Clare — and I just know that every single one of them fell in love with her right then and there. Which makes it kind of refreshing that sweet Rhode Island loaf of man, Jason, just cannot get himself there. He realizes that he developed real feelings for Clare that time she performed three hours of intensive therapy on him, and he expressed his true emotions for maybe the first time in his life.

Unfortunately, Jason’s confession triggers an insecurity Tayshia has been trying to keep at bay: that some of the men will be disappointed she’s not Clare. Jason assures her that all other 19 men left are there for her, and have completely forgotten that the mean blonde woman who wouldn’t love them. So now it’s time for Tayshia to find her Dale…

THE GOOD: Brendan and Tayshia

Okay, hear me out. Brendan is a sweet Boston baby, and everything about him is perfect. From his dedication to turtlenecks in July, to his curly hair, to his goofy personality and lack of awareness that while he isn’t the hottest man in the house, he is, in fact, the most beautiful man in the house— he’s perfect.

The fact that Brendan was nervous to tell Tayshia that he got married young and has since gotten divorced (and was super respectful to his ex-wife in the process), only for Tayshia to reveal to him that she got married young and has since been divorced, and that they both really want to be parents — brought-tears-to-my-eyes-perfect.

Brendan giving me this screenshot that I’ll have forever

Perfect.

The only thing that is bumping Tayshia and Brendan’s first one-on-one date from “Best Thing” to “Good Thing,” is the fact that at the end of it all, Tayshia says that she feels like she could marry Brendan…

And I could practically feel every producer’s butt-clench in that moment. Because that’s what got us in this situation in the first place, and I don’t think they have any third-string Bachelorettes available. Lord knows no one from Peter’s season could quarantine for two weeks without freaking out and running tongue-first into the nearest Revolve party.

So, let’s just hope a few more dudes reveal themselves to be as delightful as Brendan so that we’ve got ourselves a competition for love and not just a successful journey to love. Because if Clare-I-mean-Tayshia’s season has taught us anything, it’s that love is not The Bachelorette’s final destination — it’s just a sometimes accidental byproduct.

See you back here next-ish week for episodes 6 & 7!

A 'Bachelorette' Recap: The Sixth Love Language is Embarassment

Look out for a new Bachelorette recap on 11/23! Until then, I beg of you to watch The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (not kidding, NOT kidding). Sign up for TATBT updates directly to your inbox below:

Oh, I get it. This season is gonna be a mess-mess­, huh?

Like, a top-to-bottom, tits-to-toes hurricane of awkward pain, and it’s only the second episode kind of mess?

Well sign me up, because as my favorite tiny mogul with a giant baby, Marie Kondo says: I’m so excited, because I LOVE mess.

While I do consider secondhand embarrassment the greatest corporal threat to my own personal wellbeing, only topped by: 1. being absolutely sure I’m going to find someone living in my basement every single time I have to go down to do the laundry, and 2. staying on my phone so long in the bathroom that my ankles fall asleep and then I almost break my neck when Twitter finally stops loading and I stand up, unaware that I no longer have working legs…

The one thing that can counterbalance my mortal fear of awkwardness, is my burning passion for dramatics. And Clare may just be the most dramatic person I have personally ever encountered on reality television. I mean, this woman monologues like an Aaron Sorkin screenplay had a love child with Carrie’s Sex and the City voiceovers, and then that love child grew up to discover that if she stops talking about the kind of man she wants for more than 60 seconds, the whole La Quinta Resort & Club will blow up like the bus from Speed.

And episode 2 was Clare’s tour de force.

At one point, simply by having a kind face and asking Clare how she ended up as the Bachelorette, a man named Zac C finds himself on the receiving end of Clare’s pupils suddenly melting into pools of piping hot magma. “I’ll tell you how I got here,” she says as a spotlight comes out of nowhere, and the music swells. Next thing we know, Clare is sharing with Zac about how she signed up for Juan Pablo’s season to get away from an abusive relationship, which then transitioned into a journey of self-discovery, and finding her voice, and looking for the love she deserves. Before we know it, Clare has gone full-tilt Grey’s Anatomy:

“I know I may not be the youngest girl in the room, or the skinniest girl in the room, or the most beautiful girl in the room. But I know that I have one of the greatest hearts in the room — and I have so much to share, and I have so much to give.

The way Clare’s voice breaks on “greatest hearts” is just…chef’s kiss. It’s the kind of monologue that I truly only thought came out of women standing in the rain, chewing out a man who has been mean to her for the last 90 minutes of a romantic comedy, moments away from a kiss that will reveal that all of his unflattering behavior actually meant he loved her—because he might not be the most charming man in the room, and he might not be the most outgoing man in the room, and he might not me the most eloquent man in the room, but he’s got the greatest heart in the room!!! [Ed. note: Yes, last night WAS one of those “watch YouTube clips of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice where Tom from Succession is somehow the perfect Mr. Darcy” kind of nights.]

It’s also the kind of monologue you can’t believe someone is just casually rolling out on their second ever 10-minute conversation with a guy named Zac C who—and I cannot reiterate this enough—does not get a single sentence out for the entire time Clare is talking.

But this is all classic Clare. She doesn’t just wear her heart on her sleeve, she cuts that heart-sleeve off, attaches it to a flagpole, and flies it at full-mast every time someone asks her how she’s doing. (That’s why all of her dresses are one-shouldered, duh.)

When a lead is wildin’ out on their season, I always try to imagine any other former leads acting the same way to establish if there’s any precedent for, say, Peter kicking Alayah out and then letting her back in like six times, or Hannah Brown having six weeks of horror show experiences with Luke P and still keeping him until Fantasy Suites. Sometimes the answer is yes, this is unusual but not entirely unexpected, and sometimes the answer is no, I’ve never seen anything like this from a lead.

But with Clare, not only can I not imagine another Bachelorette lead telling the men they need to pay more attention to her on the second night, or forcing an unlicensed therapy session on her very first one-on-one date…

I can’t even imagine another human doing anything Clare does in this episode. And what’s even more stunning, is how many of these men are stepping up to meet her—or reject her—on this high-octane level. I really want you to be prepared for just how uncomfortable this episode is, so let’s just quickly preview the most awkward moments in no particular order:

  • Clare and Dale rubbing all over each other in front of 11 of her other boyfriends

  • Clare making Jason talk about his demons and scream and burn shit on a first date

  • Jason saying that he has been called manipulative, cold, and incapable of love in the past, and Clare being like, Your ability to admit that because I’m forcing you to is SO HOT RIGHT NOW

  • Clare leaving Bennett alone in room to get mad at 11 other men for not jumping at the chance to talk to her

  • Clare then leaving Bennett in that room, maybe forever, to go tell Dale that he’s her boyfriend.

  • Clare rejecting Blake Moynes’ kiss

  • How often Blake Moynes talks about having balls

  • The men being forced to play strip dodge ball, and then Clare fully hugging them with their dicks out

  • Clare being upset that Brandon hasn’t googled her

  • Brandon not being able to even pretend that he’s observed one single thing about Clare

  • And the absolute number one is Brandon whispering, “Can we not do this right now?” to try and get out of the runaway train of a conversation he’s started

It is a rich text. And it suddenly makes so much more sense why ABC has fully allowed us to know that Tayshia is coming in to take over as Bachelorette, without outright advertising it. Because they still want to have whatever dramatic moment is coming our way with Clare’s dismissal and Tayshia’s arrival…but they also know that if we didn’t have some indication that we’re not staring down the barrel of 11 more episodes of Clare swinging wildly between being mad that the men aren’t showing up for her to being so excited about this group of guys 30 minutes later, we might jump ship to, like, Love After Lockup, or whatever normal people watch.

ACTS OF AWKWARDNESS

Listen, I am the kind of person who loves to talk about dumb stuff like love languages. You receive love most easily through compliments? That’s crazy! Please never tell me anything good about myself without expecting me to completely shut down like a robot whose batteries fell out….but if you ever scroll through Instagram while we are spending quality time together, I will cut you out of my life forever, which isn’t crazy at all!

The basis of Love Languages is that there are five clear ways to express and receive love: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Gift Giving, and Quality Time. And while we need to give and receive all five of them, there are certain languages that we individually respond to most strongly, and certain languages that we individually give most freely. For example, I’m prone to giving Words of Affirmation to those I care about, but I most need to receive Quality Time to feel cared for…

I have vaguely explained the concept of Love Languages to you in a handful of sentences above. For the Love-Languages-themed group date on The Bachelorette, Clare gives her 12 boyfriends no explanation of what they’re doing beyond putting on her finest pair of parachute dress shorts, climbing up into a fake castle they’ve built inside a La Quinta Resort and Taqueria conference room, and Chris Harrison informing the men it’s Words of Affirmation time, baby!

Clare says, “It’s very important to me to know that a guy knows his love language, and if he didn’t know before, he’s gonna learn it today!” But I really cannot explain to you how little Clare and Chris do to explain the Love Languages to these men. It’s not like it’s a science! You take a little 20-question test, and then it tells you if you need compliments or presents more to feel loved.

For Words of Affirmation, Clare climbs up in her tower and all the men come forward and…tell her about themselves? Maybe a little clarity from Chris Harrison who is literally paid to give clarity would have helped them understand that they need to be affirming Clare, not themselves. But it doesn’t matter, Clare loves it anyway. She says men are never nice to her, so their kind words are overwhelming, because everything Clare says is a little sad, a little funny, and overwhelmingly uncomfortable.

Extremely strong words from Dale, followed by an even stronger reaction from Clare!

When the episode comes back from commercial break, all of the men are inexplicably sprinting around the La Quinta Resort and Donut Shoppe. Jay helps us figure out why:

Ah, of course — it’s Gift Giving time!

And like any natural gift-giver would when selecting a thoughtful present for a loved one, the men have to rifle around in their duffle bags until they find something that smells clean enough to give to Clare. Riley gives her the baseball from the last game he ever played; it’s unclear why he brought this special item with him to La Quinta Resort and Fine Linens, but I sure hope Clare gives it back once she breaks up with him. Dale gives her something he describes as “perfume for the puppies,” that has me slightly worried he could be involved in a dog-based multi-level-marking company, and I’m pretty sure Zack J gives her a box inside a box.

Ivan is actually the only person whose love language we do find out through this process…

Because it’s chess. And as someone who recently binged all of The Queen’s Gambit in one weekend, I can tell you that chess is a very sexy and stylish love language, and I am fully prepared to speak that language to Ivan if he is ready to receive it.

Clare on the other hand, is ready to chase the high she got from all her dirty, secondhand gifts with some good old-fashioned heavy petting.

And she’s a big smell person, you guys!

Clare is out here blindfolded and sniffing necks like she’s on a CBS show about a detective with a very specific set of olfactory skills, and a lead on Axe Body Spray that only her nose can follow.

Unfortunately, as soon as Dale gets within sniffing-distances of those nostrils, it’s all over for these other guys.

As soon as Clare knows the meat stick in front of her is Dale, they get to rubbing and tugging all over each other’s bodies, as the other men watch on like: Well, THIS is a development.

Then Clare basically says fuck Acts of Service, and they move onto the evening portion of the date next, even though we still have no idea what anyone’s love language is (unless we were supposed to assume from her smell-induced boner that Clare’s was Physical Touch).

When Clare arrives to the evening portion of the date for some Quality Time, she sits down with the guys, tells them what a nice time she had getting compliments and presents all day, and they all toast to finding love. And then…

A desperately awkward silence sets in while Clare waits for one of the men to ask her to go talk, but no one does. She then prompts them to ask her go talk, and no one does. So, then she asks them to ask her go talk, and Bennett is finally like, Oh yeah, we should go talk now!

And it is awfully uncomfortable, but I assume that moments like this happen all the time on these shows, right? There are all these unwritten rules where sometimes the lead asks someone to go talk, and sometimes a contestant grabs her right away, and sometimes that’s appreciated, and sometimes that’s annoying, and…I just don’t think these men were silent because they were disinterested, I think they simply haven’t participated in this franchise six times before and didn’t totally know what to do.

However, that doesn’t change the way it made Clare feel in the moment, which was that no one wanted to talk to her. And Clare doesn’t feel things like you or I may feel thing — Clare feels everything (including Dale’s erect nipples through his little knit polos) so deeply that it turns her bones into fire and her brain into hotter fire until she’s able to externalize those feelings.

Bennett starts trying to talk to Clare one-on-one, and he’s only gotten to mention Harvard once before she cuts him off and says she really wants to be present in this moment, but her mind is churning thinking about what just happened with the group. He’s nice about it, but he also makes the mistake of casually trying to explain that the guys had been having such a good time together before Clare’s arrival…and then he super does not know how to handle the chain reaction that tiny comment sets off in Clare.

Clare excuses herself from Bennet, and goes back out to the group to tell them how she’s feeling: “I’m sitting here, I had made a toast, and then there was the longest awkward silence, and I just sat here and was embarrassed, and I had to almost like…does anybody want to spend time with me?”

What. A. Statement.

The camera focuses on two men’s faces while Clare is expressing her frustration. Dale, who is listening intently, and Yosef, who looks like he would rather drink Dale’s puppy perfume than listen to a woman tell him he did something wrong.

And yet, Yosef is the one who speaks up right away, saying “I’ll take a moment and speak for the group.” And you better believe Clare cuts that off with a big, NOPE, telling him he doesn’t need to speak for the group, and you better further believe that this is not a man who can tolerate being embarrassed by a woman. And rather than be vulnerable and express that he got his feelings hurt, like Clare is doing now, Yosef is going to try to put Clare in her place for the rest of his time on the show [ed. note: just a guess!].

All of the other men, to their credit, feel really bad that they hurt Clare’s feelings, and don’t try to couch it around the obvious fact that they didn’t intend to. Dale gets up and makes a speech about how he has been on cloud nine ever since he met Clare, and he vows, “Never again will I restrict how I feel, even if there’s nine, ten, whatever men around.”

A vow? Are you kidding me, Dale. Making a vow to pay more attention to her is basically like Clare’s third base.

Clare takes Dale’s monologue in stone-faced, but I think its just because she’s trying to resist taking a flying leap at him a la The Notebook.

It wasn’t over—it still isn’t over!

But literally, it still isn’t over, because Yosef is going to speak for the group if it kills him. And what is this important statement that Yosef has been trying so hard to get out all this time?

Calling Clare crazy — how fun!

“I started out saying I want to speak for the group, and what I wanted to say is: you’re crazy to think we didn’t all come here for you.” You can just tell that Yosef is so mad that Clare cut him off earlier, and now he’s going to be even more mad that the other men are interrupting him again to say that these words definitely do not speak for them. I mean Dale straight-up gives the camera Jim-face when Yosef says Clare is crazy to have gotten her feelings hurt.

If you’re wondering where Bennett is during all of this—join the club. Even though Clare assured him she’d be right back, the moment Dale whisks her away from the hubbub, she completely forgets about everything else, and just starts telling Dale how strong her feelings are for him, Bennet be damned.

Dale loves it, telling Clare that he totally feels the same way. Clare loves it, and while we haven’t seen Dale eviscerate anyone in a breakup or speak to any wildlife just yet, these two pretty much just seem like the exact same person.

Can I understand Clare’s need to tell the men that she was briefly uncomfortable before she could move on with the night? Of course not, but I’m dead inside. But Clare knows herself, and she knew she wasn’t going to just get over it, and if these guys are ostensibly here to fall in love with her, then they need to know what they could be falling in love with…

And that is the reality that Clare is always going to express herself fully. Like, always. Constantly. Clare is never not going to be expressing herself fully. For example:

THE DOCT(CL)ARE IS IN

I have never seen anything like this one-on-one date with Jason in my life. They never even sat in front of a dinner that they didn’t touch!

No, it seems that Clare’s plan is to cut these men open until she sees red, and anything short of that—they’re out of here. Before their one-on-one, Jason receives a three page note from Clare, detailing that this date is going to be all about vulnerability and going deep. She also asks Jason to write a letter to his younger self to bring on the date. Jason has the appropriate response to all of this.

Jason is a happy-go-lucky, goofy kind of guy and Clare says that’s exactly why she invited him on this date where they’re not going to eat, or drink, or do anything fun. Clare recognized in Jason on Night 1 that he probably uses humor as a coping mechanism, and now she is bound, set, and determined on breaking him.

She doesn’t have to try very hard. Jason came prepared to be vulnerable, and even though he’s highly uncomfortable, he does everything Clare asks him to, which is…a lot.

And that’s kind of the only thing that I don’t like about this date, beyond the fact that it’s not fun and boring. Clare is completely in her comfort zone being vulnerable and expressing her emotions, whereas Jason is not. So even though they’re both sharing and being open, really only one person is being challenged. And I guess that’s how these dates always are… but it just somehow seems a little more glaring when the challenging thing is opening up about the ways that you parent’s dysfunctional marriage scarred you for life versus, like, bungee jumping.

I stand by the fact that this is very much not a date, but sharing so much so much fast certainly does seem to forge a bond between Clare and Jason. My favorite part is very early on when Clare asks Jason if he’d rather do some breathin’ or some screamin’.

Jason chooses screaming, and it only gets weirder from there! They write down hurtful things that other people have said about them in the past on clay tablets, and then biblically break them on the mountainside. Clare promises not to judge Jason if he completely bares his soul to her, and I guess she’s really not fucking around, because he tells her that he’s been accused of being manipulative, a liar, and a player in past relationships, and she’s just like:

Jason gets a rose, and I get the hell out of this date as fast as I can.

BALLS OVER BEAUTY

It’s really wild how not a single moment of this episode goes by without something unprecedented happening. Clare is the 2020 of Bachelorettes.

So let’s just take a quick moment and detox with some Eazy before we get to the sexual harassment and Brandon’s exit.

That was fun. Now let’s talk about the group date, which is the men playing dodgeball because Clare “wants a man who has some balls.” And we should have known this was going to go a lot further south than just non-stop ball jokes the moment the guys got their uniforms…

The men are split into the Red Team and the Blue Team, and given color-coordinating shorts, tanks, socks…and jockstraps. Clare tells them that only the winning team will get to advance to the evening portion of the date, and then, as though she’s just had the idea, she suggests that they make it strip dodgeball.

Why? Why?! Why would production ask these men to strip down to their jockstraps, knowing that there’s hardly room for consent when you’re on a competitive show, and the lead is asking you to take your clothes off in order to prove that you’re fun and win time with her. Just because the losing team ultimately does strip all the way down to their jockstraps, does not mean they were all comfortable with it.

After the blue team loses, a few of them spontaneously get totally naked, but Brendan says he’s leaving his jockstrap on, which we do at least see Clare tell him is fine. But if this had to happen (it didn’t!), I would have loved to see a lot more enthusiastic consent regarding being objectified on national television.

I don’t for a second believe that this was Clare’s idea, but I was surprised she went along with it, and she certainly enjoyed it.

Because, in a move you truly have to see to believe, before the Blue Team heads back to the mansion, naked and dejected, Clare hugs all of them while their dicks are out. It is…wow.

How about a quick detox with Demar before we get to this episode’s final and most awkward stand…

To quote Marren Morris: Yeah, I guess that’s MY church.

Since the Red Team won, that means Chasen, Eazy, Joe, Jay, and Brandon get to have Clare all to themselves for the nighttime portion of the date. Blake Moynes is back at the mansion, not thrilled about this turn of events.

And, y’all…sexual harassment is not funny, but once the men are nude by choice (assuming they were given the option to put some clothes on at home), it is very funny to see them pouting while holding their junk.

Back in the land of the fully clothed, Clare has a nice conversation with Eazy (duh) where they confess that they make one another giddy. Then she gets to know Chasen better, who seems really sweet.

When Chasen mentions that he was bullied for how he looked in high school, at first I was like, yeah right John B. But then he posted a photo of himself from his senior year of high school on Instagram, and…the glow up is real.

A post shared by @chasennick
October 22, 2020

This is why they don’t have actual high schoolers play high schoolers on TV.

But when it comes time for Jay’s turn with Clare, something more than a growth spurt is brewing. The poor guy is talking about his dream of buying a gym when Blake Moynes, who is not supposed to be on the date, comes rolling up to get some time with Clare. As you might recall, Blake was celebrated by Clare in the premiere for breaking the rules and DMing her before the show. And if you don’t recall, Blake will remind you, nervously summarizing his thought process when he sits down with her: “I’m just kind of going off night one when we talked about breaking the rules and doing what you need to do, and I put that with the date card today, and I was like, I wanted to come in here and really show some balls.”

Blake has a very sweet, ever-so-slight lisp, so it really adds a little something extra every time he solemnly talks about showing that he has balls.

What’s most uncomfortable about this moment though, isn’t Jay saying “Didn’t you lose?” when he first spots Blake, or Blake talking non-stop about his balls, or even when the other guys roll up like the No-Sock-Newsies…

It’s that Blake, who is notably Canadian, is clearly uncomfortable with his own rebellious actions. He’s so nervous the whole time he’s explaining to Clare why he came, and when the other guys roll up to ask what he’s doing there, he can’t even make eye contact with them, but somehow manages to say with a straight face: “Honestly boys, I wanted to show her I had balls, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Was this episode somehow filmed 15 years ago? I honestly can’t believe we’re still doing sexual harassment and talking about testicles as some badge of bravery in 2020. It’s all so weird. But none of it compares to when Clare tells Blake sincerely that she appreciates him coming, but she doesn’t want to be disrespectful to the other men, and tells him to give her a hug goodbye.

And he somehow takes that as a sign that he should kiss her…

To which she responds by pushing him away and laughing. Blake sulks off into the distance with his tail between his legs…or his balls, as it were.

But the only thing that really matters on this date, is what happens next with Brandon, a very hot man who I noted for his hotness in the premiere, but apparently I should not have assumed that hotness would be taken as a positive.

Before we get into this trainwreck of a conversation, it’s important to acknowledge that when Blake showed up uninvited on this date, Brandon was really leading the pack for going full West Side Story on him.

Given that Brandon was so riled up over his hard-earned date time being taken away from him, one might think he had something prepared for this one wild and precious Clare moment when he got it…

That something turns out to be telling Clare that he never thought he would do anything like this, but once he found out she was going to be the Bachelorette, “I knew I had to be there.”

It is one sentence…

It is Brandon’s introductory sentence—the one sentence he has said to Clare since the limo introductions…

It is a very normal thing to say on The Bachelor(ette): I only signed up because I heard it was you…

Brandon probably does not expect to have this very average statement fact-checked…

But honestly, Clare should have been moderating these 2020 debates all along, because pushback is kind of her whole vibe.

Clare asks Brandon to elaborate what about her specifically made him want to come on the show, and he visibly gulps. This was not a clarifying question he saw coming, and he does not have an answer. After his ears stop ringing, Brandon says, “First of all, you’re obviously gorgeous, but other than that, I don’t know anything about you. I know you’re from Sacramento, were you born and raised, or…”

Brandon! You think asking about Sacramento is going to distract this woman from following her intuition about you??? Bennet looking like a whole ass Clark Kent couldn’t distract her from expressing her feelings to 11 frightened men earlier—a question about her hometown is not going to distract her from demanding answers from one frightened man now!

“Wait, so you said you knew I was the Bachelorette, and you wanted to sign up…but you don’t know anything about me?” Clare asks.

The thing is, Brandon doesn’t have to know anything about Clare in order to come on the show, that is not a prerequisite. But he did indicate that something about Clare made him want to participate. So all he needs to do is explain that he’s observed something—anything!—about Clare that he’s intrigued by. Her passion! Her Lord-of-the-Rings-like dedication to questing for love! Her ability to craft a breakup speech with a beginning, middle, end, and final bone-crushing crescendo without so much as a pause for breath!

Instead, Brandon says, “I obviously don’t know you on a personal level … you’re just so beautiful and I wanted to get to know you.”

Clare asks one more time if there’s anything else that made him want to get to know her, other than her being beautiful.

Not knowing anything about Clare doesn’t make Brandon a bad person; it just means that he told a little white lie about why he came on the show, and more importantly, that he folds like a napkin under pressure. Like, you do not want this guy on your Amazing Race team—he is going to malfunction while trying to perform a traditional Trinidadian dance, and Phil Keoghan is going to have to come out in the dark to inform you that making it to the mat won’t make a difference. This ends your time on The Amazing Race.

And this terrible one-minute conversation will most certainly end Brandon’s time on The Bachelorette. His pièce de resistance comes when Clare asks one last time what he meant when he said he came on the show because of her, and he mutters under his breath, as if he might be able to slip this one past the mics, and appeal to some Big Brother like entity that will force Clare to change the subject and pretend like none of this ever happened…

He just wants to…stop having the conversation.

Brandon! Babe! We’ve all been in a situation where we thought we were hot enough to get away with something, but it was ultimately revealed to us that we were not hot enough. Of course it doesn’t feel good, but you can’t just close your eyes and hope it goes away!

I, for example, cannot contain my giant jugs inside a delicate wrap dress, no matter how times I’ve tried. But I cannot simply look in the Anthropologie mirror and say, “Can we not do this right now,” and pretend that suddenly the reflection is going to change, and I’ll magically be able to wear this dress in front of friends and family. That is not reality!

It seems that this reality show Brandon signed up for was just a little realer than he was expecting, but by the time he finally gets with the program of trying to make some stuff up off the cuff, it’s the wrong stuff. Brandon tries to tell Clare that he may not “know” “anything” “about her” “per say” but: “I know there’s moments between you and I…”

To which Clare simply says, “I actually don’t feel that way.” It is ice cold and I loved it.

No, I don’t like seeing a man in a linen shirt suffer, but Clare was direct and honest with Brandon in a way that he simply was not with her. Is it fair for Clare to expect a stranger to know anything about her? Not really. But Clare is someone who wants to feel seen and understood, and if she’s got 20 dudes who are giving her that, and one who’s begging her under his breath to change the subject…then really the kindest thing to do is walk that guy out to the Suburban of Doom and give Chasen your group date rose.

THE BENNET BOMB

There are a few minutes of the final cocktail party at the tail end of this episode, but according to the nightmare-like preview for episode 3, we’ll have plenty of time to discuss that next week. So why don’t we just focus our last few screenshots on this episode’s one silver lining of non-embarrassment:

Bennett, the man whose whole personality is that he went to Harvard, is actually…delightful???

I mean, he could still be a little awful, but my suspicions from last week that he just might be in on the joke of his own awfulness seem to be correct.

Bennet apparently has an entire suite at La Quinta Resort and Chicken Wings, and he spends the episode touring people around it, including a delightful final segment with Demar.

Bennett’s haughtiness seems to be half-real, half-a-bit, but either way, it’s wholly funny, and the other men think so too.

And in a season where the lead’s idea of fun is exploring her boyfriends’ wounded inner child, we need a Bennett.

It’s also helpful that he’s out of control handsome. Picture the dad in the fake photo that comes inside a Michael’s frame—that is Bennet. Picture a model for fancy glasses inside a crusty eye doctor’s office—that is Bennet. And when Bennett adds his glasses to the little curl that comes down when his hair is wet because he seems to be perpetually emerging from a spa, the man truly looks like he’s cosplaying as Clark Kent. And, as far as I’m concerned, Bennett has Superman beat.


See you back here early next week to recap Clare’s love story with Dale, and the other 25 men’s weird, unfun vacation where they have to give away their most prized possessions and be pressured to expose their junk on national television. At least there are sheet masks!

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