Audiences often prefer The Bachelor franchise over The Bachelorette franchise because large groups of women tend to bring more complex social dynamics to the table; more external displays of emotion; and most importantly — more dramzzz.
Enter Becca's expectation-subverting boyfriends who, at any given time, are one stolen-hoodie away from a full emotional meltdown. And I love them for it. I hope Becca moves to Utah, gets an oil drum full of Klonopin, and marries every single one of them, so that I never have to live in a world where five men are not solemnly nodding their heads along to the sacred proverb: You never touch another man's property.
The 20 remaining men vying for Becca K's affections had no less than three tearful fits of the heart, two Right-Reasons-related conflicts, and one dramatic confession in season 14’s second episode on Monday night. They are — in a phrase — the most extra. Regarding the tears, Alex's were for a typical Bachelorette reason: he was released by Becca into the fresh Calabasas air after spending six days in a cloud of Old Spice deodorant working way beyond its pay grade, subsisting on deli meats and protein-shake-mimosas, and sleeping in a bunk bed as a full-grown 30 year old man. Indeed, the psychological torture that takes place in that mustard-colored stucco mansion will be studied in text books one day…
But the other first-date breakdowns were a little more unique to the, uh, passion-driven ethos of Becca's season thus far: Wills was overcome with emotion thinking about how much he loves his mom and dad, and Lincoln…well, Lincoln's group-date-party-favor got broken by a meanie, Connor, who seems to have taken all the buttons off his shirt, melted them down into a pomade, and then swiped that button juice through his hair in order to achieve Marge-Simpson-like heights.
Again, I reiterate that there is nothing wrong with these soft, tender-spirited men; their wild internalized mood swings, fits of emotion, flare for the dramatic, and memorabilia-triggered histrionics only serve to attract me to them more. After years of withheld emotions, over-confidence, and worshiping at the altar of Mark Cuban, these tentative, fragile little nuggets are a welcome and unexpected reprieve. Even this season's transcribed villain, Jordan, is perhaps the least threatening male to ever be on this show. You could run him off with a drug-store-brand conditioner, you could tie him up with a four-syllable word, and you could permanently confound him with nothing more than "what's black and white and red all over?" He is — and I do not say this lightly — harmless. (Except, of course, to himself. I suspect the man is at risk of drowning every time he takes a shower.)
Even the most aesthetically macho brotestant among them, Leo — who looks like a combination of Fabio and a Victorian-era Strong Man — is, in fact, cattier than a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, snootier than a Real Housewife of New York, and possesses a lace-front even more snatched than a Real Housewife of Atlanta. When the fellas disrobed at the first group date, I was shocked to see all the six-packs. Not because sensitive men cannot be smoke shows, but because this particular group of delicate bros seem like they spend so much time using their rhyming dictionaries to write Becca terrible poems, and gluing macaroni to picture frames to replace the ones they broke during temper tantrums, that I don't understand where they find the time to make their obliques look like packs of grass-fed sausage links.
Much more important than the simple thrill of watching these dudes work themselves into a emotional group-think tizzy though, is the fact that their flights of fancy make Becca seem all the more level-headed and self-assured by comparison. The woman is attacking the process of finding a husband on reality television with the focus and efficiency of someone trying to replace a subordinate before their own boss realizes that they don't actually have any responsibilities. Or as Bachelor Nation faves, Trista, Kaitlyn, Desiree, and Ashley I. will tell you: like Debby Ocean putting together a heist team to steal the Heart of the Ocean or whatever from the Met Ball #ad
[Ed. note: Wills is Rihanna and Leo is Helena Bonham Carter! And I'M SANDY BULLOCK!]
When Lincoln tells Becca that she brings out the best in him, she asks him to elaborate on what he means by that — the woman is not interested in your platitudes. Lincoln helpfully explains: "I can be myself, and I think when I'm myself, which most people are, they are their best, and I genuinely believe that as long as you are who you are, which you always are, you would always get nothing but from the best from me." Oh, well then! Rest assured Becca, this man is definitely invested in you as a person, and not at all tied up in the fact that you're the Bachelorette and a human woman.
Funnily enough, despite Becca being surprisingly adept at navigating this minefield of dumb-dumbs, she cannot stop unnecessarily reiterating to us that we can trust her; that she would never mislead us; that she's not going to lie to us. She's! Not! Gonna! Lie! She's not gonna lie about these guys having good style. She's not gonna lie about being frustrated that there's so much drama. She's not gonna lie about being upset that Colton dated one of her former sister-girlfriends…
BECCA! It's okay! We trust you!
And listen, I’ve obviously said “I’m not gonna lie” a time or two in my life — am I not human? Do I not bleed? Do I not occasionally preface a statement with a gratuitous "honestly, or "literally," or "at the end of the day"? (Just kidding, I don’t say the last one, I'm not a Kardashian eating a $13 salad out of plastic bowl — I'm just me, Jodi Walker, eating a $13 salad out of a plastic bowl!) But I fear that this newly found catchphrase of Becca’s represents something deeper than a mere filler phrase. I'm worried for our dear Becca, and not just because her underarms must be sequin-chafed to ribbons. But also because her constant vigilance for sniffing out dishonesty and insincerity in her potential husbands seems indicative of an internalized pressure to do this job so well, to not make any mistakes, to not completely biff this whole thing at someone else’s emotional expense, like Arie did to her…
Okay, that's enough armchair psychology for one dating game show — let's talk about trampoline dodgeball and what that mouf do!
TURN DOWN FOR WUT
Before getting to all the shenanigans that happened on Becca's first ever group dates, let's cleanse our pallets with Blake, a precious sweetheart I've taken to calling "Hot Voldemort-But-Nice.” Blake received the coveted first one-on-one that always winds up being the regretted first one-on-one once the recipient starts fretting that the Bachelorette has forgotten about them. But Blake is so nice, he'll probably just be happy for Becca that she's out there having a good time with her other boyfriends; Blake is so nice that I truly believe him when he tells Becca that he just "happened to see" his ex-girlfriend's texts on her phone while she was in the bathroom that made him realize she was going to break up with him days after telling him she loved him. Becca and Blake get a lot of mileage out of the fact that they are so similar, and while that is adorable for an initial connection between two striking brunettes, it doesn't generally make for a lot of passion.
Although, to be fair, Becca doesn't strike me as a particularly passionate person. Yes, she’s made out with nearly every single bro by the time the interns unzip Chris Harrison from his cryogenic chamber and wheel him out with the end-of-episode roses… but have you noticed how she always kisses them?
Like, all the bros definitely seem down to kiss her, but before they can make the decision or let the moment linger, she grabs the backs of their necks, and dives on in. It's very…efficient. At the end of her one-on-one with Blake, Becca sort of grabs him and then twists herself against a brick wall, so it’s like he’s kissing her up against the wall, but really, she's…up against a wall kissing him. And that's fine — there has never been any question that Becca's the captain now.
But perhaps I've buried the lead which is, of course, Blake saying, "I'm a huge Lil John fan" (likely the first lie he’s ever told) on account of Lil John being there to DJ a date where the producers have brought in a warehouse full of memorabilia from Arie and Becca's broken relationship, and suggest that Blake and Becca smash it up to "move forward." Hey, ABC: constantly calling on the memory of Arie blindsiding Becca, which you chose to air in real time, then putting footage of his proposal to her playing on a loop on 20 flat screens and telling her she should hit them with a sledge hammer in order to "move on" from the thing that she seems totally fine with, but you reference at every turn…is some stone-cold bullshit. At this point, ABC should stand for Absolutely Bonkers Complicit.
(I did like the absurdity of Lil John being there and playing "Turn Down for What" on repeat, then a hand that was definitely not his slowly shifting the music to a slow song for post-smash-cuddling. I also liked that Becca belted her coveralls and cuffed the ankles, once more risking skin lacerations in the name of fa$hion.)
EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN
But for every Blake in this group, it seems there is also a Lincoln. Actually, you know what?! I sense a deep level of sociopathy in Lincoln, yes, but in this particular episode he was fine. Last week's preview made it seem as though Lincoln would be playing the villain this week, but in fact, there are like five guys that are worse than him.
Basically, our lord and sassy savior Rachel Lindsay and her milquetoast, not-Peter fiancé came by to stand as an example of how settling isn't always unsuccessful. Additionally, they hosted a game where the dudes had to get in really nice #spon tuxes, and then get totally filthy running an obstacle course. The games in the obstacle course are "Ball and Chain," "Cold Feet," "Get Over Your Exes," and "Slippery Slope," which is just a really fun and optimistic view of marriage. One of these games involves searching a cake without using your hands, so that at least affords Rachel the opportunity to yell, WHAT THAT MOUF DO over and over.
In Cold Feet, the brotestants have to sit in a tub of ice cold water until a sand-timer finishes, which adorable-but-hopeless Clay has no problem with as an actual football player in the NFL. But Lincoln does have a problem with it on account of being an actual cheater. Lincoln handled that sand-timer the way I handle doing squats in an exercise class: we all know how this is going to go, so let's just cut the bullshit, and call it short. Clearly not waiting until his timer was done, Lincoln took off from his tub, and made it to Becca at the altar first, winning…
Nothing! Becca doesn't seem to be a proponent of rewarding the winners of the group date challenges, which makes them seem all the more useless, although with this crowd, she should have known that any attempts at avoiding drama would be futile. During the evening portion of the date (where Becca is wearing a red lip that is absolutely daring every brochacho she plants one on to look like Ronald McDonald afterward), our girl makes the innocent mistake of giving Lincoln a cute photo to commemorate the time he got really muddy and hugged her while she was in a white dress. While Lincoln is with Becca, Connor is out with the rest of the group complaining about how Lincoln is "over the top, and doesn't come off as real." Lincoln, who I've been pretty cool with thus far despite the truly insane rumor about him on the internet, goes on to say, "Kissing Becca is like flying over the moon on the wings while dancing with unicorns"…so yes, maybe he is over the top.
But that does not excuse what happens next. When Lincoln comes back from his time with Becca, he sets the photo she gave him on the coffee table by the group date rose, and Connor tells him, "You're crushing the rose, bro!" So Lincoln moves the photo a bit, then proceeds to talk to the photo, and kiss the photo, and generally be really annoying to with the photo. But then Connor, moments after complaining about Lincoln’s childishness, picks up Lincoln's photo and throws it over by the fireplace on the stone ground. So Lincoln picks it up, and puts it back on the table, lying flat this time. So Connor picks up Lincoln's gift from Becca, says, "Let's get this out of here because no one wants to see this," and chucks it over the balcony into the pool. Which is…so rude?!?!
But every action is just more embarrassing than the next here, because Lincoln then goes to Becca, seeming like he's about to cry (he does later fully cry when he tells the other contesticles that he was going to show that photo to his mom), and says that he needs a new photo because Connor ruined his, and he feels physically threatened.
Now forced to play the role of Recess Monitor, Becca tells Lincoln to take some deep breaths, and goes to talk to Connor, who basically just repeats variations of "I just got rid of it" over and over until Becca finally says, "I'm looking for a man that can still stay respectful and handle himself well … I don’t want to deal with the bullshit of the other guys." It takes a solid two days, but Connor finally apologizes to Becca at the Cocktail Party for making her first date so dramatic, and gives her a picture of himself to throw in the pool, which is kind of funny, but the fact that she then gives him a rose tells me that Becca really likes four dudes in her harem, max.
And one of those dudes is Jean Blanc, that hunk of Dyptique who spends the time that Connor and Lincoln are playing hot-potato with a Hobby Lobby frame, making out with Becca and getting the group date rose. You crushed the rose, bro!
The other group date is an intense game of dodge ball, where Becca weirdly sits in the middle of all the other common spectators, Fred Willard makes a glorious and once again inexplicable return to the franchise, and Leo is repeatedly the only man left standing on his team full of Venmo-creators and Florida-based male models versus the other team full of Harlem Globetrotters and lumberjacks. Becca says, "Who would have thought Leo was so good at dodgeball?" to which I say, Becca??? Everyone would have thought that! Leo is a stuntman. He literally dodges things for a living, and they’re likely often on fire.
But those are actually the dodged balls we need to talk about…
Becca lets the guys know at the start of the Cocktail Party that all of the drama amongst them has made this a pretty stressful last couple of days for her. In return, many of them try to show her a light, fun time at the Cocktail Party. Jordan, on the other hand, takes all of his clothes off.
Well, not all of his clothes. Despite the fact that the other guys keep saying he's totally nude, he is, in fact, wearing a rather unimpressive pair of maroon boxer briefs —as well as dress shoes. "I want her to fall for my personality," Jordan says, as he marches his terrible personality over to interrupt a conversation between Becca and David McChicken. Jordan seems to be under the impression that "Nothing attracts a woman more than being comfortable next to a sexy man." I'm not sure, but I think that syntax suggests that he thinks Becca will be attracted to…the other men…if they show that…they're comfortable around him while he’s being sexy???
Needless to say, it is not sexy, and no one is comfortable. Especially not David, who is quite peeved that Jordan interrupted his time with Becca for a gimmick. But rather than saying that, he goes for the Right Reasons flex, which unfortunately dashes almost all of the goodwill I had built up toward him for kind of looking like a 25-year-old venture capitalist version of Dave Franco. "Do you think there's a level of disrespect in showing up to a cocktail party in boxers?" David, the man who came to the first cocktail party in a chicken suit, asks. Jordan, who is still mostly nude, comes back with what is certainly my favorite line of the of the season thus far: "I wore my underwear, bro—that's not me trying to get attention!" Neither man escalates the situation; David simply says he hopes Becca sees Jordan's "ingenuine" side, which is, of course, not a word.
So Jordan corrects him: "It's ingenu-i-titty."
I love him. I hope he never leaves…or goes to Paradise…or on Men Tell All. I want Jordan to stay right here, in this mansion, bare-ass on this couch, explaining words and nudity for the rest of my life.
HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE COLTIA?
And if you thought there couldn't possibly be any more extra-ass drama during the first week, you would be wrong, because we've got Colton, the maybe-virgin, maybe-skeez to contend with. I have a theory that a lot of Colton's red flags are being overlooked because he looks like what you wish the oldest son from Home Improvement had ended up looking like. Because, seriously, what is this dude ever wearing?
Information we’re privy to that Becca might not know, is that Colton dated Queen Aly Raisman for a period of time as a result of sliding into her DMs. Now, Colton tells Becca he needs to be honest with her about something, and I naively assume the fact that he dated a famous person not so long before coming on The Bachelorette will be that thing…
NOPE! Turns out, our boy Colton found a way to ALSO DATE TIA before the show — Becca's good friend, and co-girlfriend in arms against Arie. Which, knowing what we know about Colton, very clearly means that after The Bachelor ended, Colton slid into Tia's DMs (and who knows who else's), began seeing her, and then when he found out he has been selected for The Bachelorette, dropped her to come on the show. Becca is concerned that Colton is only here because he assumed Tia was going to be the Bachelorette, but she should be concerned that he probably would have dated anyone if it meant he was dating The Bachelorette, and more likely, that he could be in a position to be the next Bachelor…
He would have dated Baby Bekah; he would have dated Sienne; he would have dated Dean; he would have dated fucking Krystal!
But even more questionable, given what we heard in the This Season On, is how Colton explains his "relationship" with Tia: "We had a weekend together, and we had a good time, but for me, the timing wasn't right." Listen: it is totally fine to be a virgin until the exact time that you don't want to be a virgin anymore, but adult virgins do not "have a weekend together" with an out-of-town stranger??? I have so many questions about ColTia that only one person can answer…
See you back here next week when TIA & Friends come to help Becca choose between her bros, some of whom they may or may not have had a sex-less/sex-full weekend with! If you're currently only signed up for free newsletters, do jump into the Subscriber waters before these recaps go subscribers-only in a few weeks. And if you have friends you think might want to read about Jordan's balls, or Leo's dodges, or Colton's dodging-balls, feel free to forward this li'l letter along to them. The more the merrier when it comes to being complicit in this sociological thunderdome!