Welcome back to your regularly scheduled Bachelorette recap! Last week, we got a taste of how this season would play out—and let me tell you, there were far too many milky white thighs involved for my comfort level. ‘Tis my cross to bear, I suppose…
But this week the ladies are refocused. After a rocky rose ceremony where they banished a man who dared to have opinions about their sex lives beyond “I will worship the lint between your toes if it means you might breathe in my direction some day,” they’re feeling pretty good about themselves. They have all the control. They hold all the power.
ABC PRODUCERS WATCHING THIS EXCHANGE FROM AFAR:
Ladies, ladies, ladies. That isn’t how this show works! Female empowerment doesn’t inspire higher ratings; misogyny and mild nudity does! Get with the program.
As if to illustrate this point, the cameras cut to the men, who are discussing which of the women make them feel tingly down there. No, no, no, NO. You do not get a say in this. Your job is to sit there and look pretty. Nothing else. Once they open their mouths, the fantasy is ruined.
The problem is the men are starting to realize they have options. Have you ever read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? The cautionary tale of giving lesser species (in the book’s case, rodents; in the show’s case, men) a modicum of choice and control. Do you know how that book ends? With the mouse making grabby hands at every shiny object in sight. The men are doing something similar here. Instead of considering Gabby and Rachel’s feelings, they’re focused entirely on who *they* want to be with. I’m sorry, but if I wanted to listen to a man named Meatball wax poetic about who makes his nipples hard, I would interact with the comments section of a Barstool article. You never give the
Meatball mouse a cookie. You get that asshole a rat trap.
Sparks Are Flyin’
Before I get to the doom and gloom of the episode, let’s talk about the high points: the one-on-one dates. Rachel in particular struggled with her one-on-one date last week and ended up sending the pore-less Jordan home. He and his skin care routine will be missed.
This week things go a bit smoother for her. She invites Zach on her date, which is quickly crashed by Queer Eye’s Karamo. Wow, I definitely thought Queer Eye paid better than this. Karamo says that he just had to be a part of the fun—he loves Rachel so much! I would believe him more if he didn’t direct those statements to a random mannequin instead of Rachel. I don’t know what kind of Real World blackmail ABC has on that man, but if he’s gracing our television screens tonight then it can’t be anything good.
Karamo sends them to “an exclusive movie premiere” but not before styling Rachel like Oscar the Grouch first. (Seriously, that outfit was so mean of them). The “exclusive movie premiere” is not, as I guessed, a private screening of He’s Just Not That Into You (ABC clearly doesn’t understand comedic timing). The movie they’re attending is not even a movie so much as a cinematic scrapbook of their childhoods. Home movies on a first date should be illegal. Footage of me during a time in my life when I had unsupervised access to a hair crimper and body glitter? That’s not romantic, that’s a war crime.
^^12 year old me treating my shopping trip to Claire’s like a religious experience
Though watching home movies is a specific ring of hell for me, Rachel and Zach seem into it—and into each other. The two find out that they have so much in common: they were both once children and have watched a plane before (I paraphrase). Dare I say… they’re cute?
But not as cute as Gabby’s three-on-one date with Grandpa John and Erich. When I say I screamed at the sight of that old man and his knitwear. I have never been so happy in my life to see a man return to this show. I can’t wait to watch Grandpa John’s look of abject horror at learning how Erich spells his name.
Speaking of Erich, I can’t get a good read on him. He’s polite and engaging with Gabby and her grandpa, but does he seem to like Gabby particularly? I can’t tell. This becomes especially apparent during their alone time together. Erich is all for feeling Gabby up during the bowling excursion (hands, Erich!! Grandpa John is right there!!), but he struggles to comfort Gabby when she shows more complicated emotions.
During the dinner portion of the evening, she tells him a little about being estranged from her mother. At one point she even says that lack of maternal love has broken her in some way. Erich’s response? To stare longingly at his dinner plate in the hopes that it might transport him to an alternate dimension where he doesn’t have to deal with a woman and her emotions. Jesus Christ, Erich. I know you thought you’d end dinner with some light groping, but the human condition is a little messier than the condition tenting your pants rn. Have a heart, not a hard-on!
I will say, Gabby has never been more relatable than when she abandons the dinner table to cry in a corner with her white wine. That doesn’t make watching Gabby’s breakdown any easier. She’s been struggling this whole episode. She doesn’t think she’s deserving of being the Bachelorette and wonders if Rachel is more of a natural fit for the role. This is expressly what I did not want to see this season. They need to stop comparing themselves to each other (there’s no logic to that) and start comparing the men to the shit on their shoes (there is logic in that).
Erich eventually comforts Gabby—but only after she’s guzzled another bottle of wine and prophesied a future wherein she dies alone with only her dog to find her rotting remains. What I’m saying is, he waited far too long to get his ass in gear. He handles the whole thing very politely. But that’s just it: it’s polite, not genuine. I’ve seen Delta representatives show more compassion than what Erich’s giving me right now.
Erich, I’m watching you…
Men Do Not Deserve To Have Brains
This next part of the recap is a section I like to call: “Strong Evidence Against Men Being Allowed To Have Brains.” And let me tell you, the science is compelling! As I mentioned earlier, the men are starting to think this season is all about them. If there’s one thing I don’t want to see on my Monday night, it’s men exercising their rights. In fact, I would be totally fine with ABC keeping the men corralled in a pit underground, only to be brought out for dates and aesthetic purposes. But of course this franchise is not interested in my wants and needs. They’d much rather play a game of Jenga with the women’s emotional states. After all, who wants to watch strong, capable women navigate their emotional depths when you can watch production sauté their self-esteem so a guy with a man bun can feel like the biggest stud in the room?
Which brings me to my working hypothesis: men should not be allowed to have brains. I’m not convinced they entirely have them in the first place, but they definitely shouldn’t be allowed access to whatever sad synapses that do manage to fire off. Let’s look at the evidence:
Exhibit A: Bromance > Romance
During Rachel’s date with Zach, Gabby heads to the house for a casual hang. First of all, I could have told her that nothing good comes of a casual hang. The last time I got conned into one of those, it ended with him asking for my Snapchat handle and Venmoing me for half the six-pack he picked up.
Do the men take advantage of the extra alone time with their Bachelorette? Lol, as if! No, they would prefer to spend the day playing slap and tickle with each other.
It’s just… sad to watch. Gabby is doing her best to pretend like their disinterest isn’t bothering her, but there’s only so many times a girl can yell “nice fumble!!” before she slips into a catatonic state. I give her props for lasting as long as she did.
Exhibit B: Blood In The Water
Things only get worse for Gabby during the group date, when a large faction of the men give her the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. In fact, it feels like almost every guy on the group date (and there are 19 of them!!) are not interested in dating Gabby. First of all, it’s week three. You’ve known Gabby and Rachel for less time than it takes me to do a load of laundry. You don’t know either of these women enough to write one of them off. YOU FUCKERS.
Not only are they not interested in Gabby, but they also vocalize these feelings with about as much sensitivity as an atomic bomb. I’ve seen sharks play with their food in more humane ways than what’s happening on my screen rn.
The worst offenders by far are Hayden and Jacob. Hayden tells Gabby that she’s more “rough around the edges” than he’d like for a wife, insinuating that Rachel is somehow “better” than Gabby. Then Jacob tells her that even if she was the last woman on Earth he would not compete for her attention. He’s like, “yeah even if you were my only option on this show, I wouldn’t want to date you.” Jacob, you look like you masturbate to your own headshots. Are you really one to talk about options?
Gabby spends the rest of the date crying off-camera. She doesn’t give out a rose. In fact, she looks like she would rather live the rest of her life in a bunker than interact with any of these men for a second longer. I can’t say I blame her.
Exhibit C: The Men Go Rogue
But perhaps where we really see the wheels come off is when the men simply don’t understand the assignment during the rose ceremony. In response to the group date, the women decide to have two separate journeys from here on out. There will be a set group of guys for Gabby and a set group of guys for Rachel. The women will be handing out roses to their guys, and the guys will only get to date the woman whose rose they accept. This is what should have happened from the beginning, but I get the sense that ABC didn’t want to have to do double the filming. The result is this farce of a season.
As the rose ceremony begins, Gabby looks like she is bracing herself for combat. Meanwhile, Rachel is confident in a way that makes me think production is about to screw her. At first, everything is fine. They both hand out a few roses without being rejected. The only downside is that the rose receivers start calling themselves “the winner’s circle.” That tells me everything I need to know about how serious these guys are about marriage. They’re like, air humping each other with their roses, for Christ’s sake. I’m sickened.
But still, at least the women’s dignity is intact… until it isn’t. Overly confident Rachel is the first to watch shit crumble. Termayne says he can’t accept Rachel’s rose when he’s really here for Gabby. That in itself is shocking. She’s getting rejected in public, in front of men she’s still trying to date. Then Jesse Palmer materializes like the bridge troll he is, only instead of accepting his payment in riddles, he strips Rachel of her roses. That’s right. Not only does Rachel get rejected, but they’re taking her roses from her. They’re punishing her for the men’s insolence. It gets worse. Alec turns Rachel down, followed by Meatball. Let me emphasize: Meatball turned a human woman down. Meatball!!!
This is so fucked. I’m seething. What kind of misogynistic hell realm have we fallen into where humiliating women on national television is supposed to be good wholesome fun? I hate ABC for doing this to us. I hate myself for not having enough rosé to dull this edge.
By the end of the episode we have our camps: Team Gabby vs. Team Rachel. The line-up looks like this:
Team Gabby: Nate, Johnny, Spencer, Jason, Mario, Kirk, Quincey, Michael, Erich
Team Rachel: Tino, Logan, Tyler, Ethan, Jordan, Hayden, Aven, Zach
We’ll have to wait until next week to see if the men are any more well-behaved… I think hell might freeze over first. Until then!
Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin; Giphy (3)