The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: The One Where All Of America Sharpens Their Knives

Welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! Tonight is the night. Fantasy Suites. The night where we get to see Clayton play with the heart and souls of three women as if they were emotional Play-Doh. And on International Women’s Day, no less!

Last night was the second in a two-day, four-hour Bachelor event that literally no one asked for. Night one was the Women Tell All, in which the women told us nothing except the intimate details of their blinding hatred for Clayton. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a grown man chastised in such a way that it felt like 20+ women were giving him verbal spankings all at once—but it did put years back on my life to do so. Thank you for your service, ladies. 

But if I was feeling even a little bit badly for Clayton, those feelings have all but evaporated after his rage-inducing performance on last night’s episode. One of the things I’ve struggled with this season is connecting to the storyline, to the women, and, especially, to Clayton. For the last nine episodes I’ve joked that Clayton’s existence is the result of a teen witch accidentally animating a stock image of “hot guy” and letting him loose on America’s most eligible women. I’ve compared his personality to whole milk, his deductive reasoning skills to those of a toaster, and his critical thinking skills to my dog’s daily debate on eating her own shit. What I’m saying is, I thought Clayton was just another hot, dumb jock who was going to bumble through his time as the Bachelor like he’s bumbled through every other aspect of his life. But last night we finally got to see the real Clayton, the guy behind those winning smiles and bland platitudes, and it was absolutely sinister. 

Let’s get into it. 

Rachel’s Fantasy Suite

In typical Bachelor form, the producers have all three remaining women staying in one hotel room where they’ll  get the pleasure of watching their competition walk of shame home after their dates with Clayton. Diabolical. Rachel is up first, and her date card has an ominous message about finding out how “deep” her love for Clayton goes. I have a feeling Clayton’s intentions are less about mining the depth of their emotional bond and more about mining the depth of her cervix, but carry on. 

It appears I’m wrong on both counts. Clayton was talking neither about their love nor about her vagina, but rather, about her impending death. They go spelunking through a dormant volcano (again, the sex metaphors abound) and this is the stuff of my nightmares. Seriously. I’ve seen The Descent and this is a plotline straight from that movie. Is he hoping that the vague threat of death will get her hot later? If so, I’m worried about the rest of what he considers “foreplay.”  

Rachel says that while the cave stuff is fine, she needs an “I love you” from Clayton if she’s going to put out. It’s the same ultimatum I gave my first boyfriend before he took my virginity, and that definitely didn’t end in me getting dumped three months later in the middle of a beer pong game. But, you know, good luck with that Rachel. 

Later, during dinner, Clayton tells Rachel that he’s been keeping this to himself but he thinks he really needs to tell her now: he’s in love with her. First of all, it should be illegal for the Bachelor/ette leads to drop the “L” word outside of the final rose. Congress may not have written up legislation on this niche issue yet, but it’s still, like, very morally frowned upon on this franchise. I especially don’t like it being used during the fantasy suites setting, a setting that emphasizes sex, when words like “I love you” could be interpreted as emotional manipulation to get someone to sleep with you.

And what do you know? It works! Clayton’s declaration succeeds in getting Rachel to sleep with him (or at least letting him do some very heavy petting that resulted in her saying “uh-huh, yeah, I definitely came” before distracting him with a hand job so she could just go to sleep). The next morning he leaves Rachel looking flushed and gooey, and he screams once more—on the very public streets of Iceland—that he’s in love with her. Like, are the other girls not staying in that very same hotel? He better hope they aren’t at the continental breakfast eavesdropping on the date when he made that daring proclamation. 

Later, Clayton contemplates if dropping the “L” bomb was kosher. He’s like, “I didn’t plan to say it to Rachel, it just happened” which shows just how little thought went into saying those words during the date. He’s not thinking through the emotional consequences of saying those words to a girl who may or may not end up being his wife. Clayton, repeat after me: I. AM. AN. IDIOT. SANDWICH. 

idiot sandwich gif

Gabby’s Fantasy Suite

Gabby’s up next and she’s especially excited for her alone time with Clayton. In her words, she says she hasn’t dated anyone for this long before without being intimate with them. This is fun because if you actually added up their alone time they have probably spent five uninterrupted days together—and even that seems generous. 

More than some alone time with Clayton, Gabby would just like some champagne and romance. She didn’t fly to Iceland for adventures. She flew to Iceland to put on a Shein bikini that she pretends is Revolve and to get drunk in the hot springs. It’s what we all want, really. 

WHAT GABBY SAID: I’m hoping for a whale watching cruise with strawberries and champagne.
WHAT CLAYTON HEARD: 

Wow, you guys are really speaking the same language these days. Totally on the same page.

The rest of the night follows the same script Clayton acted out with Rachel almost to a T. He takes Gabby to dinner, tells her he’s falling for her, then he fucks her in a yurt. Swap out the girl, the yurt, and the dinner menu, and this was his exact date with Rachel. Almost the same words, even, were said to each girl. The next morning, just like the morning after with Rachel, Clayton loudly yells: “I’m falling in love with you!” followed by a little “whoop” that shrivels what’s left of my libido. If you’re looking for a tally, that means Clayton has now told not one, but TWO women he’s in love with them and bragged to the cameras about being physically intimate with both. Vomit.

It’s only after he’s put some distance between himself and the dates that he starts to wonder if having sex with two women two nights in a row will come back to bite him in the ass. You think?? These aren’t NFL groupies looking for a wild story and sex with the benchwarmer. These women came here looking for a lasting relationship with a mature man. They didn’t give you any sex ultimatums, but they were probably hoping you would save something for your potential wife—if not “I love you,” then at the very least, your penis. 

Susie’s Fantasy Suite

Susie and Clayton at their fantasy suite date

Which brings us to Susie’s date. You can tell Clayton is hoping to recycle his wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am script one last time. Third time’s a charm and all of that. What he didn’t account for is Susie being more in the mood to drown herself in the hot springs than to entertain his horny ass. 

All week Susie has been spiraling. She’s been watching girl after girl walk into their suite with goofy grins and sex hair. She’s got working eyes and ears. She knows what’s going on. To the cameras, she confesses that she’s worried Clayton slept with the other women—or worse—said “I love you” to them. Welp. She can read him like a book and it’s a sad, sad story.

SUSIE: I’m so all in with Clayton
ME, ALONE IN MY LIVING ROOM:

Never trust a man who shaves his chest, Susie!

Clayton tells Susie that he loves her too, because at this point why not? He’s already fucked himself. Why not make it a trifecta? But Susie is not following his script. Instead of crying or looking grateful, she asks him what he said and did with the other girls. How does she know she’s special? 

SUSIE: I can’t be with you if you’ve slept with other women or told anyone else that you love them. That’s my hard line.
CLAYTON: 

At first, Clayton dodges the question. He alludes that he’s expressed some romantic feelings to other women, which makes it sounds as if he was unsure about the feelings he expressed, when in reality he screamed his devotion on public street corners. Clayton tells Susie that she’s special, don’t worry, he’s the most in love with her. Again, I’m sensing an emotional manipulation is at play to get Susie to sleep with him.

I also feel for these other women. If a man fucked me and then screamed to the world that he loved me, I’d probably believe him. It’s an insult to those women that not 48 hours later he’s minimizing those actions in favor of salvaging his supposedly stronger relationship with Susie.  

Eventually, Clayton tells Susie that, yes, he slept with the other women and, also yes, he said “I love you” to them. What of it? He’s the Bachelor. It’s his journey. Get on board or get the fuck out. I’m sorry, but was this supposed to make her feel better about their connection? Susie takes a moment to collect herself and that’s when Clayton’s nice guy veneer completely disappears. His regret and frustration quickly transitions to anger at Susie for daring to question his process. 

The thing is, Susie is allowed to have these boundaries whether she’s voiced them or not. Should she have told Clayton her feelings before the fantasy suites? Probably. But she doesn’t owe him shit. If she wants to walk because he slept with other women, that’s totally her prerogative. Clayton can absolutely do what he wants as well. He can sleep with women, tell them he loves them, suggest they have a threesome if the final rose thing doesn’t work out, whatever. But he can’t demand they be on board with his polyamory. It’s not just that he slept with them, it’s that he told all three of them that he loved them. That’s kind of a big deal. What makes his connection special with any one of them if he’s having the exact same feelings about all of them?

It’s not even the situation that unfolded tonight that’s so upsetting to watch. It’s the way Clayton handled the situation. Susie is visibly crying and distraught. She apologizes multiple times for not telling Clayton her feelings sooner. “I know it’s too much to ask,” she says at one point. (Newsflash: It’s not). Clayton, meanwhile, screams in her face that she invalidated everything, that she should feel awful for the way she’s treated him. Then there’s the absolutely unhinged moment where he apologizes for yelling at her AND THEN BLAMES HER FOR IT. He’s like “this is so out of character for me… but you drove me to this.”

This is where we get to see the real Clayton. Not the Clayton who plays with puppies or gets sad notes from kids or smiles dumbly in front of the cameras. This is Clayton. A guy who is as likely to sleep with you as he is to scream at you.

His rage is scary. The way he strong arms Susie out of that building and into the car is scarier. There’s a moment when he’s yelling at Susie that you can tell she just shuts down. She stops crying and starts placating him. That is a survival instinct clicking into place, because it’s the moment when she realizes she isn’t safe in this conversation. That this could potentially escalate to violence. It was absolutely gut-wrenching to watch. This is the nicest man in America? The most eligible bachelor? If this is Clayton on his best behavior, I hate to see what he’s like in a relationship when cameras aren’t rolling.

Do I think Clayton is abusive? That’s hard to say. What I am saying is that this was the first time I saw any real emotion from him and it was unleashed anger aimed at a woman. Whatever respect I had for Clayton (and that was slim to begin with) is gone. I suspect I’m not alone in this feeling as I distinctly heard all of America sharpening their knives immediately after this episode ended. Good luck to you, buddy!

Images: ABC (4); Giphy (5)

The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: Boom, Roasted

Welcome back to ABC’s hostage situation, sometimes known as The Bachelor! Strap in, kids, because this week ABC is torturing us with not one but two TWO HOUR episodes. Night one (last night) is the Women Tell All, which is, as far as I’m concerned, 120 minutes of my life that I will never get back. Part two (tonight) is the Fantasy Suites, in which it’s teased that Clayton confused “female fantasy” with his personal fantasy of sleeping with three women at once and having them all be totally cool with it. Idiot. 

But first, the tell-all! I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate tell-alls. Rarely is “all” ever told. If anything, it’s just chaotic footage of a bunch of people speaking at such unfortunately high-pitched decibel levels that the immediate result is seismic activity. And it looks like tonight will be no different. The women are out for blood—and by “blood” I mean “tickets to paradise.” They spent weeks catering to every stupid whim that came out of Clayton’s mouth. Doing a scavenger hunt around the city in their underwear? Fine. Writing a comedy sketch that will ultimately bring shame and dishonor to their families’ names? Also fine. Using their masters degrees to explain to a grown man the intricacies of shrimp politics? Fine, fine, fine. But they want something out of it too! They want to be guzzling tequila on a beach in Mexico! They want Revolve swimsuit partnerships and to have Wells The Bartender autograph the smalls of their backs! Dammit, is that too much to ask for? 

No one is more passionate in their quest for a Mexican vacation than Sierra. In fact, I think she had more speaking time this episode than Clayton and Jesse combined. What does she do with that speaking time? She uses it to roast the villains from this season: Shanae and Clayton. It’s a looooot coming from a girl who rolled in so much body glitter she could outshine a Cullen. 

SIERRA ON THE STAGE RN:

As the unspoken host of this tell-all-turned-personal-roast, she guided us, the viewers, through every slight and petty insult. Again, it was a lot. This isn’t Gotham City, sweetie. You aren’t vanquishing the Penguin or outsmarting the Joker. You’re talking about Shanae and Clayton. My dog has better critical thinking skills than the two of them and I’ve seen her eat her own shit before. You’ve met them… what did you really expect?

Of course, there were other things that happened beyond just roasting Shanae and Clayton (though nothing nearly as entertaining). Serene, Teddi, and Sarah all got moments in the hot seat. Serene looked calm, cool, and collected and seemed barely concerned about her relationship with Clayton. Iconic. Teddi, on the other hand, seemed like she’d been emotionally pummeled by this entire experience while Sarah was still trying to summon those tears. 

But enough about the boring stuff, let’s get into the true carnage from last night’s episode…

Shanae’s Still Not Sorry

Shanae and Genevieve at the Women Tell All

It seems time does not heal all wounds, because the women still very much want to draw and quarter Shanae in the town square. In fact, the majority of this episode was spent talking about Shanae and her transgressions, which feels exactly like the point of said transgressions. She’s not here to make friends, bitches, she’s here to cause chaos and get more airtime. And guess what? You’re playing right into that!

Case in point: Shanae has yet to even breathe on the stage before the women are jumping in on her. I think Lindsey’s exact words were: “from the bottom of my heart, fuck you” and that is perhaps the kindest sentiment Shanae receives all night. 

Most of Shanae’s time on stage is plagued by indecipherable cacophonous yelling and Shanae, sitting calmly through it all, shrugging smugly at the camera. The women, unsettled by the fact that almost nothing they say to her can rile her into tears, take a different tactic. In less modern times, this tactic would involve chaining Shanae to the stocks and pillory while the locals threw spoiled fruit at her face. Today, that tactic looks more like Shanae sitting in the hot seat while the women lob the term “gaslight” at her so many times it makes my head spin. I’m not sure which version of that tactic is more effective. 

THE WOMEN: You’re a GASLIGHTER Shanae. You GASLIGHT.

ME:

Eventually, Genevieve joins Shanae in the hot seat. Jesse wants them to talk about their two-on-one date but Shanae dodges that question by accusing Genevieve of banging another Bachelor Nation contestant after getting dumped by Clayton. 

SHANAE: After I got eliminated, I went home. I was grieving. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. And then when you get eliminated, you go home and fuck Aaron from Katie’s season.
ALSO SHANAE: 

Genevieve’s reaction is actually priceless. She looks like she just realized she’s in the Bad Place and Shanae is the demon from hell assigned to torture her for eternity. For the record, G swears up and down that nothing happened between her and Aaron, though it doesn’t really matter if it did. She doesn’t owe Clayton more than the gum wrapper at the bottom of her purse. The truth actually has no place in this conversation but, boy, do I love the way Shanae lies. 

Everybody Hates Clayton

You know who everyone hates more than Shanae? Clayton! Even before Jesse calls Clayton to the stage, there is an underlying current of rage and hostility towards our Bachelor that is simmering just below the surface. The women are mad at Shanae, yes, but ultimately her reign of terror wouldn’t have existed without Clayton sanctioning it. 

When Jesse does bring Clayton out to the hot seat, it’s wild to see him walking to his death like this and not even realizing it. He’s got that slaphappy grin on his face, and meanwhile, the crowd is waiting to tar and feather him at the first nod from production. 

Clayton starts off by saying that he regrets nothing—not even dry humping to completion on that bar top with Shanae. Wow. The audacity of an apology from a mediocre white dude. It’s truly stunning to behold. 

This does not please Sierra, who has gone full Batman on his ass. I genuinely think Clayton may cry during this interaction. The last time he was held accountable for his actions was by his mommy, but even she would end each scolding by acknowledging that he was a special boy. He’s a nice guy, ladies, he swears!!

My favorite part of Clayton’s verbal beating was by far when Sierra said that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a married man. I may or may not have fallen off my couch in a fit of glee. YOU DON’T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A MARRIED MAN. Sierra, how would you know what it takes to be a married man? Have you dated one of those before, ma’am??

By the end of Clayton’s roasting no one is rooting for him anymore—not even his family members. Teddi lets it slip that after Clayton dumped her, his brother slid into her DMs. His brother. ET TU, BRUTE?! God, to be a fly on that digital message wall. 

And that’s the tea, fam! Everyone hates Shanae and no one wants to sleep with Clayton. Don’t you feel like “all” was revealed?? I can’t wait to watch Clayton blow his life up even more in the Fantasy Suites. Until then!

Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin; Giphy (3)

The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: No Tears Left To Cry

Welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! Clayton is slowly but surely whittling his women down to the final four. Four lucky women who will have to explain to their parents, siblings, meemaws, and drunk uncles that the man they have given their hearts—and probably, in dark alcoves of the Bachelor Mansion, their right hands—to is a man whose idea of formalwear is wearing the nicest Dick’s Sporting Goods hoodie he has with a blazer over it. What fun!

Sarah – 1; Olds – 0

But before we jump into the Hometowns countdown and who makes the final four, we still have to get through last week’s rose ceremony and the eight remaining women. If you’ll recall, when last we left off Sarah had just been sabotaged on her one-on-one date by Mara. Mara, at 32, is something like the ancient crone of the house. If this were a Disney movie, her character would be portrayed with a hunchback and at least one facial wart to emphasize her oldness. Since this is not a Disney movie, but rather, a sick social experiment we as audiences have been brainwashed into returning to every Monday night, production has replaced humpbacks and warts with bitter regret and insecurities. ABC, man. They really know how to champion every woman!

THE WORLD PORTRAYING 30: 30 is the new 20
ABC PORTRAYING 30: 

Sarah confronts Mara after the date and it’s a little like watching the bratty preteen you babysit make a cutting remark about your relationship status in order to distract you from enforcing her bedtime. Their hostility continues into the rose ceremony where Mara asks Sarah to “chat real quick.” This is Staten Island code for “you’re about to sleep with the fishes.” I would be scared to follow Mara into a dark corner. You may not come back with all of your body parts intact, Sarah…

Their chat, of course, results in a kind of verbal violence the likes of which I have not seen since that one time I taught middle school English for 10 months and they made me chaperone the lunch room as part of some new teacher hazing. The thing is, their beef is actually not at all about Clayton and it is absolutely about their ages and insecurities around said ages. They both seem to want to validate their age constantly. Sarah wants to prove that she is a serious candidate for marriage and Mara wants to to prove that she is not a serious candidate for Botox, it’s all just an early stage preventative measure, you can ask her dermatologist. I don’t think Mara even likes Clayton all that much. She would probably vibe with a tree stump if it promised to walk down the aisle with her! I don’t think Sarah even likes Clayton all that much either. She just polled her followers and they really want to see more boyfriend content on her feed!

But this isn’t about what Mara wants or what Sarah wants, this is about what Clayton wants (as terrifying as that may be). And, ew, 32 is not what he wants. He loves women at any size and any age—in the theoretical sense, not the literal sense because, again, ew—but come on, he may want to procreate soon! And didn’t he read on Twitter once that women past the age of 26 are, like, geriatric in terms of pregnancy? So, really, he had no choice but to send Mara home at the rose ceremony because it’s just science, you know? He believes science, so what choice did he really have? He did it for the kids, okay!!

Production Is Obsessed With Susie

It’s official (insert Janis Ian’s voice here): ABC has a big lessssbian crush on Susie. It’s the only explanation for how good of an edit she’s received this season. To reward her for being the first woman to publicly admit feelings for Clayton, they give her a second one-on-one date. Honestly, she admitted to loving Clayton. Clayton! Of all people! The woman deserves a goddamn Purple Heart at least. 

Not only is she rewarded with more one-on-one time with Clayton (is that a reward? I can’t tell), but she is bestowed the coveted Pretty Woman themed date. You know, the date where the Bachelor picks her up in a hot car and takes her shopping in designer stores with money that’s most definitely not his? Ah, yes. The Pretty Woman date. Because nothing says “everlasting love” like the aphrodisiac of blatant capitalism. My favorite part of the Pretty Woman date is when the women act like the guy dreamed up this scenario all on his own. Oh, honey. Without ABC’s purse strings, you’d be lucky if he could afford the Gap. 

 

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Now, one thing that was interesting to me was when Susie made the comment about the date feeling “foreign” to her. She said that usually she has walls built up and doesn’t allow men to treat her that way. “That way” meaning nicely and/or with any financial frivolousness. Wow. That is the most relatable thing I’ve heard on this show. I, too, would absolutely not know what to do if a man wanted to treat me to a shopping spree. Treat me? To a thing where he spends his own money… on me?! That can’t be right. I’m better equipped with handling dates where the guy Venmo charges me after the fact to split the $10 apps we ordered.

Sigmund Freud Would Like To Be Excluded From This Narrative

The group date this week is inspired by the works of Sigmund Freud, as Clayton and the girls embark on a couples therapy journey. Why Sigmund Freud? Why therapy? Does ABC ever need a reason to sabotage the emotional well-being of their contestants? I think not. 

The date card reads, “how bold one gets when one is sure of being loved!” which is a Freudian threat if I’ve ever heard one. I will say Clayton knows how to spin this. He’s like, “it’s for your own personal growth” but really he just wants more of them to say they’re falling in love with him. Honestly, genius. 

ABC: We support therapy, we loooove therapy
THE THERAPY: 

Most of the women are happy to reveal every skeleton in their closet. After all, they did sign a legally binding contract at the beginning of the season requiring them to share at least one emotionally damaging secret or forfeit their pinky finger. Genevieve, however, is not having it. She’s barely even had enough alone time with Clayton to share her last name, let alone reveal any deeply personal stories. 

I do feel for Genevieve at this moment. She looks like she’s being held at gunpoint to be there. It’s clear she doesn’t feel comfortable and instead of, say, supporting her and speaking to her from her comfort level, Clayton and the therapist take the mature route of bullying her into submission. 

CLAYTON: ~wHy WoN’t YoU oPeN uP tO mE~
GENEVIEVE: *opens mouth*
CLAYTON: 

Perhaps she would open up if you gave her a fucking inch! Also, I think it’s rich that Clayton’s demanding she break down her walls for him when I could not tell you one intimate detail about his own life. What do we really know about you, buddy? Hmm? I know more information from the back of a yogurt label than I do about this guy’s past. 

He sends Genevieve home and if she didn’t need therapy before, she certainly does now. Don’t worry, Genny. It’s definitely not you, it’s him. 

Before leaving the therapy date, the therapist announces that she’s seen all she can see. Ominous. Also, Clayton, there are some girls who were honest and some who were performative during the therapy sessions. You be the judge!! 

Clayton quickly realizes that Sarah might be the performer. She’s cocky and self-assured in their relationship, which obviously means she’s a psychopath. He finds out that Sarah told the rest of the girls that he cried during their one-on-one date, which is a gross exaggeration of their actual time together. Clayton can take a lot from these women. Lying, manipulation, bullying women about their neurodivergence—all fine. But insinuating that he—a man!!—cries?! That lying bitch has got to go. I love how shocked Clayton is that a 23-year-old can’t be trusted. Of course she can’t be trusted! Her frontal lobe won’t even stop developing for two more years! 

When Clayton confronts Sarah she tries her damndest to channel every acting tidbit from her freshman year drama class, but try as she might, the tears just won’t come. Amateur. In the end, this is her damnation. Perhaps if, like Shanae, she was able to pull out the waterworks he might have believed her tall tales for another day. Instead, he calls her out for fake crying (!!!) and sends her home.

Y’all. When he said “it feels like you’re fake crying to me right now” and she said “that’s only because I have no more tears left to cry”… 

 My god, that’s good television. I may have squealed so loudly my dog passive-aggressively got up and moved to another room. Finally, ABC is giving me what I asked for: undiluted, petty drama. Bless you. 

Roses & Eliminations

And now on to the roses and eliminations! This week we covered a lot of ground. We saw the end of Sarah’s one-on-one date, a formal rose ceremony, Susie’s one-on-one date, Serene’s one-on-one date, a group date, and another formal rose ceremony. Clayton and the ladies even traveled to Vienna, where I may or may not have taken bets as to when Gabby would ask if this is where the sausages are made. The format of this episode felt less like it was the result of a high-quality production value and more like it was the result of a college student on Adderall trying to get through finals week—but whatever gets this show on the road, amiright, ABC?!

Here’s a final body count for roses and eliminations:

Roses:

☆ Susie (rose ceremony 1/one-on-one date)
☆ Serene (rose ceremony 1/one-on-one date)
Gabby (rose ceremony 1/rose ceremony 2)
Genevieve (rose ceremony 1)
Rachel (rose ceremony 2)

Eliminations:

☆ Mara (rose ceremony 1)
☆ Eliza (rose ceremony 1)
Genevieve (group date)
Sarah (group date)
Teddi (rose ceremony 2)

That means that Susie, Gabby, Rachel, and Serene will be dishonoring their family names next week for Hometowns. Until then!

Images: Giphy (5); @thebetchelor /Instagram (1)

The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: Too Old For This Shit

Welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! As if it wasn’t already a blow to my ego to be single and 30 on Valentine’s Day, ABC wants to rub salt in the open wound by making sure my only viable plans for the evening are to sit shackled to my TV watching beautiful, college-educated women throw themselves at the human equivalent of whole milk. God damn you, ABC. God damn you. 

Let’s Get Ready To Rumbleeeee

If you were hoping that ABC would stick with the V-day theme and produce an episode that could actually convince people with fully-functioning frontal lobes to believe there’s a chance at finding love on reality TV—think again! This week starts with where we left things last episode: the two-on-one date. I can’t think of anything that screams “everlasting love” less than a two-on-one date. The rules are simple: two women enter, only one leaves. In any other reality this is the plot of a Dateline episode, but okay. 

Shanae is already gearing up to con Clayton out of choosing another perfectly normal girl to give his rose to. She knows that what Clayton truly wants isn’t someone who loves lazy Sunday mornings, drinking coffee in bed; it’s someone who will cut his brake wires after he forgets to load the dishwasher just once. Come on, it’s written all over your face, buddy!! 

SHANAE: I’ve been through hell and back for Clayton. I deserve to be here.
THE HELL:

 

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And, look, I know I shouldn’t, but is anyone else secretly rooting for Shanae? Yes, I know she’s vile and unhinged, but my god can the woman put on a good show. Like, imagine if she won the whole damn thing and Clayton is just watching this at home with her now in abject horror. I mean, we’ve endured six weeks—six weeks!—of the Shanae Show. At this point, her reign of terror has gone on for so long that I no longer want her to leave. I want this whole season to be Clayton just being obviously conned. Give the people what they want!

During the date, Genevieve tries her best to focus on her alone time with Clayton. If I were her, I would be wondering why she’s on this date at all. She’s had beef with Shanae, sure, but everyone has had beef with Shanae. Why pit her specifically against the gorgon? I get the feeling that Clayton just liked her the least out of the other girls and was deciding between boring and crazy. A question that has plagued the male species for eons. 

While Genevieve’s strategy is to play it safe, sane, and stable (booooo), Shanae’s strategy is to just continue creating chaos. It’s like Shanae’s foreplay demands role play, but the role play has to consist of her acting like the victim of middle school bullying. She tells Clayton that Genevieve is actually the unhinged one, that Genevieve was inconsolable at being chosen for the two-on-one and just “wanted to go home” already, and that Genevieve is the actress who’s been faking her way through her conversations with Clayton. Jesus Christ, this bitch is good. She could literally shit in her hand and tell Clayton it’s gold and he would believe her. You have to applaud the audacity. 

SHANAE: Getting this rose tonight is going to feel better than sex.

Yes, well. Certainly sex with Clayton

Clayton is putty in Shanae’s hands. He asks Genevieve—in front of Shanae!—what her secret agenda is. Is she an actress who’s been lying to him this whole time? Jesus fucking Christ. I’ve seen vegetable peelers with better cognitive reasoning skills than what Clayton’s displayed this entire season. Congratulations, Clayton. You’re one of the dumbest Bachelors in this franchise. And I say that having had to watch Chris Harrison explain penetration to Colton a few seasons back! 

Clayton, unsure of who to trust, asks for a few minutes alone so he can think things through. I’m not sure what Mother Willow over there is going to tell you that you don’t already know, but okay. At this point he has to know Shanae is sociopathic, he’s just deciding if that’s worth the tantric sex in the fantasy suites. Only if your orgasms depend on knife play, buddy! 

After wallowing by the falls for way too long, Clayton decides to give Genevieve the rose. Is it just me or does Genevieve not only look shocked to be receiving said rose, but also a little disgusted at having to accept it? If a man called me an actress and a liar to my face, never apologized for it, and then shoved a half-hearted rose at me as an “apology,” that rose (and his favored body parts) would find themselves at the bottom of Niagara Falls. 

With Genevieve in, that means Shanae’s out… for now. I get the feeling that roses are not legally binding enough to hinder Shanae from, say, using her passport of her own free will to show up at their next locale. Court ordered mandates are more her love language, you feel me?

Clayton: A Grower, Not A Shower

I wasn’t expecting a lot when ABC announced Clayton as their new Bachelor, but I was expecting him to have at least a few brain cells to rub together. Boy, was I wrong. There were multiple points throughout the episode where Clayton commented on his “growth” as a person, to which I feel compelled to ask: when and, like, how have you actually grown?? After Shanae’s exit, no one was prouder of Clayton than Clayton. The women were crying like their country had just been liberated, while Clayton basked in being the liberator. At one point he says something like this week has challenged him to grow as a person, and I’m not sure what he wants from us. A “congratulations” for not picking the girl that gets his dick wet? You’re looking for a wife, not someone to send you nudes in your DMs!

As if to highlight his new role as “mature” and “cultured” and “Patron Saint of Turning Down Blowjobs From Psychos For The Greater Good” Clayton tries to educate the women on their new travel destination: Croatia. Honey, they know where Yacht Week is. This isn’t amateur hour. Once in Croatia, ABC can’t help but contrast the “growth” Clayton was bragging about by cutting to b-roll of Clayton thinking deeply on a boat. Ah, yes, that’s so different from the Clayton he was in Toronto. And, of course, Clayton has the uncanny ability of making gorgeous Croatia look like the creek in his granddad’s backyard. It’s just the way he sits on that boat. 

Later, his growth is put to the test during his one-on-one date with Teddi. She reveals that though she’s hot and smart and not even a little bit religious, she’s actually still a virgin. She’s never been in love before and she wants to wait until she’s in love to have sex. Meanwhile, Clayton is looking at her like she’s the riddle he has to solve after meeting a troll under a bridge. 

TEDDI: I’m a virgin… does that worry you?
CLAYTON: 

He’s like “wow, you’re a virgin? But I’m actually attracted to you??” Yes, Clayton, believe it or not, attraction is not actually dependent on if someone has their hymen or not. Crazy! I truly can’t wait to see where this new “grown” Clayton takes us next!

Mara Is Too Old For This Shit

With production’s golden goose Shanae out of the house, they need to find a new evil to curse the contestants with. And what could be more evil than a woman in her 30s! That’s right: production has set their sights on Mara to be the new season villain. To be fair, Mara is having a hard time this week and it has nothing to do with the tangled web ABC wants to weave. It’s like she woke up and realized that she is 32 and on The Bachelor. *shudders*

The thing is, this show is not meant for us olds to succeed. I say “olds” not because any of these women are actually old, but because traditionally contestants who’ve aged out of their parents’ insurance plan don’t make it far. The Bachelor leads are quick to say that they’re looking for a mature woman to wife up and settle down with, and then promptly choose a woman whose most recent career achievement was putting together a pancake breakfast for the Alpha Delta Pi alumni event. So, I don’t blame Mara for looking around the room and asking herself wtf. No, actually, what the fuck

CLAYTON: When I look around this room, I see my future wife.
THE ROOM:

At 32, Mara is the oldest contestant on the show and the only contestant to be shut out of any one-on-one dates. When Sarah, a woman nine years her junior, receives a second one-on-one date, Mara’s head practically does a 360° spin around her body. 

This is not to say that I’m Team Mara by any means. I just understand how infuriating it is to watch dudes gaslight “older” women by saying they want maturity and then actively choosing the opposite. And it’s not that younger women aren’t mature or ready enough for marriage, it’s just that these women on this show aren’t mature or ready enough for marriage. They’re ready to quit their jobs to become full-time Instagram peons. That’s it. 

Later, during the group date, Mara confronts Clayton about his favoring younger women and wow wow WOW she is really laying it all on the table. 

MARA: It’s your journey, Clayton…
ALSO MARA:

Mara tells Clayton that Sarah is not ready for marriage. She implies that this is something Sarah said to her and not a personal observation of Mara’s. Mara, Mara, Mara. This is not the way to go about winning, honey! Going after Sarah feels like low-hanging fruit. You’re better than this.

Plus, I mean, the age difference between Clayton and Sarah is actually not that crazy. Sarah is 23 and Clayton is 28 (he has the maturity levels of a 13-year-old, but is still technically 28!). But I do see Mara’s point. Sarah was going to frat formals last semester and now suddenly she’s ready for matrimony? She literally still drinks jungle juice out of garbage cans at parties. Neil Lane cannot in good conscience adorn that Kool-Aid stained hand with one of his rings. 

Mara’s accusations cause Clayton to confront Sarah on their one-on-one date. I see his devotion to personal growth and thinking for himself is working out great for him! The rest of the episode is a pandemonium of sobs and wails. Sarah cannot believe anyone would call her young. She has a Linktr.ee with all her personal swipe-up codes on her IG handle, for god’s sake. They don’t just give swipe-up codes to babies, okay!! 

She survives the one-on-one date with a rose… but barely. And may god have mercy on Mara’s soul if Sarah ever finds out who threw her under the bus. Hell hath no fury like a woman-who-has-yet-to-need-Botox scorned. 

Roses & Eliminations

As always, ABC has left me with nothing but anarchy and fragmented story lines to make sense of for this recap. Narrative arcs are so 2021…

Roses:

Eliminations:

Images: Giphy (5); @shanae.a /Instagram (1)

The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: It’s Shanae’s World, We’re Just Living In It

Welcome back to the Shanae Show best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! If you, like me, tuned in this week thinking ABC would right course and actually produce a show about, say, a bachelor… think again, bitches! Clayton may want to find a wife, but Shanae wants to find swipe-up code deals, and by god, nothing is going to stand in her way. I can, at the very least, appreciate the hustle. 

Someone Needs To Explain Gabby To Me

But before we jump into Shanae, I thought we’d briefly discuss the rest of the events from last night’s episode. There were two one-on-one dates this week: Serene and Gabby. Technically, Serene’s date spilled over from the previous week when ABC failed to adhere to any semblance of a linear timeline for the fourth week in a row. It appears ABC’s stance on producing episodes is the same as my kindergarten teacher’s stance on crayons when I asked to use a different one during color time: “you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.”

Serene’s date was hot—and by that I mean, Serene is hot. When she showed up to that casual carnival date wearing the world’s smallest corset, my body, on a molecular level, convulsed at the thought of being constrained by that much boning. And she wasn’t even phased by it! She might as well be wearing long johns for all the discomfort she showed! I mean, my god,  anatomically she must have the bone structure of Flubber. I want to know all of her secrets. Serene, if you’re reading this, be a doll and spill the beans about your health and wellness routine, mmkay? Unless it involves diet and exercise, in which case I’ll promptly discard said advice and continue with my current routine: ignorance and self-destruction. 

Clayton is also smitten with Serene. At one point on the date he tells her that she “crushed it,” which is what every woman on a date with her maybe future husband hopes he’ll say to her. What’s next? A fist bump after sex?  And look, I totally get why Clayton is into Serene. She’s hot and chill and seems to have all of her brain cells despite looking for a life partner on national television. Hell, I’m into Serene. 

 

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What I don’t get is why everyone, Clayton included, is so obsessed with Gabby. Gabby got the second one-on-one date of the episode and, after a cursory perusal on the internet, is now the new fan favorite. May I just ask…. Why?

For those of you who don’t remember Gabby, she’s an ICU nurse and self-proclaimed “jokester” (more on this in a minute) who has the voice of a phone sex operator. (As a person with similarly challenged vocal fry, I say that with love). I suppose people like her because she’s not afraid to be silly—and by “silly” I mean pet other people’s dogs in public. Seriously. This seems to be the moment Clayton and the world fell in love with her. When she pet a stranger’s dog…

During the date Clayton kept saying how Gabby took him by surprise, and I second that sentiment. I’m surprised that this is all it takes to establish a personality. Clayton is like, “you’re so hilarious!” But is she?? Or does she just do basic human things and laugh while she’s doing them? He’s acting like Netflix should give her her own comedy special, for god’s sake. Also, this doesn’t mean that I hate Gabby. She seems like a cute girl or whatever. But that’s kind of all my feelings on her—and all the feelings I want to have about her. You know what I mean? #TeamSereneForever

Marlena Is Out For Blood

Speaking of funny girls, let’s talk about the group date. The group date, by design, requires a pound of flesh be delivered to the Bachelor/ette. In fact, I’m sure it’s contractually obligated. Sometimes ABC takes that to mean literal flesh, as is the case when the group date consists of Sparta-like competitions that have less rules and regulations than Fight Club. Sometimes ABC is satisfied with just taking their dignity, as is the case with group dates that rely on the contestants doing some type of performance. Enter: The Bachelor Roast. That’s right, after weeks of in-house drama, Clayton thought the perfect way to foster peace and harmony was to force the women to participate in a verbal open season. *turns up the volume*

I absolutely HATE when ABC does these kinds of dates because, as a person who dabbles in comedy writing, it actually offends my soul to watch these women butcher the English language for the sake of being “funny.” These are the same women who buy Marilyn Monroe art from Homegoods. They are not going to be good at writing jokes on the fly. They just aren’t. But far be it for me to make preemptive judgements. Let’s take a look at the “jokes”:

ELIZA: Clayton he has a dump truck ass, so why can’t he take out the trash?
SARAH: Mara is… OLD!!!
MARA: Sarah is… YOUNG!!!

The talent in that room is… staggering.

No one shines more than Marlena The Olympian. Whereas ABC would have been happy watching them ruin the remnants of their dignity, Marlena was out for actual blood. She was taking no fucking prisoners with her set. Not only does she compare Shanae to herpes but she outs another contestant for having IBS on national fucking television. Marlena! They said be funny, not to verbally slaughter the competition! 

The “Worldwide International Journey” Continues

Watch out, Bachelor Nation, Clayton and the gang are on the move! This week the worldwide international journey continues… to Canada! Christ. Once again, ABC is using the term “travel” liberally. Technically, they are leaving the country. But also technically, my friend’s brother has talked his way in and out of Canada without a passport, so is it really even fair to call it international travel? They’re not even leaving the continent. 

I do think my favorite part about this plot twist is ABC trying to make Canada seem like the most exotic place to travel by using b-roll of several normal looking buildings. Skyscrapers?? In a city?? Groundbreaking. Of course, the worldwide international journey would be nothing without its hype girl. By “hype girl” I’m of course referring to Clayton. At one point Clayton enthusiastically declares “this is a great place to fall in love!” which is a really bold thing to say about the set of Degrassi

CLAYTON, ONE FOOT OVER THE CANADIAN BORDER: 

Welcome Back To The Shanae Show

While ABC did show us footage of two one-on-one dates and a group date, the majority of the episode didn’t focus on these dates—or even on Clayton at all. Instead, ABC continued to pay ransom to Shanae and her hostage situation. During the rose ceremony, Clayton confronted Shanae about what really happened when she crashed the group date. You know, after they dry humped to completion on top of that bar. 

CLAYTON TO SHANAE: I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy

SHANAE:

Shanae is, perhaps, one of my favorite villains. Instead of cowering behind her actions, she tells Clayton straight-up about what happened. She’s like, “I said what I said, what of it.” You can  tell Clayton is trying to reconcile this version of Shanae with the woman who offered to give him an over-the-pants handie after the cameras stopped rolling.

Shanae can see that Clayton wants to keep her there—he’d love to see how this psycho energy plays out in Fantasy Suites—but he needs her to do something so he can save face with the rest of the women. Copy that. Picking up what he’s putting down, Shanae pokes herself in the eyes to generate some tears and marches out to give the girls a flimsy apology for her bad behavior. I’ll give her snaps for her bravery. She is making direct eye contact with the angry mob. An angry mob of her own making, sure, but an angry mob all the same. Some of the girls accept her apology immediately, if only because they still believe Clayton will send her home. Idiots. The other girls look like they would like to test how flammable her spray tan actually is. 

Cut to Clayton rewarding Shanae’s “good” behavior with his tongue down her throat as production layers audio of Shanae laughing maniacally over the footage. Psych, bitches! She’s not sorry for shit. A sociopath acting like a sociopath? What a reveal. 

THE WOMEN DURING THE ROSE CEREMONY: *tentatively smiles at Shanae*
SHANAE AT THE ROSE CEREMONY: 


It does not surprise me at all that Clayton gives Shanae the last rose at the rose ceremony. The man likes a little light choking and if anyone in that group of women gets off on controlling another person’s oxygen levels, it’s Shanae. The heart wants what it wants, I suppose. 

But wait! The plot thickens! Just when Shanae thinks she’s in the clear, we learn that Shanae and Genevieve are going on the dreaded two-on-one date. Two girls go in, only one girl comes out. ABC likes to imply that one person will be murdered and not just, like, dumped by someone they’ve been dating for maybe two dates. K.

Of course, the footage from that date will not air until next week because once they get rid of Shanae they’ll actually have to focus on Clayton and… who really wants that? 

Roses & Eliminations

Did you think that just because we’re almost halfway through the season, ABC would finally start treating episodes with any sort of logical, linear progression? Lol, that’s cute. This week’s episode contained some dates from the previous week (Serene’s one-on-one and the rose ceremony) and some more recent dates (Gabby’s one-on-one, the group date, the start of the two-on-one). My favorite jewelry create less of a tangled web when I travel than ABC’s typical narrative structure. But I digress. Here’s a breakdown of roses + eliminations:

Roses:

Eliminations:

Images: ABC/John Medland; @thebetchelor /Instagram (1); Giphy (3)

The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: Hell Hath No Fury Like A Shrimp Scorned

Welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! (Endorsed solely by me, of course). Once again ABC has done a phenomenal job of depicting raw human vulnerability, of shining a spotlight on the human condition. You know, if the human condition involved two of the blondest women on the planet earth and a pile of shrimp. 

For two weeks in a row now, Shanae and her shrimp agenda have been holding the Bachelor mansion hostage. In fact, shrimp has not had a PR moment this big since Topanga Lawrence’s husband found shrimp in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Of course, Shanae’s grievances with the house are not about the shrimp—they were never about the shrimp—it’s about Shanae securing her intro gimmick for Bachelor in Paradise and torturing the oldest person in the house (Elizabeth, at a whopping 32) while she’s at it, because what’s a good laugh if the olds aren’t at the center of it?

And where is Clayton during all of this? Manifesting his disappearance into the nearest bush. During the rose ceremony, Clayton tries to be a mature, calming influence and so he pulls both Elizabeth and Shanae aside so that they can work out their issues in a supervised environment. Rookie mistake. My dad used to have a similar approach when my sister and I would fight over who got to wear the Limited Too Soffe shorts to school that day (you know, the ones that said “SOCCER” in straight glitter over the ass) and all it ever resulted in was enough verbal carnage to leave a grown man traumatized for years to come. 

THE WOMEN: Shrimp shrimp Shanae shrimp shrimp Shanae SHRIMP SHRIMP
CLAYTON:

One thing I will not do during this recap—nay, REFUSE to do during this recap—is refer to any moment from tonight’s events as “ShrimpGate.” The writer in me is horrified at the creative liberties this generation has taken with butchering that term. Imagine orchestrating Watergate, one of the greatest scandals to ever occur in a United States presidency, and then for the rest of your life people add “gate” to any issue that becomes marginally dramatic. This does not, of course, stop the women from using that term to describe the Shanae drama no less than 100 times in one rose ceremony. While Elizabeth holds hands with another group of olds for moral support—a prayer circle of women, fortified by the mutual trauma of turning 30 single—Shanae sits victoriously across from her. 

LINDSEY: It’s frustrating because Clayton is taking Shanae’s word as gospel
THE GOSPEL:  

The Office Dwight shrimp gif

If the other women were hoping Clayton could spot an evildoer in their midst, they are sadly mistaken. Clayton has not only abandoned the women to Shanae’s antics, but he’s actually abandoned The Bachelor process entirely. He cancels the rest of the cocktail hour and moves directly into the rose ceremony where he promptly sends home… Elizabeth?! Despite Shanae dominating the cocktail hour with her dissertation on sea cretins, Clayton decides to keep her around for another week. See, this is why men should be kept in caves and only brought out for breeding purposes or when they finally develop critical thinking skills—whichever happens first!

The women are devastated. How are they supposed to focus on simultaneously dating the same man when this woman won’t stop talking about shrimp? How! At one point, Gabby, puffy-eyed and grief stricken, sobs brokenly into her coffee, “it’s hard when evil wins.” Jesus Christ. Shanae isn’t a Death Eater. She’s just a blonde girl with a bad attitude. Gabby, there are people that are dying! 

The women’s animosity towards Shanae only intensifies during the next group date when Clayton subjects them to a playful game of tackle football. Not flag football or powderpuff football, but actual tackle football. I hope the producers have a body bag on hand, because blood is about to be shed. There might be cleaner fights in a gladiatorial games than what’s about to happen on this football field. 

But first Clayton treats the women to a tailgate, a nice feast before they fight to the death. How civilized. The tailgate also doubles as a car commercial with Clayton pointing to each car like he’s a Price is Right model. ABC’s shameless product placement knows no bounds. 

In terms of the actual game, I’ve seen greater feats of athletic prowess in middle school gym classes. One team is led by Shanae and her unquenchable thirst to gain as much air time as possible. The other team is led by Sierra—who, at any moment, is wearing enough body glitter to be mistaken for a Cullen—and Marlena, an Olympic athlete. Every time I see this Olympian I’m sad for the state of our world. I mean, my god, this woman is one of the top athletes in the world and she’s been reduced to competing against a harem full of women for the attention of a man who is the equivalent of a human protein shake. *sighs so deeply it creates a new fault line* We did not march for this, ladies! 

Of course Marlena absolutely obliterates the competition. Was there even a suggestion that she wouldn’t? Her team is thus allowed to move on to the evening’s cocktail party. Tbh, Sierra and Marlena should be the only ones invited on that group date. They carried the team. That body glitter worked overtime for its night out. 

Shanae turns up anyways because as my boyfriend once said about me on College ACB: you can’t stop crazy. I believe Shanae’s exact words when asked why she showed up were, “I deserve to be here” which is… BOLD. You know Clayton’s got to be like, “hopefully the sex is worth all of this??” Oh, Clayton. He pretends to yell at her for breaking the sacred rules of Bachelor Bowl and coming to the after party even though her team expressly lost… and then promptly abandons all moral arguments in favor of making out with her on top of a bar. OH CLAYTON. 

The episode ends with Shanae grabbing the winning team’s trophy and throwing it dramatically into a nearby bush while screaming, “this isn’t The Bachelor, this is the Shanae Show!!” But the things she can do with that tongue, amiright Clayton?

Worst Branding: The “Worldwide International Journey”

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the location change for this week’s episode. In past seasons, ABC has taken pride in whisking contestants off to whatever armpit of America fits their location budget (and is legally allowed for those who have court mandated conditions for their domestic travel). But with COVID wreaking havoc the last few seasons ABC has had to settle for papier-mâché-ing hotel conference rooms to vaguely resemble whatever Pinterest-inspired imagery represents their old travel locales. So when Jesse Palmer gamely told the women that they were headed on a “worldwide international journey” I mistakenly assumed we would get to see an actual journey and not just a three-hour flight to a Houston airport. Shame on me. That does not quite fit the description, but okay, Jesse Palmer.

 

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Randomest Date: Crashing The Family BBQ??

The only other date that was shown this week was Rachel’s one-on-one, and I was genuinely excited to see more of this seemingly average person. Is she beautiful? Definitely. Is there a Meghan Markle-esque quality to her looks that sent me down a Google Images rabbit hole for over two hours last night? Also yes. But she does have the personality of a Hallmark card: a cute and sweet outer presence that warms your heart to encounter but that you immediately throw away because, you know, boring. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t still want to watch her interact solo with Clayton. But instead of watching two average blonde people have lukewarm conversation while basking in each other’s stock image hotness, production had them… crash a random family’s bbq?!

You read that right: Clayton and Rachel seemingly stumble upon a regular family, grilling regular food in a regular park and just ask to join their meal?? You aren’t Jesus Christ, you can’t just break bread with strangers! The look of horror on this guy’s face as he takes in Clayton’s former professional football build and then eyes the amount of meat he bought to feed is average-sized family is sending me, y’all. I mean, these are the kinds of things that get you on a list in New York! In fact, this date concept is so far outside the scope of acceptable, realistic social interactions that I’m not able to even fully appreciate Clayton and Rachel’s chemistry. ABC, it’s one thing for you to ruin my night every Monday, but to ruin this stranger’s family outing on his day off? 

Roses & Eliminations

Not much happened in terms of actual narrative progress. Who needs things like structure and story arcs when you have the live action equivalent of a Scooby Doo villain reducing a group of college-educated women to raging balls of hellfire in body glitter? But for those of you who are interested in the semantics of last night’s episode, here’s a run-down of roses and eliminations:

Roses:

Eliminations:

Images: ABC/Felicia Graham; Giphy (4); @thebetchelor /Instagram (1); ABC (1)

The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: This Is What (Villainous) Dreams Are Made Of

Hello and welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! Every Monday I tell myself that this will be the Monday that I cut ties with this disease-ridden franchise and do something for myself. The things I would do with those two hours back in my life! I could download a workout video! I could watch that workout video while eating Cheetos by the handful in bed! The possibilities are truly endless, and, yet, it appears that I have no self control. I’m like Pavlov’s dog in that way. If on Mondays at 8pm, I’m not a glass of red deep listening to a 23-year-old social media participant equate her love life to Odysseus’ voyage home in the Odyssey, then my brain starts to short-circuit. It’s ABC’s world, I’m just living in it.

Speaking of the women, this week they are back in the Bachelor Mansion babyyy! Not only are they back, but they are practically frothing at the mouth at the knowledge that they are standing at the very threshold where the feminist movement went to die. Exciting times. One woman is like “it’s historic, it’s a landmark” and that is certainly one way to describe this boulevard of broken dreams. 

The women do have some reason to be excited, though, because this is a jam packed week: two group dates, a one-on-one date, and an unspecified amount of alone time with the reason for my life-long love affair with wispy bangs, Miss Teen Queen herself, Hilary Duff. Let’s get into it, kids!

The Dark Knight Bottle Blonde Rises: A Villain’s Origin Story

While we all thought we were going to watch a group of women compete for America’s sweetheart, two of the contestants, Cassidy and Shanae, were actually competing to be America’s Next Biggest Bitch (trademark pending) — and honestly, it would slap as a show. Much of last night’s episode was devoted to the origin story of these two emerging villains. Though villain is, perhaps, too strong of a word to describe Cassidy and Shanae as it suggests things like fully functioning frontal lobes. Thing One and Thing Two over here have all of the foresight of a toddler about to stick its thumb in an electrical outlet. But still, it’ll be fun to watch these two get electrocuted. 

 

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Early on, the two of them form a mutual bond over wanting to be “aggressive” in their pursuit of Clayton. It’s unclear as to if this alliance is formed solely off the fact that they somehow have the exact same face or if they discovered that their Instagram bios both read “she had a marvelous time ruining everything” (I suspect it could be both). That said, Cassidy is clearly the leader of the two. During the first group date of the week she manages to dominate both Clayton’s attention as well as the camera’s without having to do any of the group date grunt work that the rest of the girls have to do. 

What is the group date, by the way? The ladies are tasked with planning and executing a child’s birthday party under the watchful eye of Hilary Duff. Yes, you read that right. Hilary fucking Duff is on this group date. Didn’t Disney+ just make the entire Lizzie McGuire series available to stream? Doesn’t she get royalty checks for that shit? My god, I hope she’s getting paid handsomely for this. Beyond handsomely. I hope this singular appearance wipes the entire budget for fantasy suite dates. It’s what our Lizzie deserves. 

THE BACHELOR - "2602" - Clayton moves forward in his journey to find love with the 22 incredible women who remain. After moving into the Bachelor Mansion for the first time since the pandemic began, these eligible singles are ready to kick off a week of dates! On the season's first group date, celebrity guest Hilary Duff enlists the help of the ladies to throw a dream Beverly Hills birthday party, but when one woman is more interested in spending time with Clayton than the kids, the others have strong feelings to share. Later, one lucky lady flies high with Clayton on the first one-on-one date featuring a surprise musical performance by Amanda Jordan; and Ziwe stops by the second group date to help Clayton spot potential red flags among his bachelorettes. After the dates have all ended, a major storm brews heading into the cocktail party when a shocking secret about a woman who already has a rose is revealed. Will Clayton be forced to do something that no other Bachelor has ever done before? Find out on "The Bachelor," airing MONDAY, JAN. 10 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EST), on ABC. (ABC/John Fleenor) THE BACHELOR

To be honest, I’m surprised these girls are old enough to know who Hilary Duff is. My brother, a Gen Zer, once asked me—and I quote!—if Avril Levine was making a comeback and “if his music was any good.” If! His! Music! Was! Any! Good! To which I may have screamed “HE WAS THE SK8R BOI, SHE SAID SEE YA LATER BOI. YOU UNCULTURED SWINE WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING IN SCHOOLS” and then immediately bought an entire aisle’s worth of CVS anti-aging products. 

But back to the ladies. As I mentioned, they were tasked with building a child’s birthday party from scratch, which feels very sexist for a date that’s supposed to exist in the year 2022. What’s next? A fashion show where the women show off who has the least amount of body fat to pull off an apron? 

You know who won’t be participating in the party planning? Cassidy. Cassidy is giving Meredith Blake vibes throughout the entirety of this date and I’m living for the energy. When she’s not actively avoiding doing any work (again, icon status), she does this thing where she just acts like a massive bitch to children. 

CHILD: *looks in Cassidy’s general direction*
CASSIDY: 

She also spends quite a bit of time dry humping Clayton by the pool and just generally making Clayton’s good Christian values crumble into nothing. In her own words, she’s not here to hang streamers. Legendary. I love it. 

Of course, this behavior does not win her any friends. The rest of the women are all but sharpening their pitchforks, biding their time for when she slips up and ends up with a moment alone, outside of the scope of the cameras. Even Hilary Duff is watching her like she has limited breaths on this Earth.   

These feelings only intensify when Clayton gives her the group date rose. That’s right, Clayton, a man who has been telling us since night one that he’s looking for a simple girl to fill up his simple life, had the option of giving his rose to any of the nine women who could actually tolerate breathing the same air as small children or Cassidy, and he gave it to the woman who ruined an 8-year-old’s birthday cake. He might as well have given the group date rose to Miss Hannigan. Your actions are really reflecting your future goals, buddy!

And where is Shanae in all of this? Oh, she’s thottin’ and plottin’ all right. After the group date, Cassidy reports back to her #2 and strategizes how Shanae can employ similar warfare to her own group date. At this point, Shanae is like an inch away from single white femaling Cassidy. (Again, I would watch that show.) She is hanging on to every word Cassidy tells her as if this woman, who has most definitely maxed out her Revolve credit card, is Jesus Christ himself. 

She’s still repeating Cassidy’s words of wisdom as she embarks on the second group date of the week. Shanae’s like, “my name is Shanae and I came to slay” and the writer in me just curled up and died at that word play. She keeps talking about her newfound confidence going into the date and it’s like, is it confidence or did you just “accidentally” forget to wear a bra?

Her confidence slowly starts to derail when she realizes having visibly hard nipples is not going to set her apart in this crowd. She decides to shift the game pieces in order to hijack Clayton’s attention, which is currently fixed on Elizabeth. During the group date they all play a game of Never Have I Ever, but Clayton only has eyes for Elizabeth. While the rest of the women gamely wave their paddles about, shouting about wanting to send Clayton nudes, the two of them are making eyes and giggling softly in the corner. It’s sickening.  

Shanae doesn’t like what she sees and so she makes up some drama to tattle to Clayton about and make him question Elizabeth’s intentions. So… Shanae is just in love with Elizabeth, right? Am I reading that room correctly? She’s so angry that Elizabeth doesn’t like her and she should be more concerned that Clayton doesn’t like her. In fact, he appears to barely want to be in her presence. 

ELIZABETH: Why are you so obsessed with me?
SHANAE: *non ironically*

The hostility between Elizabeth and Shanae continues through to the rose ceremony where the two engage in some aggressive eye rolling while Clayton wishes he could disintegrate into the nearest wall. Just once I’d like for a lead to hear feud rumors like these and be like, “actually I’m not going to entertain any of this, I think I’ll use my best judgment, thanks.” Because this feud is over nothing! It’s over feelings that these emotionally stunted barn animals cannot even begin to articulate in any real, meaningful ways, so why must we continue to give these things air time? Hmm?

As Clayton agonizes over his girls not getting along, Cassidy finds her own scandal to headline. In Cassidy’s bid for attention, she forgot that people are actually, like, recording her every move. Shocking. We learn that Cassidy told another girl in the house about a side piece texting her while they were quarantining before filming. From the sounds of it, she and this guy had a casual on/off thing that could very well follow her to her grave should she continue posting thirst traps to her IG and he continue to respond to said thirst traps with the tongue out emoji. A tale as old as time. She says that this guy invited her to watch the series together when she gets back from filming, which means he’ll spring for the Orville Redenbacher if she’ll pretend to be into the foreplay as the show plays on in the background. Again, a tale as old as time. 

What Cassidy didn’t account for is snitches. After telling another girl about this side piece, the girl promptly runs off to Clayton during the rose ceremony to deliver the news. Okay, but what is the crime here? He can’t seriously be mad that Cassidy was casually talking to another guy during a moment in her life when her literal only options for entertainment were to do half-hearted crunches in a hotel room or watch another Law & Order: SVU marathon. Especially when he’s actively dating a pledge class worth of girls. Grow up, Clayton.

But Clayton is, in fact, distraught over this news. He gave her his rose and all he got was her company an over-the-pants handy by the pool? Can he really continue to open his heart to after this very normal sequence of events we call “casual dating”? Only time will tell. The episode ends with Clayton asking Jesse Palmer if it’s possible to take back someone’s rose. Dun dun dunnnnn. 

Other Notable Moments: Susie’s One-On-One Date 

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Susie’s one-on-one date, despite how mind-numbingly boring it was. Susie gets the first one-on-one date of the season and—I’ll say it—they just fit together. If Clayton is the human embodiment of a “hot dude” stock image search, then Susie is the human embodiment of an off-brand Hannah B. I don’t quite believe these two are actually human people and not very life-like cyborgs ABC cooked up in their underground studio. In fact, watching them date is like watching two clones do the thing they were cloned to do. 

 

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So, yeah, their date is fine and they seem fine together. Their combined star power packs all of the punch of a bowl of oatmeal, but then is any one really surprised? Susie earns herself the date rose and can rest easy at the rose ceremony. 

Speaking of the rose ceremony, we’ll have to wait two weeks to see if Cassidy is able to have her cake and eat it too, and if Shanae and Elizabeth will just go ahead and kiss already. Until then!

Images: John Fleenor (2) /ABC; @bachelorettewindmill /Instagram (1); @thebetchelor /Instagram (1); Giphy (1); Tenor (1)

The Best ‘Bachelor’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: Am I… Actually Entertained?

Well, well, well, here we are again. We are just days into this new year and ABC has already went and said “fuck your new years resolutions.” That’s right, a new year means a new season of our favorite American horror story: The Bachelor! It’s time to put all of your new year’s progress on hold (all three days of it) and indulge in last year’s trash. By “trash” I am of course referring to our new Bachelor, Clayton Echard, a man so bland and mediocre that even the audience base who still shops at Vera Bradley and measures the weight of their existence solely by the presentation of their monograms was like “ugh, this guy? Seriously?” Yes, seriously. 

By the time the episode’s opening credits roll, it’s clear that ABC is still working overtime to sell us on Clayton. What does this “overtime” consist of, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you what it doesn’t consist of. Instead of asking Clayton any personal questions to capitalize on, finding out if, say, he has a quirky hobby like that he secretly learned Elvish during a college recruiting trip, or that he has some sort of fun interest in the art of charcuterie–they decide to double down on the shit we already hate about him. They tell us that Clayton is just a simple guy from a simple town and then show us footage of a town that could have doubled as the one that banned teens from dancing in Footloose

CLAYTON: I just want a soul mate to show my hometown to
THE HOMETOWN: 

My god there are so many white people in this town. And so many white people doing white people things! A middle-aged woman bleaching the shit out of her hair, teen girls somehow—in the year 2022—wearing Aeropostale’s spring line from 2007, two middle-aged guys manspreading in front of an American flag draped over a fire truck. Is this a real town or a manifestation of one of my stress dreams from when CNN used to show too much footage of Trump rallies?

Next up on ABC’s highlight reel for Clayton: his journey on Michelle’s season. Not sure you can use the term “journey” for a stint of time that’s shorter than a CDC recommendation for COVID quarantine, but okay. Clayton himself even jokes that he was only on the show for eight minutes. I worry that he doesn’t understand the actual joke he just made. The joke isn’t that you only lasted on The Bachelorette for a brief amount of time and then somehow landed a leading role on the next season. The joke is that ABC, knowing they had already picked you to be said lead, could not find more than eight minutes of footage to air about you. The most interesting parts of you amounted to a total of eight minutes. That’s how dismal the state of this season is. 

We are also reminded that even though Michelle didn’t love Clayton, kids loved Clayton. Kids also love eating dirt and leaving skid marks in their underoos. What’s your point, ABC? The producers took special care to air the footage of the “children” writing Clayton a pity note about how awesome he is after Michelle dumped him. This is the only evidence they have that Clayton is worthy of being our Bachelor. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it. Speaking of the “children,” the producer who had to write a letter to Clayton in the voice of a kindergartner probably has a tenuous grasp on his  mental health right now. Can we get someone to check on that guy? I’m worried. 

Despite the fact that ABC signed us all up to watch the consequences of drinking whole milk your entire life embark on a journey to find love, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the episode. Dare I say… I was even entertained? *immediately waits for God’s smiting* Look, just because I took mild pleasure in viewing this episode that doesn’t mean I was able to find any sort of narrative arc to adhere to this recap. Sorry. This first night had all of the structure and organization of some sort of demonic entity breaking down the gates of hell and it must be recapped as such. No, instead I shall touch upon the night’s highs and leave it at that. Let’s get into it:

The Girls Have Gone Wild Feral

I thought Matt had it tough last season when he tried to find love in the middle of a global pandemic. During his season the women were still getting human interaction through zoom happy hours and so seeing a real live human man—not just sending sexts through Snapchat to an ex or emotionally masturbating to the IG accounts of the cast of The Outer Banks—was like watching the unraveling of the human psyche in real time. But if I thought those ladies were unhinged and horned up, it’s nothing compared to the stock of psychos they found for Clayton’s season.   

 

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Normally on the first night we see a few kooks, but I am genuinely recommending a wellness check for every woman on this season. You can tell that half of these women have not been on a real date since March 2020 and the other half have been on dates and are appalled at the caliber of men the pandemic somehow left untouched. Take for example, Daria, a Yale law student, who says—looking directly at the camera with all of the feeling of someone who just crawled out of a bunker—to hell with getting an education, she needs a husband. I mean I think her exact words were something like “Clayton looks like the type to be a protector, a provider, and that’s really attractive to me” which is… sinister to say the least. Daria, sweetie, you were smart enough to get into Yale law but you want to hitch your wagon to a man who definitely answers spam calls and then, like, gives them the time of day? Put down the banana bread and let’s talk this out. 

And the gimmicks! Don’t even get me started about the quality of the gimmicks this season. The girls have not just gone wild, they’ve gone absolutely feral. One girl brings a boa constrictor, which has to violate several wildlife protection laws. 32-year-old Kate asks Clayton to feel her “nips” and then produces airplane bottles of whiskey straight from her bra. Kira, A DOCTOR, shows up in a lab coat and red lingerie. Gabby brings a pillow with Clayton’s face on it and says it’s because she wants to—and I quote!—“sit his face.” Another girl brings in her ex-boyfriend’s ashes and casually insinuates that she murdered him. Like, where are they finding these women? Under bridges selling their souls to magical trolls for passage?

Not only are the women going completely off the rails, but it’s clear that ABC will just be allowing the inmates to run the asylum. There are no rules anymore. Case in point: Salley’s storyline. Before we even get to limo entrances we’re introduced to Salley, whose job title is “formerly engaged.” Goddamn, these producers are ruthless. We learn that Salley recently broke off an engagement because of “trust issues”, which means her fiancé definitely cheated on her with the ex from high school he told her not to worry about. Not only was Salley recently engaged, but she was actually supposed to get married ON THE FIRST DAY OF FILMING?! We absolutely know that ABC rearranged their filming schedule to psychologically torture this girl for ratings. In fact, I think the producers might also be making her capture her tears in little airplane bottles so they might chug them before particularly grueling filming schedules to boost their life force. 

SALLEY IN THE LIMO ON THE WAY TO THE BACHELOR MANSION: 

And this is not even the most shocking part of the Salley storyline. The most shocking part is that Salley is allowed access to Clayton BEFORE THE LIMO ENTRANCES. That’s right, they give Salley Clayton’s room number and then encourage her to breach his safe space as if she is not a complete stranger. This is right up there with storming the Capitol in terms of violating the sanctity of our societal norms. 

Why does Salley need access to Clayton, a man she’s never met and only heard of a few days ago when her mother admitted that she accidentally sent her American Idol audition tape to The Bachelor instead? Well, Salley feels that Clayton deserves to know why she’s leaving before filming even started despite there being literally no need for this confession. In fact, if she never said anything to him, his life would actually not change at all because he didn’t even know she existed. That’s just facts, honey. 

SALLEY: *emotionally diarrheas on Clayton’s couch*
CLAYTON: If you don’t mind, could I step away for a second? 

Please tell me he’s leaving to go scream into a pillow. Anything else and I’ll think less of him (if that’s possible). ABC, he asked for a wife, not a head case!!

Here’s how I know Clayton is too simple to be our lead. After Salley, a stranger, shows up at his door and delivers the plot line to a Lifetime movie, he handles the situation by *checks notes* giving her a rose?! Okay, this is the wild fucking west now. They aren’t even at the Bachelor Mansion yet! You can’t just give out roses off the premises unless you want to enact a centuries-old witch’s curse! Everyone knows that! And Clayton, the answer to this woman’s deep-seated emotional trauma is not gifting her a rose you stole off the housekeeping cart mere moments before. My god, read a book. 

To no one’s surprise, Salley declines his pity rose and goes home early where (hopefully) she can take her pain and channel it into something more productive. Like, carving her name into her ex’s car. Good luck to ya, girlfriend!

 

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Senior Superlatives: Bachelor Edition

My bar for being impressed this season seems to rely on two factors: one, the absolute willingness of these ladies to debase themselves and their reputations for our viewing pleasure; and two, watching literal stars be born. Mark my words, Clayton deserves the human equivalent of low-fat yogurt for a romantic companion, but in the process of giving him that ABC has actually found some genuine talent. Let’s reflect on the biggest wins of the episode:

Most Grounded: Susie. Never did I ever think I would associate the word “grounded” with a girl who spells her name with an “ie”—and the “i” most definitely had heart over it for the majority of her life. As the rest of the girls gamely asked Clayton to lady and the tramp uncooked sausages with them, Susie watched on in abject horror. Throughout the evening you could see her mentally calculating how she ended up in this hellscape and recoiling at her unfortunate life choices. I’m awarding her most grounded because she seems cute and super judge-y. A winning combo, IMO. I’m sure she’ll go on to get the villain edit (as all the best hoes do) but for now I’m truly enjoying her presence on my screen. 

Best Vibes: Teddi. Teddi reminds me of every character Mindy Kaling has ever written about herself—the smart and charismatic horny virgin. Clayton is immediately gobsmacked by her presence and even ends up giving her the First Impression Rose. I already can’t wait for Fantasy Suites when production layers audio of her whispering “okay, but only the tip!” over footage of discarded khakis (Clayton’s) and a half-drunk bottle of champagne (Teddi’s). 

Most Deserving Of A Purple Heart: Claire. Last night I watched a hero be born in the form of Claire, a 28-year-old “spray tanner” from Virginia. We all have our origin stories, I suppose. Claire had the audacity to say what we were all thinking out loud, which is that Clayton ain’t shit. It started when she put together a cornhole, tailgating moment for the two of them, and Clayton allowed another woman to derail their alone time by stealing him for a sec (FYI my master’s degree just physically recoiled at watching me write that sentence). Claire’s response? To down a chicken wing and drunkenly declare “I could never date America’s sweetheart.” Iconic. Thank you for your service. 

Most Romantic Gesture: ABC, for capping the episode at just two hours. That’s right people, despite rumors of a three-hour opening episode, ABC actually showed they do understand the concept of self-restraint. This episode clocked in at exactly two hours, and, dare I say, all 120 minutes were actually enjoyable? Is this me eating crow?

And that’s all she wrote, kids! The trailer for this season looks positively delicious. If I thought the women seemed emotionally unbalanced on night one when they knew absolutely nothing about Clayton, that appears to be nothing compared to the emotions we’ll witness later in the season. You know what they say: There’s nothing like a mediocre white man to bring out the worst in women. Until then!

Images: ABC/John Fleenor; Giphy (2); @bachelorettewindmill /Instagram (1); thebetchelor /Instagram (1);  @Schitt’s Creek /Netflix (1)