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.
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
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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)
Happy Hometowns, hooligans! I thought my day was rough when one of my students decided that an acceptable excuse for missing my class was “Buffalo Wild Wings had a special and now I’m horizontal and regretting my life choices,” but I think having to introduce Clayton—Clayton!!!—to the people that raised you might have me beat. Lol, can you even imagine?
That’s right, kids: Hometowns are here! This is the first real Hometowns we’ve had since COVID wreaked havoc on our world order—and by “world order” I mean our reality TV blueprints. The day has finally come where ABC gets to sub out La Quinta Inn conference rooms and papier-mâché state capitals for real homes and real towns. I’m sure to make it happen they only had to sacrifice their least favorite intern to a God of Old in the bowels of ABC studios. But was it worth it?? Absolutely not.
Historically, Hometowns are one of the more dramatic episodes of the season. It’s a time when the Bachelor gets to explain to the friends and family of the woman he’s dating that he’s seriously dating this woman… as well as three other women. And the cognitive dissonance the families must experience! Their blessing from this date basically results in their child traveling to an undisclosed location where they’ll play a game of “just the tip” with Clayton.
CLAYTON THIS WEEK: I will take such good care of your daughter. She means the world to me.
CLAYTON IN ONE WEEK:
So, yeah. Tensions are usually high. Usually. But during Hometowns this week, the messiest thing to happen on a date was watching Serene psychologically torture Clayton with an obstacle course. Where were the tears? The mothers getting drunk off Chardonnay? The fathers alluding to having favorite places to hide bodies? The jealous sisters trying to sabotage the favorite child’s happiness? Instead we got to watch four well-adjusted families and their well-adjusted daughters make small talk with the human equivalent of burnt toast. Boooo. Let’s get into it.
The Biggest Snooze Fest: Susie’s Hometown
The biggest disappointment this week was Susie’s date. I say “disappointment” because all 12 minutes of footage ABC allotted to Susie’s hometown were about as visually stimulating as watching blades of grass grow. Susie invites Clayton to join her in Virginia where she wants to find out if Clayton “likes to be choked.” Lest we all forget that Susie has a personality, and it’s Jiu Jitsu. I hope your grandmother finds that joke as funny as you do, Susie.
You can tell Clayton is relieved that the only choking he’ll have to do is to that nice-looking sensei over there. Clayton looks like the type to spank a woman in bed and then immediately apologize for it. In fact, I suspect that could be his kink: uncontrolled apologies.
Later, Clayton meets the family, and they’re cute but boring. That’s great for Susie’s well-adjusted-ness as a human but bad for our viewing pleasure. The only moment of tension we really get is when Susie’s father talks to Clayton one-on-one. He explains that when he was sick, Susie never left his side. That’s just the kind of girl Susie is. I think it’s fun that he’s emphasizing the importance of loyalty to a man who’s playing tonsil hockey with a small pledge class of women.
Susie’s mom is the only voice of reason. She tells Susie to proceed with caution—remember, Clayton has never actually said he loves you!—and Susie nods resolutely. She will definitely keep that in mind when Clayton asks to do butt stuff next week.
Hometown Winner: Gabby’s Grandpa
Every Hometown has its winners and losers, and this week’s winner was hands down Gabby’s Grandpa John. Personally, I’ve never understood the appeal of Gabby. Clayton, and America, seem to think that she is some sort of comedy savant. Well, this week watching her hike in what can only be described as a Euphoria x Dick’s Sporting Goods collab—I’m skeptical.
CLAYTON: Everyone knows that Gabby is the funniest woman alive
ME, A SELF-PROCLAIMED FUNNY GIRL:
I worry that Clayton has associated “humor” with just girls who laugh…
But you know who I do understand the appeal of? Gabby’s Grandpa John. John is, in short, a national treasure and should be protected as such. When Gabby’s family asks her what their first impressions of each other were and she has to admit that her first words to Clayton involved her asking him to sit on her face AND GRANDPA JOHN LAUGHS?!
Look, I’m not saying Clayton should propose to Gabby solely because he would get to do family dinners with Grandpa John, but I’m not not saying that, either. I mean, talk about a man who understands comedic timing. This man should have his own Netflix special. I’d watch it. Case in point? These iconic lines from the episode:
“You like Gabby? She’s always been a dingbat”
“What do I think of Clayton? He’s full of shit. Anybody who likes you is obviously full of crap!”
“If this isn’t forever, I’ll be really pissed. I’ll come back and haunt you.”
There is a point during Gabby’s hometown date where it becomes clear that I’ve had too much wine to deal with Grandpa John. He tells Gabby that the only person he’s loved more than her is his late wife and, y’all, I AM CRYING IN THIS CLUB RN. If I’m not careful this man is going to melt my cold, dead heart.
Hometown Loser: Clayton
Where there’s a winner, there’s a loser… Hi Clayton!! Every season ABC tries to make the Bachelor out as the idyllic life partner and, boy, have they had their work cut out for them with Clayton. Overall, Clayton has been about as dynamic to watch as a Looney Tunes character—and I’m afraid that’s being unkind to the Looney Tunes. You would think that Hometowns would be a time for him to really shine. After all, ABC has been telling us from day one that he’s good with dogs and kids! Think again. With the families he’s bland and awkward. With the women he has less cool points than a fanny pack.
Serene’s Hometown is a great example of this. From the opening moments of this date, I’m wondering what the hell Serene sees in Clayton. It’s like watching an earthworm try to court a gazelle. Because here’s the thing about Serene: she’s goddamn gorgeous. And Clayton is fully aware that someone as hot and smart as she is should in no version of reality want to date his measly ass. I don’t think Serene cares much for Clayton either.
This is particularly evident when she plans her hometown date for Clayton. Her dream date with him apparently involves making him wet himself on national television. Now I ask you, is that the kind of activity you would force upon a man you actually want to sleep with??
She’s like, “welcome to my hometown! Now, suit up, we’re doing an obstacle course that has only ever been completed by the at-risk teens in our town who got sent to wilderness camp.” Clayton looks hilariously horrified. He would like to go back to the time when the only obstacles he engaged in were self-made and involved him trying to hide his chubby from the cameras whenever Serene showed up to one-on-one dates in those corset tops.
I’m not sure what Serene was hoping to accomplish with this date, but it sure as hell wasn’t to induce any sexual feelings towards the man. She spends more time laughing at his terror than anything else.
SERENE: Yeah, it’s funny I’ve never seen a grown man scream like that before?
THE GROWN MAN IN QUESTION:
You and me both, honey. His screams will be forever imprinted on my brain stem.
Most Dramatic (?) Hometown: Rachel’s Hometown
Rachel’s date proved to be the most dramatic, but again, I’m using the term “dramatic” loosely. Dramatics would require 1) any sort of plot twist, or 2) for Rachel to speak above the decibel of rustling leaves.
The date starts out hot enough. The two go kayaking in a swamp (reminder: Rachel is from Florida so potentially being eaten by gators while they gyrate against a stump is probably a step up in the romance department from the other Florida men she’s dated). Eventually they happen across a kissing tree where the two proceed to make out in such a way that will definitely result in one or both of them getting a UTI. Ay yi yi. That tree said “kiss”, not fornicate!!
There is a brief moment where ABC tries to tease us into thinking that Rachel’s father will not support their union. We learn that Rachel’s father is notorious for hating Rachel’s boyfriends and even once threatened bodily harm to an ex. Sounds promising, right? Nope. Very quickly even that drama gets squashed with a brief promise on Clayton’s part to always support Rachel’s career. ABC!! At this rate the Hallmark channel has more drama and tension than what I’ve witnessed on this screen.
So, Who Goes Home?
Serene. During the rose ceremony Clayton chooses Gabby, Rachel, and Susie to advance to the Fantasy Suites. Your funeral, ladies. Clayton doesn’t really explain his choice except to say that he’s sorry, he had to follow his heart. Is it the heart thing or is it that you’re still trying to get the skid mark stains out of your drawers after that Fear Factor date? Be honest, Clayton. Either way, Serene gets
to dodge a bullet sent home and we have to wait until next week to watch Clayton set fire to everything he knows and loves. I do love watching a man destroy himself. Until then!
Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin; Giphy (5); ABC
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
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*
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:
☆ 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)
☆ 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)
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.
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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?
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.
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…
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…
- Genevieve (two-on-one)
- Teddi (one-on-one)
- Rachel (the group date)
- Sarah (one-on-one)
- Shanae (two-on-one)
- Hunter (rose ceremony)
- Marlena (rose ceremony)
Images: Giphy (5); @shanae.a /Instagram (1)
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 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:
- Serene (one-on-one/ from the week before)
- Gabby (one-on-one/ from this week)
- Jill (rose ceremony/ from last week)
- Lyndsey (rose ceremony/ from last week)
- Sierra (rose ceremony/ from last week)
Images: ABC/John Medland; @thebetchelor /Instagram (1); Giphy (3)
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
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
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:
- Rachel (one-on-one date)
- Elizabeth (rose ceremony)
- Melina (rose ceremony)
- Kira (rose ceremony)
Images: ABC/Felicia Graham; Giphy (4); @thebetchelor /Instagram (1); ABC (1)
Welcome back to your regularly scheduled Bachelor recap! Last week ABC gave us a brief reprieve from the madness that has been Clayton’s season. I’m sure that decision had everything to do with ABC’s utmost respect for our mental health and nothing at all to do with the PR carnage that would have ensued had they hyped Clayton’s lily white ass on a day meant to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. I guess we’ll never know…
Girl Code Is Dead
This week picks up right where we left off, at the last rose ceremony. For those of you who don’t remember: Cassidy was doing her absolute best to make a grown man ejaculate in his khakis on national television. Tbh, her strategy seemed to be working. After ruining a child’s birthday party during the group date (“I didn’t come here to hang streamers!”) and living out every Marissa Cooper bad-teen-with-daddy-issues fantasy with Clayton by the pool, Clayton was officially smitten. The only flaw to her plan? Equating “girl code” with the legal standing of attorney-client privilege. Oh, sweetie.
Just before the rose ceremony kicked off, another woman in the house revealed that Cassidy had been talking to a hookup buddy from back home. A hoe in a different area code? How novel. Immediately after finding this out, Clayton asked Jesse Palmer if it was possible to take back Cassidy’s rose, to which Jesse Palmer responded, “does it look like I care? I was in the middle of drinking this martini” and leaves Clayton to ponder his romantic dilemma. He’s not contractually obligated to do more than that. I get it. We all have to protect our time for work-life balance!
Clayton decides to confront Cassidy, and it’s truly a joy to watch. Here we have two blond, conventionally attractive people, who are completely unaware of their own hypocrisies. On the one hand we have Cassidy, who was definitely sexting a man up until the point that a producer pried her phone away from her gel manicured hands. On the other hand, we have Clayton, a wronged man, a man who was *checks notes* saying “I love you” to a Minnesota school teacher not but eight weeks ago? Hmm…
CLAYTON: You were seeing someone right before you came on this show?
CLAYTON RIGHT BEFORE COMING ON THIS SHOW:
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I think what’s most fun for me to watch is Clayton acting completely scandalized at having dated a girl who also has a guy on the side. Are you telling me this has never happened to you before, sir? That’s the confidence of an average white male right there. This is 2022. Everyone has a side piece! Monogamy is dead.
Though Cassidy eventually comes clean and tells Clayton that she does have some sort of situationship back home—but her feelings for Clayton are real now!!—Clayton is unimpressed. He wants commitment! He wants to be the only person in Cassidy’s phone sending her texts about as sexy as lukewarm soup! He tells Cassidy he just can’t deal with her and sends her home.
Do I feel for Cassidy in this moment? I absolutely do. She tried to do what every man who can marginally pass for 6’0 has been doing since the dawn of time: have his cake and eat it too. The real glass ceiling, if you will. If Clayton knew what this man was texting her (half-hearted “yeah I’d love to see you”s in between asking her what she was wearing) would he really be threatened? Does this mean everyone has to be celibate before coming on this show? It’s all crap. I didn’t even think it was legally possible to take a rose back at this stage in the game, but I’m pretty sure this dismissal would not hold up in a court of law. Cassidy, have your people call my people. This is a wrongful termination if I’ve ever seen it.
Clayton Joins The Women’s Movement
The theme for this week’s dates appears to be inspired by Christina Aguilera’s iconic 2002 album Stripped—except it’s all decidedly less sexy. Clayton wants the ladies stripped down—he wants real, raw vulnerability. And, you know, also to see them half naked.
The first group date of the week delivers all of this and more. Former Bachelorette and Bachelorette host Kaitlyn Bristowe leads the ladies (and Clayton) in a group therapy session where they all must divulge their biggest body insecurities. I think I’ve seen this activity before and I think it came straight from The American Girl: The Care & Keeping of You.
I’m not sure what Clayton was expecting from this date, but it sure as hell isn’t what goes down during this sharing circle. It seems like almost every woman in the room has a story about a man in their lives inflicting some sort of horror on their bodies. As they tearfully discuss the atrocities done to and said about their bodies, Clayton looks on in horror and confusion. He seems surprised that women have actual bodies and aren’t just brainless bags of flesh. More than women having bodies and relationships to those bodies, he seems surprised that his gender is capable of, well, acting like his gender. Welcome to the feminist movement, Clayton! I can’t wait until you find out how much tampons cost.
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Resolving to treat women better, Clayton takes this newfound outlook into his one-on-one date with Sarah, where his resolution promptly evaporates into a plume of Axe body spray. Sarah and Clayton will be doing a scavenger hunt around the city in—get this!—only their underwear. Sarah looks appropriately scandalized, but if it were me on this date it would absolutely not be possible for me to compete. How does one tell a producer on national television that underneath your Revolve outfit you are Kim Kardashian body taped to within an inch of your life? Hmm?
Sarah soldiers through the date despite being forced to rap (why??) practically nude about wanting Clayton in “her spot” as an elderly woman in full-on COVID gear watches on in horror. The CDC is certainly getting a call about this tonight.
You would think that ABC would be content with only objectifying one woman’s body, especially after devoting the first half of the episode to body positivity. You would think wrong. The stripped theme continues through to the last group date of the week, a Baywatch themed group date (yes, feminism is dead) in which the women compete to be the best lifeguard. Or was it the best-looking lifeguard? I honestly can’t say for sure. I do love that Clayton, not but 48 hours earlier, spent an entire day in a workshop about respecting women’s bodies only to immediately sport a hard-on at the sight of grown women in bathing suits.
CLAYTON: I never want women to feel like I’m only attracted to their bodies. I respect women so much.
CLAYTON, THE MOMENT A WOMAN SHOWS UP IN A SWIMSUIT:
I can see he learned so much this week!
Shanae Update: Shrimply The Worst
Last week we saw the origin stories of two emerging villains: Cassidy and Shanae. Cassidy had the drive and the dynamics to make meh television into great television. Meanwhile, Shanae had the drive and dynamics to make the audience extremely uncomfortable. With Cassidy on the way home to have subpar, noncommittal sex with her situationship, where does that leave our other intrepid villain? Committing crimes against culinary.
During the episode, Elizabeth, Shanae’s sworn enemy for reasons that have yet to be revealed, cooked garlic butter shrimp for the girls in the house. This was eye-opening for several reasons. First, that these women would willingly ingest anything with the words “butter” and “garlic” in the name is breaking the fourth wall for me. Secondly, do these women have to cook their own meals? I was under the impression that a chef, or at the very least a catering service, was involved while they’re marooned in that house. And if they do indeed have to cook their own food, are they only allotted eight shrimp a meal?? Is that the budget??
Shanae takes Elizabeth up on her offer for shrimp—and then some. Instead of eating one or two, she damn near ingests the whole pot. (Sidenote: I’m not suggesting that eight shrimp is a lot of shrimp, it’s just all that Elizabeth made for the house. Eight shrimp is a light snack in my eyes, a thing I would eat and then immediately feel hungry after eating. However, eight shrimp is apparently enough to start the end of days in this house). The other ladies in the house are pissed they didn’t get to eat their one allotted shrimp. Though, again, I think the real crime is that there were so few shrimp cooked to begin with. Shanae must realize the wrath of a hungry woman, so she quickly makes amends by cooking more shrimp. To her dismay (and outrage), the house eats her shrimp but doesn’t deign to thank her for her efforts.
THE GIRLS: *breathe*
SHANAE: I hate them
She is a vibe. My vibe, if you will.
Shanae takes her beef with Elizabeth to Clayton where she describes in minute detail the shrimp incident. Can you imagine telling your grandkids this story about how you met their grandmother? She tells Clayton that she feels bullied by the other women in the house with Elizabeth leading that charge. He interrupts her outcry about bullying to make out with her. Our ally, ladies.
SHANAE TO CLAYTON: I’m the victim of bullying
SHANAE TO THE CAMERAS:
My god, give this girl an Emmy. She’s the most interesting thing to happen to this episode. As the cameras cut to Clayton chastising a sobbing Elizabeth about being a bully, they pan back to Shanae’s maniacally laughing in the confessional about having pulled a fast one over Clayton. Perhaps I didn’t give this girl enough credit.
As Shanae basks in her victory, Clayton vows to go full-on Mary-Kate and Ashley detective agency in getting to the bottom of this mystery. He will solve any crime by dinner time.
SHANAE: *shows Clayton exactly who she is*
Like the previous episode, this week things end on a cliffhanger. We’ll have to wait until next Monday to see if Clayton is able use his eyes and ears to figure out who’s there for the right reasons and who’s there to just eat shrimp. Until then!
Roses & Eliminations
For those of you looking for, like, actual information about this episode, that’s fair. I don’t let a little thing like “facts” steer the narrative arc of these recaps, but alas I realize it’s important all the same. Here’s a breakdown of roses and eliminations:
• Eliza (therapy group date rose)
• Sarah (one-on-one date rose)
• Gabby (Baywatch group date rose)
Images: John Fleenor / ABC; Giphy (3); @bacheloretteabc /Instagram (1); @bachelorettewindmill /Instagram (1)