What a night. Also, what a year for a show which heavily depends on so many things that are the exact opposite of pandemic rules, like having two people sitting indoors on a couch together.
The premiere of The Bachelorette, Coronavirus Season kicked off this week with a lot of content we expected (tattling, guys manspreading in front of outdoor fire pits like cavemen), and also some content we haven’t really seen on this show before—namely, love at first sight. Which is ironic, considering no franchise on Earth talks more about “following your heart” and “taking leaps of faith off a cliff” than this one—except for when it actually happens and then breaks all the rules and messes with the ratings. WTF, Chris Harrison? Let Clare live.
For those of you who haven’t already heard, the big drama of this season—which was definitely teased during the premiere—is that Clare doesn’t actually finish it at all. She starts strong with a great group of guys (for the most part) and then bails pretty early on because she falls in love with one contestant, rumored to be Dale Moss, an ex-NFL player and general smokeshow. I can’t blame the girl. He is one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen. You could say he’s ridiculously sexy and unbelievably cute at the same time, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Clare says, “I feel like I definitely just met my husband” directly in front of the camera, Disney princess-style, after their first interaction.
I’ll say this: for all of Clare’s strengths, a poker face is not one of them. We all saw the way you melted into a puddle as he walked toward you, girl. Apparently playing it cool isn’t in her contract. If we didn’t already know she’d leave her season for this guy, it became pretty obvious after her voice got all high and breathy and she looked like she was about to start drawing their initials in the desert sand with the toe of her stiletto.
Anyway, Clare has gotten a lot of hate and a ton of viewers have been criticizing her since this news broke earlier this year for basically blowing up her season and leaving early. Seems a little unfair, considering she’s hardly the first contestant to break the rules—remember when Colton jumped a fence after Cassie left when he was the Bachelor, and that wasn’t even the most concerning part of their relationship? In any case, after watching the very first episode of Clare’s season, I can say I’m 100% backing homegirl on her decision to cut out early for a variety of reasons.
Almost as soon as the men started arriving on night one, it was clear that while Clare is definitely not too old to be on the show, she is maybe too mature for these fools. It was so obvious after just one episode of all the squabbling that characterizes this franchise that her actual problems— like having a parent with dementia and Alzheimer’s in a care home and her own journey for love—were going to supersede the pettiness of DM sliding. She seemed honestly bored by it. Her moments of emotion came during much more real, down-to-earth situations, like when she was thanking Blake for reaching out to her after her mom had a fall and broke her nose, even though it was against the rules, to make sure she was okay. That’s a much more reasonable time to get emotional than bursting into tears because one of your thirty suitors might have talked to another girl before in his life at some point, IMO. Maybe that’s actually a benefit of her being almost 40—she comes off as just having even less patience for the bullsh*t that tends to dominate a Bachelorette season.
If anything, Clare’s age uniquely qualifies her to leave when she damn well pleases. She trusts in herself enough to go with her gut. You can see her reaction to Dale as soon as he walks out of the limo. It’s visceral and genuine and I honestly believed it. She’s still trying to be open-minded as far as I could tell during night one, but she isn’t wishy-washy between guys or swayed by sh*t that doesn’t matter; she’s past caring and I find that refreshing. She also makes out with him on night one, which I’m all for. Girl was in quarantine for months, and considering how this year has made us all so aware of basic things like mortality and the passage of time, I wouldn’t have wasted my time, either. Like, if I felt about someone the way Clare clearly does about Dale and a TV network was trying to force me to keep dating around (the way my mother did before she found out my now-wife was going to med school), I’d rebel too. And if you meet someone who makes you very aware of the moments you spend apart, especially when you’re surrounded by a bunch of other very attractive men who are intent on dating you, that’s a good sign you should go get ‘em.
Leaving her season of the show was a bold move and it threw the network—and fans—into a tailspin, but I’ll say this: if her initial reaction to Dale, and his to her, was any indication of how their rumored continued relationship is progressing, she was absolutely right to leave. Yeah, she broke the rules and probably a bunch of contractual things she’d sworn to abide by, but who cares? She saw what she wanted and she went for it without letting herself be swayed by irrelevant details like legal agreements and other people’s opinions. She actually followed her heart, which is kind of the most insane thing you can do even in the best of times, and it’s also incredibly brave when everyone (read: ABC and Yosef, probably) was telling her no.
In the coming episodes, we’ll get to see the buildup of both the relationship that is rumored to have made her leave the show, and also of her interactions with the other men in the house. It seems like she does her best to engage with other guys even if Dale was always her favorite, and I give her credit for trying to stay in the game until she couldn’t deal anymore. If the clips are any indication, there’s no shortage of drama leading up to her blowing up her own season, Daenerys Targaryen style. But if things with her and Dale really worked out the way they seem to, I have no doubt it was worth it.
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Images: GIPHY (2), ABC/Craig Sjodin