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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Honestly, the last thing this Bachelor season needed was more contestants

Illustration for article titled Honestly, the last thing this Bachelor season needed was more contestants
Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC
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Since so few Bachelor couples ever stay together in the long run, at this point, most of us are just watching the show for the spectacle, the drama, the chance that we, or the contestants, might actually stumble across something that resembles actual emotion—or at least a reaction. This week’s episode inspired a reaction, all right, and that reaction was nausea.

Things started out promising, actually. While piling on five new contestants into an already overstacked field might have at first seemed like the least sensible idea the producers could come up with, initially, at least, it had promise. An actual queen with a crown to take on Victoria! Confident Brittany to take some of these harpies—who literally bullied Sarah off of the show last week—down a few notches! Michelle, an actual viable contender, who made Matt the happiest we’ve ever seen him!

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But, because The Bachelor appears determined to stomp feminism back into the Stone Age and/or portray groups of women in the least positive light, things devolved rather quickly. The newly dubbed “OGs” (groan) immediately raised their collective hackles against the newcomers, as if three whole weeks afforded them some sense of propriety over Matt, who is, after all, his own person, with the ability to make up his own mind. Then, Anna, whose only facial expression appears to be that she is in the midst of smelling something unpleasant, starts spreading unsubstantiated rumors about knowing Brittany in Chicago and that she’s an escort.

First off: Why are we shaming sex workers—on The Bachelor of all places? Secondly, why is Anna repeating things (and where is she getting this info, aren’t they supposed to be shut off from the rest of the world?) without knowing them to be true? I mean, we know why: to be mean, to try to knock Brittany out of the running. Once again, we see the Bachelor women rip each other to shreds instead of raising each other up. Brittany can sue over this, right? This was slander on national TV. Just… what the fuck, Bachelor.

But we’re not done with the idiocy yet. An obstacle course that stranded Magi in the middle of a lake and made the girls dress up in squirrel costumes wasn’t humiliating enough (especially when the prize wasn’t even anything actually prizeworthy, but an acorn statue? What was the point?) Then with the lame premise of giving the women a chance to get their aggression out, the second group date featured them pummeling each other. Over a man. Once again, there didn’t even seem to be a reward involved, just a willingness to take your aggressions out on a fellow female in front of a crowd. And why did the men watching look so shocked? They set it up, after all.

The five new women did add some new energy to the show. But any of that was immediately squashed by the unrelenting bitchiness of the original round of women against the new ones, whose biggest crime appears to be showing up three weeks after they did. In a house of what appears to be about a hundred women, there is only one, Katie, who recognizes that other people besides herself have actual feelings. Since Matt has had little luck taking control of the house so far (much like the equally ineffectual Pilot Pete), I have little hope that his talk to the women next week will do anything but get Katie in trouble.

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Despite Matt’s multitude of options (how does he keep all those names straight; I kind of forgot Lauren even existed), there did appear to be few moments of actual romance this week—if that’s what the viewers at home were watching for. Chelsea was cute at the cocktail party, and Matt and Michelle really seemed like an actual couple on their one-on-one date. But at this point, apparently according to the Bachelor powers-that be, that’s not what people are watching for anymore anyway. Just neverending, constantly unfurling drama, in yet another “shocking episode” (thanks, Chris Harrison) of The Bachelor.

Stray observations

  • “You’re not going to get an apology.” I love Katie. Victoria just looked so perplexed, because few people probably ever stand up to her toxicity.
  • LOVE Chris Harrison breaking up Victoria’s conversation with Matt. It’s why I was so excited about the new people at first, because if they were there to help rake Victoria over the coals, I’m all for it.
  • Could not get over Chelsea’s dress at the rose ceremony. She is stunning.
  • But what was Kim wearing? Regardless, she was an ICU nurse who had been fighting COVID-19 on the front lines; she deserved better!
  • In the past, with some Bachelor villains, at least there was some chemistry to help explain just why they were still around. Demi fiercely flirted with virgin Colton, while Hannah Brown had some ill-advised but definitely present chemistry with Luke P. With Victoria it’s so obvious that Matt, nice as seems to be, can’t stand her. What must the producers be bribing him with every week to keep her around? Naturally, she and Anna would eventually become fast friends, and I am ready for both of them to go. Unfortunately, there are probably many episodes left before that will finally happen.
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Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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