Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.
After 21 seasons The Bachelor should be predictable. But the bag of tricks seems to get ever deeper, in casting, in group date scenarios, in the acquisition of a bouncy house. Last week’s episode drew its drama from casting a contestant who had a previous one-night stand with Nick; this week focused on Corinne, season 21’s villain.
And what delectable villainy she gives us. It takes savvy and moxie to be a good villain on The Bachelor. The best villains get the most screen time—and despite all the “grabbing” and “borrowing” of Nick, it’s screen time, not Nick’s time, that is the most precious commodity of The Bachelor. Corinne has had more face time than any other contestant—can you remember anyone else’s name who didn’t go on the one-on-one this episode? Corinne had her eyes on this prize from the word go, getting an early start on annoying the other contestants and forcing a kiss on Nick the first night (he said in the confessional he was uncomfortable with it, that’s how forced it was). Her proactive work paid off, as her early status of season villain allowed the producers to craft the dramatic arcs that make up each episode’s emotional highs and lows. Even when she’s not “grabbing” Nick right away, making out with him in a bouncy house, or having him lick whipped cream off her chest, she’s getting the screen time just sitting with the other women by telling them about her nanny. It’s deliciously mockable, but it also sets Corinne apart from the other contestants: She knows exactly what she’s doing, and she’s doing it very well.
It’s important to have a good villain, or a contestant who cries a lot (or a villain who cries a lot), because without it the episodes would be a series of silly challenges (the group dates), lots of down time where we see people sitting around waiting, and a helicopter ride. The producers switch up this formula from time to time—this week, the one-on-one date switched out a “this is so amazing!” helicopter ride for a “this is so amazing!” floaty space airplane. But the show lives or dies on its personalities, and by Week 3 it’s clear Corinne’s personality is the kind producers pray for: an aggressive “I’m not here to make friends” type who doesn’t, actually, appear to be making any friends. (I’ve written about female friendships on The Bachelor before, and Rachel comforting Dominique this episode shows that there are already real friendships forming. Corinne’s only ally was sent home this week, and I wouldn’t call their friendship strong.)
Like Olivia last season, the show will probably face a big boring slump when the villain leaves. Because a good villain does more than create drama; they also generate some genuine humor and, if we’re lucky, pathos. Corinne delivers the humor. Between telling the other contestants about her nanny’s amazing cheese pasta and falling asleep during the rose ceremony, Corinne is this season’s laugh factory. (Of course, we saw her asleep during the rose ceremony seemingly because she was a sleepy baby because that’s how the footage was cut; it’s always hard to tell when the producers are manipulating the truth for the sake of a good bit, and the fact that Corinne’s apology cuts before she explains why she didn’t make it makes me suspicious there’s more to the story than we saw.) Is her sleepiness the product of coddled nanny-and-cucumber upbringing, or are the contestants sleep deprived and plied with enough alcohol to sedate a bear? Probably a mix of the two.