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.

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Nick’s utter lack of charm is never more pronounced than when he’s in the same room with someone like Rachel, who cranks the charisma up to 11 while he struggles to mumble a coherent sentence. In the Bachelorverse, each moment of screen time is an audition to become the next Bachelorette/Bachelor, and it’s easy to see why Rachel was chosen. Whether it’s genuine or an act (or a mix), Rachel sells the enthusiasm the show works so hard to manufacture.

Endings don’t matter in some stories. The enjoyment is in getting there. And for all that the point of The Bachelor is pairing off a couple, the show still tells one of those stories. More memorable than who “wins” the show are the relationships the show builds most of its drama around, and those relationships are rarely between contestant and bachelor; they’re between contestant and contestant. That’s why those early episodes with Corinne taking center stage were so much more memorable than the last few episodes, where Nick’s relationship with the remaining contestants shifts into greater focus.

That’s why it’s so strange to know that Rachel is the next Bachelorette before she was dumped on the show. It doesn’t just make her screen time boring, it actively depletes what little drama there is left to manufacture.

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Speaking of manufacturing drama: You know it’s a boring episode when the producers make a scripted skit out of an orgasm. I see Raven as representing the fantasy of The Bachelor. She’s uncomplicated, she doesn’t breach heavy topics, she presents an easy-breezy version of a relationship. She has her first orgasm with Nick—it’s just that easy!

Vanessa is the cold wind that blows in. Her frankness is refreshing because it deviates from the script that Raven and Nick are following. They don’t talk about the real questions that plague the relationships formed on the show: namely, who is going to move to keep the relationship going? Vanessa’s deep and repeatedly verbalized bond with her family makes it unlikely she would move out of Montreal to be with Nick, and she straight-up asks Nick if he would move. They don’t exactly hammer it out, as Nick responds in the generalities that are the bread and butter of communication on The Bachelor. “I know it takes more than love to make a relationship work,” Vanessa says, pushing right up against the manufactured fantasy. Raven is the fantasy; Vanessa is the reality.

The “women tell-all” segment of this “three-hour Bachelor event” is far superior to the actual show. Liz tears up when she says the greatest part of the experience was meeting the contestants who changed her life, who wrote her letters and reached out after the show finished. It reinforces to me that the most valuable and long-lasting relationships to come out of The Bachelor franchise is not the fairy-tale male/female pairings, but the female/female pairings formed when women who are supposed to be competing against each other develop relationships instead.

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