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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This Bachelor season is way too toxic to be fun

Illustration for article titled This iBachelor/i season is way too toxic to be fun
Photo: Francisco Roman (ABC)
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This 24th Bachelor season kicked off with a mega-ton of drama, but it was a good kind of drama. Former Bachelorette Hannah Brown showed up out of nowhere, threatening to usurp the whole operation, to the consternation of the twentysome women Pilot Peter had just agreed to start dating. In the end, Hannah had to depart (to go off and win the Dancing With The Stars mirror ball), leaving us with the usual plethora of women but absolutely no drop in drama levels.

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Every Bachelor/Bachelorette season has a villain, a shit-stirrer, but usually those people are in the minority. They’re slightly fun to love to hate, but it’s even more enjoyable to see them get their comeuppance from the other contestants. The problem with this season of The Bachelor is that there are so many villains, leaving us with very few people to root for. These Bachelor contestants are like a hydra: Lop off Alayah’s head, and mean girl Sydney’s head pops right up. Victoria F. goes off on Mykenna for being too emotional, then falls apart every time Peter wants to talk to her. Tammy initially seemed to be fun, then trash-talked everyone the second they left the room. As Natasha put it last week: “Dealing with Tammy and Mykenna and all the drama, it’s just not fun.” Or take it from a former Bachelor contestant (from Colton’s season):

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This week, the never-ending Bachelor tour heads to Peru, apparently land of alpacas. Of the final six, three (Kelsey, Victoria F., and Natasha) are straight-up drama queens, while Hannah Ann has kind of skirted around the edges of Kelsey-fueled champagne-gate. Kelley is down to earth, but doesn’t really seem to be that interested in Peter, which leaves us with Madison, who, so far at least, appears to be delightful. It’s amazing that we even have feelings about her, since all the Bachelor conversations so far consist of relationship non sequitur shop talk, with the two players discussing following their heart, what they’re looking for, what they could possibly hope to find in each other. Granted, you could say that about every single Bachelor season, but without a lot of chemistry to latch onto, the lack of substance is painfully obvious.

Part of the problem, as has been highlighted over the past few weeks, is the lack of a dynamic lead. While Peter famously had sex four times with Hannah Brown in a windmill in Greece and was charming as a smitten suitor, he lacks the strength to have faith in his own decisions. He can go from “I have 100% confidence that I know what I’m doing” to “I just feel like I’m doing this all wrong and I’m messing up” in a matter of minutes in the same episode. Colton might not have seemed like the sharpest knife in the drawer either, but at least he had the wherewithal to not play she-said/she-said, instead sending home two girls that were trash-talking each other. Peter sent home the toxic Alayah but had second thoughts, so she reemerged from usually permanent Bachelor banishment the following week. After Alayah received the group date rose after not even going on the group date, pissing off the whole house (“such a bad decision on his part!” exclaimed one contestant), Peter then sent her home for the second time. He appears to have the spine of a jellyfish. You’d think he would have learned a lesson from the catfishing Luke P. when they were both on The Bachelorette—but he actually asked Alayah, “Why is everybody so against you?”

The unnecessary drama is painful, but the ennui may be even worse. This week was an excruciatingly boring episode, with a pointless date with Natasha, who got sent home, and an only slightly better one with champagne-gate Kelsey (typical date claptrap jargon: “This relationship is our own and we’re doing it our way”), who stayed. The other girls have figured out that Peter actually appears to be drawn to drama, and Victoria F. and Hannah Ann apparently know a sucker when they see one, so they turned on the waterworks, and got to stay. Reasonable, down-to-earth Chicago attorney Kelley got sent home, apparently just for being so reasonable. Pilot Peter’s decision-making skills are suspect enough to possibly make you reconsider flying Delta.

Why is this season so much worse than previous ones? One is the well-meaning yet giant gaping black hole of personality at its center. But also, it’s just not fun seeing women at each other’s throats all the time. Now that we’re down to only four contestants, the drama should be lessened—but are we really supposed to forget the fact that Kelsey screeched at Hannah Ann over mistakenly stealing her champagne bottle in the first few weeks of the show, and now they’re hugging? It’s definitely possible, faced with a potentially bland lead, that the producers vetted on the side of strong-personality women for this season’s contestants. And they did bring the drama. But what this season lacks is instances of women actually supporting each other, even in this outlandish, televised quest. Only a small portion of Bachelors are still with the women they picked in the finale, after all, so what were Tammy, Mykenna, et al. being so cutthroat about? The prize is a potential future with a cute airline pilot, not $1 million cash money. Knowing that your odds are about 5% going in, wouldn’t a better option be to hang in there and and have fun in these fabulous, glamorous countries rather than tearing everyone and everything down with you?

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Which makes it even more of a shame that Kelley got sent home tonight. Like us, she seemed to be completely over the drama, and could not believe that Peter would pick the sulky Victoria F., who accused him of always being “in a mood.But Kelley should have seen the writing on the wall. When she tried to explain to Peter that a relationship “can be easy and it can be fun,” he looked at her like she was speaking Sanskrit. She was absolutely right, though; how could you even think about a lifetime commitment to someone who threw a conniption fit over a champagne bottle? You could actually also apply Kelley’s description to The Bachelor itself: It can be fun, but definitely not this season.

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Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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