For those of us who watch this show semi-ironically, part of the franchise’s charm lies in its predictability and unthwartable phoniness. Its contestants are seldom complicated and its dates almost never surprising unless something goes awry.
The token Interesting girls, like Ashley S. last season (left) and PortlandMandi this season (right), are usually so “out there” that the adjective just becomes a pejorative qualifier. For whatever reason, their kookiness is played up so hard for the cameras that it is a short slip from cute-but-entirely-unrelatable to straight-up-insufferable. The Bachelor tends to feel the same, and it is rare for Interesting to make it past the third or fourth week on the show.
The second category of Interesting women are the Alphas, which you’ll recall as the women who strut the house with the confidence of whatever popular senior girl intimidated and probably hated you the most in high school. There can only be one or two per season because any higher number would inevitably lead to an internal collapse of relations in the Bachelor Mansion and we need these women to make it a few weeks. A common trait of the Alphas is their unhealthy sense of possession and jealousy, which usually has escalated to full blown villainism by the time the Bachelor sends her home.
With Interesting choices like these, the show sets us up to root for the vanilla candidates. All of sudden, the colorless crowd looks more and more attractive. We concede to cheer for them, despite the fact that their two Excitement Meter settings are 0 and 100. We ignore the crying, which mostly revolves around The Bachelor or some middle-to-low-grade hardship being recounted in a show of vulnerability that will pass as depth. We make peace with the fact that the Bachelor Bot who will get the final rose will likely have a high-pitched voice, a dainty laugh, All-American teeth, and no professional aspirations to speak of as those departed with whatever limo dropped her off here. And that it is okay because for the most part, the Bachelors themselves are vanillamen who would struggle with more complicated women anyway. It just is what it is and the best we can hope for is that the producers will engender enough romance though these comically grandiose dates, and drama among the women, to last fourteen more years.
Of course, their job becomes easier as the season goes on. The contestants eventually let their guards down and begin to experience romantic feelings that make it harder to suppress their vulnerabilities and less savory personality traits before the Bachelor, each other, and naturally the cameras rolling around them. Accordingly, the best drama builds upon weeks of pent-up resentment and anxiety. Cliques form and a villain — whose contempt usually well earns the status — is coronated, after which time it becomes acceptable to exercise social control, or in our case spit outright vitriol, in order
to put her back in her place to protect The Bachelor’s heart.
Tonight, though, we skip ALL the steps and allow things to get real real and real dirty. If I have learned anything from having found myself bawling for five minutes straight while watching this week’s episode, it is that I was Not Ready and that watching this show this late in my menstrual cycle is never a good idea. Let us now trace back how we got there.
Stuff White People Like: Little Propeller Planes
The day starts with all the women restlessly waiting for Ben to summon them to him. Each appears to be whining about how difficult this process is until Chris Harrison rescues us from this dullness to drop off the one-on-one date card. Lauren B, the flight attendant, is the chosen one. Ben picks her up in a gorgeous convertible, which appears to be his thing this season. Good for you, Ben. You go ahead and milk ABC for all its worth. They drive up to a patch of dirt where a yellow, single-propeller plane takes them up to the clouds and over the Pacific Ocean, which sounds a nice way to die to me. But Lauren B and Ben have a blast, and also the audacity to fly over the Bachelor Mansion and wave at the women who Very Much know who is in that plane. After this rather cruel stunt, the love birds cuddle up in a hot tub erected somewhere in the middle of the desert. Then Lauren B and Ben go to dinner where Lauren says she’d love to have kids so she can give them a life that was as easy as hers. Leaving his date’s privilege unchecked (I kid I kid) Ben gives her a rose and takes her to a personal concert where some lady who might be famous sings The Country. This feels like deja vu because it is! Ben planned this exact date with Caila except instead of an intimate plane ride, Caila had to settle for aging B-lister actors Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, whose time to be fair probably cost as much as renting that little plane.
Speaking of Caila, the stir-crazy is setting in. Little Miss Sunshine has a breakdown as the rules of the game “just hit” her and bring her to tears. It is hard to stop our eyes from collectively rolling to the back of our heads because this show has been on air since Caila was in the Sixth Grade, so How Is Any of It A Gahtdamb Surprise.
The card arrives for the group date. Amanda, EmilyHailey, Jennifer, Shoshanna, Leah, Amber, Lauren H, Olivia, Jami, Rachel, and Lace, are called to join Ben. Oh, and World Cup soccer champions Alex Morgan and Kelly O’Hara. The pros run the girls through some drills and divide them in two teams, for the first time splitting the twins into individual women. The MVP of the game actually turns out to be itty bitty Emily twin, who stops hella balls as the goalie for the Stars team. The girls are playing super aggressively and Ben comes alive at the sight of such passion. Literally, the man is clapping and jumping and maniacally laughing on the sidelines. This is super refreshing to see and also very attractive because it turns out the stick up his arse is in fact removable. Ultimately the Stripes team takes the win, which unfortunately means EvilOlivia gets to go on the rest of the group date. Rachel goes home injured and the best shot of the night is tiny little mathematician Shoshanna carrying her like into the house like a boss.
On some hotel rooftop, Ben congratulates the winning Stripes team over drinks. Before he is done with his welcome speech, EvilOlivia steals him and takes him to one of the hotel rooms from where she waves at the girls because she is The Worst. The girls retaliate by making fun of her fat toes behind her back, a gossip that Jami faithfully runs back to EvilOlivia as soon as she returns downstairs. The latter takes the dig comically personally (“What were they making fun of? My ankles? My cankles?”). No, not the cankles. Just the toes. So helpful, Jami. Ultimately, Ben decides to give the group rose to Amber and EvilOlivia reads way too much into the fact that he taps her thigh as he gets up from the sofa at the end of the night. While this is a perfectly normal interaction to dissect in the safe space of Girlfriends Who Care About You, we note that it is definitely NOT okay to discuss into the camera that will replay your obsessive commentary before thousands of judgy betches like me.
Back at the house, Jubilee is stressing out because this means the one-on-one date will go to FuckingBecca, JoJo, or her. Because the other two girls are really nice and the I’m always happy type, our girl is convinced — rightfully so — that Ben will gravitate towards them and never be attracted to her. “He has a type, but it’s not me at all,” Jubilee says in tears, to Jojo who quietly acquiesces like that card will definitely have her name on it. This is part one of us all pretending that Jubilee is also not referring to her expectation that Ben will inevitably end up with a not-Interesting white girl. By the time the next one-on-one card arrives, Jubilee’s pretty much given up. That is, until her name is called! SURPRISE!
Ben arrives in the Bachelor Mansion living room and casually asks, “What time is it right now?”
“You know, just twenty minutes late,” Jubilee answers. It’s a joke, although Ben probably is late. The girls, who are still here at this point, laugh tensely in the background.
Cue Jami — one of the other two light skinned girls on the show — who in her side interview, mimics Jubilee with an emphasis on a neck roll that was not actually a thing. Jami makes sure to adopt a sort of African-American accent in doing her imitation, which is also not really Jubilee’s accent. What am I saying? Did one Black girl stereotype another in an effort to ridicule her just because her sarcasm rubbed her the wrong way? Yes. Shady as fuck. But it gets better.
jami is the worst
Over the sound of helicopter blades, Ben invites Jubilee to come outside as their ride touches down in front of the Bachelor Mansion. Jubilee is deathly afraid of heights, and turns around to say to no one in particular, “Does anyone want my date?!”
It’s clearly another joke, followed by some light laughter, although the level of earnestness on Jojo’s face as her arm shoots up is a bit disconcerting. After Ben and Jubilee fly away, Caila decides that Jubilee is not appreciative enough of her date and that it won’t go well. Jami declares it “was offensive to listen to,” while Amber decides it was just disrespectful.
“I would be shocked if Jubilee came home tonight. I just feel really bad for ben that he has to sit in that little box in the sky until it’s over,” says Caila with a saccharine smile. Didn’t take very long for this one’s claws to come out.
Jubilee and Ben touch down into a gorgeous health spa nestled in the hills. They start eating and Jubilee spits out her caviar with so little grace that it cracks up Ben. He relaxes too and when it comes up, Ben is surprised that she would be surprised to get the one-on-one date. There is a lot of unspoken communication here, but I’m pretty sure Ben’s face says, “Nah I like Black girls too, furreal-furreal.”
Their date looks really fun and natural. Ben is not scared off by her sense of humor [while they’re playing, she says, “I’m not playing, white boy,” and also later definitely makes a joke about his big dick? At which he laughs both times. Adorbz]. She calls him out on the fake-ass laughs he serves throughout the season but is excited to see him laugh genuinely on their date. How much life is Jubilee giving me right now? ALL of the life. ALL of it. Then they supremely make out and it’s perfect. Shout out to all my awkward Black girls; this one’s for us.
Over dinner, things get more serious and Jubilee tells Ben that she is the only surviving member of her family and that she has not gone back to Haiti, but that she hopes to with someone special because it’s too much to go back alone. Jubilee and I are crying because this is really fucking real and sad and someone thing I would not wish even on Ted Cruz. Because the game’s the game, Ben must interrupt the moment to give her a rose but for after that they resume kissing and hugging and it’s good that Ben can do that for her because I just want to reach through my screen and hug her and be her surrogate mom even though Jubilee was successfully adopted a while back.
so many FEELS
The next morning, everyone is Shocked to see that Jubilee has come home. All of them are clutching their pearls. Lauren H “knows that Ben wants a wife who will be friends with all the other soccer mooooms,” which I will try to not read much into but cannot help but feel like there’s a wee bit of bias sprinkled in that statement. Everyone is flabbergasted that Ben can see a future with Jubilee and thus decide to punish her through a round of isolation. “There’s so much tension in the room,” says Amber to the cameras, before she returns to talk shit about Jubilee (who they’ve inexplicably christened Queen Bee) with other women.
Rose & Toes
The rose ceremony opens as grimly as the previous day ended. Ben announces that a couple of family friends died in a plane crash the previous night, and so he finds himself in a rather somber mood. This will be an interesting test, methinks.
“Can I graaaaab you?” EvilOlivia asks, which will be our first chance to see what this woman is made of. Will she ask how Ben is holding up? Will she try to cheer him up or let him vent? No. In true villain art form, EvilOlivia decides that this moment is the right one for her to open with a conversation about her legs, which she allegedly hates all the way down. “People have written blogs, that I have cankles …” she says, fighting back the tears, “I try to be strong all the time. It’s the scariest thing ever.” Ben tried to give some fucks but in his interview reveals that in that moment, fucks-to-have have departed his body (he says this much more nicely, obvi.). In short, EvilOlivia’s inability to Comfort and makes things not about herself rubs him the wrong way.
“toes, toes, toes, me me me” – EvilOlivia
Inside the house, the women seem unable to talk themselves down from the irrational haterade they have built against Jubilee while they were punishing her all day. We catch one maddening shot of the gang-up dynamics when Jubilee joins JoJo and Caila in the kitchen, while Ben is busy with other women outside. Instantly, Jojo leaves to “get some lipgloss or something” in a classic Mean Girl move.
But Jubilee, not giving no shits, moves right along and joins Ben outside where
the producers have she has set up a massage table to help him relax. The other girls flip their shit, upset that Jubilee would dare take up Ben’s time since she already has a rose. The idea that she might be doing something nice for him does not even cross their little bird brains, so eager are they to swoop in and interrupt. Jami does just that with so much attitude that I literally palmed her face through my phone. AmberAlert decides that it was so rude and so disrespectful for Jubilee to come up with this brilliant idea first. She stalks to the next room to get secluded Jubilee off the couch for a Girl Talk, which I’m pretty sure is code for a one sided dressdown.
mean girls: emilyhailey, jamie, lace, amber
Shockingly, Jubilee says thanks but no thanks, and so AmberAlert decides she will instead bring the girls to Jubilee who she deems to be acting like a Queen Bee for refusing to be confronted like that. This gang-up is happening if it’s the last fucking thing AmberAlert is doing on this show! Jubilee, who continues to channel my inner self, literally runs away to the bathroom and hides. AmberAlert mimics Jubilee shrug-off to the other girls with, again, an unnecessary neck roll. Second light skinned girl to do this shady shit where she tries to make an angry Black woman out of a Black woman who is not actually being confrontational.
The whole thing backfires, thankfully, because Ben ends up giving Jubilee more attention as a direct result of AmberAlert’s shenanigans. He huddles up with her in the bathroom to console her and soon enough AmberAlert joins too, but only to tell off a crying Jubilee in front of Ben. She accuses Jubilee of being insensitive when she left for her date the day before and also for not being “grateful.” AmberAlert basically tells Jubilee to toughen up as the girl continues to cry because let’s be real, when you start, that shit is hard to pull back in. Ben tells AmberAlert that he likes that Jubilee doesn’t walk on eggshells and that he likes her little jokes and then they hug sweetly in front of steaming AmberAlert. Pretty sure he regrets giving the latter a rose.
Lace pulls Ben aside and does the most adult thing she’s done all season by sending herself home to work on her feelings and thoughts, which she has a lot of. Good luck with all that, bee-bee! It ‘s really touching, even as she quotes her own tattoo through her tears “you can’t love others until you love yourself” — Lace) and Ben returns to start the rose ceremony. Nothing to write home about, except for the fact that EvilOlivia gets the last rose. The eternal hopeful and over-confident gal appears to take it as a good sign though, a last-but-first kinda thing, rather than punishment for discussing her fucking toes while the man was grieving. Lesson learned: none. Shoshanna and Jami, who you’ll recall is a terrible human being, are sent home. I hope Jami remains single for longer than she wishes and honestly, send no good vibes to her.
I am excited to see how far Jubilee will go though! And to see EvilOlivia have a meltdown next week, per the previews. On this note, good night and good luck to us all. See you in week 4 of this ginormous waste of our collective times.