Episode 4: Spelling Bae
Welcome back Fia and Josh, it has been quite a week for the Bachelor franchise, but the show must go on! Read on to hear what our resident experts have to say about Ep 4. and what we paired with it.
JOSH: Okay, so I have to start this week’s recap by pointing out that this has been one of the most, if not the most dramatic seasons in this show’s whole history. Between Lee’s, um, checkered past on social media to the whole controversy surrounding whatever went down between DeMario and Corinne on the set of Bachelor in Paradise, these past few weeks have been pretty wild for those of us who call Bachelor Nation home. And here I thought casting Rachel would be the most newsworthy thing to happen this year.
FIA: If only. I enjoyed this article from Claire Fallon and Emma Gray on this same subject. What I find particularly distressing here is that ABC is using Lee’s hate filled manipulations to drum up drama as if this were business as usual. I cringed when I saw that next week will bring a two-on-one between Kenny and Lee. Lee’s actions are not the equivalent of claiming someone does not know what the words “emotional intelligence” means (as was the source of drama in last season’s two-on-one between Taylor and Corinne). I have always said that I find the Bachelor/ette franchise to be one of the most interesting social experiments currently being performed publicly. The social experiment I show up for is the one where twenty-five men or women actually start to believe they are falling in love with the lead simply by being help captive for six weeks. This is the stuff the Brothers Grimm were writing about! Fairy Tale is an apt metaphor for this show not because of the limos and roses but because of how dark most fairy tales actually are (and how many involve some form of captivity). But I do not need (or want) a reality show to highlight what might happen when you allow a textbook racist to bait, patronize and lie to a room full of black men and then have the gall to call it entertainment.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the last episode (thanks, NBA Finals), so as this episode begins, I’m reminded that we left off with all the drama between Eric and Lee. I am beyond disappointed that Lee was able to goad Eric into popping off and looking like the angry black man. Lee’s behavior is completely ridiculous and completely middle-school. He cuts in on Kenny’s time with Rachel just to start in, OUT OF NOWHERE, on a relative-with-cancer story. Look, I’m all for deploying these sad tales during cocktail parties, but like, maybe not now? And maybe not in such a weird yet brazenly manipulative way?
And so Dean, in his confessional, is the first to broach the subject of race. As I have said on numerous occasions, the only thing considered worse than being an actual racist is to accuse someone of being a racist. And even as I type the word “racist,” I’m fully aware that to most people nowadays, the word carries little to no meaning because it gets thrown around so often.
Can we even talk about how into Bryan Rachel is? Like, she fell over trying to kiss him. She was essentially on top of him the entire time they were sitting together at the fountain. He better be for real. Although, if he’s discovered to be anything other than real, that will be an EPIC tell-off from our girl Rach. Because it’s been well established that she. Don’t. Play.
Okay, tonight’s episode – three major frontrunners emerged for me, and it’s not just because they are the ones Jimmy Kimmel has already predicted, it’s because of the way Rachel behaves around them. Let’s start with Bryan. First of all – I don’t even know where those tongues are going when they kiss. Second, she said this: “You are so charming, it scares me. It scares me because it’s too good to be true.” This is not something you say to someone you are pretending to like because you have to fake it with most of them until you can take the ones you really like into the fantasy suite. This is what you say to someone who gives you legit butterflies. I’m not sure fear is the best emotion when looking for a potential spouse, especially when that “looking” is happening on a reality show well known to give former everymen new careers as influencers. Bryan is 37 so I don’t *really* see him trying to leverage this job into a VIP ticket to Coachella but you do have to wonder why a handsome Colombian chiropractor is still single when he’s pushing 40. That said, they have too easy a rapport for fear to be the real problem here, I think it’s more that she’s skeptical. Here’s hoping it’s good skepticism like, “I can’t believe I found you on the Bachelor!” – a la Kaitlyn and Sean – vs bad skepticism like, “I can’t believe despite everything my gut was telling me all season I still ended up with the kind of asshole I came on this show to get away from” – a la Andi and Josh.
And then Lee is able to rope Kenny into this nonsense. Ugh, don’t they see that all the guys Rachel is most into are being totally smart and staying waaaaayyyyyy out of this drama? My other takeaway from this cocktail party is how real the struggle truly is for Rachel. On top of everything else a reality show person has to deal with, there are pressures no other Bachelorette has had to deal with.
I have a theory on why Kenny switched spots with Eric to become the main target of Lee’s attacks and the one who ultimately ends up on the two-on-one. Many moons ago Ali Fedotowsky wrote a blog post (what is my life that I know this?) on why a lead would never agree to take someone they actually liked on the two-on-one. You don’t need to be a bachelor scholar to know that the two contestants with the most animosity are almost always the ones who end up on this date. That means the producers were going to have to switch Eric out here for someone Rachel is not actually interested in.
That leads to Eric and how he is my second major frontrunner of this episode. I think that one of the (many) reasons Rachel was so upset last week is that Eric is one of the guys she actually likes and is not just pretending to like. She drops her guard with him in a way I don’t see her do with anyone else. Her interactions with Eric are less physically charged than they may be with Bryan, but she seems relaxed and comfortable with him and that’s a side of her I don’t think we’ve seen yet with anyone else. For this reason, I think it makes sense that she would be more upset that Eric was at the center of the drama last week than someone disposable like dum-dum Iggy. And I don’t think she would agree to bring Eric on the two-on-one with Lee making this a non-starter for producers and leading them to swap out Eric in the Lee storyline for someone less destined to go far ie Kenny. It’s obvious Rachel likes and respects Kenny, but I doubt she ever seriously considered him as a potential partner when this thing is all said and done.
Lee gets a rose for some dumb reason (producers) and now we’re in South Carolina.
(By the way, it must be said that your Bachelor/ette knowledge and scholarship and insight are unparalleled. I am honored to be your blogmate.)
Quick cut in to say I miss Diggy already and am happy BiP is back in production where we are sure to see more sartorial wins from this self proclaimed clothes horse. Also in case you were wondering Chris Harrison’s “I can facilitate anything” actually means “I can facilitate starting the rose ceremony early.” Snore.
And this week’s first one-on-one is with Dean. Obviously I’m happy about this. And it’s okay if you’re not, Fia; I’ll be happy enough for the both of us. (Just because I don’t want Dean for myself does not mean I intend to deny you Rachel the pleasure of his one-on-one) I stopped smiling, though, when I saw the Goodyear Blimp. It cheered me to know that Dean, like me, is afraid of heights. That means we’re compatible, which is encouraging for all the Dean&Josh fanfic I’ve been writing. But like seriously: blimps make no sense. It’s like someone stuck a giant balloon onto the top of a bus. Why why why why why. I like that they got comfy enough to make out in the blimp, but I have to admit I was really affected by the story Dean told about his mom. You could tell he wasn’t planning on telling it, but once Rachel was like “how did you grow up” it all just spilled out. It was a disarming moment that successfully distracted me from remembering that Rachel has to go on these interracial dates on plantations. (I mean, seriously.)
I too was moved by Dean’s story once I stopped being distracted by how white and straight is teeth are. (They have to be fake, right? No one’s teeth actually look like that.) And you are dead on, Josh, I don’t think he had any intention of telling that story. Unlike Lee’s obviously planned and manipulative, “so my grandfather had cancer…” Dean’s story felt unexpected and raw. I try to keep my social media stalking of these contestants on the hush, but before my finger even knew what it was doing it had like this @deanie_babies post. Also, let’s hold the phones for a sec. Dean’s IG handle is deanie_babies. It’s DEANIE_BABIES ! I just got on board as a Josh / Dean shipper.
This group date. This group date. This. Group. Date. While it’s kind of genius to get everyone drunk and then make them spell words in front of grade school children, this seemed low budg and not terribly inventive. I didn’t find it terribly fair, though, that Josiah got “stunning” while MY Peter was stuck with “coitus” and Anthony got freaking “boutonniere.”
The stunning thing was just unfair. But I disagree about the date, I kind of loved it. Although hours of day drinking followed by a test of smarts in a public setting does sound like the devil’s canape course. I was also interested to learn that the tickle monster is actually a doctor and that Will apparently reads six books a day. A fact that seemed appropriate as we later saw him drinking a glass of red wine in a linen jacket.
Is it just me, or did Rachel get kinda deep in that white wine during this group date? She was a lot, um, looser with the guys than she normally is. She spilled all kinds of tea, like the fact that she legit passed the Wisconsin bar. In my Bachelorette fanfic, Rachel saw Peter’s pic and found out where he was from so she could fly there and take the bar before production started. Or maybe that’s just what I would have done.
Ah, Peter. My third (these are in no particular order) frontrunner. Okay, Peter. We are all in love with him, obviously: you, me, Rachel, Nikki and Erica of YWR. We get it. This man is just – there’s no need to even talk about it.
But if the name of the game with Bryan is “sexy skepticism” and with Eric it’s “relaxed comfort” – then for Peter it’s NERVES!
This is the second time we’ve seen her ask him if he’d leave Wisconsin. And then, just in case the answer was no, she tells him she’s licensed to practice there. Every conversation feels like she is trying to gauge where she stands with him. Which is great – it means they are coming to the relationship as equals and not as bachelorette / person trying to win the bachelorette but it also means he has the potential to Brooks her. Yes I used brooks as a verb and it means to leave someone crying on a dock the night she expected to have sex with you.
This week’s other Drunk Rose goes to Josiah, who had a spelling bee trophy full of booze in about half an hour. But of course, the real drama comes from Lee, who uses this week’s drinking word — “aggressive” — as he describes Kenny’s behavior toward him. Not that Lee needs any help to be a scumbag, and not that anyone else is responsible for the behavior of a grown-ass man, but I feel like some of these producers have been watching a little too much UnReal. In these highly charged days we live in, you have to know that letting Lee run amok in this environment and provoking people like this will lead to serious violence. Not cute fisticuffs, but like, blood drawn. And former contestants making light of it on Twitter only fans the flames.
Next week we get a two-night Bachelorette event. I would suggest some drinking game words, but I’m gonna forgo that and just drink constantly throughout both episodes. And I know it’s off-brand, but I might have to switch to hard liquor if this keeps up.
In the words of King Joffrey by way of Josiah, “FILL MY GOBLET” indeed.