Every time there’s a new season of one of these absurd fountains of bullshit I somehow can’t stop watching, we’re told that said season will be “the most [explosive, shocking, reality-altering, skin-clearing, some other hyperbolic adjective] ever.” We’re three weeks in now, and this time, it might actually be true. These people, if they’re anything like the rest of us (and yes I am comfortable using “us” here), are slowly losing their goddamn minds, and it shows. It shows most of all in our heroine, who, bless her, just could not keep her shit in line this week. This, the most [djfalsdkjjkldfs] season in history is also uncomfortable, hilarious, and somehow still boring. Except for when it’s not, of course. Like when The Bachelorette doesn’t go on a group date because she’s telling a former Bachelorette about how much she likes to sniff her
fiancé’s paramour’s ripped pants.
In this episode, everyone—including the producers—basically stops pretending this is still The Bachelorette. Unluckily for your faithful correspondent, that also means they also stop pretending to eat food.
Well, there’s a coffee mug. (Also, decorative wads of some sort.) Presumably, that mug contained a beverage, one Clare intended to drink. Or did you, Clare? Were you ever even interested in that drink? Or were you just pretending it’s a beverage you’d consider marrying, while you were really wishing you could just drink Dale?
Oh, who the fuck knows. Let’s break this down by date.
Yosef, still steamed about a date he didn’t even go on because something something something his daughter something, pulls the classic “can I steal you” with one of the many guys whose names I have not yet learned because Clare only talks to Dale and gets shouted at by Yosef. Yosef lets loose with a bunch of traditionally toxic, hypocritical dude stuff, and it’s sort of shocking how comfortable this guy is with being an asshole on national television. Normally we’d leave it at “asshole” and move on, but there’s a moment so deliriously uncomfortable that it might just live forever inside this old heart of mine:
Yosef: I’ve sacrificed a lot to be here [...] Every second I’m here, that’s one second I’ve taken away from being with my child.
Clare: Honestly, I get it. My mom is dying. I—
Yosef: Let me continue.
So it basically starts with this damp undershirt of a human being chiding someone who has just said her mother is dying. That’s where it starts. Much yelling ensues. Shocking no one, Yosef reveals himself to be a real angry turd. He storms off, Dale swoops in to comfort Clare, and she’s so shaken by both the loud male with opinions and the tall male with pectoral muscles and a nice smell that she calls off the rest of the cocktail party and they jump straight to the rose ceremony.
See that man? That’s the charmingly named Gavin Flowers. He’s a professor of journalism. He looks like the kind of guy who could make a nice chicken parm. Clare sends him home, because he is not Dale. Apologies, Gavin.
The first date, with a big group of dudes who thought they were specifically assembled because they were all her favorites, was meant to be a two-part thing, as most of these group dates are: in the afternoon they’d do something goofy, like have a mud-eating contest while Clare yells “faster!” and blows an air-horn; in the evening they’d have a smaller cocktail party. But Clare was busy doing the pants-on-face thing, so after the guys sat in this weird waiting room for a while, she came in to tell them the afternoon portion was off and they would be skipping right to the drinks. Unluckily for all the rest of the guys, Dale and Clare promptly ran off to her room like they were at a high school party and wanted to make out in Janice’s dad’s bathroom. Clare gave Dale the rose, and all the dudes glowered. That’s nothing compared to what they’d do if they’d heard her whisper, “Can we kind of hurry the rest along? Like, ‘thank you for coming, thank you for coming,’” to a producer off-camera. It is honestly pretty enchanting, how little she cares for trying to keep up the pretense.
At one point as Dale is awkwardly trying to leave, he says, “Can I have some of these snacks?” and Clare says, “Those are dog snacks,” and Dale cackles, and honestly, who among us has not sort of lost the ability to communicate like a functional adult over the course of this year? It is the most likable thing anyone who is not Bennett does in this whole episode. Dale does not eat the snacks.
Okay, so a dinner table is actually set for this date, though we never really get a clear look at the plates, even by Bachelorverse standards. There’s also a spa scene where the man above has cucumbers on his eyes. I’m not going to tell jokes about any of it. Misunderstanding or not, his conduct is sincerely unsettling and nothing about that is remotely funny. No one ate anything! This guy can eat shit, though!
Margaret Cho makes the gentlemen do a roast. Imagine exactly how not funny you think that would be, and you’re probably right, except for exactly half of one good joke in the form of a reference to the Kaa The Snake from Disney’s The Jungle Book. (Thanks for that, Bennett! Please do not switch from wealth management to comedy!)
But we’re not here for good jokes, we’re here for hot mess. And that’s what we get, as all these tuxedo-wearing doofuses come on stage to attempt to dunk on Dale. And they do sort of manage it, though not in a way that’s actually funny. Now, Dale is not on this date, but in place of an audience, the other suitors attend the “roast.” Thus, Dale gets roasted, a lot. Once they leave the “comedy club” for “some other random section of the hotel that production is desperately trying to make look like something other than a conference room,” however, all bets are off, since Dale won’t be at the evening cocktail party.
Or will he?
This is where things start to get weird and hilarity ensues. Over the course of this long, profoundly awkward date, Clare fairly blatantly grills all of these men for information about Dale, defends Dale, defends her attraction to Dale, and genuinely wants to know why everyone is so obsessed with Dale?
As one watches, one experiences the sincere pleasure of watching a bunch of dudes slowly realize that not only do they have no shot, they are only useful as sources of information about the real target. A real serotonin blast, believe you me. What’s bizarre is that it’s either utterly sincere, and she’s just in one of those phases where you like someone so much that you’re constantly just vomiting up their name into casual conversation, or it’s next-level performance art and she’s steering this car straight through the storefront of a Foot Locker.
It culminates in Clare telling a producer that she’s really peeved that all these guys went so hard after her fiancé.
So Clare is mad, and the laborers are beginning to mutter, “union, union, union.” Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not get nearly as many Instagram followers as they want because they can’t get any camera time.
Anyway, the comedy wasn’t funny, so she didn’t eat a chuckle sandwich. Get it? (See, fellas? That’s comedy.)
Let’s say two pieces of cake. One for Clare, who is admittedly being kind of a butthole to the other prospective fiancés in her midst, but who is doing so in admirably guileless fashion (and who also had to put up with two toxic boils with temper problems.)
But you know who else deserves one?
Tayshia’s going to inherit Clare’s mess. But let me, a noted connoisseur of the most ridiculous series in this franchise (that’s Bachelor In Paradise, for the record) reassure you of something. Fear not, you lovers of chaos: this season will suddenly become predictable and stale, for as any true Bachelor In Paradise fan could tell you, Tayshia loves a goddamn mess.