I made this point last week, and I stand by it this week: Tayshia is a god-tier Bachelorette. In the seventh week of this very strange season, she got to do the angry speech about how disappointed she is that every Bachelorette gets at some point, stirred some shit while being convincingly outraged that anyone would accuse her of shit-stirring, allowed herself to stay mad at a cute boy while hearing him out and making it clear that she’s open to him making good, had what might be the best one-on-one date in the history of the show and maybe the franchise as a whole, and ATE FOOD FOR THE SECOND WEEK IN A ROW. I’ll repeat that: Tayshia Adams, the current Bachelorette, has for the second week in a row consumed food on camera, and from her own hands, not the sweaty fingers of a fellow Instagram influencer.
And that meal (which included a vat of ice cream the size of a small private ice rink) was only the second most notable thing to happen this week. The real story here has nothing to do with food. The premise of this column is both a) the food in Bachelor Nation and, if you want to be highfalutin’ about it, b) the inauthentic nature of the franchise as illustrated by the absurd approach to food. But something really significant happened in this episode that has nothing to do with either food or a lack of authenticity. It was real goddamn authentic, actually. So we have to start with a new section:
Was The Bachelorette actually meaningful this week, thus temporarily negating the entire premise of this column?
Yep. It sure was. Ivan, I’d shake my fist at you if you weren’t a perfect cinnamon roll who deserves nothing but love and goodness and rainbows and maybe a pony.
Reader, I mean this sincerely: If you’re one of the delightful people who reads this column without watching the show, I urge you watch this conversation in its (edited) entirety. The video above is a little snippet of a much larger whole, which spanned multiple commercial breaks. If you’re watching on Hulu, jump to about 20:30 and stick it out all the way until Ivan gets the rose. It’s 12 minutes. I can’t remember the last time this franchise spent this long on a single conversation.
It’s not as if the leads on these shows never have meaningful conversations. Hannah Brown tore into Luke P. about slut-shaming and double standards. Caelynn Miller-Keyes talked openly about her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault. Those are just two recent examples. But The Bachelorette giving this much space to two Black Americans—more specifically, two Black multiracial people—having a conversation about their experiences in general and in 2020 in particular? Unprecedented.
Here’s a way to tie this in with food: I don’t want to give the Bachelor franchise a cookie (food!) here, as this is, in some ways, the very least they could do. It should not be shocking when conversations like these happen on network television. But it’s not just that they addressed issues like Black Lives Matter, the violence of incarceration, the murders of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement officials, and so on. Two factors combine to make this a big deal: The amount of time spent (again, a full 12 minutes! That’s so much time!), and the fact that it’s two people talking about their shared experience, not just trotting out their personal heartbreaks because that’s part of what the show demands. It’s not just that Ivan said George Floyd’s name more than once, and it’s not just his point about his own reaction to his brother’s experiences in prison and how it changed his perspective. The show also gave time to Tayshia talking about growing up in a predominantly white area, and what it meant to her to hear people yell “Black Lives Matter” after spending her youth trying to fit in.
There’s a lot about this franchise that’s toxic. But this is a huge step. It’s also the most convincing “date” I’ve seen in quite some time. I absolutely believe that those people shared a meaningful experience. They also played Twister.
And they ate food!
Sushi, buffalo wings, chicken tenders, french fries, tacos, chips and guac, a very small 7-11 pizza, and a baptismal font full of ice cream
This felt like trolling. It is not trolling. The 15 producers in a trenchcoat that make up the body of Chris Harrison are absolutely unaware of this dumb column. But it felt like trolling. It’s hard to tell what she actually eats and doesn’t eat based on the editing, but she for sure eats that ice cream horrorshow. What a “good idea in theory/bad in practice” kind of moment! Here look, you can witness the moment some poor PA realized they were going to be cursed out by a producer, all without seeing said PA’s face. Drip, drip, drip, drip...
What a mess. Tayshia gets bonus points for successfully feeding someone else sushi with chopsticks; whoever came up with the ice cream trough idea loses points for allowing all that perfectly good ice cream to go to waste.
How did Ivan earn this one-on-one date (and a new, shiny “frontrunner” badge)? Read on.
Whole peppers, crab legs, cow intestines, and a mocha latte.
Ivan earned that one-on-one date by “winning” a “songwriting” “contest.”
This is dumb, but please, if you like cringe comedy, watch it. Three things matter here. One: Ivan wins. He is no better than anyone else, but he’s an adorable little muffin and also brings Tayshia on stage, so he wins. Two: Bennett raps, and in that rap, he rhymes “Harvard degree” with “brie” and “me,” and does so in the context of informing Tayshia that one need not have graduated from the august halls of a certain university in order to eat cheese with him, Bennett, in Paris. Three: Demar was robbed. I’m not mad about it, because we wouldn’t have gotten Ivan’s date otherwise, but he was robbed. “Mocha Latte” is a bop.
The second group date this week is actually just the poor guys who had to write a song sans Ivan, and they have to do some Fear Factor-inspired garbage at the behest of Becca, a former Bachelorette, and Sydney, one of this writer’s favorite “probably too normal for this show” contestants. One challenge is choosing a smoothie off a table at random; under each smoothie was a card listing said smoothie’s ingredients. Then they chugged the smoothie. If anyone puked, they didn’t show it on camera. They also had to fake an orgasm into a telephone which was somehow connected to the resort’s P.A. system, and I am not a little concerned that not one of these men seems to know what an orgasm is.
Another such task: asking Chris Harrison to autograph their butts. To accomplish this, they had to interrupt his lunch of crab legs and Veuve Clicquot.
The last dare was to eat a whole pepper and then declare undying love to Tayshia. It was cheesy and dumb. Zac C. got the group date rose.
And then there was a bunch of lame garbage about Noah and his stupid no-mustache and whether or not Tayshia kept him for the drama, which of course she did, it is a television show. Also Ben crashed her apartment in the wee hours and she told him to shape up. Honestly, none of it compares to that date with Ivan, and there’s no food, and it’ll all get rehashed next week, so I’m going to take the liberty of not caring on your behalf.
So it was going to be Ed, because either he is a very good sport and a decent actor, or someone in production played a wee trick on him. I’ve got it cued up for you:
But the final moments changed all that.
That is the face of a man who knows he’s getting sent home even though he’s quite obviously awesome, because he’s also too well-adjusted to get camera time. Justice for Joe. See you in Paradise, buddy—assuming you’re even into that.